Spirit of Harborough festival, May 2017

You may already have read all of the individual posts from the places that we visited when strolling around Market Harborough for the Spirit of Harborough festival. This is just a quick wrap up to look at the event as a whole.

The Spirit of Harborough festival is a new event for 2017, set up to be a celebration of the finest locally produced wine, beer, gin and cider. Over the weekend there are a number of activities taking place such as taste tours, tastings from local brewers and tours and demonstrations from local producers.

We embarked on the “Taste Harborough Mini Taste Trail”, which started out at “The Square” in the town centre, where a pop up stall was available for you to collect your map and booklet (£3 per person) to take to the various outlets to receive your samples. The first sample was on the stall itself, a genuine Leicestershire pork pie, which was a delicious start. We studied the map and then plotted our route around the town.

Our next stop was the indoor market, where we strolled around the stalls and then sampled some tasty cakes from  – we also ended up buying a box of gin and tonic cupcake bites to enjoy later (we have a plentiful supply of doughnuts but it’s nice to have other cake-y offerings).

We then strolled along the River Welland and down to The Oat Hill, to sample some local vodka and beers from the Langton Brewery (just to the north of MH).

This was a lovely pub which we would like to come back to one day, and it was lovely to sit out in the beer garden sampling the beers and vodka. There was more taste touring to do, so we crossed over the river and then down to Beerhouse, who were hosting Market Harborough Brewery for the day. They didn’t have far to travel, situated as they literally across the road from Beerhouse.

Down in the “back room”, we met Ivan from the brewery, who took us on a little tutored tasting of five of their bottled beers. More details on that here.

Our next stop 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 🙂

We had to make some tactical decisions, because not all outlets were open all day. Tip for next year – get everyone to offer their wares for a longer period to stop this from being necessary. We gambled on The Angel Hotel, who had some sausages and meatballs on offer to try. I’m not sure that they really entered into the spirit of Spirit of Harborough though, since they just had a couple of plates of food in the reception area, and they had just about run out of sausages. A bit of a token effort really, no-one to engage with about the food.

Our final stop was much better, Duncan Murray Wines. They hold regular tastings each Saturday, so they really knew what they were doing. We tasted Brynne Vineyard Phoenix, a white wine with “an English hedgerow and cutgrass nose, leading to a smooth, soft, citrus fruit finish.” We then had a couple more beers from Market Harborough Brewery, as well as some different ones from The Langton Brewery. There was also time for a bit more shopping…

Our tour was over, so we retired to Square Cafe Bar for some lunch. We then headed off to the final stop, Farndon Fields farm shop. We went by car as it was on our route back to the camp site. Sadly, they had run out of free samples (more bad planning) so we had to make do with a wander round and a spot of shopping instead:-

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We had a lovely time exploring Market Harborough. The good weather (the threatened rain never materialised) really helped things. I hope that this festival goes from strength to strength. Given time and with more producers on board, it could grow to rival Ludlow (our favourite town food/drink festival).

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Wollaton Cricket Club – the sixth annual beer festival

A departure from the norm here. An advert. I am not for sale, but when Comrade Chairman (a former colleague) comes calling then the rules can be bent a little bit. Next weekend there is a beer festival occuring. I can’t be there, but maybe you can.

Wollaton Cricket Club would like to invite you to join them for their sixth annual beer festival, at the Wollaton Sports Association Ground from the evening of Thursday 25th May until Bank Holiday Monday 29th May.

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The festival will offer beer and cider drinkers a choice of up to 20 fantastic quality ales and ciders from a wide range of the country’s best breweries.

Prices start from under £3.00 a pint, with the bar open from 6.00pm until 11.00pm on Thursday 25th May, 12 noon until 11pm Friday-Sunday, and 12-6pm on Monday 28th May.

There is outdoor seating available, from where you will be able to enjoy your tasty beverage whilst watching the weekend’s cricket at one of the most picturesque grounds in the county.

You can also tuck into some food with your beer. There will be a BBQ on the Friday evening and other delicious snacks such as pasties and samosas, from local suppliers, available during the festival.

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The Wollaton Sports Association Ground is situated on Wollaton Road, NG8 2AN, and is only a two-minute walk away from the NCT 30 and Trent Barton Rainbow bus stops.

Enjoy cricket and beer, a match made in heaven.

