Another award for The Needle & Pin…

If winning The MOFAD pub of the month for July 2016 and May 2016 was not enough, they have now won another award, which will be presented next month:-

Loughborough and North Leicestershire CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year.

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As Sean loves his cider, The N&P team decided to always offer a good range of up to 6 different ciders. Mrs MOFAD applauds this decision too, as a committed cider fan. Since the N&P opened they have had more than 40 different draught ciders available, with lots of local ciders complemented by some others from further afield.

To celebrate, and say thank you to local cider drinkers, there’s a special offer on this weekend. All ciders will be £3.00 a pint, and only £2.80 if you are a CAMRA member.

The following ciders will be available:-

Bottle Kicking Rhubarb and Strawberry (made just for the N&P)
Bottle Kicking Raspberry and Pomegranate
Needle & Pin Medium (made just for the N&P)
Barbourne Painted Lady Perry
Charnwood Bradgate Hunter
Green Valley Devon Scrumpy

Congratulations to The Needle & Pin!

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Brixton Atlantic APA – American pale ale

The second beer review from the Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box #2 (and the fourth overall from both boxes). Let’s look through the beer blurb…

Brixton Atlantic American Pale Ale – bursts of citrus and tropical fruit. Bold, modern and refreshing, hopped with Citra, Simcoe, Galaxy and Vic Secret, extra pale malts used are Warminster Marris Otter Low Colour Pale and Weyermann Carapils. Unfiltered, unpasteurised and unfined (vegan-friendly).

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Brixton are another N&P favourite, being very much a local brewery who make many deliveries on foot to their very local customers. Generous dry hopping delivers a juicy tropical flavour with extra pale malt keeping it crisp.

Hoppy pale ale loveliness, smooth, well rounded, good bitterness, hints of mango and pine. Absolutely top notch and another classic example of the modern pale ale. Beautifully pale too thanks to those pale malts!

Speak Easy Transatlantic Pale Ale from Powder Keg

The first beer review from the Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box #2 (and the third overall from both boxes). Let’s look through the beer blurb…

Speak Easy from Powder Keg is brewed in Devon by John Magill, a good friend of the N&P. It has been stocked ever since the N&P first opened, and I first had some back in May.

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This “Transatlantic Pale Ale” is dry hopped to maximise the fruity aromatics whilst keeping bitterness in check and presenting a clean finish, bringing British reserve to the brash American pale ale, as if they were still part of the Empire.

It was good to have this one again, a fine example of pale ale loveliness. A good hoppy balance, hints of grapefruit and pineapple with perhaps a little honey somewhere in the background. A classic modern session pale ale that you can drink all night (or day if you’re starting with a Wetherspoons breakfast)…

5,000 views!

Another quick self-congratulatory post! A quick glance at the stats reveals that today I passed 5,000 views on this blog, which seems like fairly good going for around 18 months of operation (I backdated some posts to reflect the correct dates, so post dates actually go back to August 2014 at the moment). Here are some New Zealand beers to celebrate!

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In the context of today’s internet traffic, 5,000 is not very much (one of my work sites regularly has that many people online at any moment) but in the context of some random bloke writing about things that he has eaten or drunk, it’s not bad… Here’s to the next 5,000!

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #2 – November 2016

I know I haven’t finished drinking all of the beers in the first selection box yet, but that’s not a problem. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Not having guzzled a load of beers is a good thing – a sign that you’ve got plenty of lovely things to choose from. You can read more about the selection box concept in that link above, I’m just going to dive straight in with details of what’s in this month’s box. Once again, there are several added extras that I’d reserved previously…

First up this month we have London Brew Lab Mosaic Pale Ale. A single hopped Mosaic American Pale Ale (APA) with a gentle fizz promosing scents of tangerine, pale malts and zesty hops. The palate suggests melon, marmalade and malt sugars with a grassy pine aftertaste.

Brixton Atlantic APA is next – Brixton are an N&P favourite, being very much a local brewery who make many deliveries on foot to their very local customers. Generous dry hopping delivers a juicy tropical flavour with extra pale malt keeping it crisp.

To a previous favourite of mine next, described by me in 2014 as “like an axe made of hops”. Buxton Axe Edge is now hopped with Amarillo (do you know the way?), Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops, bringing mandarin orange, pineapple, schnapps and juicy tropical fruits to your mouth. Looking forward to having this one again.

Speak Easy from Powder Keg is brewed in Devon by John Magill, a good friend of the N&P. It has been stocked ever since the N&P first opened, and I had some back in May. The Transatlantic Pale Ale is dry hopped to maximise the fruity aromatics whilst keeping bitterness in check and presenting a clean finish, bringing British reserve to the brash American pale ale, as if they were still part of the Empire.

