The Sultan of Keswick, January 2019

It’s the end of our Lakes holiday. The weather has been very kind to us, seven walks and seven more Wainwrights added to our total, which now stands at 123, with 91 to go. We’ve completed book 6, the North Western Fells.

As it’s a Friday night, we’re having curry as usual, and treating ourselves to a takeaway. Regular readers will know that we very rarely eat in at a curry house as they just don’t have anything that we would like to drink. The beer and cider that we have bought from local shops is way better than what’s on offer here, so our #tryanuary adventure is continuing at home tonight after a couple of nights out down the pub.

In keeping with the spirit of #tryanuary, we’re trying a new curry house, The Sultan of Keswick. We usually go to Lakeland Spice Cuisine, so we decided to take a chance on this one. The first thing you notice is that the price is much higher than everywhere else in town, even with a 20% discount for takeaways.

I went for one of my usual selections when trying out a new curry house, chicken shatkora, a chicken curry with small pieces of a citrus fruit known sometimes as a wild orange. I love the sourness of this fruit with the richness of a curry sauce, but tonight there was an enormous lack of fruit, although plenty of chicken. And lots of spiciness, probably the spiciest shatkora that I’ve ever had.

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It was accompanied by a lovely naan bread. Overall, it was not bad, but I don’t think it’s better than our usual haunt.

On to that #tryanuary bit. I like a spot of IPA with my curry, and this Eden River Brew Co “Yakama” was full of dry and fruity bitterness, lovely west coast stylings. Very tasty stuff, one of their best, up with Amber Rocket.

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If you think that Eden River Brew Co sound a bit familiar, it’s because until last summer they were known as “Eden Brewery”, changing to something more “craft-oriented” (their words) to get them recognised outside of Cumbria. I’ve been drinking their beer before they were trendy 🙂

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Quiz night at The Pack Horse Inn, Keswick, January 2019 #tryanuary

Our fourth visit to the Pack Horse quiz night. On our last three visits, we’ve won every time. What happened to “My Pointless Friend Richard” tonight? Find out later.

Today we climbed Whiteside, our 120th Wainwright. It was one of the trickier ones, very much a straight up and down visit, and it took quite a bit of effort. A good feed was required, and a decent home made burger and a pile of chips was just what the doctor (me, definitely not a doctor) ordered.

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The burger was fantastic. You’ve read this from me many times already, but when properly done, a decent burger is hard to beat. Really tasty beef, extra tangy cheddar and some proper English mustard. Big fat chips which were crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. A decent salad and some dressing too, not just a pile of limp iceberg (the excuse for salad that I usually moan about).

The only fly in the ointment was the lack of a plate, a silly bread board having taken its place. To be fair to them, they would have needed a decent sized plate to accommodate this tasty portion.

On to the #tryanuary bit. I was hoping to taste a new beer from Robinsons who own this pub. They have made over 150 different beers but this doesn’t seem to be a market where they are wanting to test anything new, as they always seem to have the same ones on. So it was Double Hop and Dizzy Blonde, which still hasn’t been rebranded, despite this being announced back in May 2018.

On to the quiz bit. For the first time, we lost. Beaten by our neighbours, a table of 8 which felt like a bit of an unfair fight, but we were well and truly thrashed. We shall return to reclaim our crown another day.

#Tryanuary is back for 2019

Now entering its fifth year, Tryanuary is a nationwide campaign to encourage support for the beer industry throughout January. It’s all about getting out and trying new things. Don’t go crazy in December, and you can still enjoy January like a normal person.

The brainchild of Mancunian beer blogger Andy Heggs and brewery owners Stuart Swann and Shane Swindells, Tryanuary was created to encourage beer fans to support independent breweries, pubs, bars and other retailers during what can be a challenging month for the industry. Since its inception in 2015, the campaign has garnered huge support.

In November 2017, Andy passed the baton on to Tom Stapley. Within a fortnight of announcing that the campaign had come under the wing of Craft Beer Hour, the team had scaled to nearly 100 volunteers, spread out across UK and Ireland. That army of Local Champions (one of whom was me) went on to help the 2018 campaign be felt more locally than ever before.