Easter Monday lunch, The Old Hall Hotel, Hope, April 2017

Easter Monday traditionally sees a visit to the pub for lunch. This is a tradition in Mrs MOFAD’s family, and is something we have done together for many years. It is often followed by some form of sporting activity, usually a game of rounders or cricket. Weather permitting. I say weather permitting, but we have been known to play on a snowy pitch before now. Not for a good few years now though, we’ve had quite a few mild Easters.

This year’s gathering just happened to be taking place at the Old Hall Hotel in Hope. Venue for the Hope Valley Beer and Cider festival that has been mentioned already on this blog. Pure coincidence surely? Or all part of the caring, sharing MOFAD plan to allow others to sample local ales? The MOFAD is all about the sharing 🙂

Mrs MOFAD began today’s proceedings with Elderflower by Pulp, from the beer festival tent outside. It was sweet with elderflower hints.

My choice was JW Lees Manchester Pale Ale, an inoffensive golden ale. If the name is familiar, that could be because you’ll often find their yeast strains in beers from Cloudwater Brew Co.

On to the starter next, and just like the last time we came here for Easter Monday, it was a pate which was supposed to be served with a pear chutney, but this didn’t materialise… The pate was nice though, with a few cheffy smears  of balsamic glaze having to make up for the lack of chutney.

Another drink to accompany the main course, this was Plane Jane by Long Hop, a gentle blonde ale.

Mrs MOFAD had a Tempted Medium Sweet from Tempted Irish Craft Cider, which was quite dry and would probably work better with a curry.

On to the main course, and just like the starter, it was similar to the one in 2015. The biggest difference was probably that it was served on a plate this year, and not a board! Hurrah! A nice piece of fish with a nice pesto crust, sweet potato chips and small bowl of peas.

Instead of pudding, I finished off my meal with a Sleepy Badgers by Little Critters from Sheffield, a smooth stout with chocolate notes.

Another pleasant trip to The Old Hall, everyone enjoyed their meals.

Old Hall Hotel, Hope, Beer Festival day 1, April 2017

We find ourselves back in Hope. A lovely little village with some lovely pubs, and good accommodation. And on each Bank Holiday weekend, a beer festival. We’ve been to this one a few times before, and it’s something that brings us back here. It’s a classic cask ale beer festival, with a decent selection of ciders too.

Tonight was the first night of the festival, and we popped in for a few drinks before going off to pick up a curry.

First up, Full Moon from Chantry Brewery, a hoppy, floral and bitter pale ale, very gentle.

Mrs MOFAD opted for this Mango from Broadoak. The clue is in the name. Sweet, sweet mango flavours. Very easy drinking. Scarily so!

My next beer was so good, it didn’t get photographed. Dark Peak from Howard Town Brewery is a rum infused porter – fruity, sweet and a smack in the mouth with a boxing glove dipped in rum. It was really nice. Looking forward to having a few more beers here over the weekend…

Summer House Beer Festival, October 2016

There is of course no such thing.

This “beer festival” was a self-curated drinking session featuring myself and regular MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve. We had a focus on dark beers tonight, and we had all brought a selection of bottles with us to share and try.

We started with Umbral Abyss by Vibrant Forest Brewery (procured by Matt). Whilst it lacked the now legendary Vibrant effervescence, there were good smooth coffee notes running through this one. Definintely one for coffee-ists like Bruce and Alec.

I took a quick turn away from the darkness here, for another Vibrant Forest brew, a Radicale Belgian Zuur Bier, which was tart but mellowed nicely – a good sour beer.

We stayed with Vibrant Forest for their Black Forest, which was a piquant porter indeed.

We moved on to some of my bottles next with an Imperial Brown Stout London 1856 by The Kernel Brewery, which was thick, brown and very chewy. We then moved on to Export Stout London 1890 by The Kernel Brewery, another of mine, which was very dark and very delicious. One of my beers of the night for sure.

This was followed by another favourite, a Bourbon Oktober again by Vibrant Forest Brewery. The second time I’ve had this big bourbon vanilla beast this year.

A mis-step next. We opened two bottles of Belgian Dubbel by Vibrant Forest. The first was very flat and tasted pretty off. The second had more carbonation but was still not right. We should have been getting raisins and similar but we just had to pour them away. Something not right with the batch perhaps?

