Christmas 2017 beer gift ideas – Hawkshead Brewery

We kick off this year’s festive beer guide with one of last year’s featured breweries, Hawksead. Just like last year, it was one of my favourite brewery tap trips this year. We popped in for some shopping on New Year’s Eve last year, and we also stopped off there in August, at the end of our soggy summer camping trip.We kick off this year’s festive beer guide with one of last year’s featured breweries, Hawksead. Just like last year, it was one of my favourite brewery tap trips this year. We popped in for some shopping on New Year’s Eve last year, and we also stopped off there in August, at the end of our soggy summer camping trip.

Hawkshead Brewery started life in 2002, just outside Hawkshead where they could brew around 8,500 pints of beer a week. In 2006 they moved over to Staveley, where they have been expanding ever since, increasing their brewing capacity and developing the very brewery tap that we were visiting, The Beer Hall. This involved building a new bar around two 11,000 litre stainless steel tanks which rise up through the first floor, and dominate the upstairs dining area. This means that they can now knock out over 60,000 pints a week. That’s some expansion. Just this week they have announced plans to build another brewery on a nearby site, keeping the existing one and the Beer Hall going as well.

Here are some of the beers we picked up when shopping last year:-

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Here are some of the beers on their online store at the moment.

Sundown is a lovely hoppy ale, ITI is a New Zealand session pale ale, Brodie’s Prime Export is a big stout (I have one ready to drink soon as you can see above), Damson Stout is one I’ve not had yet and the same goes for Wild Wheat, a wheat beer with Motueka hops re-fermented with wild yeast.

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Jingle Fells is their festively spiced ale, (above right), the Dry Stone Stout (above left) is easy drinking with smoky notes. And the Solar Sour (above middle) is a supreme session sour. Mojito is a new sour IPA which I haven’t opened yet, and I’m also looking forward to the Tiramisiu Imperial Stout and Tonka (brewed with Tonka beans not Tonka toys).

Great White is a cracking wheat beer with spicy notes and NZ hops poking through, the IPA is a hoppy beast and the NZPA is similarly hoppy. The Cumbrian 5 Hop also follows in their footsteps. Key Lime Tau, the result of a previous Rainbow Project collaboration with Crooked Stave, is now a core beer, and is packed full of zingy lime loveliness. The Chuckleberry Sour is also a nice sour fruit beer.

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Their “standard” range, Bitter, Red, Lager, Windermere Pale and Lakeland Gold are all also good if you are a bit less adventurous.

There’s something for everyone to choose from. You can pick and mix a case of 12 (2 cans counts as 1 bottle) or you can buy a pre-mixed case or a case of just one of the beers. Buy online at http://www.hawksheadbrewery.co.uk/beer-shop.c.aspx

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BBC Good Food Show Winter, The NEC, November 2017

The annual round up of the annual pilgrimage to the NEC to visit the BBC Good Food Show. And for the first time since the last century, we had a guest, with Mrs MOFAD’s sister (and regular MOFAD supplier) Jo joining us for the first half of the day. We rocked up at the NEC at just after 10am, after a quick detour to pick up our passenger. Note to future self – coming down the A446 from junction 9 is much better than going down to junction 6.

In to the show we go. More security this year, sniffer dogs trying hard not to be distracted by the smell of sausages cooking nearby. Guide dogs doing the same. As usual we set off for the drinks sections first, which were absolutely overwhelmed by gin producers. I thought that there were loads of them last year, but I’m sure there were even more this year. Fewer cider producers and way fewer breweries. No Renegade/West Berkshire (probably the highlight of the last 2 years). No BAD Co (another good one from last year). No Empress Ale. No Crafty Devil. Not even a bigger name like Wadworth.

There were a few familiar names as well as some new breweries (reports on them to come later I’m sure). Plenty of interesting food producers, but again some notable absentees. No Croome Cuisine and their lovely hop cheese. No Debbie & Andrew’s. We picked up the usual haul of Dean’s biscuits, always the most generous with their samples of whole biscuits (unlike some of the cheese producers who have samples the size of a mote of dust).

