Brewdog fanzine issue 7

We are off again into the world of the Brewdog fanzine, I think I’ve tried 8/15 so far, and nothing has set the world on fire yet, although the first of this batch might do that…

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Clown King – 12% – American Barley Wine

Chewy toffee malt, overlaid with a driving bitterness, sticky fruit character, and surprisingly light finale. Lots of hops in here, Magnum, Simcoe, Mosaic and Artanum. This sounds like a perfect blend to me.

Jet Trash v2 – 6.9% – IPA

Double dry-hop edition with Cascade and Columbus in the kettle and Citra, Simcoe, Cascade, Chinook and Mosaic added as dry hops. I should drink v1 before I have this one I suppose.

Zip Code – 4.2% – Lager

Lager with a Franconian accent, Perle and Mittelfruh hops in the kettle and Mandarina Bavaria in the whirlpool. This one has already been sampled and to me this one just tasted like Export 33, transporting me back to 1988.

The Bill Murray, Islington, June 2018

It’s Edinburgh preview season. And fortuitously I’m in London for work, although the fortune comes at a cost, five days of training and two exams, the second of which is two and a half hours long. I keep vowing to stop doing exams, and one day I will eventually keep that vow. This week however, I have a daily cycle of 20 minutes of sweaty tube journey, 90 minutes of learning, 15 minutes for a coffee, 90 minutes of learning, a sandwich in the park, 90 minutes of learning, 15 minutes for a coffee, 90 minutes of learning,  20 minutes of sweaty tube journey.

Anyway, on to the pub for a double bill of Edinburgh previews, a relaxing evening instead of doing mock exam papers. The Bill Murray is somewhere I’ve heard about quite a bit since I’m very much a follower of the live comedy “scene”. It’s a short-ish walk from Angel tube station (home to the UK’s longest escalator – one for you pub quiz fans).

Something that usually happens on these pub comedy nights is that you will bump into one or more of the acts at some point. This was in full effect tonight, as I followed opening act Sofie Hagen into the venue, and Mark Watson was hanging around at the interval before his set, and chatting with the audience. This is a proper preview experience, a small room in a pub, tiny stage, microphone, and a few lights. And the acts walk on from the back of the room, there’s no backstage area behind that curtain on the right hand side.

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On a warm night in London, a beer was needed to keep refreshed during the evening. Beer at comedy venues is generally pretty awful. The Soho Theatre try and break the mould by getting some reasonable cask ales in, but they need a crash course in how to look after cask ale, since it almost always suffers from mistreatment. And the way that the bar staff treat the beer engine, you’d think it was a piece of gym equipment with 50kg on the end of it. And they certainly don’t embrace the sparkler.

So it was a nice surprise to find a St Mungo from Glasgow’s WEST brewery, who produce all of their lagers and wheat beers in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law. A Munich style lager with a sweetness to it, and one of the best comedy venue beers that I’ve had. That is damning with faint praise, but it was good.

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As was the comedy. Sofie Hagen is trying out material for her 2019 Edinburgh show (nothing like being prepared), so the set was a proper tour through random bits and pieces that may or may not form a show one day. Mark Watson will be in Edinburgh in August (and likely touring after that), so his show was much more polished, although it got a bit derailed by someone finding a folder for him to balance his wine glass on (you had to be there). The show covers a few topics, but there is much about family and his recent-ish divorce. If I were in Edinburgh I’d be going to see the finished version, and hopefully we will catch it in Leicester or somewhere else local next year.

Brewdog, Camden, June 2018

Brewdog continue to court controversy and divide opinion around the country. Whatever they do, they manage to put a foot wrong somewhere along the way, and pretend that they hadn’t really thought something through completely, when they probably knew that they would get loads of publicity from whatever the stunt was (Pink IPA is probably the latest in a long line of these).

(Edit : August 2018’s “beer porn” was another new low for Brodog. It’s getting harder to continue supporting them, and it might soon be time to call it a day.)

