Dog and Duck, Shardlow, July 2017

Another pub trip where the company was more important than the food and drink. Just as well really, as this was another classic poor chain pub effort. A Marstons pub, the usual below average selection of beers from the empire, a few bottles, and some rubbish “ciders” like Strongbow and Old Mout. So, another night on the lime and soda. No biggie, I have great beers at home for another night.

Maybe the food could make up for this disappointment. Although “two for one, all day every day” doesn’t always insipre confidence. Mrs MOFAD opted for curry again, she does enjoy a pub curry. Chicken tikka masala is an easy pub option, and pubs always chuck in the full works, rice, naan, popadom and alleged mango chutney (it’s never any good).

My choice was the BBQ chicken burger, which sounded nice.  Crispy buttermilk chicken goujons topped with Monterey Jack cheese and BBQ sauce, served with chips and coleslaw.

The best word you could find to describe this would be fodder. That’s all that it was. Very average damp pub chips (lots of seasoning required), a pointless little dish of alleged coleslaw (way too much onion), and an awful bread roll that had probably been hanging around all day, and. It disintegrated a little bit more every time you picked it up. Processed cheese added insult to injury, and a pitiful amount of alleged BBQ sauce didn’t help. No additional sauces available to help out either.

Chain pub eating at its lowest ebb. Meh food, no decent drinks. Luckily there were plenty of laughs to be had with friends.

The home made Hooky beer festival, July 2017

You may recall from last year that we went to the Hook Norton beer festival. A festival in a field on a farm. With poorly kept beer. And not much else going for it, apart from the company. We returned to the area this year, but with a different plan.

A very simple plan. We would hold our own beer festival, supplying our own beer. I even made tasting notes. Probably more detailed than they needed to be, but I’ve been exposed to plenty of Sean’s tasting notes now and it was good fun putting them together. They follow below, and then I’ll move on to the round up of the beers we had.

First, a note about sour beers…

Traditional sour beers are usually created through mixed fermentation of the beer after it has boiled. This mixed fermentation can be simultaneous (traditional yeast, wild yeast, and bacteria added all at the same time), or sequential in a separate vessel. In this case, a beer will be fermented traditionally with common brewer’s yeast until it is at or near completion. This beer will then be transferred into barrels (usually oak, sometimes stainless steel tanks) where wild yeasts and bacteria will begin to re-ferment the beer, consuming sugars that traditional yeasts are unable to eat.

One byproduct of this secondary fermentation by bacteria is lactic acid, which, along with acetic acid and other organic acids, is responsible for souring the liquid. This process often takes a long time, from months to years, but yields a complex final product that can be served as-is, or mixed with young beer to temper the sourness and add complexity (the Belgian style Geuze uses this technique). These beers will continue to develop and sour with time, including in the bottle.

If you don’t have time to wait for a beer to age in the barrel, then you can use a kettle souring process, in which the lactic acid is generated by a primary fermentation of a bacterial culture (often lactobacillus, which could come from a lab or even yoghurt) for several hours (all the way up to a few days) before a final boil is conducted to kill the bacteria, halt the production of lactic acid, and continue with a secondary fermentation by traditional yeast.

Gose is a top-fermented beer that originated in Goslar, Germany. It is brewed with at least 50% of the grain used being malted wheat. Dominant flavours in gose include a lemon sourness, an herbal characteristic, and a strong saltiness (the result of either local water sources or added salt). Gose beers typically do not have prominent hop bitterness, flavours, or aroma. The beers typically have a moderate alcohol content of 4 to 5% ABV.

That’s the science bit, now the beers…

Thornbridge – Tart – 6% – sour ale

A “Bakewell sour” brewed in collaboration with Wild Beer Co., Tart pours a golden yellow colour with a white head, and is refreshingly tart and dry with a combination of citrus hops and flavours of grapefruit and bitter lemon. The name Tart is inspired by the Bakewell delicacy where Thornbridge are based and accurately describes the flavour of the beer in a single word.

