Mockery Brewing Co, Delgany Street, Denver, October 2018

In my “research” so far, I have uncovered some simple facts about Denver. One of them is that you can almost trip over brewery taps and great bars on every corner, on every block. I have been doing that this afternoon, and the final stop on my city stroll (before catching a train back downtown) was Mockery.

Another friendly welcome awaited here, and once again I picked a couple of beers for my final flight of the day, with advice from the bar staff for the other ones. A nice atmosphere inside, but given the sun was about to set over the Rockies I sat outside to enjoy the glorious pinks and reds of a Colorado sunset, and to enjoy some more beers.

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Continuing the musical theme from earlier, I started with Wish You Were Here, where the fruit was very subtle, and it was a nice easy drinking golden ale.

Blue Steel was next, another blonde ale with an interesting flavour, lightly balanced malts.

Something a little more lively next, a gose called Spruce the Goose, packed with super funky forest fruit flavours. Lovely stuff.

Proceedings closed with Farmhouse Ale, another one packed with dark fruit flavours, from 12 different malts, farmhouse yeast and rooibos tea.

And here’s that sunset.

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A lovely quiet space in the city, well worth seeking out.

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Great Divide barrel bar, 35th Street, Denver, October 2018

The past!

If there’s one thing better than a brewery tap with a great selection of beers, it’s a brewery tap with a great selection of beers that’s playing a great selection of 1990s Americana, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Only a short stroll away from my previous refreshment stop, and I was soon settled in at a table here, and off to the bar for my next tasting flight. I asked one of the friendly bar staff for a few recommendations and picked some of my own, to sit back and enjoy on this wonderfully lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Let’s run through them from left to right.

Colette Farmhouse Ale, a 7.3% saison, had a subtle fruity note and there was a slight wheatiness to it. A nice starter to go with some Counting Crows on the jukebox (well, I think they call it Spotify nowadays).

Strawberry Rhubarb, a fruity sour with mellow fruitfulness and a nice touch of rhubarb, one of my favourite vegetables to feature in a beer.

Fresh Hop (2018) is this season’s freshest beer, brewed with “wet” whole cone hops from the Pacific north west, to give something that’s a little malty with light hoppiness. I think we’d moved on to Hootie & The Blowfish at this point.

Hazy IPA does exactly what it says on the tin, full of hazy hoppiness and a nice bitterness. A decent NEIPA that puts some of the others that I’ve had recently to shame.

It was a lovely drop, but I think it’s fair to say that I saved the best for last, in the form of Barrel Aged Hibernation Ale. Sticking an old ale into whisk(e)y barrels produces wonderful results, a beautiful maltiness in this grand old ale.

A great place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon, relaxed and with a very chilled vibe. If you want to stretch your legs then there are tours every hour from 2-6 at weekends. There’s a food truck parked outside if you get peckish. Oh, and they love yetis.

Become a Five Points funder

The Five Points Brewing Co, an independent brewery in the heart of Hackney has launched its first round of crowdfunded investment, offering you the chance to become a Five Points Funder and receive shares in the business. The funds raised will be used to meet growing demand, accelerate growth and bring everything back to where it all began; the brewery based on the landmark ‘Five Points’ of Hackney.

The crowdfunding campaign is live on Crowdcube, with a target to raise £750,000 of investment. The money will be used to open the first Five Points Taproom at the iconic Pembury Tavern, as well as investing in state-of-the-art new brewhouse equipment and fermentation tanks which will triple production capacity volume, and which they hope will allow them to meet their ambitious plans to increase sales from 2 million to 6 million pints a year (34,000 hectolitres). A new research and development brew-kit at The Pembury Tavern will also be used to develop new recipes and research innovative brewing processes.

The fundraising will also mean investing in their growing team as well as expanding UK distribution and developing their growing export business. The Five Points Brewing Co was founded by two local Hackney residents who have always strived to invest in their local community as well as their business. Five Points was the first brewery in the UK to be an accredited Living Wage employer, it sources electricity from 100% renewable sources and helped set up an apprenticeship scheme for young, aspiring brewers at Hackney Community College. This is what the Five Points team have continuously aimed to create; tasty beer brewed with the highest standards of quality and a company ethos which is accessible and inclusive to everyone.

