Centro Lounge, Loughborough, September 2017

Tonight is the beginning of our weekend. Regular MOFAD companions Hazel & Matt are staying with us tonight, as tomorrow morning we’re off on a road trip to Skipton. Mrs MOFAD and Hazel are off to Yarndale 2017 on Saturday, whilst Matt & I are indulging in a cultural walking tour of Skipton, perhaps checking out the odd hostelry on the way. Other regular companions Steve & Janette will be meeting us there tomorrow night.

Mrs MOFAD and I have been to the Centro lounge a few times this year, so we chose it for tonight’s dining venue.

Drinks first, and both Matt and I opted for the Bath Ales Dark Side, which is a nice easy drinking stout when it warms up a bit.

One of the advantages of Centro Lounge is that they serve their tapas menu every day, so if you fancy a mix of different things you can find plenty to choose from, rather than just plump for burger and chips or similar.

As I’ve noted before, they aren’t too tied down by the heritage of tapas, mixing traditional Spanish dishes like chicken and chorizo, albondigas (meatballs) and patatas bravas (roast spuds and tomato sauce) with dishes from another continent, such as teryaki chicken and posh KFC style chicken goujons.

Mrs MOFAD and I shared the selection above, along with the usual freshly cooked ciabatta, and Hazel & Matt also shared some dishes. We all enjoyed our tasty dinner, and spent a lot of time examining the decor, including the painting of a weird alien/monk hybrid with a boxing glove/oven glove, and some white horses frolicking in the sea… Do check out the eclectic collection of paintings if you’re visiting.

Tasty food, a reasonable pint and a friendly atmosphere, we all enjoyed ourselves and we’ll keep coming back.


Anglers Rest, Miller’s Dale, Derbyshire, August 2017

A familiar pub, but all previous visits have been in pre-MOFAD days, so it is the first time that it features here. It’s kind of handily placed for cyclists on the Monsal Trail. I say kind of, because it’s really easy to get to from the trail, as it’s just a few minutes down hill. You can get a great view of the viaduct as you pass underneath it on the way down to the pub.

If you want to get back on the trail, you have to go back up that hill. Spoiler alert : I was the only one who cycled all the way back up, the others pushed. I cycle every day, which does give me a rather unfair advantage. It’s definitely a 1st gear hill though.

Our trip over from Bakewell was calculated to get here around lunchtime, and we did just that. The overcast conditions today were not conducive to sitting outside, so we grabbed a table in the bar area by the fire (not lit!)

The beer choice was a very easy one. A pint of Pale Rider from Kelham Island Brewery, a very tasty blonde ale. The gentle companion to Easy Rider, a pair of beers that we had quite a few of back in the Swan days…

A classic pub should mean a pub classic, and a ploughmans is just that. This one was packed with classic ingredients. No need to choose from cheeses or ham, you get both. And half a pork pie as a bonus (you get quite a lot of these in a New Forest ploughmans, which is a good thing). Pickled onions, pickle, a warm, fresh roll, some more interesting leaves than just iceberg (still there though) and even a bit of beetroot. The slice of orange is less classic than some apple, but still welcome.

A lovely riverside pub (when it’s not raining outside) which does lovely food and keeps a good pint of beer. Well worth the effort of coming off (and getting back up to) the Monsal Trail. It is also a nice walk over from Tideswell (and back). Well worth a visit, and even better on a lovely sunny day. You might expect one of those in August, but not today…

Hop and Cleaver, Newcastle, June 2017

Oh the weather outside is frightful. Hopefully, smoked meat and beer will be delightful.

Despite being early June, and the start of summer, it is absolutely hammering it down with rain. It should have taken 3 hours and 5 minutes to get here by train. Due to crashes, things burning down, and a general build up of delays, it took more like 5 hours and 3 minutes to get to Newcastle. After a moist stroll from the station to the hotel, a quick dry off and then out into the rain again, back down towards the famous river and some dinner.

I’d already identified Hop and Cleaver as my dinner destination. Not even the horrendous rain could keep me from the gentle downhill stroll from Newgate Street to Sandhill. I did get rather wet. As I’m not a native of these parts, a coat was required. It protected me from the worst of the rain, but it was not enough.

Even when I got inside the Hop & Cleaver, a coat was still required. The ferocity of the rain was such that they had sprung a leak – the main bar area was rather soggy, and the large party of people arriving for an event were all milling about in a specific configuration that kept them away from the water leaking from the ceiling.