Santa tells me that there are more goodies to come in 25 days, so I’ll wait until then to do another round up 🙂

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #5 – October 2017

Here it is. The twelfth selection box from the N&P, which is the fifth from the dark beer club. With the nights drawing in, more people turn to dark beer, but it can be enjoyed all year round. I’ve still got one bottle left from the first box (Buxton Rainshadow), two from the second (Mutiny and Old Freddy Walker) and two from the third (Omnipollo Noa and Buxton/Stillwater Subliminal Imperial Stout). These are all big beasts, not for when you are keeping it session. There are also three left from August’s box.

Here we go with this month’s selection.

Anchor – Porter – 5.6%

With a deep black colour, a thick, creamy head, rich chocolate, toffee and coffee flavours, and full-bodied smoothness, Anchor Porter is described by its brewer as “the epitome of a handcrafted dark beer, the definitive American Porter”.

A blend of specially roasted pale, caramel, chocolate, and black malts, along with their top-fermenting yeast, creates complexity without bitterness. The brew is hopped at a high rate, and naturally carbonated. The result is dark in the glass, but surprisingly light on the palate.

Anchor Porter became the first modern American porter style beer when it was introduced in 1972. Over 40 years later, it continues to reward those who look beyond its intimidating appearance to discover its smooth, full-bodied drinkability.

Ayinger – Celebrator Doppelbock – 6.7%

originally brewed at a monastery in northern Italy, “double bock” was quickly introduced by Bavarian brewers to compete with bock. Doppelbock names end with the suffix “-ator.”

A rich, dark elixir with cascading layers of malt complexity balanced by elegant hops. Notes of toffee, caramel, elegant dark-malt roastiness, and pure malt. Pinpoint conditioning and semi-dry finish.

Celebrator has a creamy head of tight bubbles contrasting beautifully with its profound dark robe. It is full-bodied and velvety from half a year’s aging. Although it is strong, it is not overpowering. There is a wonderful and complex balance between the various malts, the alcohol and the subtle hops. A complex fruitiness of roasted malt and whole hop flowers make Celebrator great as a party drink with friends and family at celebrations. Despite its richness, it has a faintly smoky dryness in the finish.

Oh, and it comes with a small plastic goat attached. Obvs.

Brussels Beer Project – Dark Sister – 6.6%

Like many more beers, the idea behind this beer started off with a joke. In the winter of 2013 BBP were looking to make a Christmas beer without the classic herbs and high alcohol content. They came up with the “evil twin” of the Delta with a variety of roasted and toasted malts to darken his soul. The community’s reaction was clear : don’t stop making this beer. The Vox Populi reigned and the beer has risen from the dead!

A robust black IPA with flavours of grapefruit and citrus on top of deep roasted bitter malts.

Fierce Beer – Imperial Cafe Racer – 8.5%

Devil’s Peak brewery have taken Fierce’s deep and dark coffee porter to another level with rich roasted Kenyan espresso and Madagascan bourbon vanilla for a sweet little lift. The Café Racer name is inspired by the dangerous edge of leather-clad bikers, making an imperial porter to satisfy even the hardiest of tastes.

Redchurch – Old Ford Export Stout – 7.5%

Rich dark and deep black export stout. A complex malt base providing burnt chocolate, espresso coffee, molasses and leather aromas. The complexity of the malts is perfectly balanced by the warmth of the alcohol, with punchy bitterness and earthy spice provided by the Columbus hops.

If you’d like some and you can’t get the N&P, you can find it in Waitrose.

Wild Beer – Jambo – Imperial Stout + Chocolate + Raspberries – 8.5%

An imperial stout brewed with raspberries and Valrhona cocoa nibs. Rich flavours of chocolate and fruit collide with boozy heat.

Building on the Wild Beer repertoire of wild stouts they have combined our love of locally foraged fruits with their penchant for sweet dark beers. The combination of fruit and chocolate is always amazing and what better way to combat the cold nights of the changing seasons than with a rich warming stout? Specially packaged in 750ml bottles to encourage sharing, it’s a beer to be savoured and divvied out to those you deem fit.

Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton, September 2017

The start of our Skipton weekend. Mrs MOFAD and regular MOFAD companion Hazel are off to Yarndale tomorrow. We were due to be joined by other regular MOFAD companions Steve and Janette tonight, but Steve has been attacked by a chest infection overnight and is not fit to travel.

Hazel & Matt stayed with us last night, and we set off for Skipton this morning. After a coffee stop at Woolley Edge services (where else when heading to Yarndale), we arrived in Skipton just after 1pm, and decided to make this our lunch stop before checking in to our hotel.

If the Keelham name looks familiar, that’s because we stopped at the sister shop to this one back in September 2015, on our way home from that year’s Yarndale trip. Today we had some lunch before doing some shopping.

There are two eating areas in this branch, a full menu downstairs (20 minutes wait this lunchtime due to the large number of Yarndale visitors) or a soup and sandwich menu upstairs (no wait, just find a table and order at the counter). We nipped upstairs, grabbed a table and then picked up some sandwiches, crisps and drinks.

A well filled chicken and bacon mayo sub roll, a bit of salad squeezed in there too. Some Yorkshire crisps (#obvs since we are in Yorkshire) and the gentle fire of Cawston Press ginger beer. Very tasty stuff and just what we needed after our journey.

Time next for a bit of shopping. As there are 4 of us and just one car, both Matt & I had to be restrained in our choices, and kept things to just a small box each. A proper local selection of Yorkshire beers for me, BAD Co from Dishforth (first encountered at last year’s Good Food Show), North Brewing Co from Sheepscar Grove in Leeds, and a couple from from Holbeck’s Northern Monk .

As well as all of this tasty beer, there was plenty of local food as well as lots of stuff from further afield. Loads of fresh stuff as well as plenty of tinned and dried foods. A lovely little farm shop, and I’d probably shop here an awful lot if I lived in Skipton.

Stroud Wine Company, September 2017

Oh look, another beer buying post. Today’s target was Stroud, as we were visiting the farmers market. We’d had a nice wander round, and once we were nearly done, we nipped down an alleyway and into a lovely little shop. Stroud Wine Company have plenty of shelves full of wine, but even better than that, they have a couple of walls full of beer. There’s stuff from near (Wild Beer Co) and far (Buxton, Cloudwater) and even further afield, with lots of Belgians and US imports also available.

I filled up a box with some varied delights to enjoy in the coming months.

A lovely little shop tucked away in a corner of Stroud.

Stroud Farmers Market, September 2017

Stroud farmers market has already featured on the blog this year, as part of Mrs MOFAD’s marvellous market meander. Her solo trip was the inspiration for this visit, as we knew that we were going to be camping nearby this weekend, and a wander around Stroud was a nice gentle Saturday morning activity for everyone.

Finding a parking space was a different matter, and our group’s two cars had to part ways in order to both get parked. It’s clearly very popular.

We had a little stroll around all the stalls, wandering in and out, tasting a few things as we went. A lovely array of stalls, some very traditional such as bacon and sausages, bread and rolls, cheeses, and then other more “modern” stalls like charcuterie, vegan snacks, rape seed oil and olives.

My mission was beer, although there were only two breweries this time, Hillside Brewery (I’ve had their beers from Gloucester Services before) and Gloucester Brewery (who were here on Mrs MOFAD’s last visit).

We had a good bit of chat at the stall and I picked up four of their beers that I’ve not had before for £10, very good value. Matt also picked up some different ones.

Looking forward to trying these, the ones I’ve had so far have been very nice.

Gloucester Services, September 2017

Another stop at our second favourite service station (the favourite being its older sister at Tebay). It was our lunch stop today, en route to our last camping weekend of the year at Slimbridge. We popped in to the shop to buy some sandwiches for lunch (Mrs MOFAD’s was a bit dull, but my chicken and bacon mayo was tasty) and also picked up a few other supplies. Which means beer.

A few from Bath’s Electric Bear and one from Warwickshire’s Purity Brewing Co. Gloucester Services is looking a bit more mature now (the grass has grown in the car park), and their range of produce has matured as they have grown older.

It retains its title as the second best service station on the motorway network…