Keyworth Tavern, January 2019

A winter wander today. We’ve not been to Keyworth for a good few years, but a walking event brought us here to explore with friends. First things first though, lunch. Eventually.

We found a table, had some menus delivered and ordered some drinks. I was pleasantly surprised to see an Adnams Sloe Storm on the bar so I opted for that.

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I’m not certain that it has been well looked after, as it was a bit meh. Important note – don’t believe all of the beers that have been checked in here on Untappd – you won’t find any Patrons Project, Het Uiltje or Evil Twin here, despite what someone is trying to convince you. Back to lunch…

One of our party was running a bit late due to sat nav issues, so we waited until they had arrived to order food. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. The first half of West Ham v Arsenal had been and gone. Eventually our lunches turned up, but how long should it take for a few sandwiches and jacket potatoes? Not as long as it did.

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It was lovely when it did arrive, a pulled pork melt on a Spanish baguette (lovely and crisp), and some token salad. Just a shame that it took so long, as that had a knock on effect on the rest of our day.

A nice village pub, in a village full of pubs. We’d definitely go back, just as long as we weren’t in a hurry.

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The Plank & Leggit, Sawley, July 2018

This is another of those occasions where we don’t get to choose the pub. We’d been out walking with friends around Shardlow and Castle Donington earlier in the day, and were due to meet more friends here early in the evening. We abandoned the second part of our walk due to the scorchio temperatures and headed to the pub early. Normally this is a cause for celebration. In the case of a Greene King “IPA” establishment, it’s a cause for lime and soda.

So we sat back with some refreshing not-beer, and planned some future walks whilst waiting for other friends to arrive. When they began to arrive, I headed to the bar to order food, and another tasty pint of lime and soda.

Tonight’s dinner was “Route 66”, a burger topped with cheese, BBQ pulled pork rib meat, 2 hash browns and a free-range fried egg. Reasonable fodder, nothing special. Enough to replace lost calories afer a warm walk in the heat of the day…

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Another of those pub visits where you know that all of the beer that you own has been looked after far better than the dull casks delivered here each week.

Bucks Head, Camden, June 2018

Hot town, summer in the city,
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.

Yes, it’s summer and I’m in London. After a lovely weekend away camping, it was back home and then off to the station to catch a train down to that London. I’m here for a week. Five days of 9-5 solid training course on quite a dry subject. With two exams, the second of which is 2 1/2 hours long.

What this does mean is a run of blog posts, because I have to go out and have dinner each night, and to stop myself going insane there are a couple of comedy gigs lined up too, my reward for revising and doing mock exam papers most nights.

I’m staying in Camden again because I’ve stayed here a few times before, the hotel is reasonably priced (for London, and it meets corporate pricing requirements) and the Northern line is handy for travelling for the daytime activities and evening ones (although I hadn’t spotted that the station is exit only in the early evening whilst they are upgrading escalators).

I picked a familiar pub for dinner, The Bucks Head. Nice and close to the hotel, we were here in November for a drink, and the menu had some interesting items on it. And the football was on. The World Cup has had some cracking games this year, and this was my first chance to watch one down the pub.

Drink first, and another “same as last time” beer, LPA – London Pale Ale by Southwark Brewing Co, a simple session ale with a gentle hoppy hint hidden in there somewhere. And some happy Colombian fans (I think Yerry Mina had just scored).

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The super smoked meats pizza was calling me. Pulled pork? Yes please! Slow cooked hickory smoked brisket? Yes please! “Sauce drizzles” of cheese, teryaki and BBQ? Probably. “Superfood side salad” – probably a good idea to have something a bit healthier. Apparently it was the last pizza in the kitchen tonight.

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The pizza didn’t quite live up to its billing. More meat was required, the teryaki didn’t seem to make it on, and the “cheese sauce drizzle” was just weird. It needed some vegetable matter.

The superfood side salad was hardly that. A few slices of cucumber, avocado, tomato, onion, pepper and a few leaves is not exactly the greatest side in the world. Bit of a rip off and lacking super.

The atmosphere inside wasn’t the greatest, so I decided on plan B, and headed off to Brewdog to watch the second half.

Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar, Lloyd Street, November 2017

A rainy Manchester Sunday. We had been wandering about the Manchester Museum this morning, and were going to have lunch in the cafe. However, an impromptu fire alarm cut short our visit, and after standing around in the cold for 10 minutes or so we decided there was no chance of getting back in for more mooching around, so we wandered back up towards the town hall (where we had been wandering around the Christmas market yesterday afternoon).

The market wasn’t quite as heaving as it was yesterday, but it was still busy and many of the nearby venues were happy as a result (there was a 45 minute wait for a table at the Slug & Lettuce for example). Just a few steps down a side street, we settled on Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar, which sounds like the perfect combination of two of my favourite things – smoked meats and beer. According to their web site, they “stock award winning craft, draught, cask and world beers along with the best selection of ciders…”

A quick look around fails to turn up any of those cask beers. No hand pulls in sight. Plenty of keg lines though, so that should be ok.

Stella – no. Likewise Stella Cidre.

Bud Light – no.

BrewDog Punk IPA – why? There’s a BrewDog bar just a couple of hundred yards around the corner, where they’ve got all manner of BrewDog beers which are better than their first ever offering.

Boddingtons – no. They still advertise it as a Manchester beer, despite the fact no beer bearing this name has been brewed in the city since 2012, when the cask version stopped being produced at Hydes in Moss Side. The current “beer” is produced elsewhere in Lancashire.

On to the bottles then. Crafty Dan’s 13 Guns is a good choice, lots of soft hoppy flavours but I was in the mood for something else. Wells Banana Bread Beer used to be a favourite, but as with most things swallowed by Marston’s, I tend to avoid it now.

Brewdog Elvis Juice has a good grapefruit flavour and would be a reasonable choice.

Corona – nope. The same goes for Desperados and the two Crabbies. Duvel (aka devil) is not exactly a light lunchtime tipple, the same goes for Kwak and St Stefanus Blonde. All of these are supermarket beers nowadays.

Einstok White Ale is available in supermarkets now, Hop House 13 shouldn’t have the word hop near it, and Liefmans Fruitesse is an insult to fruit beers, far too sweet and with at least a 4 quid mark up to make it appear exotic.

This all sounds like I’m being a bit of a beer snob, but if you are calling yourself a “cellar” in this city full of great breweries, you should be stocking some of them. Cloudwater, Alphabet, Marble, Tickety Brew, Runaway, Beer Nouveau, ShinDigger, Burton Road, Beatnikz Republic, Four Kings, Blackjacj, Chorlton, First Chop, Manchester Brewing, Seven Bro7hers and on and on it goes.

No sign of any of them, just beers from some big names and one or two interesting things from further afield.

In the end I settled on Hogs Back Montezuma Chocolate Lager, something I’d had before. The chocolate notes go well with chilli flavours.

On to lunch then.

We fancied something quite light today, so opted to mix and match from the menu. We had nachos with pulled pork (nicely smoked), and all the usual accompaniments of jalapenos, guacamole, salsa, melted cheese and sour cream. We also ordered the pineapple slaw (lots of tasty pineapple pieces), and sweet potato fries (because 2017).

It was a nice light lunch for us, just a shame that the “cellar” part doesn’t work as well as the smokehouse part.

The King’s Arms, Hathern, November 2017

A second visit to The King’s Arms in the MOFAD era, although somewhere that we’ve been to a few times, usually for get togethers with walking friends. The same applied tonight, although we didn’t find out about tonight’s gathering until Saturday, as it had somehow slipped under our collective radar.

When you’ve got 30 odd people descending on a pub, you need a certain type of pub that can cope with such things. The posher chain pub wants everyone to be eating, the micropub doesn’t have quite enough room. So this is the level you settle for, a Marston’s chain pub, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. A range of different food options and several beers from the Marston’s empire, including Ringwood and Jennings and a few others that look like they are not from the empire, but they are. With a permanent 2-4-1 deal on food, you need to go with a friend if you don’t want to pay twice as much as everyone else.

Tonight’s beer choice was this month’s seasonal offering from Jennings, Pie in the Sky. It is alleged to be “a robust full bodied beer with pale ale malt and the finest roasted malts combined with whole cone English Fuggle hops to deliver a robust flavour”.

It was just so bland. Before they were owned by the evil empire, I liked Jennings. Hops? Malts? Where? I’m not looking for Cloudwater levels of hoppiness in every pint, but just a decent pint of cask ale would do. It was just so meh.