Dugges – Tropic Thunder – 4.5% – sour ale

Tropic Thunder is a joint effort with nomadic brewer Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal. This sour ale was brewed with lactobacillus and fermented with plenty of mango, passion fruit and peaches to produce something akin to an alcoholic Rio.

In 2002 Mikael Dugge Engström had a meeting with an Englishman, who was in the business of selling second hand breweries. This got Mikael thinking. How cool would it be to have your own brewery and brew your own beer?

With all the energy of a man possessed Mikael started studying Swedish alcohol legislation (which is pretty extensive), read up on everything and anything he could find on brewing beer and going on visits to anyone who would have him, getting tips and making friends. All while he started buying the parts needed to build a small brewery. In 2005, he opened one. In 2010 he moved to a bigger one. In 2017 he doubled capacity again.

Modern Times – Fruitlands Blood Orange and Hibiscus sour – 4.8% – Gose

Fruitlands is tart, fruity & frighteningly delicious. The sour, salty base beer lays down the funky refreshment, while a heavy dose of blood oranges & hibiscus turns the whole thing into a wall-to-wall citrus fiesta, with tart, floral notes from the hibiscus adding beautifully to the profile. It’s a marvelous mix of elements that collides with your mouth like a fruit-filled asteroid of flavor traveling at the supersonic speed of party.

Modern Times is a brewery from the Point Loma neighbourhood of San Diego, named after a beautifully crazy utopian community founded in 1850. Almost all of their beers are named after real utopian experiments or mythological utopias.

Wild Weather – One Eyed Iain Salted Caramel Porter – 6.2% – English porter

A collaboration with Electric Bear, where rich malts flow around a sweet caramel base creating waves of decadence as your tongue experiences each flavour. This is driven home by a slight salted note to awaken both the nose and mouth.

Boom! Came the sound of the thunder, and as the rain came down like beads bouncing from the mash tun, Wild Weather Ales was born! Brewed in Silchester (just outside Reading) and drawing inspiration from new world hops, Germany’s malts and beer styles from across the globe, Wild Weather Ales vow to make your drinking experience as enjoyable as their brewing.

Now with their own on site canning line, collaborations with some of the UK’s most inspirational brewers, and being more and more readily available nationwide Wild Weather is experiencing wild growth.

“Striking branding” you might say. Wild Weather say thank you, but they can hardly take all the credit. When they approached the punk artist and guitarist from the London punk band MÜG he jumped at the chance to have his work displayed across some of this fair land’s greatest drinking establishments.

Cloudwater Brew Co – DDH IPA Citra – 6% – India Pale Ale

DDH stands for “double dry hopped”. Cloudwater has doubled the amount of hops in this IPA to bring you the brewery’s first DDH IPA. Fermented with WLP4000 yeast and dry-hopped with Citra, Amarillo, Chinook and Centennial (big name American hops). WLP4000 yeast was isolated from a uniquely crafted double IPA from the the USA and produces a balanced fruity ester profile of peaches and light citrus that complements any aggressively hopped beer.

Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to a beer to add more of a hop aroma. Traditionally, dry hopping is done in beer styles like pale ales and IPAs, but brewers are utilising this process in many other styles as well. Since you are not boiling the hops, you won’t be extracting any of the oils from them, and therefore will not be contributing to the beer’s bitterness. What you will be adding are hop flavour and aroma. If you are a big hop fan, dry hopping is a must.

At the heart of Cloudwater Brew Co is a deep love for the changing seasons, each bringing with it an invitation to enjoy the scarcity and abundance the natural world offers. Cloudwater want to showcase the ebb and flow by using seasonal ingredients at their very best, and taking inspiration from the change of lifestyle each season creates.

Boundary Brewing Cooperative – Joyous Abandon – 4.8% – Saison

Joyous Abandon is their first bottled mixed fermentation Saison. Using a house culture, they aged this Raspberry Saison in a Pinot Noir barrel and allowed the critters to do what they do best. This beer is the future.