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The decision to seek investment comes as the brewery is struggling to keep up with high demand. They reached capacity in late 2016 and have since been brewing some of their beer with an independent family-owned brewery in Belgium. This investment will enable the brewery to treble production capacity in Hackney and bring back all brewing production to London. Crowdfunding will also allow Five Points to open their first taproom, allowing this long-cherished ambition to become a reality.

As part of the crowdfunding campaign, Five Points is offering a number of exclusive rewards for investors, ranging from free birthday pints, to up to 25% discount in their taproom and online, and exclusive shareholder invites to brewery recipe development and hop-picking experiences, as well as investors receiving shares in the company.

The minimum investment is just £10, and the campaign is open until until Sunday 8th April.

Brentwood Brewing Company, May 2017

The next door neighbour of Calcott Hall Farm Shop (and hence I usually visit one after the other), Brentwood Brewing Company moved in to this, their third premises, during 2013. Not many breweries find themselves in an old potato barn, but this is a perfect site, with so much passing trade from the farm shop, where their beers are also on sale if the brewery is closed.

Their are tours and events on certain days, or you can just turn up and buy some bottles, like I did. The door might be locked, just ring the bell, there’s someone always lurking somewhere during opening hours.

Today I went to pick up some new bottles from their new “rebellious offspring” Elephant School Brewing. A British East India Company elephant training school was based in Brentwood and this remained an active army base as a depot for the Essex Regiment until 1959, when much of the site was redeveloped as the European headquarters of the Ford Motor Company.

The beers from this offspring are not your traditional cask ales, so there are plenty of different styles on offer, and they are always on the look out for new recipes…

Today’s haul contains:-

Sombrero – 4.5% – a burst of passion fruit and hint of mint start a fiesta in your mouth that you won’t want to stop. Tipping its wide brimmed hat to its European saison roots, its flavour transports you to Mexico for a party that lasts to the bottom of your glass.

Cheru Kol – 4.5% – a glorious embellishment of flavours brought together in this collaboration of styles from Belgium and England. The honeyed sweetness of the figs wrapped around the spicy, piney tang of the rosemary combine with the eccentricities of the Belgian yeast.

Porter in a Storm – 4.9% – for a taste that will have you singing in the rain, this rich porter showers your tastebuds with waves of chocolate, fruity and bitter with successive sips. Porter in a Storm is one to pour down your throat if you’re caught in a downpour or any time you want a great beer.

Looking forward to trying out this haul soon…

Wincle Brewery, April 2017

What’s the best way to start a walk? By visiting a brewery to sample some beer, and then buy some beer. It’s not every day that you manage to achieve this, but today we did. Our walk started just over the road from Wincle Brewery, and whilst we waited for some logistics to fall into place, we popped over the road to chat to John “the butcher” in the brewery.

I’ve encountered their beers before, at Bakewell market back in July 2015, enjoying Old Oak and Old Hag the most, but they have all been good.

We had a good chat with John, talking about beer, and then sampling some, as well as some cider (Mrs MOFAD particularly enjoyed that). The team were working away in the background, preparing some new beer. I departed with 4 bottles of beer that I’d not had before, and walking and drinking companion Mark also picked up some bottles to take away. Looking forward to sampling these soon.

Wincle open every day except Christmas day, from 10am until 4pm. Unfortunately we got back to the brewery too late the next day, so couldn’t do any more shopping. You can always buy online if you want to try some out.

Brew York 1st birthday party, April 2017

Brew York, so good they named it once. So good, that they are already celebrating their first birthday with a series of events at the brewery over the weekend. Today we have been exploring the city, via the city walls. York still has most of the walls that surrounded the city 700 years ago. The tops of these were partly rebuilt about 150 years ago so the public could walk along most of them, and “feel safer” by having a tall parapet on one side of them. They are usually just called “the walls” although locals also sometimes refer to them as “the bar walls”, after the four main fortified gateways or “bars” where you can access the walls.

