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 ūüôā

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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.

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.

Toast launches nationwide in Tesco

Toast is an award winning beer brewed using surplus fresh bread that would otherwise be wasted. All profits go to the charity Feedback to tackle food waste.¬†44% of bread produced in the UK is wasted¬†– Toast’s¬†mission is to change that.

You may recall that earlier in the year I was one of the many people who crowd funded the launch of two new styles, a lager and a session IPA.

toast1

Toast brew with fresh, unsold loaves from bakeries and the heel ends of loaves not used by sandwich makers. They add malted barley, hops, yeast and water, and bread replaces around a third of the usual grains. They worked with Hackney Brewery in London on the recipe for the Pale Ale and have continued to refine it with their current brewer Hambleton Ales in Yorkshire, using only British hops.

In their first year, they’ve brewed with over 2 tonnes of surplus fresh bread, and their¬†ambition is to save more than 100 tonnes of wasted bread within 3 years.

The Session IPA and lager are now available to buy in Tesco. Tesco have committed that no food that’s safe for human consumption will go to waste from its UK retail operations by the end of 2017.

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You can continue to buy Toast in hundreds of independent UK retailers and nationally in Waitrose and Spar.

All images copyright Toast.

Beer of the month, May 2017 – Blacklight Banana by Siren Craft Brew

Another of those months where all the beers in the shortlist for beer of the month were not sampled in a pub, bar or similar. This is partly the reason why there was no pub of the month in May 2017.

Let’s take a look at some of the beers in the running, sampled at home or at a campsite…

First up we have¬†Flat White by Alphabet Brewing Company, a white coffee stout. Yes, white stout. This had a big coffee nose and a very smooth finish. My first white coffee stout and if they are all like this (which they probably won’t be) then it won’t be the last.

Next up, a Heathen by Northern Monk, full of Citra fruity hoppiness. Northern Monk are knocking out consistently good beers, I have several other cans in stock.

Off to pun land next, for a Viennese Cranberry Rye Pale Ale called This Means Nothing To Me by Alphabet Brewing Company.¬†Oh Vienna! Hops, rye, green tea and cranberries. That’s a first. Good dryness and bitter/sourness from the fruits. A very interesting combination that I really liked. Mrs MOFAD was not so much of a fan.

A few Cloudwaters in quick succesion now. Motueka Pilsner had fruity, crisp, sweet bready notes and a nice hop profile. Cloudwater have nailed the lager market with some of their recent output.

Another May favourite was the Session IPA Chinook Mosaic, an all day IPA with hoppiness, bitterness and some resin. The Autumn + Winter IPL Vic Secret Comet had a piney nose, very lagery to start and a minty/lavender herbal finish.

We move to Weird Beard Brew for something a little different next. Out of Office Ethiopian Coffee IPA. Coffee and hops? Yes please!

Back to hoppiness with Fantasma by Magic Rock Brewing. The best gluten free beer that I’ve ever had. Hoppy, bitter, juicy, dank, orange and pineapple flavours. Lovely stuff, really easy drinking. If you have to avoid gluten, you don’t have to avoid enormous flavours.

We go back to the 2016 Rainbow Project for this month’s winner.¬†Blacklight Banana by Siren Craft Brew.¬†Big alcohol, big coffee, big roastiness. Yes, we have no bananas. It’s a really nice beer but I was actually hoping for a big banana flavour from this. If it’s in there, it’s very subtle (some others have tasted it).

banana.

This goes forward to beer of the year, the second dark beer in the pot.

Duncan Murray Wines, Market Harborough, May 2017

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…

My friend and former colleague Adrienne used to be a regular here when she lived in Harbs. She has since emigrated to Aberdeen and rather misses this place. It’s amazing that the granite city can have such an effect on a person that it would make them miss Market Harborough…

(Edit : three months on and I’ve only sampled one of these beers!)

Brentwood Brewing Company, May 2017

The next door neighbour of Calcott Hall Farm Shop (and hence I usually visit one after the other), Brentwood Brewing Company moved in to this, their third premises, during 2013. Not many breweries find themselves in an old potato barn, but this is a perfect site, with so much passing trade from the farm shop, where their beers are also on sale if the brewery is closed.

Their are tours and events on certain days, or you can just turn up and buy some bottles, like I did. The door might be locked, just ring the bell, there’s someone always lurking somewhere during opening hours.

Today I went to pick up some new bottles from¬†their new “rebellious offspring”¬†Elephant School Brewing.¬†A British East India Company elephant training school was based in Brentwood and this remained an active army base as a depot for the Essex Regiment until 1959, when much of the site was redeveloped as the European headquarters of the Ford Motor Company.

The beers from this offspring are not your traditional cask ales, so there are plenty of different styles on offer,¬†and they¬†are always on the look out for new recipes…

Today’s haul contains:-

Sombrero – 4.5% –¬†a¬†burst of passion fruit and hint of mint start a fiesta in your mouth that you won‚Äôt want to stop. Tipping its wide brimmed hat to its European saison roots, its flavour transports you to Mexico for a party that lasts to the bottom of your glass.

Cheru Kol – 4.5% – a glorious embellishment of flavours brought together in this collaboration of styles from Belgium and England. The honeyed sweetness of the figs wrapped around the spicy, piney tang of the rosemary combine with the eccentricities of the Belgian yeast.

Porter in a Storm – 4.9% – for a taste that will have you singing in the rain, this rich porter showers your tastebuds with waves of chocolate, fruity and bitter with successive sips. Porter in a Storm is one to pour down your throat if you’re caught in a downpour or any time you want a great beer.

Looking forward to trying out this¬†haul soon…