Joiners Arms, Bakewell, July 2019

Bakewell has been crying out for a decent pub for a long while. For somewhere that’s the home of the Thornbridge brewery, you’d expect something a little better than some Greene King and Marston’s houses, but that’s what you’ve had to put up with.

Until May 2019, when the Joiners Arms opened its doors for the first time, serving 6 cask lines of local and further afield beer, alongside 6 keg lines which included on opening night (and still do today) Pravha, Staropramen and Aspall’s cider. We’ll come back to them later.

The Joiners Arms is cast in the classic micropub mould, a nice minimalist design based around joinery (I love the planes inset into the bar). It’s all about the beer, which is kept in excellent condition. Food wise, there are some crisps, nuts and other small snacks around, and they have a selection of wines and smaller batch gins as well as soft drinks for those not wanting a beer. They are dog friendly too, with free snacks for your canine companions, and a water bowl for them as well.

I spent a few hours here (with a break for fish’n’chips down by the river) with regular MOFAD drinking companion Steve, and much less regular drinking companion (and friend to badgers everywhere) Andy. Our fourth member was unwell so had stayed back at base.

In different orders, we worked our way across all of the cask ales. The keg lines were ignored, as two of them were empty, one had Thornbridge Satzuma (a permanent fixture, which some of us had yesterday), and the other three contained the offerings mentioned above. On a weekend, you’d expect all of the keg lines to be in action, so it was a shame to miss out on some potential bangers. The cask line up was pretty decent though, so let’s explore what we sampled.

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I started out with West of the Sun from nearby Torrside Brewing, a lovely NZ hop profile coming through. Fruity hoppiness continued with Downdays from Rivington Brewing Co which was mellow and superbly sessionable. A more familiar name came next, Deception from the just over the border Abbeydale Brewery. A classic showcase of another New Zealand hop, Nelson Sauvin.

After our lunch break, the final three beers, all of which were familiar to me. My third encounter with Hawkshead Red, sweet maltiness and much better on cask than the bottled versions that I’d had a few years ago.

I passed on the Jaipur as I’ve had it (and variants like Jaipur X and Dry Hopped Jaipur) many times. That left one more beer, Lucaria from Thornbridge, which I had twice. I first had it back in December 2016, and remember it fondly as chocolate ice cream in a glass, a smooth, milky vanilla porter. There are now four other variants (strawberry, salted caramel, rocky road and mint choc chip, which sounds like old Thornbridge favourite Baize).

It was a nice way to round off our afternoon in the Joiners Arms, which is a pleasant micropub in the centre of Bakewell. You can’t miss it, it’s on the big roundabout on the A6, and passengers in cars can spot you as they pass.

I think the lady behind the bar was having a bit of an off day today, since she got very confused when being offered £11 to pay for £6 worth of drinks.

If I still had time to do my pub of the month round ups, this would definitely be in contention for July 2019. Given that I’m 18 months behind with that, I can’t see them coming back any time soon I’m afraid!

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Pub of the month, October 2017

For the second time this year, and the second time ever, there is no pub of the month for this month. A few trips to very dull bars in Portugal and a couple of trips to functional pubs at the end of the month, and that leaves us with very little to choose from.

So I choose nothing, and we’re now down to just a potential ten pubs in the running for pub of the year. I’m pretty confident that November and December will have entries…

 

Pub of the month – September 2017 – The Narrowboat, Skipton

What a bumper month for pub visits! Twenty one in total, four pubs got two visits each, and one got four. Just like its 2015 counterpart, it is dominated by Skipton pubs, as we recreated the walking tour of Skipton. There’s also the same pub that we camped near to and pubs from a work trip. Very similar months.

We start with “work trip pub”, and an inclusion on exception criteria. Toilets. The most ornate pub toilets that I have ever encountered. This exceptional piece of work can be found in The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, in Liverpool.

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To the “camping pub” next, and it was nice to be back at The Beehive in Combs, where we have had some lovely meals, twice in September 2015, and twice already this year (July). It really is a great village pub, friendly atmosphere, lovely food and well kept beer. Once again it didn’t disappoint, with a couple of pints of Thornbridge Rattlesnake (dangerously easy drinking 6.5% west coast IPA), a classic fish’n’chips and a posher fish special.

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Another honourable mention to last year’s winner, The Needle & Pin. This month it was “Cloudwater night” and as I am a bit of a fanboy, I couldn’t not go. Featuring cans such as  ™ Life and Awkward Phase, it was a good Cloudwater celebration.

For the rest of this round up, we find ourselves in Skipton. Firstly, at the pub that wasn’t here when we last visited, the “Early Doors” micropub. Six cask ales on handpull and some other interesting things in the fridge. Much like a pub used to be, no Sky Sports, no fruit machine, just beer and good chat.