The food was standard chain pub fodder, I opted for the pulled pork burger, which matched the beer because it was also surprisingly bland. The pulled pork was naked, no sauce, no flavourings, just nude pork (that will get some odd hits for this blog post). It was all ok, but just that. And look at that cheese, it hasn’t even melted in the slightest.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the curry (she does like a pub curry), which was more interesting, although the naan bread was more like a tiny saddle cover for a bicycle seat. Her cider was more interesting, which is not something I thought I would ever say about Bulmer’s.

This does come across as a bit snobby, and it’s not meant to, but this was another of those nights when the company was more important than the food and drink. Again, there was nothing bad, it was just fairly non-descript.

Queens Head, Watnall, October 2017

A glorious mid-autumn day. We’ve been spoilt for October sunshine this year, having spent 8 days in the Algarve, but it has been nice to get back out in the great British countryside in some lovely sun.

We finished our walk around lunchtime, and had already spotted and planned some lunch at a nearby pub. The choice was helped by the fact that the Queens Head serves food from 12-8 on a Sunday, and around a year ago took the (difficult, but correct in my opinion) decision to stop doing Sunday roasts on Sundays, reverting to the normal menu. This is perfect for us, since I cook our roast on Sunday evenings, and we pretty much never have a pub roast.

I know many people love a pub roast, and good luck to them, but I’m happy to do my own. As it happens, a couple of customers did come in enquiring about the Sunday roast whilst we were there. They seemed a little perturbed that they didn’t already know about this change, but stayed for lunch anyway.

As did we, and Mr Obvious chose the pulled pork baguette, which was very nice and a lovely hearty reward after our walk. Excellent chip shop style chips too. The salad was a bit rubbish, three slivers of carrot, an eighth of tomato, a slice of cucumber, a sprinkling of cress, and my salad nemesis, limp iceberg.

As long as you ignore that salad, a lovely lunch. We also had a bonus surprise of our walking companions joining us after about 20 minutes, having decided to stop in for a drink instead of going straight home after eating their sandwiches in the layby where we had parked up earlier on.

A lovely 18th century village pub that deserves a visit, not too far from junction 26 of the M1.

The Narrowboat #1, Skipton, September 2017

After a gentle bimble around Skipton this afternoon we wandered back to the hotel and then back out again for dinner. We’ve booked a table somewhere for tomorrow night (a lesson learned from 2015) but tonight we just decided to wander until we found somewhere. We didn’t take long to find our dinner destination, settling on The Narrowboat, which we’d visited as part of 2015’s walking tour of Skipton.

The first reason for visiting was because I had spotted Hawkshead’s Passion Fruit Gose on the bar. Mrs MOFAD has been looking out for this beer since it was first announced, and we missed it at this year’s Thornbridge Peakender (along with many other great beers which came and went in the blink of an eye). It looked like it was finally time to try it.

So near, and yet so far. I’d ordered it at the bar, but the last few drops dribbled out of the keg. The pub let Mrs MOFAD have it for nothing (to compensate for the sadness), and she had to choose something else. Pogo by Wild Beer Co is fruit salad with a little hop character.

My first was Sorachi by Bristol Beer Factory, a decent cask ale but for me the Sorachi Ace hop was too muted. It’s a Marmite hop but I love its flavour which is why I was looking for more here.

A gentle golden ale next, in the form of Mallisons American SIPA. A decent pint but nothing to really excite.

Just in case you weren’t sure that we were in the North. Chips and gravy. Northern gravy. Although sadly Hazel’s pie had to go back, as during the likely reheating they had burned it rather badly, and it was inedible. It was eventually replaced with pizza, but they didn’t refund the difference.

No such problems with my pizza which they got right first time. A porky fest with bacon, sausage, pulled pork and black pudding.

Black pudding is northern filth, so it was distributed to other plates… Apart from the filth, this was a tasty, porky and crisp pizza, just what I wanted on a Friday night. If that wasn’t good enough, then Mrs MOFAD was even more delighted, as they had found some more Passion Fruit Gose. Her review was simple:-

“OMG. Best. Beer. Ever.”

Fairly clear cut.

My final pint tonight was Citra Star from Northumberland’s Anarchy Brew Co, one that I’ve had before in a can, and it’s even better on cask.

A shame that they burnt the pie, and didn’t really sort the situation out properly, but we did all eventually have a nice dinner and some great beer.