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In October 2018, the campaign was adopted in its entirety by Mike Hampshire. Mike, who is based in Leeds, was already the Regional Coordinator for West Yorkshire and in tune with the work of the volunteers. As the founder and organiser of the Festival of Brewers, a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, a brewery guide, consultant and a speaker, Mike’s repertoire of experience in the brewing industry made him a great fit for the role.

Mike is leading the team into the fifth year of Tryanuary, something that you too can be a part of. Volunteer today to help put your region on the Tryanuary map!

This isn’t about drinking more.
It’s about trying something different.
Tasting something new.
Experiencing something interesting.

Find the main campaign on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tryanuary and our local account here (curated by yours truly) https://twitter.com/tryeastmidlands – share your experiences on social media with #tryanuary

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #15 – December 2018

The final selection for 2018, and the 33rd box overall. Three session pales and a few stronger ones to see you through the Xmas period. Probably too late for any of them to get in to my selection for #12beersofxmas but perhaps a late substitution could occur. Let’s get on with it.

Almasty – IPA – 6%

A beer with few words to describe it, so a calculated gamble from the N&P, because they’ve never had a bad beer from Almasty. Neither have I, a lovely coffee stout, Passion Fruit pale and Camillo (a tribute to Negroni) being my favourites so far.

Gipsy Hill – Galaxy – 4.3%

Galaxy is a part of a single hop series. Built around the hops, the grist is simple, designed to pull out the nuanced flavours of Galaxy.

Siren – Vu Du Yu Lu – 7.3%

Siren have always celebrated brewing milestones with amped-up versions of their favourite flagship beers. This time Yu Lu gets the treatment, turning a delicate loose leaf pale ale into a fully fledged IPA. Big hitting citrus and fruity hops lead the charge, followed up with Earl Grey tea and bergamot notes echoing the quintessential Yu Lu flavours. The original Yu Lu was very light with hints of citrus, also well carbonated and refreshing.

Summer Wine – Pacer – 4.1%

Rides a relatively modest ABV yet still has a basket brimming full of aromatic American hops. I had a tasty pint of this on cask in September.

Verdant – Neal Gets Things Done – 6.5%

With lashings of Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops, Neal Gets Things Done is the latest juicy banger from juicy banger specialists Verdant. Everyone that I know who has had this tells me it’s an absolute classic.

Wilde Child – Beyond Redemption – 4.0%

A Pineapple Milkshake IPA. Yes, that is a thing nowadays. Big American hops are at the fore with a massive dose of lactose for that creamy mouthfeel. And so much concentrated Pineapple Juice that you will think you are sat on a Caribbean beach.

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Thornbridge night, The Needle & Pin, Loughborough, December 2018

Oh yes it’s Thornbridge night, and the feeling’s right, oh yes it’s Thornbridge night, oh what a night.

The annual Thornbridge night at The Needle & Pin. Now in its third year, but with a new host, as Meg has moved on to Beavertown (a gentle and fairly playful boo and hiss rippled around the room from the people who hadn’t already heard this news). We met James, field sales manager for Thornbridge.

We talked all things Thornbridge. Having (between us all) been to the previous two Thornbridge nights, been on the brewery tour, and been fairly regular attendees at Peakender (just me on that one), we had a fair bit of Thornbridge knowledge (we wiped the floor with everyone else in last year’s quiz) so bandied around a few topics for discussion, including the popularity of of good cask beer, getting so many beers into Tesco and future beer plans.

And of course there was beer. One of the new variations of Lucaria, Salted Caramel Lucaria, full of toffee, coffee, chocolate and creaminess. A lovely pint to savour.

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Whilst that was going down, so was Thornbridge bingo, Sean’s latest game. Pretty much as you would imagine, bingo cards with names of Thornbridge beers on, and then beer names drawn out of a box to tick off on your card. We had time for a couple of rounds, and we won a couple of lines on our table, with prizes on all of the other tables too. Great fun.

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More chat, and then James remembered something. He disappeared downstairs and returned with two bottles of Serpent to share around. Serpent was the subject of our first Thornbridge night, so once again I think we scared James a bit with our knowledge of it. I bought a bottle that night, and we had it on New Year’s Eve last year. It had aged well.

We had some more tonight, surprised that there was still some in existence. It has continued to age well, still dominated by apple, with some bourbon smoothness in the background. It continues to be the beer that is not a beer.