And as you do, we finished with coffee. Guatemalan Coffee Extra Porter by Buxton Brewery to be precise. Massive coffee nose, big coffee flavours and some vanilla too. This was also a highlight of the evening.

It’s fair to say that our curated and self-hosted mini beer festival was a success. Buy beers, share beers with friends. It’s a great way to spend an evening.

Wicked Hathern Fest, August 2016

This blog is almost always about food and drink, and Wicked Hathern Fest has already generated two posts about food and drink (Pete on the Street and The Hog Stop). However, I wanted to write a quick post about the festival itself, as there are some other bits and pieces to write about.

Primarily a mini music festival, there is plenty of other stuff going on. This year there was a stage with acts specifically for children, craft stalls and people exhibiting cars. You’ll notice sponsorship from a local car dealer, pretty hard to miss. This is a sign that the festival is growing. There was also a comedy stage which sadly clashed with the main headliners – a shame as there were some good acts from the circuit on.

Unsurprisingly for a village with a brewery (although not represented here) there is a beer tent, this year “curated” by a local pub. Unfortunately, when we arrived at around 4pm many of the ales had already gone. However, this running out of alcohol also had an interesting effect later on, because the filth known as Strongbow ran out, and people were being forced to drink real cider. Although they appeared to be unprepared for the increased ABV of the more flavoursome beverage…

And so on to the music. If you had ever told me that I would one day see a Grammy-nominated Motown star performing in a field on the outskirts of a sleepy Midlands market town, I would have laughed at you for at least an hour. In fact if you had told me that *I* would ever see that star performing anywhere outside of the USA I would probably have also chuckled quietly to myself for a bit…

As well as local bands performing original songs and covers, including 1980s covers band We Tried Kylie (who play no Kylie but are great) and indie covers band The Zufflers (who definitely play no Kylie but are also great), tonight there were two headline acts. First up were 1990s indie kids Dodgy, who decided to perform quite a lot of new and unreleased material to a not all that interested audience. They were an ok band who never really set the pulse racing, and that was replicated tonight.

On to the real headliners then. How on earth do you get Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (Lois and Delphine, who are just two of Matha’s many sisters) to turn up to a field just off the A6? No, I have no idea how the organisers did it either, but they did.

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were brilliant. She is 75. You would never know. Full of energy and obviously having a great time, she was even impressed by meeting the mayor before the show.

She arrived on stage in a Native American head dress, opening with Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”. She was quick to remind everyone that Hathern was a long way from Detroit, Michigan (in case we weren’t aware). Another cover soon followed, an odd choice of George Harrison’s lovely Beatles song “Something”, which was nice but not a big crowd pleaser.

Plenty of her most famous songs throughout the set too, including Heat Wave, Jimmy Mack, and Nowhere to Run, with a special introduction reserved for Dancing in the Street, with Martha thanking many of the artists who had also covered it, even Bowie & Jagger.

Marvin Gaye was one of the writers of Dancing in the Street, and the band paid tribute to him with a version What’s Going On? which soon turned into that concert staple of “the song where everyone in the band does a solo, including every separate member of the horn section, and the drummer”. The set finished with fireworks and a Motown medley – at least this one was performed by an actual Motown legend!

A great day out, I have no idea how they will top it in 2017, although not running out of lots of the good beer before 4pm will probably help! I can now add a Motown legend to my list of legendary artists seen live…

The Hog Stop at Wicked Hathern Fest, August 2016

I have already talked about The Hog Stop a couple of times back in April. As I mentioned, they also have a dedicated catering trailer which can be found around the town on market days and at various other events. Today’s Wicked Hathern Fest was one such event. After some tasty Peter Pizza earlier, we needed more sustenance before the headlining acts.

Luckily The Hog Stop trailer was on hand to delight us with porky goodness. The full line up was available:-

English – apple sauce, sage and onion stuffing and crackling.
Italian porchetta – garlic, fennel, rosemary and chilli.
American BBQ – apple coleslaw and BBQ sauce.
Jamaican jerk – scotch bonnet pepper sauce & banana chutney.
Chinese 5 spice – hoisin sauce and Asian leaf salad.

We both went for the American BBQ which was delicious once again, a perfect festival snack, filling and fab. The Hog Stop are purveyors of perfect pork!