Buxton Brewery Tap, April 2017

We’ve been here before. In May 2015 to be precise. Ever since that visit we’ve been wanting to come back. It took almost 2 years, but we made it 🙂

After a leisurely morning of strolling around Buxton, including a little shopping at Beer District, we were ready for some lunch. There was only ever going to be one place we were going to go. I had been singing the praises of Buxton Brewery Tap for a while, and with MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve as well as Mrs MOFAD, Hazel, Janette and Andy and Kerrie all in tow, I was hoping that there would be something for everyone here.

There was.

My choice was Myrica, a tasty session IPA with oaty smoothness and hazy hoppiness

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Sky Mountain Sour, a collaboration between Buxton and To Øl which has resulted in a nicely balanced sour ale. Mrs MOFAD was a fan of this.

Matt & Steve both had a Rednik Stout which was right up their street. Kerrie tried the Lemon Meringue Pie, which both Mrs MOFAD and I really like. She was not a fan, but surprisingly Hazel (the queen of tea who is not a beer drinker) liked it, and ended up with a bottle to take home.

On to that lunch, I had a buffalo burger with potato wedges, which was very tasty and a perfect portion for lunch. Mrs MOFAD opted for chicken souvlaki, marinated in yoghurt, mustard, lemon & oregano and served with sautéed peppers, tzatziki, sunblush salad & pitta breads. This which was also very nice. My burger came from the specials board, so it might not be available when you visit. Perhaps plates will be though, as this burger appeared on a board.

On then to the shopping. You can’t come here and not take away a bottle or two. Or ten. You’ll spot the “Belgians” on the left, a Bourbon Skyline (barrel aged Berliner weisse), another Sky Mountain Sour and Lemon Meringue Pie for Mrs MOFAD, a Trolltunga (just another gooseberry sour IPA), a Superluminal (sour IPA) and one more.

That last one is Bomba Generation 4, the sequel to Tsar Bomba Generation III which was almost beer of the year for me in 2016. Generation 4 of the Buxton Brett fermented Imperial Stout has been born. The yeast strain from 1978 is alive and well and has chewed relentlessly through the regular Russian Imperial Stout to bring us the Great Grandson of the original batch. This one will go into storage for a while, and come out on a special occasion. If it’s as good as Generation III then it will be rather special.

Matt & Steve also did some shopping, although none of us could convince the nice people behind the bar to thrown in a free glass, despite the amount that we were all spending…

Another great trip to the Buxton Brewery Tap. If you are ever in Buxton, go there. You will find good food and great beer to drink in and take away. End of.

Beer District, Buxton, April 2017

Today we were having a morning out in Buxton with MOFAD companions, Hazel, Matt, Janette, Steve, Kerrie & Andy. Nothing in particular planned, just wandering around the shops. There were a couple of important places that we had lined up. I won’t be reviewing the wool shop (this was Mrs MOFAD’s important destination).

This was the first of my important destinations. Beer District was opened in August 2016 by Matt and Darren, two friends who wanted to bring local beers to Buxton, as well as selling some things from other UK breweries and beers and ciders from further afield.

If it’s local you’re after, you’ll find beers from Thornbridge, Whaley Bridge Brewery and Torrside Brewing, as well as things from across the border (Manchester based breweries such as Cloudwater).

I was in beer heaven perusing the shelves, and did have to limit myself to try and avoid buying everything on display. Fellow beer lovers Matt & Steve were also drooling at the selection of beers on offer, and we all left with bulging sacks full of beer. My selection is below:-

You’ll spot the newly released Mango Halcyon from Thornbridge, two from Whaley Bridge (the first time I’ve seen them in the wild), a Double Heathen from Northern Monk, a couple from Ashover brewery (first time I’ve seen these too), and something from Swedish brewery Dugges.

Looking forward to trying these all over the coming weeks and months. This is the best selection of beers from different craft breweries you’ll find in Buxton. Waitrose have a few good ones but nothing like the variety on offer here. There’s also cider, gin, vodka, whisky and some interesting mixers too.

Get down here for great beer.

House of the Trembling Madness, April 2017

After a lovely dinner at the Lamb & Lion, we took a short stroll to the House of the Trembling Madness. We’ve been here once before, back in 2012, when we visited the bottle shop on the ground floor, bewildered by the array of beers and ciders on offer.

This time round we were less bewildered (we’ve seen a few lovely beer shops like this now), and so we made our way upstairs to the bar. By some happy coincidence (or perhaps I’d been keeping an eye on these things on Twitter), the first kegs of Beavertown Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA were released today, and THOTTM were one of the places to have a keg on.