Magic Rock Common Grounds Triple Coffee Porter is another that I’ve had before, just last month in fact. This one was put in to the box to try and challenge some of the patrons. Seven different malts are combined with seven different coffees added at three stages during the brew (hence the triple). This produces bitterness and slight hints of chocolate, as well as a little toffee and dark fruits. I did enjoy this one but added NMC to the end of my review. That’s “needs more coffee” which is a change from the usual NMH (needs more hops). It doesn’t quite reach the heights of Buxton’s Guatemalan Coffee Extra Porter.

The last one in the official selection is Mother Earth Boo Koo West Coast IPA. This is another one that has been stocked at the N&P since day one, bursting with flavour, a dry finish and hop-forward. It is also desribed as teeming with fruit and pine notes, and drinkable like a session ale. Looking forward to trying it!

A lot of words there, so let’s have that picture again whilst we finish off!

Finally, we move on to my additional purchases. Let’s start with Cloudwater DIPA v8. I’ve already written about the Cloudwater DIPA experiment as well as a review of v3. Cloudwater DIPA v8 marks the last “event based” release in this range. The strategy was to time releases around beer event dates to try and get these special beers to the most people in the shortest possible time. Cloudwater DIPA v8 was released for IMBC16 (that’s Indy Man Beer Con aka the Independent Manchester Beer Convention).

From v9 onwards Cloudwater will be releasing their new DIPA versions on the first Saturday of every month. This means that v9 is out today, v10 will be released on the 3rd of December and so on. There are no plans to drop the version numbers, so this experiment will keep on running. I’m very happy about that!

To finish off this month, we have two from Siren Craft Brew, who are fast becoming a favourite of mine. Ten Dollar Shake was originally brewed in collaboration with Brewdog Shepherds Bush, with an idea to create a fruit smoothie of a beer, a juice-packed IPA with the most fruit they’ve ever used in a brew (mango, papaya and passion fruit). A big dollop of lactose was added for a thick and smooth body so it pours like a smoothie.

V.I.P.A. is a collaboration with Indy Man Beer Con (the second mention of that today!) The inspiration was Vimto, which was created in Manchester in 1908 as “Vim Tonic”, a health tonic. This was shortened to Vimto in 1912, which no-one seemed to spot was an anagram of vomit… Raspberry, blackcurrant, hibiscus and oak spirals all contribute to creating a familiar colour and taste, brewed using a Belgian Ardennes yeast strain which complements everything with delicate fruit esters, subtle spicy notes and a dry finish.

Looking forward to trying all of these, look out for reviews in the future.

The Poppy & Pint, West Bridgford, November 2016

A night out tonight. We were off to a little film festival being held above this pub, so it was the perfect location for a spot of dinner beforehand.

Nestled between the Lady Bay tennis club and bowling green the Poppy, a former British Legion venue, has become a firm favourite amongst the Lady Bay community and visitors alike, and it has very much a community centre feel to it.

The Poppy and Pint comprises three distinct areas: the Poppy café bar, the traditional bar and the dining room. There’s also a function room, which is where we’re off to later. It is also home to a wide array of regular events and weekly activities such as zumba, yoga, dance and exercise classes – more of that community centre feel.

At this time of year, a few seasonal beers pop up in our pubs, mostly pumpkin flavoured. We’ve never really gone as crazy for them as our friends across the pond do, but quite a few UK breweries do turn their hand to a pumpkin beer in some form. This is a local effort, Most Haunted by Castle Rock brewery, in Nottingham. It only had a 2 mile journey to get here – travelling fewer miles than we did tonight!

It was a tasty light porter, a mix of light and dark, with warming spices like a pumpkin pie. Probably the best example of a pumpkin beer I’ve had yet, although they are not a style that I actively go and seek out.

Food next, lots of things to choose from, either the “standard” menu on the table, or lots of choice from the specials board on the wall. Mrs MOFAD and I both turned to the wall for our choices. For me it was this chicken in peppery cream sauce, with good pub chips and a decent salad on the side. It was really tasty, a great pub dish.

Mrs MOFAD went for this sweet potato curry with chickpeas, rice, mini naan, mango chutney and raita – a great pub curry.

A lovely pub with good food and a great selection of beer, both local and from further afield. It really is the heart of this community and well worth a visit if you can navigate your way through the streets full of parked cars.

International Stout Day 2016

It’s International Stout Day again? Ok, who knew that was a thing? I saw an Untappd badge check in this morning, that’s how I knew.

Let’s consult our friend Wikipedia:-

Stout is a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8%, produced by a brewery.

A reasonable description. I do enjoy a good stout (and porter), so you don’t have to save it for a specific day. Here are some that I’ve had since the last International Stout Day.

Some very tasty ones in there, like Kernel Brewery’s Export Stout London 1890, Siren’s Extra Shot Broken Dream (a breakfast stout with more coffee) and Vibrant Forest’s Salted Liquorice stout (does exactly what it says on the tin).

You might also spot an interesting Mexican stout (there are two words you don’t see together often) Day of the Dead Chocolatl Stout (The Necromancer).

In summary, stout is for every day, not just International Stout day!