Troutbeck Inn, Troutbeck, January 2018

You may already have spotted on social media that I am taking part in #tryanuary 2018 (read more on my blog post). A big part of this is supporting local pubs during January, which can be a tricky month as many people over indulge in December and then stay away in January.

We had been out walking this morning, ticking off Wainwright number 90 in our list, Great Mell Fell. Not the most pleasant of days due to low cloud and drizzle, so we were looking forward to warming up in the pub with some hot food and maybe a pint.

However, when we got there, the front door was locked and there was nobody about. Cars in the car park, lights on, but nobody (apparently) home. This makes it rather hard to support a local pub, so we headed off up the A66 to the Rheged Centre, which was absolutely packed, but crucially open and serving food.


The King’s Head Hotel, Thirlmere, January 2018

It’s the first day of #tryanuary. So a trip to the pub is certainly in order. As ever, we do it the hard way, by sticking a hill somewhere along the route and getting up and down it before lunch. Today, that was Great How. Puzzlingly, it’s not a Wainwright, so our total for 2018 is zero for now. We got to the top and enjoyed lovely sunshine and great views. As soon as we were back at the bottom, the skies decided that it was time to open, and we walked the rest of the way to the pub in the rain. A classic Lakes walk.

We came to this pub almost exactly a year ago (on the day that started our hatred of the stupidly over-priced 555 bus). So we knew that they serve food all day, perfect when you’re out walking and you’re not exactly sure when you will arrive at the pub for lunch.

A similar sandwich to last year, but they got my order right today and delivered the requested ham and cheese instead of bacon and brie (technically ham and cheese).

The salad has shrunk a bit, but the pickle/chutney now comes in a little dish. Warm and tasty and just the thing to help dry out on a soggy day.

You’ll note the lack of beer, despite being the first day of #tryanuary. When all they’ve got is some Jennings beers which haven’t been locally owned since 2005, then I’ll save myself for some independent local beers later on. Tryanuary is about supporting local pubs and independent breweries, so whilst I’m happy that we supported a local pub, I don’t want any beer money going back to Wolverhampton. This rejection of anything owned by the Marston’s empire may seem a bit snobbish, but I just prefer to support smaller local breweries rather than the enormous beer conglomerate.

Wheatsheaf Inn, Embleton, Cumbria, December 2017

This is another one of those “I was going to tell you about it but I can’t” posts.

After our trip up to Dodd this morning (our penultimate Wainwright for 2017), we had planned to have lunch here and then drive a short way to park up and tackle Ling Fell.

This plan fell flat on its face when we arrived, parked up, and then went into the pub. We were about to choose a table and asked whether they were still doing food (“good food all day every day” is proclaimed outside). Sadly, they weren’t as they were setting up for a New Year’s Eve party later on, so were unable to rustle up a couple of sandwiches and a bowl of chips.

We waved a cheery goodbye, got back in the car, and then drove halfway back towards where we started from to find some lunch. Another attempt to support a local business thwarted…

The second Thornbridge night at The Needle & Pin, December 2017

A year ago, as part of the “twelve days of Thornbridge”, I went to the inaugural Thornbridge night at The Needle & Pin. The theme was “Serpent – deconstructed”, and we tasted our way through the components that make up Serpent, a collaboration between Thornbrige, Oliver’s Cider in Hereford, and Brooklyn Brewery. I think the bottle I bought last year will be the accompaniment to this year’s Xmas dinner.

The twelve days of Thornbridge are back, and this year’s event was a more relaxed affair, but still great fun. Meg from Thornbridge was back again to lead the event, but it was very much a choose your own adventure event, with a choice of 4 Thornbridge beers in any order, and cheeses to match.

I started out with Sampo and a little goat’s cheese. The Sampo is a Galaxy hopped pale ale, brewed with pineapple, which produces soft pineapple flavours, a nice cask pale ale.

Next up, a new version of an old classic, Dry Hopped Jaipur, which appears to take Jaipur back to its early days of what it used to taste like, creamy, hoppy and a nice bitter finish. Goes well with mature cheddar.

Whilst this was slipping down, a Thornbridge pub quiz was in full flow. Meg had 10 questions for us, although I still maintain that her clues made some of the questions too easy. No matter, as My Pointess Friend Richard thrashed the opposition to take home the prizes of Thornbridge merch and bottled beers.

Victory complete, more beer. Brock is a soft session stout. I had this at Peakender this year, in fact it was the last beer of the festival for me, but it was probably not in the best condition then as it was rather thin and light. Today it was much better, a smooth and easy drinking session stout.

We travel to the final beer for tonight. Lord Marples, the classic English bitter, and the first beer ever made by Thornbridge. This might help you in a future pub quiz, as it was one of the answers tonight. You might also need to know that it has never been bottled 🙂

I’ve had it three times, twice here, and the first time at Peakender 2015, and it’s still a classic pint, and not hard to see why it is such a big cask seller in the Thornbridge heartland of Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Nice with a bit of Gouda too.

And if that wasn’t enough, we all left with bottled beers, some included in the price, some bonus gifts from our lovely Thornbridge friends.

Another classic night at the Needle & Pin, lots of fun, good chat (and not just about beer), a bonus quiz, and new friends made as I shared a taxi home with two of them. A good pub with a good community feel is the original social network, and the N&P is definitely one of those.