There was a time a few years ago when they were an oasis in a desert of terrible mass market beer. But that time has passed, and there are now many oases around, whilst the quality of some BD products seems to have dwindled. This year’s launch of Fanzine is a bit of a case in point. A very convenient idea (three cans of beer delivered every few weeks) which was supposed to be “for the beer geeks”. However, some of the things have been so utterly dull that they could have been produced by any faceless brewing megacorp. The “small batch English IPA – retro IPA” from last month was as bad as Greene King IPA. How is that possible?

All that said, I will often go into a Brewdog bar if there’s one nearby, as there are likely to be some well kept guest beers on, as well as a few interesting Brewdog ones which might be worth a try.

Tonight, alongside the second half of Colombia vs. Poland, that guest beer was Shika from Wild Beer, a decent pilsner and a perfectly good football pint. No time for any more tonight as I have to be up bright and early in the morning to begin a week of brain melting training.

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Brewdog fanzine issue 4, May 2018

The next issue of fanzine is upon us. A couple of these will be sampled very soon.

Small Batch English IPA – 5.2% – IPA

An old school English IPA brewed with the addition of traditional English hops which bring lavender and bergamot to the front of the beer. Supporting the hops is a light biscuit malt flavour, followed by a dry, bitter finish with a touch of warmth.

Interstate – 4.6% – Lager

A perfectly balanced Vienna-style lager brewed with subtle spicy German hops over toasty-base malts which bring out bread crust and biscuit in the beer, followed by a bittersweet finish.

Hop Shop – 9% – IPA

This hop-forward big IPA is intense, dank and resinous, with bursts of stonefruit and citrus. Grapefruit and apricot sit on top of a building bitterness, with a honeycomb malt base followed by a dry yet bittersweet finish.

Brewdog Fanzine issue 2, May 2018

Fanzine is a completely new type of beer club, “for the fans, the dreamers, the die-hards and the geeks” apparently. Three new cans delivered every couple of weeks, and you can opt-in or out whenever you want – no annual subscription fees or long‑term commitment. Apparently we can “expect crazy fresh East & West Coast IPAs, huge Imperial Stouts, single hop pale ales, experimental lagers and fruit‑infused sours”. Brewdog will also be raiding their back catalogue of brews and bringing back some of of their biggest hits.

Here’s what’s in the first box and I’ve already made my way through them.

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Fool’s Gold – 6% – Lager

A citrus-forward lager – punchy hop bitterness and malt sweetness in perfect balance.

The gold road’s sure a long road. Winds on through the hills for fifteen days. Decent lager style.

King of Eights – 6.9% – IPA

This juicy, smooth Citra NE IPA will evolve & feature double and triple dry-hopping.

Ooh, a NEIPA, what a novelty. Murky stone fruits and low bitterness. Bjorn Again instead of Abba.

Jinx – 4.7% – Pale Ale

A light biscuity base with a hint of toasty Munich malt acts as a simple canvas for the hop expressions to shine; here, Washington hop varieties Simcoe and Centennial (two of Brewdog’s favourite hops) provide a broad palate of pithy grapefruit and pungent pine.

Intriguing nose but it delivers very little. Another Indie Pale Ale (that’s not a good thing).

Mason & Company, Hackney Wick, February 2018

A return visit to this lovely little bar and kitchen. A pleasant February day for working nearby and when the working day is done, I just want to have fun. And a pint. And something to eat. This is a handy place to do all of those things. And just a hop, step and a jump away from the London Stadium. You can read more about it in last year’s post.

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Let’s get down to tonight’s business then. First up, a Five Points Pils from The Five Points Brewing Company (owned by the same people as the bar). This was a a decent lager with an interesting hop profile.

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Once again it was chicken parm for me for tea, Italian fried chicken thigh, marinara sauce, basil aioli, sautéed kale and parmesan crisp on a brioche roll. Very much a posh chicken burger, accompanied by Italo-fries (skin on fries coated in oregano salt).

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Just a bit of time left before catching the Javelin back to St Pancras (with a brief stop at Waitrose to get supplies for tomorrow), so I had a Pintle Pale Ale – Citra & Cascade by Burnt Mill Brewery, a super juicy pale ale, delightful nose and lovely rounded finish. Nom!

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Another relaxed trip to Mason and Company, definitely recommended if you’re in the area.

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.

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.