The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #11 – October 2018

The nights are drawing in and the beers are getting darker. That’s not to say that there’s no place for a super hoppy IPA in these shorter months, but a few more winter warmers find their way into the shelf of delights.

Here’s the latest selection, two for now, four for later…

Amundsen – White Crow – 10.5%

A White Imperial Stout packed full of cocoa beans, vanilla beans, tonka beans as well as coffee beans. This beer has all the characteristics of a full bodied imperial stout, whilst at the same time being white.

Brew York – Viking DNA – 5.0%

A smooth well balanced porter with subtly smoky character formed from a rich blend of 6 different malts.

Cloudwater – Parkin Cake – 10%

To celebrate their 500th gyle, Cloudwater brewed an homage to Parkin, the oatmeal and ginger cake much favoured in Yorkshire. In the Imperial Brown Ale base is a rich blend of malts, oats and treacle for sweetness, and added ginger and spices for that distinctive aroma.

Kasteel – Bruin – 11.0%

A strong Belgian brown ale. After extensive tasting, trying to fulfil increasingly strict requirements, the brewmaster found themselves with a creamy, dark Belgian brown ale: Kasteelbier. The quality of the past is still unmatched and the beloved taste is very much of the present. Kasteelbier is a dark, artisanal beer, soft and mild, full and creamy. It can age for many, many years, as indicated on the bottle.

Left Handed Giant – Choc Orange Milk Stout – 5.1%

Deeper Water is a seasonal milk stout, brewed with lactose, vanilla and cacao nibs – this time it’s been given the chocolate orange treatment! Gemma would hate this, I might just love it.

Stillwater – Critical Thinking – 11%

Stillwater brew some incredible beers across the spectrum. This does not disappoint. An opaque black colour with a lovely tan head. Roasted malt flavour with notes of bitter chocolate and liquorice. Big sticky mouthfeel and warming alcohol notes.

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Filmore and Union, Skipton, September 2017

The walking tour of Skipton is drawing to a close. We’ve got a couple of pubs to visit later on, so for now a coffee and cake break. Filmore and Union are a small northern cafe chain, who started out in York in 2012 and have opened another ten sites since then.

There’s quite a lot of what might be termed “weird hippy food” on the menu in here, but this chocolate brownie and latte were very nice.

It’s the kind of place were you’d expect to find “smashed avocado on vegan toast”, “egg white omelette” and a bowl of granola for 7 quid. So yes, you’ll find all of those, but if you just want a decent coffee and a bit of cake, this will do nicely. Makes a nice change from Costa.

The Cake ‘Ole, Skipton, September 2017

Cake please!

After a gentle trundle around Skipton, we needed to stop off for tea and cake. There are plenty of options dotted around the town. We found ourselves in the Craven Court shopping centre and The Cake ‘Ole caught our eye (not least because it reminded us of Kerrie).

The wacky decor (sadly not pictured because we were too busy staring around the room and spotting things) certainly caught our eye so we grabbed a brightly covered table and ordered some tea, coffee and cake.

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Actually I was the only one who ordered the cake. Because chocolate orange cake.

Look at that dense deliciousness. It was lovely. A good cup of northern tea to go with it – proper loose leaves, none of this soft southern tea bag nonsense. Delightful mismatched crockery (this caused some uproar on Facebook) and all the mad decor. Lampshades without the shade (just the wire frame) with various birds perching on them, an upright cow, a crow watching suspiciously on. A selection of cuckoo clocks (and cuckoo clocks that made other noises). Pages of the Beano as wallpaper. A zebra.

Friendly and happy staff round things off nicely – a great place to pop in for tea and cake.

Hassop Station Cafe, Bakewell, Derbyshire, August 2017

How do you make a mess of the simple process of allowing a customer to order 2 cups of tea and 2 slices of cake? Alarmingly, it’s quite easy. Unlike most cafes, you decide to have two queues. One queue to order your food and drink. The other queue to pay for your order.