Boundary Brewing Cooperative are a Cooperative Brewery in Belfast owned and run by their members. Opening in 2014, they are the first brewery in NI to bring together modern US styles with the more traditional Belgian/French style beers.

That was just our beer selection. Matt & Steve also brought beers. We alternated between offerings from our various selections. No overall plan, just whatever we felt like.

Printemps from Unity Brewing (a nettle saison) which kicked off our evening (good with fish’n’chips), Project Barista : Turkish from Siren (a big coffee beast), Zuur Goosberry (gooseberry sour) and Mangomarillo from Watsons Brewery in Essex (fruity mango flavours, but not an IPA). We mixed things up with a little Tropic Thunder from Dugges (alcoholic Lilt).

The beer of the festival came next. Intensified Barrel Aged Coffee Porter from Brooklyn Brewery finally showed me what bourbon barrels are for. Making a great beer like this one. We were all blown away by this one. Apart from Hazel (who produced the facial reaction of the festival) and Mrs MOFAD (who was equally unimpressed).

More coffee came next with a Northern Monk patrons project collaboration, morello cherry and Peruvian coffee imperial porter. More coffee bitterness, but the cherry comes through very late.

That was day one. I started off day two with my Cloudwater DDH IPA Citra, which was absolutely fantastic. A hoppy juice bomb that was perfect with my spicy dhansak.

We went sour to kick things off for everyone, with another Vibrant Forest, this time Zuur Rhubarb, which was very pleasant.

Trolltunga from Buxton Brewery was up next, coincidentally we had opened some just two days before. It was just as good 🙂

My bottle of Joyous Abandon was next, a raspberry saison which would be perfect in summer. I know that it is summer, but it wasn’t quite summery enough today.

Back down south next for Tellicherry from Winchester’s Red Cat Brewing, a peppercorn wheat beer. I couldn’t detect the pepper anywhere.

Steve’s Portugese import was next, Coral Tónica from Empresa de Cervejas da Madeira. We’d all had worse, but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

Another Red Cat next, Naked Sour (that should get some more hits on this post), a simple and unadulterated sour.

We moved on to Essex next, for Watsons Imperial Black Otter. Allegedly a black IPA or Cascadian dark ale, the nose promises loads of hops, but they are weirdly absent from the palate. A nice dark ale, but I really wanted to taste all of those hops that my nose told me were present.

To round things off, we returned to yesterday’s lovely Project Barista : Turkish from Siren.

It is fair to say that our Hooky beer festival was way better than the official one last year. Great beers, well kept (in bottles and cans) and a good array of styles and flavours. We had all curated some of our favourite styles alongside a few different things. Thanks to Matt & Steve for their selections.

Looking forward to doing it all again in a few months! Already got some good ones lined up 🙂

 

Cafe Le Raj, Chipping Norton, July 2017

Much like yesterday, this is another placeholder, because we’ve been here before and need documented evidence of our visit! We were slightly (a lot) more sober than when we had a curry from here last year, after the bit of a let down which was the Hook Norton beer festival. So this year we organised our own. There are two other posts about that.

Tonight, we ordered our curry before we started drinking, phoning our order in and then popping out to collect it. They do offer free delivery within a 3 mile radius (we were within 1.5 miles) but it was going to take an extra 40 minutes, so we decided to collect.

Everyone enjoyed their curries. My dhansak was nicely spicy and sour, and even Hazel’s korma had a little warmth to it. Mrs MOFAD enjoyed her chicken tikka rogan josh and we shared rice and a naan (I would have liked a little more of both).

So, future selves, this is the curry house to come to when camping in Chipping Norton.

