Brewdog Nottingham, January 2018

A very rare excursion to Nottingham. Very rare. In fact, I think the last time we came here was because the Derby Assembly Rooms had burned down. So that puts it in 2014. Four years on, and there’s still no Assembly Rooms. Apparently it will be knocked down in 2020 and rebuilt in 2022. On that occasion, we were here to watch Sarah Millican’s rescheduled show. Today, there was a Christmas present to exchange. We just don’t come to Nottingham these days.

After achieving our goal, we wandered down to Brewdog for lunch, as it was our closest option for good food and an interesting beer. Well, one of us had an interesting beer. My Indie Pale Ale was a very dull biscuity lager which did not exhibit any of the “pear and banana notes” that were claimed in the tasting notes.

Mrs MOFAD’s beer was far more interesting. Raspberry Popsicle Parade was fruity, smooth and a little tart, a 0.5% raspberry Berliner Weisse. If only all low alcohol beer was this good.

Lunch was pizza. My Brewdog dining experience is generally formed of burgers or pizza, and this is a pizza establishment. Which means I will be choosing King of Pigs, gyula sausage, leeks, tomatoes, with mozzarella and watercress. As usual, it was delicious. Pizza done simply and done well is a thing to behold. This had tasty sausage, with the piquancy of leeks and great peppery watercress. I wouldn’t mind a few more slices of sausage and a lot more watercress.

Another solid Brewdog experience.

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The Pack Horse Inn, Keswick, January 2018 – quiz night

We are back after a 6 month absence. Technically, we are reigning pub quiz champions, since when we were last here (22nd June 2016) we won, thanks in no small part to the specialist round on computing.

After conquering our second Wainwright this year (Great Crag) we needed food and drink. And luckily the pub quiz was on again, so we had to defend our crown. More on that story later. Let’s deal with the refuelling part first.

First up, the classic piece of false advertising from Robinsons, “Double Hop”. If there is normally just one hop in each pint, then perhaps it’s correct. This is a malty bitter, it’s not an IPA.

After a good walk, a good dinner was needed. You can’t go wrong with pie’n’chips and that turned out to be correct once more. A proper pie too, not just a bowl of stew with a pastry lid cooked nearby.

More refreshment required, in the form of Hawkshead Lager, nice and simple but far better than any Euro fizz that might be found elsewhere. Clean and crisp.

It was time to crack on with the pub quiz, and we were soon into the swing of things, picking up some easy points on the music round, and doing well in the other rounds. Apparently the couple opposite us had won the previous week, but given some of their appalling answers and their utterly terrible spelling, we couldn’t see how that would have been possible. This rather boosted our confidence and we were very happy to find ourselves in a winning position for the second time.

We celebrated with Blonde Tom from Robinsons, a tribute act to a Belgian blonde with a hint of honey. We shall have to come back again in the summer to defend our crown once more. Always a pleasure to come to this lovely pub, and even nicer when they give you money for winning 🙂

BBC Good Food Show Winter, The NEC, November 2017

The annual round up of the annual pilgrimage to the NEC to visit the BBC Good Food Show. And for the first time since the last century, we had a guest, with Mrs MOFAD’s sister (and regular MOFAD supplier) Jo joining us for the first half of the day. We rocked up at the NEC at just after 10am, after a quick detour to pick up our passenger. Note to future self – coming down the A446 from junction 9 is much better than going down to junction 6.

In to the show we go. More security this year, sniffer dogs trying hard not to be distracted by the smell of sausages cooking nearby. Guide dogs doing the same. As usual we set off for the drinks sections first, which were absolutely overwhelmed by gin producers. I thought that there were loads of them last year, but I’m sure there were even more this year. Fewer cider producers and way fewer breweries. No Renegade/West Berkshire (probably the highlight of the last 2 years). No BAD Co (another good one from last year). No Empress Ale. No Crafty Devil. Not even a bigger name like Wadworth.

There were a few familiar names as well as some new breweries (reports on them to come later I’m sure). Plenty of interesting food producers, but again some notable absentees. No Croome Cuisine and their lovely hop cheese. No Debbie & Andrew’s. We picked up the usual haul of Dean’s biscuits, always the most generous with their samples of whole biscuits (unlike some of the cheese producers who have samples the size of a mote of dust).

Santa tells me that there are more goodies to come in 25 days, so I’ll wait until then to do another round up 🙂

The Diner, Camden, November 2017

There are a lot of places to eat in Camden Town. Between this and the hotel I was staying in (just a couple of hundred yards away) there are 5 or 6 to choose from. Between this and the Underground, there must be around 30 or 40. The establishment that I left to come to this one (Brewdog) also does food.