No time to worry about that, what with plenty beers to choose from. This menu needs studying…

I was swiftly shown to a table and ordered some food and drink. The first beer was Hop & Cleaver Rye IPA, a decent rye ale but not an IPA. The letters I, P and A get attached to far too many beers nowadays.

Food arrived. It had to be the “pit sarnie”, three kinds of smoked goodness in a very sturdy bun. Pulled pork, brisket and smoked sausage stuffed in a brioche bun with BBQ sauce. Man vs Food has come true on the banks of the Tyne. As you might expect in such an establishment, a distinct lack of plates, with dinner being served on some graph paper inside a bit of a seed tray, with chips in a kind of chicken wire basket…

It was utterly delicious. I love smoked and slow cooked meat. I love Man vs. Food. This was lovely stuff. And it paired well with the Hop & Cleaver Sorachi ale, although I couldn’t detect any Sorachi hop flavours, which is unusual for such a distinctive hop.

This is a great place if you like smoked meat, a quirky venue and beer made on the premises. It was definitely the right choice for dinner. I loved it, despite the lack of plates. If there weren’t other places to explore, I could have stayed here all night. Once more unto the breach my friends, once more…

The Lazy Trout, Meerbrook, April 2017 #3

Our final night at The Lazy Trout. It’s been our dinner venue all across the long weekend, with plenty of choice for everyone each night, and even different things for our resident vegan.

After another good long walk today, we were looking forward to a satisfying dinner. First up, a pint of Arbor Light from Whim Ales, a pleasant and light golden ale.

As it is Sunday, I opted for a Sunday roast, which is rare when going to the pub because I usually think that I can do it much better at home. Couldn’t resist this tasty roast pork tonight though, although a lack of apple sauce was a bit of a let down 😦

Mrs MOFAD treated herself to pudding again today, a creme brulée and some tasty home made biscuits. A proper size too, not just a tiny ramekin of cream!

It has been great coming here each night, so much good food and drink to choose from, friendly and helpful staff and a lovely atmosphere, a mix of regulars and visitors. A lovely village pub that deserves a visit. Great views over the Roaches out in the beer garden too!


York Tap, York Station, April 2017

The team at the York Tap are dedicated to serving the very best in British and continental ale and craft beer across 32 lines. You will find traditional local cask conditioned ales, and European pilsners sitting alongside American craft beers. The tap is perfectly situated on platform 1 of York station (also accessible from the street).  It’s very hard to miss the lovely listed Edwardian building, with very attractive stained glass windows and skylights. They also offer a range of carefully selected fine wines, spirits and soft drinks alongside a small but perfectly formed nibbles menu.

If you have timed your journey to arrive on a Friday lunchtime (like what we did), then you can get straight off your train, head across to plaform 1, and straight into the Tap. Park your suitcase at a table and then head off to the bar and order.

Loads of beer to choose from, all of those aforementioned lines, as well as lots of bottles and cans. First up I opted for the wonderfully named “Lime in the Coconut” from Bristol based Arbor Ales, who are fast becoming a favourite of mine. A very solid IPA with very subtle hints of lime and coconut. Easy drinking on its own but I think this would be wonderful with a Thai green curry.

Mrs MOFAD opted for Floris Passion from Brouwerij Huyghe, also very tasty and very easy drinking, with subtle passion fruit flavours.

Food next, and we opted for a couple of slates (they are at least honest in telling you that you will be getting slates instead of plates). Mrs MOFAD had the pate slate with melba toast and mango chutney, all of which were delicious and worked well in combination.

I chose the meat and olives option, with added manchego cheese. It was an end piece of manchego, so it needed a bit more shaving to eat it. All very good ingredients, tasty meat, nice cheese and very good olives. A simple and tasty lunch.

This was accompanied by Thornbridge Galaxia, not an 80s Space Invaders game, but an Australian pale ale made with the Oz hop Galaxy.

It is certainly a classic Aussie pale, hoppy and delightful. I could have stayed here all afternoon working through all of the taps, but we had things to do and places to explore, so headed out of the door and off to our hotel. We might just pop back in on Sunday evening though 🙂

The perfect introduction to York for any train traveller, and the perfect excuse to let the train take the strain (other British Rail advertising slogans are available).

The Crafty Baa, Windermere, December 2016

One final trip to the pub this year. There have been plenty of them, and lots of visits to new establishments. It’s been a great year for new beers and new pubs/bars. I think my end of year beer round up will reflect that (when I eventually get it finished off).

