BrewDog Liverpool, September 2017

I can be a bit of a predictable creature. If you look at some of my recent city trips (Edinburgh, York, Newcastle and now Liverpool), you’ll spot a pattern. Whenever I arrive I go to BrewDog. I don’t *just* go to BrewDog, but it will usually be one of my first stops. Why? Well, it’s because I know what I’m going to get. I always want to check out local bars and brewery taps and the like that you don’t get in any other city, but I’m always happy to start off at BrewDog. As well as their always evolving line up, the range of guest beers is always interesting.

As a review printed on their new staff t-shirts says, “unless you’re into beers and trying new ones, this place isn’t for you”. I am into beers and trying new ones.

So here’s the first of those, Sidewalk Shark, part of the “Small Batch” project. It’s a light, effervescent German-style sour wheat beer; lemon peel, herbal lime leaf, notes of orange and a fresh bready malt base. Sharp, sweet and sour, with a tiny salty note – a lovely refreshing beer.

The other thing you will find in BrewDog bars is a food offering. In Liverpool, this is a burger and hot dog offering. I had the Patriot Burger, brioche bun, 6oz beef brisket patty, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickles, onion, baby gem & bbq sauce.

It was a decent juicy burger, good flavours and nicely put together. Unfortunately it was served on a silly tin tray with a silly tin cup of chips. We want plates.

To accompany this, another couple of beers. First, the Prototype Blonde Ale. I didn’t think BrewDog did bland, but this tasted of nothing. Nothing bad about it, just a very middle of the road blonde ale. I could go to most other pubs and bars in this city to find that, so I just don’t expect it here.

Thankfully, the last one was more interesting. Another of the Small Batch series, this time the Imperial Pilsner where a quintessential pilsner malt base and German lager yeast combine with some modern German aroma hops to make an interesting lager. You can feel the strength in this one.

As ever, a pleasant trip to BrewDog. Tonight was also the monthly bottle share club. Sadly I couldn’t stay as I had friends to meet elsewhere but I was sorely tempted.

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Dog and Duck, Shardlow, July 2017

Another pub trip where the company was more important than the food and drink. Just as well really, as this was another classic poor chain pub effort. A Marstons pub, the usual below average selection of beers from the empire, a few bottles, and some rubbish “ciders” like Strongbow and Old Mout. So, another night on the lime and soda. No biggie, I have great beers at home for another night.

Maybe the food could make up for this disappointment. Although “two for one, all day every day” doesn’t always insipre confidence. Mrs MOFAD opted for curry again, she does enjoy a pub curry. Chicken tikka masala is an easy pub option, and pubs always chuck in the full works, rice, naan, popadom and alleged mango chutney (it’s never any good).

My choice was the BBQ chicken burger, which sounded nice.  Crispy buttermilk chicken goujons topped with Monterey Jack cheese and BBQ sauce, served with chips and coleslaw.

The best word you could find to describe this would be fodder. That’s all that it was. Very average damp pub chips (lots of seasoning required), a pointless little dish of alleged coleslaw (way too much onion), and an awful bread roll that had probably been hanging around all day, and. It disintegrated a little bit more every time you picked it up. Processed cheese added insult to injury, and a pitiful amount of alleged BBQ sauce didn’t help. No additional sauces available to help out either.

Chain pub eating at its lowest ebb. Meh food, no decent drinks. Luckily there were plenty of laughs to be had with friends.

Cosy Club, Leicester, July 2017

A rare weeknight shopping trip to Leicester. We are going to a wedding later in the year (a trip that shoud generate some interesting blog posts), and various items of clothing are required. Luckily, I’m not going to go on about that. Instead, I’ll tell you about dinner. As we have done on a few occasions recently, we found ourselves in the Cosy Club again (the same chain who run our local Centro Lounge).

Rather splendidly, they had a cask of Centennial Wheat Beer – Pattern #WB0002 from very local brewery Framework, who were the subject of last night’s craft beer hour (#craftbeerhour). So having spent an hour last night talking about their beers, tonight I had one. I’ve had one or two of them from the Needle & Pin, so nice to see them elsewhere in the wild. Centennial Wheat Beer – Pattern #WB0002 was a good mix of wheat, hops and malty sweetness.

