Friday 2 January 2009

Marked Strands

The Strands in Nether Wasdale has always been a favourite of mine. Perhaps it helps that there is the complimentary Screes across the road, providing a choice in this delightful hamlet.

Perhaps I'm getting older, the generally more raucous, rough style of the Screes puts me off these days. I used to like it a lot, and it's not changed much, except they have got rid of the grotty carpet. It's just me that's changed, I'm older, more snobby and less fun, but I still like to pop in for a pint occasionally.

Mark and Leslie have worked to improved the Strands, providing a relaxing, comfortable and friendly place. The food is amongst the best in the area. The other day Ann and I visited and had Smoked Duck and Poached Salmon. I can't remember the various sauces, but this is a beer blog, not a food blog, so I only made notes on the beer. What I do remember was that the fish was cooked to absolute perfection - still just a little translucent in the middle and very succulent and tasty. A real homecoming after a couple of weeks of the real American sandwich.

The Strands improved still further for me in February 2007 when Mark set up his brewery. He is as passionate about brewing beer as about everything else he does. My only fear for him is that he will run out of enthusiasm one day, but it's not looking like it will happen any time soon. His first beer was Errmmm… 3.8% I always worry about spelling this correctly, apparently the number of 'r's and 'm's is important. A light session ale that proves very popular. Seems to have a tinny edge to the finish for me and is a little thin, but then I'm comparing to things like T’ Errmmm-inator 5.0% ("Ale be black", groan) which is a nice full bodied rich porter/stout type thing. 

Then comes the real specials. Red Screes 4.5% is a nice winter warmer. A good sweet malty nose with caramel toffee flavours and a very well balanced feel in the mouth. Finally my favourite is the Christmas pudding treat Snow Ho Ho 6.0%. I've had Christmas ales before and often been disappointed. Mark states he uses real Christmas pudding in the recipe, I'd have thought this would make the mash too sticky. Anyway, whatever he really does put in it the nose is that of, well, to be exact, Christmas pudding. Spices, currents, raisins, sultanas, treacle etc. The taste is a nice warming combination of cloves and cinnamon and a flavour reminiscent of Belgian ales. It turns out Mark got hold of some Belgian yeast, does it really make that much difference?

New Years Eve I made the mistake of having Snow Ho Ho with my main course, Red Screees with desert and then following up with Errmmm... Completely the wrong order. Numptie points for me, again. That might just be the reason for the tinny comment above.

I can't leave the Strands without a mention of Leslie. Every crazy guy needs the stabilising influence of a good woman. Leslie seems to be that stabilising influence. Anyway, I have to say nice things about her so as to be permitted back next time.

I'm not sure about the constantly changing mad hair do, but once we get properly into January, hopefully things will settle down.

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