Looking forward to the next tasting night already, by happy coincidence from the brewery at the other end of the Monsal Trail, Buxton Brewery.

Tryanuary​ ​returns​ ​in​ ​2018,​ ​supported​ ​by​ ​a​ ​team​ ​of​ ​over​ ​60​ ​volunteers throughout​ ​the​ ​UK

And I’m one of them. More on that story later…

Now entering its fourth year, Tryanuary is a nationwide campaign to encourage support
for the beer industry throughout January. None of this “dry January” nonsense, it’s all about getting out and trying new things. Don’t go crazy in December, and you can still enjoy January like a normal person.

The brainchild of Mancunian beer blogger Andy Heggs and brewery owners Stuart
Swann and Shane Swindells, Tryanuary was created to encourage beer fans to support
independent breweries, pubs, bars and other retailers during what can be a challenging
month for the industry. Since its inception in 2015, the campaign has garnered huge

I’ve involved myself as a participant in the last couple of years. Every month for about the last two and a half years, I’ve been doing a monthly round up of my favourite beers of the month, so in January 2016, that formed the basis of my first #Tryanuary round up.

Last year, I put up a quick preview of this year’s campaign and that was followed by a round up at the end of this January, my contribution to #Tryanuary 2017. This brings us nicely to 2018.


Spearheading the 2018 campaign is Tom Stapley, who is best known for Craft Beer
Hour (#craftbeerhour) a weekly gathering on Twitter that embraces all aspects of the industry and showcases many independent brewers. Tom’s vision for the continued growth of the campaign involves co-ordinating a nationwide team, each championing the beer on offer in their local area.

“A campaign like this needs local people to galvanise local businesses,” said Tom, “it
needs people all over the country to celebrate the beer on their doorstep and share that
with the nation through the different mediums of Tryanuary.”

Following an overwhelmingly successful recruitment drive for volunteers, 2018 will see the campaign being advocated by an ever-growing team of over sixty beer lovers and enthusiasts who will have exclusive access to the Tryanuary website and social media profiles. Volunteers like me.

Although the campaign will be driven using the wide reaches of social media, the
ultimate aim is to inspire people to show support for their local enterprises.

Even though the UK is still enjoying a boom in all things beer and we now have over 1700 breweries, these hard-working independent businesses still need your vital support! By celebrating, sharing and enjoying what’s out there, you can help. Research on spending by local authorities shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business, 63p stays in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business.

Supporting your local micropub helps your local community. They host events with local groups and they may have live music on. So why not pay them a visit? Try some new beers, maybe pick up a few to take away? Then share your discoveries and see what others have been up to via the #tryanuary hashtag.

This isn’t about drinking more.
It’s about trying something different.
Tasting something new.
Experiencing something interesting.

For more information, including details of how to get involved, visit
or contact Tom on or call 07921 470803.

If you are a local business then do get in touch so that we can help to promote your beers and ideas for #tryanuary

The Geese & Fountain in Croxton Kerrial have already been in touch to say that they are planning a #Tryanuary event with new breweries from the 12th of January all the way through to the 31st. There will be lots more to follow as plans are confirmed.

Enjoy beer responsibly!

The Buck’s Head, Camden, November 2017

After a swift exit from The Elephant’s Head, we proceeded to the cranium of a different mammal, The Buck’s Head. This was more like it, a more comfortable environment, and actual, real beers on the bar, both cask and keg.

The world still needed to be put to rights, even though our group had dwindled from 6 down to 3. We hung around for a couple of drinks and a lot more chat. First up a good cask session pale ale, London Pale Ale from Southwark Brewing Co, just a few miles away and south of the river.

After that a pint of N7 from Hammerton Brewery, who are a few miles in the other direction in Islington. Lots of hops in the mix for this one but the malt bill makes it just a decent pale ale.

Good pints in a good pub. Will definitely come back next year…

Brewdog Camden, November 2017

A return to this particular dog, which I think I first came to in January 2013 when staying at the very hotel I’m staying at tonight. Before meeting for dinner, a quick trip round the corner for a pint (or more likely a couple of halves, to ensure maximum tasting opportunities).

So first up a Prototype Tangerine Session IPA:-

The prototype series gives a good opportunity for experimentation. Some of them turn out to be winners and occasionally become a new member of the BrewDog core range. Others are stopped in their tracks. I think this one might stop, as for me the tangerine was far too subtle and the hops far too muted. A beer that contains Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, Citra, Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin should have a lovely hop profile. A decent session pint for sure, but just nothing special. I think I kind of expect almost every BrewDog beer to blow me away in some fashion. If they don’t then it seems a bit of a let down.

To the other half then, Slot Machine, a red rye IPA following in the footsteps of Interstellar and Albino Squid Assassin, with the new Callista hop mixed in with Magnum and Amarillo, alongside rye and crystal malts.

The rye dominates the hops, but you can tell that they are floating around in there somewhere.

A short and sweet trip to this little BrewDog. Once again, I appear to have arrived on a beer club night, with an event happening downstairs, but I have to be elsewhere. See you next time I find myself in Camden Town (singing Madness songs as I wander the streets)…