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Another favourite from our previous visit next, The Castle Inn. Not much has changed in 2 years, it wasn’t quite so sunny today but we sat outside again and had a pint of liquid and a pint of food. The liquid was Barista Stout from Theakston, a lovely sweet coffee stout. I remember having this one on a walking tour of Loughborough, and it’s still a lovely pint that could stand up to having a bit more coffee added. The second pint was a pint of chips.  We had pints of chips last time, so we had to have them again. Plates are always preferred, but the occasional quirky pint of chips is ok, especially when they are decent chips. It does make it hard to get the salt and vinegar evenly distributed though…

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To the September 2015 pub of the month next, The Beer Engine. This year there was no-one in talking about “London swearing” just lots of people enjoying good beer on a Saturday afternoon. It is a place that knows its market and caters to them. There’s not much point sticking 5 keg lines in here and trying to convince local drinkers to have thirds of double dry hopped triple IPAs.

There are 5 cask ales on hand pull, ideally suited to the local market. There are around 4 ciders and some good bottled beers including some nice Belgian numbers. The perfect place to enjoy a relaxed pint and a chat. Today that was Vale Ale by Three Castles Brewery from Pewsey in Wiltshire, a tasty caramel bitter.

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So, to this month’s winner, The Narrowboat. This was on 2015’s walking tour, but this year we had dinner here on the Friday night, and came back for a drink after dinner on the Saturday night, so it was not used on the 2017 walking tour. Declaring it the winner might be slightly controversial, because they did send out a burnt pie for Hazel to eat (it was eventually replaced with pizza, but they didn’t refund the difference). However, my pizza was fantastic, the beers were lovely, and Mrs MOFAD had her (to date) “best beer ever!” in the form of Passion Fruit Gose from Hawkshead.

A cask ale with Sorachi Ace hops, a Citra Star from Anarchy Brew Co and a Galaxy from Brewsmith – three excellent hoppy pints. Combine these with some lovely keg filth (the aforementioned Passion Fruit Gose from Hawkshead), Tiny Rebel Mojito Sour and Pogo by Wild Beer Co and you have the ingredients for a pub of the month.

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A worthy winner.

Pub of the month – August 2017 – The Brotherswater Inn – Sykeside

In a month of very few pub trips, it was a fairly easy choice to award it to the one that we went to five times. We were camped in its grounds, and had dinner here almost every night, as well as having breakfast here once too.

So it didn’t take too much soul searching to award pub of the month to the Brotherswater Inn. From dinner on our first night:-

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to a venison casserole:-

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to breakfast:-

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to a lovely chowder (which lost points for being presented on a plate set into a bread board, double hipster nonsense!)

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There were also beers, mostly Tirril Eden Valley which is a standard golden ale.

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An easy choice for pub of the month. Just a shame that we didn’t have 2 million quid lying arount to buy it when it came up for sale recently.

Pub of the month, May 2017

There isn’t one. For the first time since records began, I don’t feel able to award pub of the month this month.

A bland chain pub with no frills? Meh.

A quibble over an optional 10% service charge? Nope.

A dull pub paella? Narp.

So there is no pub of the month this month. This gives the other (probably) eleven pubs a statistically improved chance of taking the overall title at the end of the year.

Pub of the month, February 2017 – Mason and Co

A quiet month for pub trips, with just a handful to choose from. There are a few not to choose from as well, including a dull Marstons pub with a badly kept pint and a hit and miss burrito.

A few trips to Leicester (comedy festival as usual) and one of these resulted in our first candidate for pub of the month, The Landsdowne (Orange Tree). We’d been there before, but not for a few years, so there is no MOFAD visit recorded. It’s going to be our new pre-show dining pub, as we have abandoned The Marquis Wellington after our last visit.

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A good local pint and a decent chicken burger, so we’ll definitely be back.

A couple of trips to 2016’s pub of the year, The Needle & Pin, this month. One was for a pizza and a pint after watching T2: Trainspotting, and the other was the lovely dark beer night, where we enjoyed dark beers and some tasty cheeses, and other sweet and savoury nibbles. My favourite match was an extra smoky brisket from over the road at the Hog Stop, matched with Beavertown Smog Rocket smoked porter.

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So, we move on to the winner, Mason & Co at Here East in Hackney Wick. This is located just next to the former Olympic broadcast centre from 2012, right down by the River Lee Navigation. On a lovely summer’s day you could sit out and watch canal boats drifting by. In February, you need to stay indoors.

London 2012 was a big success. Cast your mind back to Wednesday 6th July 2005. London beat Paris to host the 2012 Olympics. This led to 7 years of cheap jokes, cynicism and classic British self-deprecation.

From Danny Boyle’s wonderful opening ceremony, through to great performances from athletes and the concept of “Olympic legacy”, this part of East London has been transformed. They’ve still not finished, as you’ll spot on the walk here from Stratford International station. Loads more building work still going on and it’s going to be a few more years before everything is fully complete.

It takes just six minutes to get here from St Pancras. Six miles in six minutes on the Javelin train. By car or underground it would take you six or seven times as long as that. So this part of London is now accessible for people approaching from the north. You can now watch West Ham play at home, as they have moved away from the Boleyn Ground, with claret and blue lighting up the London Stadium.

