Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar, Lloyd Street, November 2017

A rainy Manchester Sunday. We had been wandering about the Manchester Museum this morning, and were going to have lunch in the cafe. However, an impromptu fire alarm cut short our visit, and after standing around in the cold for 10 minutes or so we decided there was no chance of getting back in for more mooching around, so we wandered back up towards the town hall (where we had been wandering around the Christmas market yesterday afternoon).

The market wasn’t quite as heaving as it was yesterday, but it was still busy and many of the nearby venues were happy as a result (there was a 45 minute wait for a table at the Slug & Lettuce for example). Just a few steps down a side street, we settled on Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar, which sounds like the perfect combination of two of my favourite things – smoked meats and beer. According to their web site, they “stock award winning craft, draught, cask and world beers along with the best selection of ciders…”

A quick look around fails to turn up any of those cask beers. No hand pulls in sight. Plenty of keg lines though, so that should be ok.

Stella – no. Likewise Stella Cidre.

Bud Light – no.

BrewDog Punk IPA – why? There’s a BrewDog bar just a couple of hundred yards around the corner, where they’ve got all manner of BrewDog beers which are better than their first ever offering.

Boddingtons – no. They still advertise it as a Manchester beer, despite the fact no beer bearing this name has been brewed in the city since 2012, when the cask version stopped being produced at Hydes in Moss Side. The current “beer” is produced elsewhere in Lancashire.

On to the bottles then. Crafty Dan’s 13 Guns is a good choice, lots of soft hoppy flavours but I was in the mood for something else. Wells Banana Bread Beer used to be a favourite, but as with most things swallowed by Marston’s, I tend to avoid it now.

Brewdog Elvis Juice has a good grapefruit flavour and would be a reasonable choice.

Corona – nope. The same goes for Desperados and the two Crabbies. Duvel (aka devil) is not exactly a light lunchtime tipple, the same goes for Kwak and St Stefanus Blonde. All of these are supermarket beers nowadays.

Einstok White Ale is available in supermarkets now, Hop House 13 shouldn’t have the word hop near it, and Liefmans Fruitesse is an insult to fruit beers, far too sweet and with at least a 4 quid mark up to make it appear exotic.

This all sounds like I’m being a bit of a beer snob, but if you are calling yourself a “cellar” in this city full of great breweries, you should be stocking some of them. Cloudwater, Alphabet, Marble, Tickety Brew, Runaway, Beer Nouveau, ShinDigger, Burton Road, Beatnikz Republic, Four Kings, Blackjacj, Chorlton, First Chop, Manchester Brewing, Seven Bro7hers and on and on it goes.

No sign of any of them, just beers from some big names and one or two interesting things from further afield.

In the end I settled on Hogs Back Montezuma Chocolate Lager, something I’d had before. The chocolate notes go well with chilli flavours.

On to lunch then.

We fancied something quite light today, so opted to mix and match from the menu. We had nachos with pulled pork (nicely smoked), and all the usual accompaniments of jalapenos, guacamole, salsa, melted cheese and sour cream. We also ordered the pineapple slaw (lots of tasty pineapple pieces), and sweet potato fries (because 2017).

It was a nice light lunch for us, just a shame that the “cellar” part doesn’t work as well as the smokehouse part.

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The Coach and Horses, Kibworth, November 2017

A sunny Saturday stroll today, with regular walking friends and a couple more who we hadn’t seen for a while. We started in Glooston (yes, it’s a real place) and had parked next to the village hall and village pub. We walked almost 7 miles, and got back to our starting point at just after 2:30pm.

Sadly this was too late for the village pub, as they stop serving food at 2pm, one of my pet hates. Luckily we had already catered for this eventuality, and had found a sensible pub that doesn’t close their kitchen at 2pm. So along with Mrs MOFAD and regular walking and dining companions Karon and John, I took a short drive, taking in part of the route home, and we arrived in Kibworth and walked straight into this lovely welcoming pub, with a fire crackling away in the corner.

They’ve recently had a refurbishment, and they’ve done a nice job, keeping the character of the pub, but just making everything clean and fresh. We turned right into the small dining room, perused the menu and then popped up to the bar to order.

