On the first day of December,
My local pub gave to me,
A great event with Thornbridge brewery…
We are just shy of the first birthday of The Needle & Pin. It has been a great first year, and this event seems like an appropriate way to celebrate that first year. Thornbridge are one of our greatest breweries, and one of the best in the world. The word craft has perhaps become tarnished in recent years, but they are it and have been doing it since they began in 2005.
I can still remember my first pint of Jaipur IPA just yards from this establishment. It was an instant hit with us drinkers and for Thornbridge. And they have gone from strength to strength ever since. I wrote about The Great Peak Weekender back in 2015 (we attended in 2014 too).
To have such a brewery (who have their own pubs and also do regular tap takeovers around the country)hosting an event at our local micro pub is a great achievement for Sean and the patrons of the N&P.
Tonight sold out long ago and we were looking forward to the main event, a deconstruction of Serpent, a collaboration brew with Brooklyn Brewery. Along the way there would be a few little surprises, including many new (to me at least) Thornbridge brews. My drinking companion for tonight was MOFAD regular Alec, and we arrived at the bar within a few minutes of each other.
First up, a half of Sequoia, an amber ale with lovely hoppy notes:-
Next we went for a half of McConnel’s, a smooth stout with vanilla notes and some smoke:-
Proceedings then continued upstairs, when Sean introduced the assembled drinkers to Meghan from Thornbridge (who we’d already been chatting to at the bar) who would guide us through the Thornbridge maze tonight. Our first bottle was Lukas, a Helles style lager, and Meg told us the tale of the work that gone in to making it possible to brew and store this (it’s a lot more complicated than it might appear). Lukas is super pale, a summertime lager.
On now to the main event, Serpent:deconstructed. Serpent is a Belgian style golden ale, brewed with cider lees (the leftover bits from fermenting cider, yeasts, skins and whatever’s left), and then aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels. For two years. It’s a project that they were really committed to. And it certainly needed commitment.
To deconstruct it, first we had a half of Oliver’s traditional cider (the supplier of the lees). I do like a cider, but this was really sour and tannic. A thumbs down from me.
What followed was much better, a half of the Classic Perry, a proper perry that was really nice, full of delicious pear sweetness.
The deconstruction finished with a shot of bourbon, to demonstrate the flavours that come from bourbon barrels. You probably already know my feelings on bourbon, I’m very much a Scotch man.
On then to the real thing, the Serpent. It’s a cider, not a beer. The lees have really dominated this brew, and that’s by no means a bad thing. Good complexity here, almost wine-like. I think this will go well with the Xmas turkey, so I might do that. You can certainly taste some of the flavours from the cider, and some of the sweetness of the perry. Not much of the bourbon coming through, but it’s a very nice “ale that’s not like most ales.”
It wouldn’t be a Thornbridge night without an IPA, so we finished with Huck, their new Double IPA full of sweet pine flavours. Lovely stuff.
As ever, there was time for a little shopping (picking up previously reserved beers). Looking forward to these, particularly the ice cream beers (the ones with the little legs) and the next Cloudwater instalment, v9.
A great night at the N&P, thanks to Meg for the Thornbridge tales and Sean for the passion to make it happen. Looking forward to doing it all again next year!