It’s a great way to explore the edges of the city. And at many points, you can descend back down to street level, and explore more things in the middle.

This is how we came to our lunch stop, descending from the walls at Red Tower (where they finish for a while) and then making our way down to Brew York, on the banks of the Foss, where they just happened to be celebrating their first birthday.

Brew York was born when founders Wayne and Lee met on the stag do of a mutual friend. A few years later they met again, when Wayne’s home brew was served at a party hosted by that same friend. Soon, they started brewing together, gaining confidence from the feedback on their home brews. What if they could open a brewery? Well, they did.

In 2015 they started the admin work of opening a brewery, converting a warehouse by the Foss. In March 2016, Viking DNA was the first beer brewed on site. This beer was a nod to the heritage of the brewery’s location (where the Jorvik Viking centre was originally built).

The birthday weekend was in full swing when we arrived at lunchtime. Raffle tickets were being handed out at the door, a local band were just tuning up, and we grabbed a couple of seats inside. I went off to the bar to order some drinks and Mrs MOFAD stepped outside to check out the street food vendors in the yard, and order some lunch.

Let’s look at the drinks first. The murk bomb on the left hand side is a refreshing raspberry wheat beer called Razberet, and the hop bomb on the right is a classic session IPA called X-Panda, featuring Citra, Simcoe and Chinook hops.

Lunch soon appeared, some tasty pulled pork baps from Smokin’ Blues Street Food, some lovely rare breed pork shoulder, and not overpowered by a sickly sweet sauce. A nice crunchy slaw, much better than that supermarket stuff.

More murk next, in the form of Triple H, hoppy, hazy and heavenly, perfect with that pulled pork. This one combines Centennial, Citra and Mosaic hops to great effect, citrus and floral flavours. It went beautifully with the pork.

Whilst this was all going on, we were also doing some quizzes, identifying beers from labels and identifying breweries from bits of logos. Visitors were also invited to suggest a new beer to be brewed. My suggestion of Richard’s Third Hop, combining English, Australian and New Zealand hops with a Richard III based pun was not a winner. Maybe I’ll brew it myself when I retire!

There was more exploring to be done, but with the sun beating down outside (it was a glorious day) it was important to be properly hydrated, so I grabbed another beer from the bar. This was Big Eagle, an American IPA with four hops and four malts battling it out from dominance. I think the malts win the battle in this one, but it’s quite nicely balanced.

The Brew York Tap Room is a cracking place, a working brewery with enough space for a decent amount of visitors. With some good food and great beers on offer, it’s the perfect place to unwind in one corner of the city centre. You could stay all day. We had more to explore, so moved along. Whilst the scenery was just a little different, with the sunshine, live music and great food and beer, it also reminded us of last year’s trip to Fat Monk in New Zealand. We’ll definitely be back again one day!

Highly recommended!

Brewery outlet of the year, 2016 – Fat Monk Brewing Co, Bridge Pa, New Zealand

This is a round up of some of the breweries and brewery taps that we visited in 2016. There were quite a few visits across the year, and many camping trips ended with bringing home a box or two of bottled beer. So this is my brewery (outlet) of 2016, based on those visited, not based on their output alone. Pub of the year will follow shortly…

Adnams Cellar & Kitchen featured in last year’s round up. We enjoyed our time in Suffolk so much in 2015 that we returned for a week in 2016. That led to lots of pub trips and adventures, and a lot of Adnams beer. It’s still worth a trip to the home of the Southwold mafia for a spot of lunch and shopping though. After a lazy Sunday morning (I’d cooked the customary full English earlier on) we had a stroll around Southwold, along the beach, along the pier and just generally mooched about the place.

If you want to know more about Adnams Cellar & Kitchen, then you can read the 2015 post. It’s pretty much identical to when we visited last year, with a few new beers and wines on offer.