A late lunch for us today, so drinks and sandwiches were in order. A couple of decent cask ales on (Hobsons Best, a familiar face from near Ludlow, and Purity Mad Goose from Warwickshire).

Some nice sandwiches to choose from, Mrs MOFAD opted for the tuna melt on sourdough, and the rest of us chose the posh fish finger sandwich.

And a posh fish finger sandwich it was indeed. Lovely soft bloomer, delicious crispy beer battered fish goujons, tasty fat and crispy chips, and a little pot of lightly mushed peas, which make a good dip for your chips.

Lovely food, friendly staff and a nice atmosphere. A cracking little pub right on the A6, so it’s very easy to get to. We’ll be back when we’re next in the area.

The King’s Arms, Hathern, November 2017

A second visit to The King’s Arms in the MOFAD era, although somewhere that we’ve been to a few times, usually for get togethers with walking friends. The same applied tonight, although we didn’t find out about tonight’s gathering until Saturday, as it had somehow slipped under our collective radar.

When you’ve got 30 odd people descending on a pub, you need a certain type of pub that can cope with such things. The posher chain pub wants everyone to be eating, the micropub doesn’t have quite enough room. So this is the level you settle for, a Marston’s chain pub, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. A range of different food options and several beers from the Marston’s empire, including Ringwood and Jennings and a few others that look like they are not from the empire, but they are. With a permanent 2-4-1 deal on food, you need to go with a friend if you don’t want to pay twice as much as everyone else.

Tonight’s beer choice was this month’s seasonal offering from Jennings, Pie in the Sky. It is alleged to be “a robust full bodied beer with pale ale malt and the finest roasted malts combined with whole cone English Fuggle hops to deliver a robust flavour”.

It was just so bland. Before they were owned by the evil empire, I liked Jennings. Hops? Malts? Where? I’m not looking for Cloudwater levels of hoppiness in every pint, but just a decent pint of cask ale would do. It was just so meh.

The food was standard chain pub fodder, I opted for the pulled pork burger, which matched the beer because it was also surprisingly bland. The pulled pork was naked, no sauce, no flavourings, just nude pork (that will get some odd hits for this blog post). It was all ok, but just that. And look at that cheese, it hasn’t even melted in the slightest.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the curry (she does like a pub curry), which was more interesting, although the naan bread was more like a tiny saddle cover for a bicycle seat. Her cider was more interesting, which is not something I thought I would ever say about Bulmer’s.

This does come across as a bit snobby, and it’s not meant to, but this was another of those nights when the company was more important than the food and drink. Again, there was nothing bad, it was just fairly non-descript.

The Narrowboat #1, Skipton, September 2017

After a gentle bimble around Skipton this afternoon we wandered back to the hotel and then back out again for dinner. We’ve booked a table somewhere for tomorrow night (a lesson learned from 2015) but tonight we just decided to wander until we found somewhere. We didn’t take long to find our dinner destination, settling on The Narrowboat, which we’d visited as part of 2015’s walking tour of Skipton.

The first reason for visiting was because I had spotted Hawkshead’s Passion Fruit Gose on the bar. Mrs MOFAD has been looking out for this beer since it was first announced, and we missed it at this year’s Thornbridge Peakender (along with many other great beers which came and went in the blink of an eye). It looked like it was finally time to try it.

So near, and yet so far. I’d ordered it at the bar, but the last few drops dribbled out of the keg. The pub let Mrs MOFAD have it for nothing (to compensate for the sadness), and she had to choose something else. Pogo by Wild Beer Co is fruit salad with a little hop character.

My first was Sorachi by Bristol Beer Factory, a decent cask ale but for me the Sorachi Ace hop was too muted. It’s a Marmite hop but I love its flavour which is why I was looking for more here.

A gentle golden ale next, in the form of Mallisons American SIPA. A decent pint but nothing to really excite.

Just in case you weren’t sure that we were in the North. Chips and gravy. Northern gravy. Although sadly Hazel’s pie had to go back, as during the likely reheating they had burned it rather badly, and it was inedible. It was eventually replaced with pizza, but they didn’t refund the difference.