Appropriate then that our last trip this year (we never brave pubs during the evening of 31st December) is to a new bar in one of our favourite towns. After a spot of shopping at the Hawkshead Brewery, we drove back into Windermere and made our way down to The Crafty Baa.

The Crafty Baa opened in Windermere in August 2016, filling a much needed gap in the town’s “drink in” beer provision. The “drink at home” customer is well served by Booths, just up the hill from here.

It took them around 7 months to get themselves in a position to open, and within a month of opening they had over 90 different beers (and some ciders) available, with six on tap and loads more in bottles and cans. If you look at some of their photos of their beer board over the last few months, you’ll see strong representation of local breweries (Hawkshead, Hardknott, Fell et al), as well as others from across the UK (Thornbridge, Magic Rock, Roosters, Wild Beer Co et al). There’s also international representation, with many Belgians and Americans represented as well as Hitachino from Japan.

This is the kind of place that I just had to visit. So it was hastily lined up as today’s lunch stop. We grabbed a table and then stood for a number of minutes scratching our heads and looking up and down the board of almost 100 things to drink. It took a while, the delightful agony of choice.

In the end I kept it local with Fell Brewery’s Robust Porter, full of roasty and smoky flavours with a hint of chocolate. Very nice indeed.

Mrs MOFAD had a bottle of Sleeping Lemons by Wild Beer Co (that’s twice in three days) – it’s like a brewed cloudy lemonade – zesty and refreshing.

We were here for food too, and they keep it simple and tasty with various bar snack options (pork pies, scotch eggs, olives, breads, nachos etc.) as well as a cheese board (slate), a meat board (slate) or a combination of the two.

We had the combo sharing platter, with three cheeses, plus a whole baked camembert, four different meats, sun dried tomatoes, olives, chutneys, grapes, and several different breads.

It was utterly delicious. Lovely meats, interesting cheeses and the gooey camembert was unctious, warming and delightful. Dipping various different breads in it was like a 1970s fondue party without the pampas grass and car keys in a bowl. I’ve never been to a 1970s fondue party, but the mythology suggests that’s what they were like.

And if that wasn’t enough (in all honesty it probably was) we also had a bowl of nachos, with sour cream, salsa and guacamole. Because nachos.

The Crafty Baa has all of the ingredients needed for MOFAD approval. An awesome line up of beer (which is always changing). Simple, delicious food. Funky 1970s soul on the sound system. A crackling real fire. Lovely friendly staff and a great atmosphere. We could have stayed here all afternoon, but we had to drive back to Ambleside, so reluctantly left.

It is of course MOFAD approved!

Christmas Cake Imperial Stout at The Needle & Pin, December 2016

It’s Christmas!!!!

Well, almost. We are just a few days away. One of the important ingredients of Christmas is Christmas cake. But what if you are on a liquid diet? How about a Christmas cake in beer form? That can be arranged.

With any luck, you would be able to get to a pub that has one of only 12 casks of Christmas Cake Imperial Stout, brewed by Cloudwater Brew Co in collaboration with ToØl of Denmark. The cakey Imperial Stout was infused with fresh ground spices and dried fruits to create something fruity, and rich, with lingering warming spices.

I did just that. Our lovely little local, The Needle & Pin, had managed to secure one of these rare casks, and today was the day when it would be going live. Sold only in halves or thirds (you don’t need more), this festive delight was sure to delight local drinkers including myself and regular MOFAD drinking companion Alec, who was also interested in sampling this festive fayre.

Indeed it did delight us. Without a doubt this is Christmas cake in a glass, boozy dried fruits and gentle winter spices. Well worth the brief cycle to get here and try this. Nearly everyone who walked through the door during the couple of hours that we were there wanted to try it, the exception being a couple of people who had other things to do, such as driving home or operating heavy machinery…

We decided to stay for something a little lighter, Binghams Vanilla Stout, voted CAMRA’s Supreme Champion Beer of Britain earlier this year.

It was a gentle vanilla stout, very tasty, but it certainly won’t be my champion beer this year. We also needed some lunch, so a quick trip over the road to The Hog Stop soon found us with a couple of English traditional pork rolls in our hands, slow roasted pork with home made apple sauce, home made sage and onion stuffing and crispy crackling.

There was time for a little shopping too, as you could take away a few bottles, either to drink now, or to lay down and age for a while. MOFAD drinking companion Matt had requested some boozy delightfulness too, always happy to help 🙂

Merry Christmas!