Craft beer tasting evening at The Needle & Pin, June 2016

A craft beer tasting night is the kind of thing that happens in big city craft bars/pubs a lot. It’s the kind of thing you see being advertised on Twitter all the time, especially from London based establishments such as places on the Bermondsey beer mile. To have such a thing in a sleepy little market town is not something you might expect, but it’s the kind of thing that our awesome new micropub, The Needle & Pin, is bringing to our midst. Our events organiser and regular MOFAD companion Alec had reserved places for a few of us, so off to town we went.

Mrs MOFAD and I were the first of our group to arrive, and we ordered pizzas from the lovely people at Peter first. Before proceedings began, we had a couple of drinks. I had a pint of Market Harborough Pale Hop which was indeed a good hoppy golden ale. Mrs MOFAD had a Bottle Kicking pomegranate & raspberry cider, which was an instant hit, a really nice drink. We ate our pizzas and drank our drinks, and the rest of our party arrived, friends from the day job, although Alec was missing due to some urgent business that needed attending to.

Time for a quick atmosphere shot – I’ve not actually shown you what the inside of this place looks like in my previous posts, so here it is, a quick shot of the upstairs area:-

Official proceedings began with Soar Head, a very classic English bitter from pub owner and craft beer guide Sean’s other local business, Wicked Hathern Brewery. This is a heavy malt character ruby ale, with burnt sugar and caramel. The idea behind this was to show off the classic English bitter, and provide a stark contrast for many of the hoppy monsters that were to follow. Looking back, it really did that.

Whilst this was going on, jars of malt and hops were passing round for a bit of scratch and sniff action, and Mrs MOFAD had moved on to a Bottle Kicking peach, pineapple and passion fruit cider – some excellent alliteration and another tasty cider.

Now time for the real action. We kick off with So’Hop from Moor Beer Company in Bristol. You will notice a little cloudiness, Moor make can conditioned ales, and this one was a hoppy and grapefruity little delight, although perhaps a bit thin – perhaps they brewed too much of the sugar out.

On to my favourite style next, the IPA. If you’ve read any of these posts, you’ll know that I spend a lot of time moaning about IPAs, usually because they are not pale enough (the P stands for pale) or because they are not hoppy enough. No complaint about the hoppiness here though, a decent enough IPA.

Onwards, ever onwards, with one I’ve tried before. Gamma Ray American Pale Ale from Beavertown Brewery is a favourite of mine, hoppy and refreshing.

We stay with the Beavertown boys, for their “Bloody ‘Ell” blood orange IPA. And as soon as you take a sip, you do indeed exclaim “bloody ‘ell” as it’s just a bit good, an orange-y IPA with a lot going on. Big fruit, big hops.

A trip across to Magic Rock now, but keeping with the fruits and pale ale theme, with their High Wire Grapefruit, an updated version of their High Wire ale, now with added grapefruit. Much like the blood orange IPA, this is a bit good, with some massive fruity hop flavours mixing around.

A trip across the pond next, to Mother Earth Brew Co and “Hop Diggity” a double IPA. This was full of malt and strength, with hoppiness being over powered by the sugar. Some big beers do not taste “strong” but this was a very chewy and strong IPA.

The next one confused a few of my drinking companions, as a black IPA was not something they’d come across before. I had come across quite a few, so was looking forward to Vertigo from Salopian Brewery, and it did not let me down. Good hoppiness and some roastiness from those dark malts.

On we go to Magic Rock Rapture Red Hop, full of red hoppy goodness. I do like these Magic Rock cans, there are quite a few in the cellar (cupboard under the stairs).

Next we go to Somerset for Wild Beer Co “Wild Goose Chase”, another beer that I’ve had before. Zing. Zing. Zing. Fizzy tartness, sweet, sour and a dry finish. Just a shame that the late hops get lost in the mix.

Are we done yet? Nope. We move on to one of Mrs MOFAD’s favourites,
Timmermans Framboise Lambicus, a sweet and fruity ale that is real summertime BBQ stuff.

Mrs MOFAD drinking beer…

For some reason, the next beer was not captured in photo form. Howevever, it was
another from Magic Rock, called Salty Kiss – sea buckthorn and coriander
come through in this super tasty sour ale. Mrs MOFAD also loved this, and now has a few of these in stock for future consumption.

On we go again with this relentless tide of great beer. Another interesting one next, Cloudwater Brew Co’s Bergamot Hopfen Weisse – each brew of this wheat beer contains 150kg of lemon zest plus all of the juice. Lemony tea beer? Yes, it really works, I loved the weirdness of this…

Finished yet? Nope! Back to Somerset we go for Wild Beer Millionaire, just your run of the mill salted caramel chocolate milk stout. This is superb stuff, just like millionaire shortbread in a glass. Delightful.

Any more? Of course there is. We carry on with the darkness, and return to my beer of the month from July 2015, Thornbridge Cocoa Wonderland, which is a stunning display of chocolately loveliness.

We have reached the end, just one more to go. And as is traditional at the end of lovely evening out, we end with the coffee. In this case, Dark Star Espresso, a dark beer brewed with roasted barley malt and challenger hops. After that, freshly ground Arabica coffee beans, blended especially for Dark Star, are added for a few minutes to provide a rich and complementary coffee aroma which delivers delicious coffee bitterness.

An absolutely fantastic night out. If you have something like this happening near you, go. So many different beers to try, lots of different flavours across the different styles that we had tonight. I’m sure there will be another one soon – reserve your place as soon as you can. We had a great laugh on our table and also had some good chats with people at neighbouring tables.

One of the nights out of the year!

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