On this visit, I opted for the Jack Brand Dry Hopped lager, something I’ve had in bottles before. From the keg it was certainly an improvement on the bottled version. It doesn’t live up to the hoppy promises of its blurb, “a super hoppy aroma of tropical fruits, citrus and passionfruit”, but it’s a decent effort that needs more hops.

Let’s quickly step back to 2015. Here is the smoked fish brewer’s board I had then:-

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And now here is the October 2016 version:-

Not a lot has changed, in fact it could still be the same board, with more scratches and scrapes after 14 months of going through the dishwasher every day. The difference is the addition of shrimps and the switch of the horseradish and capers for a dill mayonaisse. The horseradish was very good with the mackerel and it was missed, but the 2016 board was still very tasty, very good fish and the bread was good too.

After lunch we went shopping…

The Beer Hall, Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley bookended the year. We visited in January for the full experience, and again today, New Year’s Eve, for a quick spot of shopping.

Even though the surrounding environment is perhaps less pleasing than some of the other contenders here (an industrial estate in Staveley), the great food and brilliant beer on offer ensure that it gets on to the list.

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Hawkshead Brewery started life in 2002, just outside Hawkshead where they could brew around 8,500 pints of beer a week. In 2006 they moved over to Staveley, where they have been expanding ever since, increasing their brewing capacity and developing The Beer Hall.

We sampled several beers on our visit in January, as well as having the “Brewer’s lunch”, huntsman’s pie (pork, chicken and stuffing), Brodie’s Prime sausages (made with the beer of that name), parma ham, slices of local ham, black pudding, sticky bbq ribs, a pickled onion, piccalilli, salad, sourdough bread and butter. Great food and great beer. The lack of beers for Mrs MOFAD turned our December visit into just a shopping one. A shame, as it would have been nice to eat there again too.

Another pub/brewery combination comes next, with a trip to The Vale Inn, Bollington in April. For my birthday. Because it’s a pub with a brewery. There are always lots of Bollington Brewery ales on tap, as well as two guest ales and several proper ciders. The menu changes with the seasons, and there’s also a specials board which changes more frequently.

A feast of food and drink began with sticky oriental ribs, sweet and spicy and delightful. It’s not often I have ribs whilst out, but with triple pork nirvana at stake, it had to be some tasty pork.

Mrs MOFAD had very tasty halloumi starter, it is so often just lightly cooked and bland, this was perfectly cooked whilst retaining the essential squeak of the squeakiest of cheeses.

My ribs were accompanied by a pint of Bollington Long Hop, delicious hoppy goodness and a perfect opener.

The main course was a juicy and moist fried chicken breast burger, with a very nice (and spicy) mayonnaise and some crisp potato wedges. Very tasty and very filling, with some token salad inside the bun.

I  had the Bollington Dinner Ale to accompany, a classic session bitter but it needs more hops.

There was something a bit different lined up for pudding. First it was time for another drink, this time a Bollington White Nancy (named after the white sugar loaf monument that can be seen on the saddle of Kerridge above Bollington). The beer was light, fruity and very drinkable.

The pub knew I was coming, so they added some artwork in honour of my birthday.

Time for the final flourish, Mrs MOFAD’s cake creation, which tasted as good as it looked. We all enoyed some chocolatey goodness, whilst attraction jealous looks from other tables.

And if all of that wasn’t good enough, I left with a box of beers, because they have a range of bottled Bollington beers for sale. A pub with great beer, great food, a brewery and beer to take away? You can’t get much better than that!

However, the first three are about to get blown out of the water by the last three. It’s a slightly unfair fight, as the last three are all on the north island of New Zealand, where we were lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in February/March.

The Shakespeare in Auckland is a hotel, a pub, a restaurant and a brewery all rolled into one, and was just a few hundred yards from our hotel. Everything has a Shakespeare theme, from The Bard pale ale to The Jester pilsner and “The Works of Shakespeare” burger….