Arctic fish bar, Chipping Norton, July 2017

A quick post and one without photos. Whatever next. This is really just here as a placeholder to remind all of us which chip shop in Chippy it is that we like. We’ve been to this one every year, and we do sometimes struggle to remember which is the good one. It’s this one, lovely chips, nice crisp batter on the fish and a decent size of cod too.

If you are camping nearby (as we are at least once or twice a year!) then this is the chip shop you need!

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #6 – July 2017

This is the sixth Craft Beer Club selection box from the N&P,  and the ninth overall. I’ve still got one left over from selection box #3 (Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA) and two left from box #5 (Whispering Bob and 4 Degrees of Separation). I’m also way behind of my reviews of the individual beers, with no sign of catching up any time soon (at least another 40 posts to write!) Let’s take a look inside box number six…

Brewski/Ale Farm – Stone the Crows – 6.5%

A one-off collaboration that is sold out everywhere, but luckily some was procured in time for CBC subscribers. A meeting of Brewski from Helsingborg in Sweden and Ale Farm from Køge in Denmark. This will appeal to fans of big, juicy American-style IPAs (aka me!). Hazy and dank, with lemon peel and pine on the nose, followed by an explosion of grapefruit, melon and tangerine. Yes please!

Fallen Brewing – Just the Ticket – 4%

Whenever any Fallen beers arrive at the N&P, they fly out of the door. Brewed in Kippen near Stirling, this is described on the can as “hoppy extra pale”. The brewery is situated in an old station house, which leads to plenty of railway punnage in the beer names. The beer is hoppy and pale, brewed with NZ and US hops to make a refreshing light beer. Dominant flavours and aromas are lemon, lime, tropical fruits and orange zest.

Mikkeller – Session IPA Citra – 4.5%

A session IPA from Mikkeller who need no introduction. This is crisp and clean and packed full of Citra hops. Bitter notes on the nose from the Citra hops combine with an earthy and citrusy palate to create a fresh session beer. The robust bitterness is balanced by sweet tropical fruit flavours, followed by notes of tart grapefruit and pine needles. WIth a juicy character and spritzy carbonation, the finish is light and refreshing.

Pressure Drop – Bosko – 6.5%

We reach the first one that I’ve had before. This beer was inspired by classic American beers like Flying Dog IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Stone Pale Ale. Bosko has a more balanced approach, loaded with aromatic American hops but brewed with crystal malt to give the sweetness that Pressure Drop wanted to emulate in the beers they were inspired by. When I had it last there were good fruity notes and a good balance of hoppiness, bitterness and sweetness.

Three Fiends – Bukowski All American IPA – 7%

This was a big hit when a cask of it was served in May of this year.  This is an American style IPA, with intense fruit flavours and resinous hops, hints of grapefruit, tropical fruits and pine, with a pale malt base.

Wiper & True – Kaleidoscope – 4%

Wiper & True are an inventive bunch of people based in Bristol who are never afraid to experiment. They are a favourite of the N&P, always turning out flavoursome beers packed with interesting tastes. Just like the three mirrors that make up the internal chambers of the titular optical instrument to create an ever-changing picture, the Kaleidoscope series combines three different hops to create a seasonally evolving flavour profile. Whilst the hops change, the intention remains the same – to create a beer that is harmonious, bright and refreshing. This bottle is from batch 31 – it contains Ahtanum, Amarillo and Columbus hops. This produces a juicy whopper, refreshingly light but with big summer fruits and exotic aromas such as lychee and mandarin. It retains a rustic edge to remind you that beer is an agricultural product. A dreamy watercolour of a beer.

Sours night, The Needle & Pin, Loughborough, June 2017

Yes, it’s another “night” at the N&P. The latest in a long line of great evening events, including Belgian night, dark beer night, Thornbridge night, IPA night and the original (and messiest) craft beer tasting evening.

Tonight was the rearranged sours night, a month later than planned due to Sean’s man flu which caused the postponement of the original date. The best things come to those who wait, and wait we did, for the new date a month later. Mrs MOFAD was here again tonight, as sour beers are very much her thing. We were also joined by regular MOFAD companion Alec, and managed to have a table all to ourselves.