That shouldn’t really be enough to make a mess of things, it’s quite simple. However, if you really want to mess things up, don’t label these queues, and don’t make it obvious in any way whatsoever which queue is which. So when your unsuspecting customers arrive, they join a queue, get to the front (eventually, because it’s a busy Saturday afternoon), only to be told by the disinterested youth that they are in the wrong queue. So time to start it all over again.

A shame that this is how things started off (I swear they were utterly disorganised the last time that we were here too). The tea and cake were good, and they are so handily placed on the Monsal trail (and are always busy). They also hire bikes too, so they have a ready made captive audience. There are some decent things for sale in the shop, as well as the usual gift shop tat.

They just need to get a bit more organised.

The Hunting Lodge, Barrow upon Soar, June 2017

The photo you are about to see caused some uproar on Facebook. It is a standard picture of what we ate tonight, captured for the purposes of this blog, but posted to Facebook soon after it was taken. Two aspects of it concerned people. One, the size of the chicken breast (for that’s what it is, and not a slug as Ali and Chris suspected). Two, the lake of sauce that encroached on to the salad. This caused much consternation particularly from Hazel and Sharon, who were both quite offended by the contamination of the leaves by a warm sauce.

We shall return to all of that in a moment. Tonight, we were wandering around Barrow upon Soar, trying to win a treasure hunt, and reclaim our crown (we did not retain it last year). I say we, I had been on a train back from Newcastle for 4 hours, so I was only out on the trail for about 40 minutes.


After the hunt was over, all of the teams descended upon The Hunting Lodge where we had all pre-ordered from a small menu of items. All four of us on our table had ordered this Greek chicken dish, with chips and salad:-


As you can see, there is indeed a lake of garlic sauce, which takes up over half of the plate. And the chicken breast was rather on the small side. And the sauce does indeed encroach upon the salad. It was tasty, but a very tiny piece of chicken and the lack of a dam between salad and sauce did rather spoil things.

Pudding did make up for it in some way, hot chocolate fudge cake with chocolate sauce, but with squirty cream letting the side down.


I think the mass catering required had them off their game a bit, the food was better the last time I came here. And there was no decent beer on tonight either. We will be back again I’m sure.

Emerson & Wests, Market Harborough, May 2017

Our next stop on the Harbs tour de food was Emerson & Wests, a delicatessen and bakery who had some sweet and savoury treats to sample, including the lesser known Harborough Cheesecake, a baked cake with a pastry base, curd and sultanas. I also stocked up on a few beers from Langton Brewery as well as a little something else for Mrs MOFAD 🙂

(Edit : sadly these beers were not as exciting as their excellent packaging might suggest)

The Tea Junction, Hulme End, May 2017

The Tea Junction at Hulme End opened in 2009 after much controversy over the costs of refurbishing the former railway shed, even though the railway that it served closed in 1934!

We first came across it in 2013 when we were camping just a few hundred yards away. It’s the perfect place for some food and drink at the start or end of your journey up or down the Manifold Way, which runs along the old railway bed from Hulme End to Waterhouses (near Leek). If you start at Waterhouses, then it’s perfectly placed in the middle of your “there and back” route.

There’s the usual selection of hot drinks including several teas, various soft drinks and plenty of home made cakes to accompany them. Savoury options too, including soup, Staffordshire oatcakes and sandwiches.

Today we dropped in at the end of our walk to Wetton Mill and back (via Ecton Hill and the Manifold Way). A well earned cup of tea and some cake was our reward for a lovely walk. An added bonus is the delightful mish mash of crockery that you are presented with:-

There’s always the opportunity for a chat with the lovely owner Rebecca, who is genuinely interested in everyone who comes in, what they’ve been up to, what they’ve encountered whilst out and about and anything else you want to talk about.

This quirky little cafe is a delight, and a great place to stop for refreshments on the Manifold Way.