Needle & Pin, Loughborough, September 2017

I’ve written more than enough about my favourite pub by now. The only thing better than writing about it to get someone to go there, is to actually take them there. So that’s what happened tonight. After dinner at Centro Lounge, we took a short stroll down to the Needle & Pin for a few drinks and some games, accompanied by some good old fashioned vinyl. I’m not sure that the other customer upstairs was too impressed by our choice of Now 17, but we love the past, even if it is full of cheese. On with the night…

A pint of Exmoor Ales Silver Stallion for me, a perfectly pleasant cask bitter. Matt had the Exmoor Beast, amusingly coming in at 6.66% – thick, smooth and full of flavour.

This was accompanied by a game of KerPlunk, which is 50 years old this year, and is a game that I’ve probably not played for more than 30 years. The newer version looks a bit different to the original, but the basic premise is the same. Pull sticks out without disturbing marbles. The person with the fewest amount of marbles in their tray at the end is the winner.

Even grown adults can still enjoy this simple game, a great laugh.

We moved on to our next drink and our next game. My next drink was from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Company in the form of GFB. This acronym has two possible expansions. The clean one is Green Flash Blonde, the other one rhymes with Food Clucking Deer. A nice beer with good carbonation and a hint of honey. Matt had the Framework Treacle Stout, and we both struggled to spot the treacle that appears on the nose in the palate…

Our next game was the classic word game Taboo. To make things fair we played boys vs girls, and managed to get a good few rounds played in between the laughter.

Another great night out at the N&P, and we somehow managed to avoid coming home with lots of cans and bottles in tow! That won’t be the case when we come back from Skipton though…

Advertisements

BrewDog Liverpool, September 2017

I can be a bit of a predictable creature. If you look at some of my recent city trips (Edinburgh, York, Newcastle and now Liverpool), you’ll spot a pattern. Whenever I arrive I go to BrewDog. I don’t *just* go to BrewDog, but it will usually be one of my first stops. Why? Well, it’s because I know what I’m going to get. I always want to check out local bars and brewery taps and the like that you don’t get in any other city, but I’m always happy to start off at BrewDog. As well as their always evolving line up, the range of guest beers is always interesting.

As a review printed on their new staff t-shirts says, “unless you’re into beers and trying new ones, this place isn’t for you”. I am into beers and trying new ones.

So here’s the first of those, Sidewalk Shark, part of the “Small Batch” project. It’s a light, effervescent German-style sour wheat beer; lemon peel, herbal lime leaf, notes of orange and a fresh bready malt base. Sharp, sweet and sour, with a tiny salty note – a lovely refreshing beer.

The other thing you will find in BrewDog bars is a food offering. In Liverpool, this is a burger and hot dog offering. I had the Patriot Burger, brioche bun, 6oz beef brisket patty, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickles, onion, baby gem & bbq sauce.

It was a decent juicy burger, good flavours and nicely put together. Unfortunately it was served on a silly tin tray with a silly tin cup of chips. We want plates.

To accompany this, another couple of beers. First, the Prototype Blonde Ale. I didn’t think BrewDog did bland, but this tasted of nothing. Nothing bad about it, just a very middle of the road blonde ale. I could go to most other pubs and bars in this city to find that, so I just don’t expect it here.

Thankfully, the last one was more interesting. Another of the Small Batch series, this time the Imperial Pilsner where a quintessential pilsner malt base and German lager yeast combine with some modern German aroma hops to make an interesting lager. You can feel the strength in this one.

As ever, a pleasant trip to BrewDog. Tonight was also the monthly bottle share club. Sadly I couldn’t stay as I had friends to meet elsewhere but I was sorely tempted.

The Beehive, Combs, Derbyshire, September 2017 #2

Here we are again. Last night we booked a table for tonight. We were lucky to get one, as they only had a couple of slots left, at 6 and “just after 8ish”. It’s just as well that we went for “just after 8ish”, because at 6 we were just finishing off our walk for the day (which was lovely, a perfect day for walking and we had picked a great circuit). There was just enough time to get back to the camp site for a cup of tea followed by a shower.

We arrived just after 8ish, and our table wasn’t yet vacated. No problem, we had a drink at the bar and a chat with the staff whilst things were being sorted out. Here is that drink at the bar, another pint of Thornbridge Rattlesnake, a reliable cask IPA.

Enough bantz, the table was now ready. We’d had time to peruse the menus and the specials board. We all gravitated to the specials board, and to exactly the same point on the specials board. We all ordered the cod wrapped in parma ham, with spinach mash and a cream sauce.

It was both delicate and delicious and we all demolished it in double quick time. Which left plenty of time for pudding. On our previous visit earlier this year, the chocolate and candied lime tart was a big favourite. It was on last night but someone had swiped the last one. Luckily there was a replacement on tonight, with this chocolate and candied orange tart.