The beer menu is impressive, basically anything that’s in the shop can be drunk, and they also have a number of beers on keg and cask, as well as bottles in the fridges along with hot drinks and some food.

Mrs MOFAD opted for something all the way from San Diego, Passion Fruit Kicker from Green Flash Brewing, a wheat beer with subtle passion fruit flavours, very gentle and tasty.

There was no choice for me, it had to be the Bloody ‘Ell, a super tasty mish mash of hops and blood orange. It’s a really good modern beer.

To contrast with that, I went for The Devil Made Me Brew It from Bristol’s Arbor Ales. It wasn’t quite as contrasting as I was expecting, an oaty stout with hoppiness and massive burnt flavours. I really enjoyed this one too, and a dinky half pint dimple pot was also pleasing.

We’ve had plenty of great beers today so curtailed our drinking activities. However, you can’t leave without passing through the shop, so we had to look around. As we were travelling by train, we had to be strict and limit ourselves to just one thing each. Otherwise I could happily have had one of everything. You might spot beers from Thornbridge, Siren, Wild Beer, Vocation, Chorlton and Beavertown (to name but a few) in this slightly blurry photo.

The one thing I didn’t get chance to capture was the total and utter quirkiness of the decor upstairs. A medieval style drinking hall could be expected to have lots of mounted animal heads on the wall, and it does.

A fantastic pub and beer shop all in one. No trip to York would be complete without a trip to the House of the Trembling Madness. Just take it easy so you don’t get the DTs 🙂

The Needle & Pin, March 2017

A little “halfway between birthdays” event for us. We had a bit of a think about where we wanted to have a little event with a little group of friends. Often these happen in various chain pubs about the area, but I wanted our one to happen in my favourite pub. So we made it happen (with thanks to Sean who let us reserve the entire upstairs area for the evening).

My evening began with a pint of Beer Hub Brew #1 from The West End Brewery, a new Leicester brewery that opened up last year. This was a cracking session pale ale with good hoppy notes.

Some pizza arrived from Peter Pizza. We tucked in.

This was accompanied by North Riding Brewery’s Neapolitan Milk Stout, which is like childhood in a glass, the 1980s ice cream classic in pint form.

Downstairs, it was bar manager Jet’s birthday. Sean had very kindly rebranded one of the pumps to celebrate this 🙂

Whilst one or two people were confused by this, Mrs MOFAD was choosing another beer, Curse of Threepwood from Wild Weather Ales, a fruity and tart rhubarb and hibiscus sour wheat beer. If you don’t recognise the name, Guybrush Threepwood was the main character in the Monkey Island series of games. One for you 90s gamers!

One more pint to celebrate, a Thornbridge favourite, Lord Marples, a classic bitter.

A lovely night out with friends and beers.

Dark Beer night at The Needle & Pin, February 2017

The latest Needle & Pin event is upon us. This one turned out to have a little twist on all of the previous beer tasting events. There was a little bit of food involved, pairing some little nibbles with a selection of 5 dark beers. Tonight’s event sold out in record time, and got expanded a few times. It seems that there are plenty of dark beer fans out there.

Once again, this feels like one of those events that you expect to find in London bars and brewery taps, so it’s really great to have it in our sleepy little market town. Let’s begin…

Gouden Carolus Classic was awarded “world’s best dark ale” at the 2012 World Beer awards, and also won gold at the 2015 awards. It pours a deep red, viscous with sweet notes or raisin, toffee and chocolate.

This was paired with some cave aged Gruyere cheese, and this was a great match, bringing out the creamy flavours of the cheese, and the sweet raisins in the beer.

Moor Stout is dark, smooth and rich, with roasted barley and bitter chocolate. Simple, unpretentious and highly drinkable, it has the hallmarks of a classic black beer, no unicorn hair, solar dust or celebrity nail clippings.

There were 2 potential matches with this one. Some Bavarian smoked cheese was first, but for me it didn’t work as it was way too subtle. I like my smoked cheeses to have little wisps of smoke coming out of them (heavily smoked) but this was too subtle for my tastes. The second match was Roquefort, and that was a winner, with the tanginess standing up very well against the heavy roast flavours of the beer.

Beavertown Smog Rocket Smoked Porter was inspired by London’s industrial revolution, when smog filled the air and the London porter was the beer of the working man. This was an original home brew recipe, using 9 different malts, including plenty of smoked Rauchmaltz from Bamberg in Germany. Big flavour hits of molasses, rasins and caramel are cut through by the resinous American Chinook hop. Smoky aromas abound, reminiscent of the smoke stacks of industrial London.