On to dinner next, and it was burger time. The Brigadier burger with cheese, pulled pork and chorizo to be precise, and it was very tasty. The chips (probably technically fries) were soon removed from their silly metal cup, and deposited on the nice twee china plates that are favoured here. The slaw was also decent, not spoilt by being full of half a raw onion.

Another nice dinner at the Cosy Club, a good post-shopping place for dinner.

Walkers’ Bar, The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, June 2017

For the rest of this post, The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel will be referred to as the ODG.

An unexpected pub visit! Today’s walk started out here at the ODG (in a very full National Trust car park) and involved a trip up The Band, to White Stones, along Earing Crag up to Bow Fell, down to Ore Gap, down again to Angle Tarn, back up a bit to Rossett Pike, then down Rossett Gill and Mickleden Beck and back to the ODG. That took us about 9 hours in total, so we arrived back at the ODG at about 8pm. We needed food.

Thankfully, the ODG isn’t one of those places that doesn’t do food on Sundays, or stops serving at 7pm or something ridiculous. They know their market. Their market is people who parked up in the car park 9 hours ago, walked 12 miles, ascended England’s 6th highest mountain (and some others) and now want something to eat. Food is served from 12-9pm every day.

On the most glorious day of the year so far, the beer garden was busy with walkers, and there were more in the bar too. There was a reasonable queue at the bar, food and drink orders were flying in thick and fast. The menu is full of simple home made dishes, like curry, a proper home made burger, and various things of the day, such as a chicken burger, fish of the day (salmon today), a vegetable lasagne, steak of the day (ribeye) and a pie of the day (steak and onion).

I needed some good protein, so it was the home made burger to me. A proper burger, more of a cricket ball in a bun, and way better than some grease-laden patty you find in your local grim burger van. Proper skin-on chips and a touch of coleslaw on the side.

For Mrs MOFAD, it was curry. She does love a curry. This was a proper home made pub curry too, plenty of chicken, rice and a popadom. And an odd bit of salad on the side.

There was also a pint of Bar Steward by Handsome brewery, which was a classic session pale ale, cool and refreshing after a long hot day. We also had some pints of lime and soda to rehydrate.

This was the perfect end to our walk. Inside, the ODG bar looks like it hasn’t changed in 50 years. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

Recommended.

Harvester Wilford, April 2017

“Have you ever been to a Harvester before?”

“Yeah, loads of times.”

Although not so much recently. We live just 300m away from one, and used to go there a bit in our younger days. Times move on, people move on. I can’t remember the last time we went there together, although I’ve been there once or twice for work lunches, as it is close by.

Tonight, someone else had organised a get together at a pub outside Nottingham, which happened to be a Harvester. We trotted off up the newly widened A453 and soon found ourselves at the Harvester in Wilford to meet friends and catch up on what’s been happening recently.

The evening opened with a shock, a Marston’s beer with an actual hop profile. I hope you were sitting down when you read that.

This was 61 Deep, their newest beer, named after the depth of the well at the Burton brewery. Five American and Australian hops were needed for this, but you can at least taste some of the hoppiness. It’s probably my favourite Marston’s, which isn’t saying much, but it is a pleasant pint. You’ll spot their new branding on the pint glass too, the result of a one million pound rebranding project at the end of last year. I’m not convinced by it.

On to eating. The most famous thing that most people know about Harvester is the free salad bar when you order any meal. You can return to serve yourself with as much salad as you like. It’s not just tired bits of iceberg either, a good selection of salad items to choose from. You can spot tomato, beetroot, sweetcorn, pineapple, olives, tomatoes and the always popular crispy onion bits and red devil sauce. Some things have not changed!

The main menu has loads to choose from, ribs, burgers, the famous rotisserie chicken (available in various combinations with other bits of chicken and ribs etc.), fish, steaks and vegetarian and vegan options.

My choice was the peri-peri chicken burger, a grilled chicken breast with peri-peri mayo, smashed avocado and Monterey Jack cheese. With a chilli on top. I crunched this first, and it was nicely spicy.