It was equally lovely, but the lime one just edges it. Because lime. I’m not a squirty cream fan, but it does at least add a touch of moisture to complement the crisp pastry. No soggy bottom here.

Yet another lovely visit to this lovely pub. I’m out of praise for it, because it’s just great. I’m sure we’ll be back again next year on another camping trip…

The Beehive, Combs, Derbyshire, September 2017 #1

If this pub looks familiar, that’s because it is. This is now our fifth visit, coinciding with our third stay at the Combs Valley Campsite just up the road. A reduced party today, with just Mrs MOFAD and myself, along with regular MOFAD companions Karon & John. No ninja hound meant that we got to experience the other room. We had wondered about visiting the other pub at the other end of the road, but this pub has always been so good, so why change for the sake of change?

Speaking of change, we had to change our first beer order, because the one we wanted was not up to scratch, so the bar staff had removed it from service. Just the standard house ale to start then, brewed by Wychwood and branded here as Beehive bitter.

What else on a Friday but fish’n’chips? There were a few interesting specials on (including the fish platter that many of us have had on previous visits) but it just had to be fish’n’chips for me.

Lovely piece of fish, good crisp batter, good pub chips and some peas. Simple and tasty. If you do it right, it’s hard to beat. A great combination, made better when accompanied by a solid cask IPA in the form of Thornbridge Rattlesnake.

We had been walking this afternoon, so decided that we had earned a pudding. The tasty Beehive sundae was my choice:-

This is just a great village pub. Lovely people, lovely pub.

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…

The Brotherswater Inn, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017 #4

Moist.

That has been the over-riding theme of today. The forecast was very specific. Rain coming in around lunchtime. And not leaving until late evening. So we were up and out, off to bag another Wainwright. Very much a “there and back” walk, get up, get back down, and get back under cover until the rain passes.

After an afternoon of unceasing rain, we wondered if it would ever be dry again. When we arrived on Thursday, we had to pitch our awning in a swamp. The swamp had started to recede, but as the afternoon wore on, the swamp was back and bigger than ever. Squelch squelch. The only sensible option is to retire to the pub.

We did just that. After a good effort at finishing it up, the Eden Valley had gone, and was replaced by Ullswater Blonde, also from Eden Brewery. I’ve had this beer every year for the last three, and the current batch seems lighter in colour than previous brews. An easy drinking golden ale.

Food next, and after a cool and wet afternoon (if only we’d brought our radiator in August!) a warming bowl of smoked haddock chowder was just what was needed. A lovely mini loaf of bread accompanied it, but I wasn’t convinced about the salad. It doesn’t seem to fit with the creamy chowder (which was very nice).

And after plenty of properly plated meals, we have a double whammy of disappointment. A slate set into a bread board. Why, cruel fate, why? Why not just a plate?

Luckily, the plate was around for the pudding (often a prime candidate for a slate). This dark chocolate delight with raspberry ripple ice cream and a few raspberries was a lovely end to the meal, the richness of the chocolate being cut through by the raspberries.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Cumbrian classic of sticky toffee pudding, which was sticky and delicious.

We’ve had lots of lovely meals at The Brotherswater Inn. When you are a captive campsite audience, it’s always a worry in case it doesn’t turn out to be very good, or there’s a limited menu. This was not the case. A lovely pub with lovely food and beer. Perfect for a campsite.

Barn End Bar, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017

We came in for quiz night. The Barn End Bar only opens on Friday and Saturday nights, and nowadays it only serves drinks. They used to serve food also, but that has been stopped recently. It’s a nice old bar, although only 2 cask lines in operation out of 4. That’s probably not a bad idea, as it’s unlikely that they would get through 4 casks in 2 nights, even with me staying. Cask beer doesn’t keep well after a few days, so better to have fewer lines that get finished than loads that hang around unloved for 6 nights until someone comes in to drink them. There were plenty of people in to drink them tonight, it was nearly standing room only.

When we arrived there were just a few people in watching the athletics, but it soon filled up as the quiz start time arrived. I had a pint of 1823 from Tirril Brewery, which may have been on too long as I really couldn’t detect much flavour in it. Tirril produce consistently good beers, so it’s probably an age problem.

We came fourth in the pub quiz, just 2 points off the top, which was annoying as we could not remember Tom Hiddleston’s surname and mixed our Balearics up with our Canaries. A good fun quiz though, interspersed with the last ever race by Usain Bolt on the telly. Appropriate, given that we also watched London 2012’s super Saturday in a Lake District pub.

A nice camp site pub, just a shame that it only opens a couple of nights a week.