What you get inside the bar is great beer and great food, as Mason and Company is the brainchild of Edward Mason (owner and director of The Five Points Brewing Co, based in a railway arch under Hackney Downs station) and Rachel Jones (founder of street food company “Capish?”)

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There are 20 beers on tap to choose from, as well as numerous bottles. All of these can match with some street food classics, including a meatball sub, steak brioche, and fried chicken or aubergine parms on brioche (think posh KFC).

Plenty of sides to choose from, Italo-fries (skin on fries coated in oregano salt), courgette fries, a Hackney salad (which is much nicer than it might sound, remember this area has been regenerated!) and a few other bits and pieces. It was chicken parm for me, 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 those Italo-fries.

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Great food and great beers make this a great pub if you find yourself down at Here East. A worthy winner of pub of the month, and I’ll be back again on my next visit.

Pub of the month, January 2017 – The Mortal Man, Troutbeck

January 2017 has been a tale of two parts. The first part (the first three days of January) contains all of the pubs in the running for pub of the month. The second part (the rest of the month) had three more pub visits, but to very disappointing chain pubs, including one that had no beer (Carling does not count as beer).

Off we go with our first contender. The King’s Head Hotel in Thirlmere is somewhere that we have been once before. However, the last time we came here (16th June 2010), all we did was park in the car park, before ascending Helvellyn. Yes, we have a list of Wainwrights that we have conquered and when, which is why I can quote that date.

Our visit was inspired by tropical storm Desmond, which had wreaked havoc in this area just over 12 months ago. We had a walk to take in some of the newly repaired and redirected paths in the area, and ending up at The King’s Head for lunch.

The King’s Head is one of those handy places that doesn’t down tools at 2pm, so when you arrive after that time you will be pleased to know that you can still order some lunch and a pint, such as this former Lakeland classic (now part of the Marston’s empire), Cocker Hoop by Jennings Brewery, a classic bitter golden ale.

Somewhere between our order being taken and heading off to the kitchen, my ham and cheese panino turned into bacon and brie, which is essentially just ham and cheese by another name. It was very nice, but not what I ordered. At this time, I was too tired to debate the matter, so tucked in. Nice side salad and always good to see some classic pickle on the plate too.

A nice lunch at this classic Lakeland inn.

We wind back the clock two days, and find ourselves in Wainwrights’ Inn, in Chapel Stile, part of the Langdale Estate. Again, we’ve been to the Langdale Estate before, way back in 1999 this time. Today, a largely familiar walk led us here for lunch.

Wainwrights’ Inn have subscribed to the tasting bat/paddle methodology, which allows you to enjoy 3 x 1/3 pint glasses of different beer. We managed to confuse them by requesting Tirril Pennine Pilsner as one of the three beers, but they eventually worked out that it was a proper beer so could be included. A light and refreshing pilsner, and it was joined by Derwent Brewery’s Cote Light (easy drinking light ale) and Penning Brewing’s Jingle Bell Rock (pleasant session bitter with standard festive pun name).

Lunch arrived on boards (boo – we want plates!) but was utterly delicious. A warm chicken, bacon & melted cheese baguette, served with a salad garnish and barbecue sauce. We also ordered some chips to share.

A great start to a New Year of eating and drinking. Three new beers to kick off #tryanuary, and a new pub too. Dog friendly and walker friendly, Wainwrights’ Inn is a jewel in Chapel Stile, and hightly recommended if you are in the area. I assume that the position of the possessive apostrophe means that the Inn is for all of the 214 Wainwrights rather than just Alfred…

We come on to our winner, somewhere which has featured here a few times already. The Mortal Man is definitely a MOFAD favourite, and we usually walk over from Ambleside via Wansfell to have lunch here.

The usual pint of Loughrigg by Hesket Newmarket awaited (I seem to have it every time we come here). The cider festival was on as usual so Mrs MOFAD treated herself to a few halves. The first was a Monkey Mango by Cockeyed Cider…

With so many visits, we can now compare the changing of the club sandwich. It’s fair to say that it was at its peak in 2014 and has deteriorated a bit since. The flavours are still good, but the removal of the plate and the lack of toasting change it from being a proper club sandwich.

Let’s see 2017 in close up:-

It was a tasty sandwich, featuring the right number of layers at last, but a club sandwich should be toasted. Mrs MOFAD also had a good sandwich which was enjoyed with Side-r Elderflower cider by Glebe Farm, intense floral notes but a little acidic.

My bonus beer today (no driving at the end of this walk) was a familiar name, Sally Birkett’s Ale. Until early 2016, it was brewed just down the road by Hawkshead Brewery, exclusively for The Mortal Man. The beer is now brewed in Carnforth, by Old School Brewery, and is still exclusive to The Mortal Man. A good session ale.

A lovely visit to The Mortal Man as ever, and a worthy winner of pub of the month.