It was a decent pub chicken burger, not spicy enough to put off the average palate, but with just a hint of piquancy. You can always slap on some more spicy sauce from the sauce bar. Decent chips too, and it was actually served on a plate (hiding underneath that horrid wax paper stuff).

A quick and convenient chain pub/restaurant, ideal for catching up with friends.

The Old Hall Hotel, Hope, April 2017 #3

We keep coming back. Tonight we came back for the pub quiz. You might have already worked out that we love a pub quiz.

First up a Peculier Pale Ale from Theakston, a cold, smooth and inoffensive keg ale from Theakston. Very middle of the road.

Food arrived soon afterwards. Tonight I went for the Derbyshire bacon and cheese steak burger, with red coleslaw and skinny fries.

Just one small problem. The bacon and cheese were missing, much like parts of yesterday’s lunch. And yesterday’s plates have been replaced with boards and a silly basket for the fries. It was a very tasty burger and a nice coleslaw, just a shame that there were bits missing.

It was accompanied by another Theakston brew, the Peculier IPA.

How on earth can you call this an IPA? In the same “class” as Greene King so called IPA. Ou est le hop? A pretty poor excuse for an IPA, just a very dull keg ale, all malt and no hops. If this was your first introduction to IPA, you’d never bother going back and be missing out on some stunning beers. This is not an IPA. Back to school for Theakston.

A nice dinner at The Old Hall, I think they just need to tighten up a bit in the kitchen at the moment as there appears to be a lack of attention to detail on the meals that are going out. It’s still a lovely village pub.

Oh, and the very worst bit? There was no pub quiz. It was cancelled for a private event. So we went back to the cottage instead.

Buxton Brewery Tap, April 2017

We’ve been here before. In May 2015 to be precise. Ever since that visit we’ve been wanting to come back. It took almost 2 years, but we made it 🙂

After a leisurely morning of strolling around Buxton, including a little shopping at Beer District, we were ready for some lunch. There was only ever going to be one place we were going to go. I had been singing the praises of Buxton Brewery Tap for a while, and with MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve as well as Mrs MOFAD, Hazel, Janette and Andy and Kerrie all in tow, I was hoping that there would be something for everyone here.

There was.

My choice was Myrica, a tasty session IPA with oaty smoothness and hazy hoppiness

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Sky Mountain Sour, a collaboration between Buxton and To Øl which has resulted in a nicely balanced sour ale. Mrs MOFAD was a fan of this.

Matt & Steve both had a Rednik Stout which was right up their street. Kerrie tried the Lemon Meringue Pie, which both Mrs MOFAD and I really like. She was not a fan, but surprisingly Hazel (the queen of tea who is not a beer drinker) liked it, and ended up with a bottle to take home.

On to that lunch, I had a buffalo burger with potato wedges, which was very tasty and a perfect portion for lunch. Mrs MOFAD opted for chicken souvlaki, marinated in yoghurt, mustard, lemon & oregano and served with sautéed peppers, tzatziki, sunblush salad & pitta breads. This which was also very nice. My burger came from the specials board, so it might not be available when you visit. Perhaps plates will be though, as this burger appeared on a board.

On then to the shopping. You can’t come here and not take away a bottle or two. Or ten. You’ll spot the “Belgians” on the left, a Bourbon Skyline (barrel aged Berliner weisse), another Sky Mountain Sour and Lemon Meringue Pie for Mrs MOFAD, a Trolltunga (just another gooseberry sour IPA), a Superluminal (sour IPA) and one more.

That last one is Bomba Generation 4, the sequel to Tsar Bomba Generation III which was almost beer of the year for me in 2016. Generation 4 of the Buxton Brett fermented Imperial Stout has been born. The yeast strain from 1978 is alive and well and has chewed relentlessly through the regular Russian Imperial Stout to bring us the Great Grandson of the original batch. This one will go into storage for a while, and come out on a special occasion. If it’s as good as Generation III then it will be rather special.

Matt & Steve also did some shopping, although none of us could convince the nice people behind the bar to thrown in a free glass, despite the amount that we were all spending…

Another great trip to the Buxton Brewery Tap. If you are ever in Buxton, go there. You will find good food and great beer to drink in and take away. End of.