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That’s a burger, with a fried egg, bacon, beetroot, tomato, lettuce and a pineapple ring. Definitely the complete works of Mr S. A proper hand made burger, perfectly cooked, juicy and delicious. It lived up to their “best burger in Auckland” claim. We visited twice, on two separate stays in Auckland, and although the beer line ups didn’t rotate between visits, the beers were good. And there’s plenty of competition within walking distance, so they have to be on top of their game.

We now hit the road (in our motorhome) and find ourselves down at Crafty Trout Brewing Co in Taupo. This was somewhere I had been looking forward to visiting, and after a long day of walking (we’d been up to Huka Falls and Craters of the Moon), we walked a bit more to get back down in to Taupo and the Trout, to have some great pizzas and good beer.

As with many good brewery tap outlets, they keep their menu simple, with a choice of 8 pizzas, a schnitzel, pie, spare ribs, fish’n’chips, pasta or a cheese’n’meat platter (brewery taps love these) as well as a few other snacks. My “Wild Thing” pizza with venison, olives and spiced grape jelly was very good. As were the beers.

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A lovely place in downtown Taupo.

We move on to our winner, Fat Monk Brewery in Bridge Pa, Hastings. That’s not the Hastings of King Harold getting an arrow in the eye. It’s the one in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. It was without doubt one of the highlights of the Great New Zealand Road Trip 2016. Here are a few words to explain why.

Great ales. Simple pizza. Sunshine. Tunes. Wines. Vines. Blue skies.

I’ll try and expand on that a bit. Back in March we did our version of the “Wineries ride” which is set out in the Hawkes Bay cycling guide. We came up with a modified version (as we pretty much always do), by starting our ride from our camp site in Hastings. This involved cycling through Hastings “city centre” (another New Zealand town abusing the word city), which was surprisingly quiet. There is plenty of well segregated cycling around, although it’s not all perfect. Once you leave Hastings, the paths start to separate from the road, and well packed gravel tracks soon take over, and are the dominant feature for the majority of the ride around the wineries.

Around 10 miles later, you are out of the “city” and well into wine territory. We made our first stop of the day at Abbey Cellars, which incorporates Fat Monk Brewery. You can probably guess why we wanted to come here.

We started off with a wine tasting (after a couple of glasses of water to rehydrate). We sampled a nice riesling, the “passion” rose, and a sweet Gabriel Chardonnay and dessert Malbec (both of which came home with us). A friendly and relaxed tasting.

Things don’t stop there. Further ingredients for the perfect lunchtime rest stop are now added to the mix. During the summer, Abbey put on the “summer sessions”. This involves local acts playing live music out in the back garden. You can sit out and listen whilst enjoying a glass of wine or two, a selection of food or some beers from their brewery.

Today was the turn of Ian Munro, a local act, with a mixture of his own songs and then acoustic covers of Layla, New Kid in Town, Waiting in Vain, Losing My Religion and that antipodean classic “Down Under”. We would have loved to have stayed to listen to it all, but there were more wineries to visit.

Lovely views all around…

So, on to the beer. Today there were four of their beers on tap, so we picked up a “flight” to enjoy out in the sun.

From left to right we have:-

Pilsner – citra hops in a pilsner – a first for me, and a perfect start in the blazing sunshine.

Pacific pale – a better IPA than the IPA, a tropical hoppy delight, utterly delicious.

American IPA – not pale enough (typical of anything classed as an American IPA), and the hops come through very late. A few more wouldn’t go amiss🙂

Raspberry wheat – good raspberry sourness, but suffers in comparison to the lovely hoppy hits from the others.

A lovely line up of beers, and there were more bottles available inside, but with other places to visit on the ride, you have to draw the line somewhere.

These alcoholic beverages need some food to accompany, and there are a few selections to choose from. We opted for some simple margharita pizzas – a simple food done well is a joy, and these were just perfect with a hoppy ale. Thin, crispy, delicious.

Look at all of the ingredients here. They all combine to make the perfect visit. This was a perfect few hours. If you are anywhere in the area, get here and spend some quality time in the sunshine with great food and drink, the combination of which make it my brewery outlet of 2016.