Someone else was deciding tonight, a project team outing with the day job (this hobby blog has not been sufficiently monetised to make not having a day job an option). We settled on “The Diner”, a small chain that has a few London branches. It’s another of those Tex Mex style places that has proliferated our cities in recent years. The usual selection on the menu, dirty burgers, chilli dogs, nachos, burritos and the like.

I opted for a southern style chicken burger and some spiced fries, both of which hit the spot nicely.

There was a nice looking American IPA on the bottled beer menu, but that had sold out (this seems to happen a lot at the minute, where the most intresting beers are those with the lowest stock levels).

So I settled for this Pacifico Clara, the Corona that you’ve probably not heard of. Like its more common namesake, it comes with a lime in the top, even if you didn’t ask for it to be wedged in there. Hopless and largely flavourless, it’s not much more than some coloured water. Now you see the point of the lime – to add actual flavour.

It was a decent dinner, but nothing special, and with so much choice nearby, I wouldn’t choose this above anything else.

Harry’s Bar, Albufeira, Algarve, October 2017

When visiting a new place, do you like to sit in the town square and drink cheap lager whilst weeping inside about what it probably once was? If so, this is the kind of place to do that. Cheap fizzy Euro lager all round, and a comedy pan pipe band playing 70s and 80s covers for your “entertainment”.

If you’re wondering why we usually spend our holidays walking in the hills and mountains, this is the answer. At least we had some people to talk to, as we were meeting friends here. As I said in my earlier post, don’t come to Albufeira.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #7 – September 2017

The eleventh selection from the N&P and the seventh in the “normal” club (as opposed to the dark side club).

I think I’ve finished everything from box six and five and still one left from three (Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA). Let’s dive in.

Alechemy – EH54 – 5.7%

A rare beer from a brewery who are always a hit when their casks pop up at the N&P. A strong hop aroma with juicy fruit notes of pineapple and mandarin. A pale malt base gives a light digestive biscuit backbone which soon gives way to the torrent of hops. Strong fruity flavours of mandarin and pink grapefruit explode in the mouth, with a finish that is hoppt and tangy, with grapefruit becoming drier. A good west coast IPA full of body and complexity.

Almasty – West Coast IPA – 7%

Canned on 8th August, these super fresh cans are crammed full of old school, new world hops in the kettle. It has then been dry hopped excessively with the new breed of U.S super hops. Big aroma, big flavour and big bitterness. West coast style.

Hops in the boil: Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Cascade
Dry hop: Mosaic, Eureka, El Dorado and Citra
Yeast: US-05

Brew York – Nuba – 6.7%

We loved our visit to the Brew York 1st birthday party in April. Nuba is a Vermont style hazy and dank east coast IPA. Expect grapefruit passion fruit and bubble gum (!) with a gentle resinous finish. Do not expect massive bitterness or a challenge. An easy drinker packed with Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops.

Fourpure – Deucebox Double Citrus IPA – 8.3%

Last year Fourpure made Juicebox, a citrus IPA. What if they made it bigger, bolder and better? Step forward Deucebox. Oranges are added to the Juicebox recipe with double the hops, double the malt and double the juice to give a punchy and tropical glass of joy. Yes please!

Thornbridge – Tzara – 4.8%

A familiar one this, you can get it in M&S! Tzara is a hybrid beer, fermented like an ale but matured like a lager. A broad, almost fruity palate with some bready notes. A crisp, refreshing beer. Voted Best Kolsch Ale in Europe in the 2013 World Beer Awards.

Wild Weather Ales – Motorcycle Emptiness – 5%

Drawing from the Manic Street Preachers’ song that inspired it, its bitter background is soon overturned by big hop notes. Sherbert and lemon contend on the nose while a full bodied grape and lime flavour cleanse the palate.

Philharmonic Dining Rooms, Liverpool, September 2017 #2

I said I’d be back. I was right. After waxing lyrical about this pub during the day, more people wanted to come and see it. After suffering a paucity of beer at a conference dinner earlier this evening, a short stroll was in order for a nightcap. If you want to read a bit more about the pub, try yesterday’s post.

Better beer tonight, in the form of Guileless, a clean and crisp pilsner from Redwillow brewery in Macclesfield who are doing good things right now. I’ve had six of their beers this year, but all the others have been in cans, so it was nice to enjoy one in a pub.

Great to be back in this lovely old pub, I’ll be sure to come back next time that I’m in the city.