We started the night a little early, with pizza (from Peter as ever) and a beer from the bar.  This was a Platinum Blonde from Byatts, light and refreshing bitterness.

And this was a tasty pizza as usual:-

On to the main event, the sours. We began our journey with a very refreshing little number, a super sunny summer time beer, Jasmine Dragon from Dugges. Subtle jasmine notes, very nice. These Swedes know what they are doing…

Beer number two was standard saison stuff from Wylam, in the form of Le Saisonnier. The label hints at subtle rosemary and lemon balm flavours, but they were too subtle for me, because I couldn’t find them anywhere in here.

Snacks started to arrive next, humous and breadsticks first. We moved on to a “wild card” beer next, which Sean added in to the line up late in the day. Duchesse de Bourgogne is a beer that we have both come across before, in the famous Eagle pub in Cambridge (where Watson & Crick first announced their discoveries around DNA). Mrs MOFAD hated it (vinegary coke) but I quite liked it. That continued tonight, as I enjoyed the sweet, sharp and sour funky cola flavours, and Mrs MOFAD did hop face once more, despite no hop profile. Hop face appears when an unpleasant flavour is encountered.

Back to the plan next, and we journey up the A515 (or A6) to visit our friends at Buxton. In fact, you will notice the next beer in my haul from our last visit:-

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Superluminal is a collaboration with Stillwater, and they has produced a sour IPA. What you get is enoromous grapefruit flavour, but no hoppiness. Even Mrs MOFAD quite liked this one, the first time she has said that about an IPA.

Another wild card next. Vandervelden 135 Oude Geuze Vielle is a geuze released to honour the founding of Oud Beersel in 1882. It was released in the spring of 2017 and is a blend of a 1-year old lambic aged in 30-year old Tuscan Brunello di Montalcino barrels and a 3-year old lambic aged in Beersel’s own foudres. I’d already pre-ordered a bottle of this, so it was nice to “try before you buy”. It has a best before date of 20 years hence, so I can safely cellar mine for a little while. I’m going to do just that, it was like a champagne amongst beers. It also went very well with a subtle goats cheese.

We return to the plan with another collaboration, NxSE, a joint effort from Gypsy Hill (the SE), and North Brew Co (the N), who have made a kettle soured raspberry beer. This was full of raspberry tartness and no sugary nonsense. Lovely stuff.

We move on to one of my favourites, mostly for the flavour, but partly for the artwork, which appears to feature Calculon (the acting robot from Futurama). Wild Weather make great beers, and they also do great names and artwork (cf. Curse of Threepwood and its Monkey Island homage). Dark of Ages Past was a lovely blueberry beer, which matched perfectly with Rebecca’s chocolate and cherry brownies, which complemented the sweetness of the beer very well.

We end on something more subtle, Morello Cherry Gose from One Mile End, very subtle cherry flavours and a hint of saltiness.

Another great “night” at the N&P. It’s been quite a journey from that inaugural craft beer night, and a sold out sours night shows that local drinkers are ready to explore all kinds of areas on their beer journeys. Looking forward to the next one, whatever it may be.

Booths, Ulverston, June 2017

These posts pop up several times a year. Booths is still our best supermarket when it comes to good beer.  Tesco have made great strides this year, chucking out dozens of Heineken lines and replacing them with good beer. Asda are catching up. Waitrose are expanding their range (our most local one has just started stocking Redchurch from Bethnal Green). Morrisons are keeping up. Sainsburys are still rather average.

Booths are still better that all of those. They stock loads of local beers (Hesket Newmarket pictured here), bigger names such as Brewdog, imports such as Connecticut’s Two Roads and other smaller names from around the country such as RedWillow from Macclesfield.

As this selection shows, plenty of breweries, and plenty of different styles to tempt you. You can also buy good food there too 🙂