No such problems with my pizza which they got right first time. A porky fest with bacon, sausage, pulled pork and black pudding.

Black pudding is northern filth, so it was distributed to other plates… Apart from the filth, this was a tasty, porky and crisp pizza, just what I wanted on a Friday night. If that wasn’t good enough, then Mrs MOFAD was even more delighted, as they had found some more Passion Fruit Gose. Her review was simple:-

“OMG. Best. Beer. Ever.”

Fairly clear cut.

My final pint tonight was Citra Star from Northumberland’s Anarchy Brew Co, one that I’ve had before in a can, and it’s even better on cask.

A shame that they burnt the pie, and didn’t really sort the situation out properly, but we did all eventually have a nice dinner and some great beer.

The Beehive, Combs, Derbyshire, September 2017 #1

If this pub looks familiar, that’s because it is. This is now our fifth visit, coinciding with our third stay at the Combs Valley Campsite just up the road. A reduced party today, with just Mrs MOFAD and myself, along with regular MOFAD companions Karon & John. No ninja hound meant that we got to experience the other room. We had wondered about visiting the other pub at the other end of the road, but this pub has always been so good, so why change for the sake of change?

Speaking of change, we had to change our first beer order, because the one we wanted was not up to scratch, so the bar staff had removed it from service. Just the standard house ale to start then, brewed by Wychwood and branded here as Beehive bitter.

What else on a Friday but fish’n’chips? There were a few interesting specials on (including the fish platter that many of us have had on previous visits) but it just had to be fish’n’chips for me.

Lovely piece of fish, good crisp batter, good pub chips and some peas. Simple and tasty. If you do it right, it’s hard to beat. A great combination, made better when accompanied by a solid cask IPA in the form of Thornbridge Rattlesnake.

We had been walking this afternoon, so decided that we had earned a pudding. The tasty Beehive sundae was my choice:-

This is just a great village pub. Lovely people, lovely pub.

The Brotherswater Inn, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017 #3

Veni, vidi, vici.

We returned triumphant, another 4 Wainwrights conquerered, which takes our overall total to 80. We had a lovely walk, taking in The Knott, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag and Gray Crag. We got back a little bit later than planned, partly due to battling 50mph winds on our descent from Gray Crag. Another pleasant evening outside, so there were still a few tables available inside. We picked the window seat at the other end from last night, and perused the menu once more. Another pint of Tirril Eden Valley for me, and more cider for Mrs MOFAD.

Continuing the theme of last night, Mrs MOFAD had what I had 24 hours ago, venison casserole, topped with sauteed kale and accompanied by sweet potato fries. Triple pork nirvana was at stake, so I had the gammon steak, topped with pineapple and grilled tomato.

It was lovely, and a perfect plate of protein after today’s long walk. A nice touch was the snipping of the fat to prevent the steak from curling up, which is something that you don’t see very often. The salad was a bit of a token effort, but the meaty star attraction more than made up for that.

No time to linger tonight, we retired to the Barn End Bar next door for quiz night.

The Brotherswater Inn, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017 #2

A much nicer day today weather wise. After a relaxed start to the day, we headed out to bag 2 more Wainwrights, Little Hart Crag and Hartsop Dodd. I can just make out the route we took down as I’m sitting out in the awning writing this.

After a relaxed afternoon, we headed up to the pub for dinner. As it was a nicer night, more campers were having their BBQs so there were more tables to choose from. We chose the nice one in the corner with lovely fell views.

Another pint of Tirril Eden Valley for me, Mrs MOFAD opted for gin tonight, a Scottish gin called Rock Rose. A new special on the food menu tonight (meatballs) but we both opted for the normal menu again. Mrs MOFAD had what I had last night, the tasty smoked haddock linguine, with a creamy sauce, parmesan and some garlic bread. My choice was venison casserole, topped with sauteed kale and accompanied by sweet potato fries.

It was delicious, tender meat, a nice casserole sauce and crisp sweet potato fries. This was accompanied by another pint of Eden Valley. We hung around for a while and played a card game before returning to the van.