This match was my favourite of the night, smoked brisket from across the road at The Hog Stop. An extra smoky brisket was commissioned, to match up with the lovely chocolate smokiness from the Smog Rocket. Both were delicious.

Thornbridge’s Eldon is named after the Eldon Hole, one of the seven wonders of the Peak District. It is a Bourbon oak imperial stout, smooth and roasty, brewed with demerara sugar, with added complexity coming from the Bourbon soured oak. Caramel, coffee and chocolate mix with a hint of vanilla and Kentucky bourbon.

The food match for this was a piece of last minute inspiration, a Medjool date to match with some of the sweetness from the demarara sugar. The match was good, although this was probably my least favourite beer of the night. It felt a bit thin and underwhelming, unusual for a Thornbridge beer.

Finally, Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout. This award winning national champion stout is a beautifully creamy, full-bodied stout, the likes of which were brewed nearly a century ago on the very site of the Bristol Beer Factory today. Does not contain milk. Invigorating & stimulating for workers (or so they used to say). Brewed within the city of Bristol from local raw materials, sweet, black and extremely full-bodied. Unfermentable lactose sugar (added during the boil) sweetens the chocolate and black malt derived roast flavours. An historic beer, recreated for the modern drinker.

This matched nicely with one of Rebecca’s (aka Mrs Needle & Pin) hand made creations, an Oreo and salted caramel petit four. The sweetness balanced nicely between the two, and rounded off a lovely evening of beer tasting and chat, with the added bonus of some nice nibbles.

There’s always time for some shopping, usually this involves picking up things that I’ve previously reserved, and tonight was no exception. Several new Cloudwater brews (and a delicious coffee porter for MOFAD supplier Matt) as well as a couple of new IPAs, a barrel aged weisse and two imperial stouts (one for Matt).

Another great night out at the Needle & Pin, not hard to see why it was my pub of the year for 2016

Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2017

It’s that time of year again, more beer awards. The CAMRA Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition provides an opportunity to showcase the best traditional winter brews in the country, in categories including barley wine, strong old ales, porters and stouts. I call these the “Matt awards”, since the darker beers are MOFAD drinking companion Matt’s favourite styles.

Here’s the list of winners, along with a few short notes from me (I’ve not encountered many of these beers yet, although not through lack of trying!)

Overall

Gold – Moor – Old Freddy Walker (Bristol)
Silver – Sulwath Brewers – Black Galloway (Dumfries & Galloway)
Bronze – Magic Rock – Dark Arts (Huddersfield) – this one is full of chocolate, coffee, toffee and general roasty toasty flavours – very nice! Here it is on draft from Brewdog Edinburgh:-

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Barley Wine, Strong Old Ales

Gold – Moor – Old Freddy Walker
Silver – Green Jack – Ripper Tripel
Bronze – Orkney – Skull Splitter

Old Ales, Strong Milds

Gold – The Grainstore Brewery – Rutland Beast
Silver – Sarah Hughes – Dark Ruby Mild (this one is a favourite of MOFAD drinking companions Alec & Bruce)
Bronze – Adnams – Old Ale (this wasn’t available the last time we were in Southwold, although MOFAD companion Steve had some at the brewery on Sunday!)
Bronze – Old Dairy Brewery – Snow Top

Porters

Gold – Sulwath Brewers – Black Galloway
Silver – Elland Brewery – 1872 Porter (this is a favourite of the aforementioned Steve who describes it as a “superb creamy porter”)
Bronze – Tavy Ales – Tavy Porter

Stouts

Gold – Magic Rock – Dark Arts (see previous comments)
Silver – London Brewing Company – 100 Oysters Stout
Bronze – Loch Lomond – Silkie Stout

Looking forward to finding a few more of these out in the wild soon…

Wiper & True Milkshake Milk Stout

Wiper & True are a brewery who like to tinker and make things a little out of the ordinary. Milkshake Milk Stout is laced with vanilla pods and brings notes of chocolate, coffee and dried dark fruits. The sweet and creamy flavour has a little spicy earthiness from British hops. This is the second beer from the inaugural Needle & Pin dark beer selection box.

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Open it up and what do you get? It’s a gentle, sweet and creamy vanilla milk stout. Very smooth without being too sweet, there’s certainly something ice cream like about it, a creamy milk shake quality. I was expecting a little more carbonation perhaps, but this was a very pleasant and easy going stout.