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There was time to sample Necessary Evil, an absolute malt bomb full of all the malts.

Another great night out at The Needle & Pin. Great fun with lovely people, and perfectly kept beers as usual. Looking forward to the 2019 version already!

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #12 – December 2018

Selection box number 32 and some big dark beasts for the festive period. As the nights get darker (for the next 19 days anyway), so do the beers. Let’s enter the black hole…

Amundsen – Chocolate Marshmellow – 11.5%

Which idiot came up with the idea that you should pair your beer with a dessert? Why not just make a beer that would be dessert in itself? Save yourself making dessert and just crack one of these open. Amundsen decided to pick out three of their favourite dessert flavours to incorporate in a flagship imperial stout. Dark, sweet and delicious. This version brings back memories of marshmallows and hot chocolate around a camp fire. Will probably go well with smores. Although it’s probably not the season for them.

Left Handed Giant – Woodland Creatures V2 – 6.9%

Pistachio & Honeycomb Milk Stout collab with Uiltje Brewing Company with Bramling Cross hops, Maris Otter, Carafa III, Caramalt, Chocolate, Crystal in the malt bill and pistachios, honeycomb and lactose added in order to turn this into liquid Crunchie.

Moor – Old Freddy Walker – 7.4%

Moor, from Bristol, are celebrating their 11th birthday this year. Old Freddy Walker was Champion Winter Beer of Britain in 2004, and is one of Roger Protz’s “300 beers to try before you die”. A cult ale, described as “one for the connoisseur”, it’s a rich, dark, and full bodied old ale that really has to be tasted to be appreciated. This beer is usually the first to sell out at beer festivals, thanks to its blend of Pale, Lager, Crystal, Wheat and Black malts that are fermented with an English yeast. Bramling Cross hops are added to provide a hint of orange and a balancing dose of bitterness.

If these words sound familiar, it’s because this is the first beer to make a second appearance in the craft beer club, this time in a can instead of the large bottle of April 2017. It really is a classic old ale.

It seems to have creeped up by 0.1% since last time too…

Stillwater – Big Bunny – 8.0%

Imperial chocolate milk stout, a collaboration with Arizona Wilderness. Aromas of cocoa nibs, burnt toast and dark, roasted coffee followed by an intense, smooth chocolate flavour. It finishes with a terrifically smooth roastiness.

Weird Beard – Dirrty Hands – 9.8%

Imperial Schwarzbier. Those loveable rogues at Weird Beard collaborated with Haand Bryggeriet to make a dark, sticky, filthy beer worthy of getting your hands dirty. Being an Imperial Black Pilsner, they wanted to get those dark malts pumping, getting just a little naughty at 9.8%

Westbrook – 7th Anniversary Chocolate and Sea Salt – 10%

For their 7th Anniversary Beer, they went big on the chocolate and added a little salt to make it interesting. Luscious notes of liquid cocoa and a smooth salinity make this beer deliciously decadent.

Sean adds: I bought this beer in January and have kept it all year for this beer club. A one off brew to celebrate Westbrook’s 7th Birthday and imported from South Carolina.

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BBC Good Food Show Winter, The NEC, November 2018

So here we are again, the annual visit to the Good Food Show. A compressed trip this year, as we had a discounted ticket which meant you couldn’t get in before 11am, and Mrs MOFAD had an appointment with an aircraft this afternoon (off to Munich for work).

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Luckily, the show was smaller this year, so we managed to do everything in 4 hours. There seems to be a trend towards shrinking over the last few years, and there were so many producers missing. No Port of Lancaster smokehouse, no Dean’s Shortbread, no Geeta’s, no Debbie & Andrew’s. No White’s, no Wild, no Saucy Fish, no Yorkshire Provender.

The most startling thing was the lack of breweries. I think 2016 was probably the high point for this, whilst this year there were only 5 or 6. Barely any cider makers this year too. Still lots of gin dominating the drinks village. Good to see our friends at the Curry Sauce Co back again (and they are now available in Ocado too!)

I met some fellow ministers:-

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and as usual we sampled some good food and drink, the standard random selection of beer, cheese, apples, gin, chocolate, sausages, pears, biscuits, chutneys, sauces and chicken teryaki. Definitely a much smaller show this year, but we still returned with a decent haul (some items not pictured for reasons).

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