Wollaton Cricket Club – the sixth annual beer festival

A departure from the norm here. An advert. I am not for sale, but when Comrade Chairman (a former colleague) comes calling then the rules can be bent a little bit. Next weekend there is a beer festival occuring. I can’t be there, but maybe you can.

Wollaton Cricket Club would like to invite you to join them for their sixth annual beer festival, at the Wollaton Sports Association Ground from the evening of Thursday 25th May until Bank Holiday Monday 29th May.

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The festival will offer beer and cider drinkers a choice of up to 20 fantastic quality ales and ciders from a wide range of the country’s best breweries.

Prices start from under £3.00 a pint, with the bar open from 6.00pm until 11.00pm on Thursday 25th May, 12 noon until 11pm Friday-Sunday, and 12-6pm on Monday 28th May.

There is outdoor seating available, from where you will be able to enjoy your tasty beverage whilst watching the weekend’s cricket at one of the most picturesque grounds in the county.

You can also tuck into some food with your beer. There will be a BBQ on the Friday evening and other delicious snacks such as pasties and samosas, from local suppliers, available during the festival.

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The Wollaton Sports Association Ground is situated on Wollaton Road, NG8 2AN, and is only a two-minute walk away from the NCT 30 and Trent Barton Rainbow bus stops.

Enjoy cricket and beer, a match made in heaven.

Things that go bump in the night

[Update : after a few discussions, I’ve now found out that this has happened to lots of these cans, more details here :- http://wildweatherales.com/news/such-a-bore-cans-trials-tribulations/]

Sometimes things go bump in the night. Something falling off a shelf. A fox knocking a bin over. A squirrel scrabbling around on your roof.

In the early hours of this morning, this can had some kind of an incident where its top part expanded, and ejected a few other cans that were sat on top of it. This made a bit of a noise. We had no idea what had happened until we came down to the cupboard under the stairs to find several cans on the floor, and this one looking innocent still on the shelf.

It is now in quarantine outside, since an explosion in that confined space would have been unthinkable. It’s the first time I’ve seen a can do this!

I don’t think I dare open it now!

[Update : having been in touch with Wild Weather, they are sending out a couple of replacement cans (of something else).]

The Needle & Pin – May 2017 shopping spree

Another N&P post. And another shopping spree. A few of the items pictured appeared in craft beer club boxes, but most of these are “extras”, things that have turned up on the shelves at the Needle & Pin since the last time I was there. The awesome Sean is always happy to put things aside for you, but by the time I got round to collecting this lot it was getting a bit embarrassing. And before you try and stage an intervention, I should point out that they are not all for me. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights. Cans first.

Just look at that lovely lot. Canned beer is not something to be ashamed of. In those cans above are going to be some of the best beers that I will try this year. On the left we have some new offerings from Magic Rock, including this year’s Human Cannonball (Double IPA) and Unhuman Cannonball (that’s a Triple IPA) as well as Tap Type (American Pale) and Psychokinesis (American IPA).

Next to them are new Cloudwater offerings Bergamot Hopfen Weisse, IPA Mosaic Exp 431, Motueka Pilsner, Session IPA Chinook Mosaic and NW DIPA Citra, the next evolution of the Cloudwater DIPA experiments, featuring yeast from one of Manchester’s oldest family brewers and fresh 2016 harvest hops. Citra takes the lead backed up by Simcoe, and JW Lees 4792nd generation yeast.

There are also some cans from recent visitors to #craftbeerhour including Pig & Porter’s Whispering Bob and Erdant’s Light Bulb.

Let’s move on to the bottles next.

We start on the left with No Rest for Dancers, a red ale from Lost and Grounded, three from Gypsy Hill, Hop Candy, a Simcoe forward DIPA from Siren and Astley’s Northern Hop Lager (yes that’s Rick Astley’s first beer brewed by Mikkeller). And please, no more “never gonna give you hop” remarks. On the right hand side you can see Beavertown Tempus Project Brosé, brewed in collaboration with Forty Hall Vineyard, the first commercial scale vineyard in London since the middle ages.

Looking forward to sampling these in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to report back on a few, but given that I’m four months behind on beer of the month and pub of the month posts, I’m making no promises.

Brentwood Brewing Company, May 2017

The next door neighbour of Calcott Hall Farm Shop (and hence I usually visit one after the other), Brentwood Brewing Company moved in to this, their third premises, during 2013. Not many breweries find themselves in an old potato barn, but this is a perfect site, with so much passing trade from the farm shop, where their beers are also on sale if the brewery is closed.

Their are tours and events on certain days, or you can just turn up and buy some bottles, like I did. The door might be locked, just ring the bell, there’s someone always lurking somewhere during opening hours.

Today I went to pick up some new bottles from their new “rebellious offspring” Elephant School Brewing. A British East India Company elephant training school was based in Brentwood and this remained an active army base as a depot for the Essex Regiment until 1959, when much of the site was redeveloped as the European headquarters of the Ford Motor Company.

The beers from this offspring are not your traditional cask ales, so there are plenty of different styles on offer, and they are always on the look out for new recipes…

Today’s haul contains:-

Sombrero – 4.5% – a burst of passion fruit and hint of mint start a fiesta in your mouth that you won’t want to stop. Tipping its wide brimmed hat to its European saison roots, its flavour transports you to Mexico for a party that lasts to the bottom of your glass.

Cheru Kol – 4.5% – a glorious embellishment of flavours brought together in this collaboration of styles from Belgium and England. The honeyed sweetness of the figs wrapped around the spicy, piney tang of the rosemary combine with the eccentricities of the Belgian yeast.

Porter in a Storm – 4.9% – for a taste that will have you singing in the rain, this rich porter showers your tastebuds with waves of chocolate, fruity and bitter with successive sips. Porter in a Storm is one to pour down your throat if you’re caught in a downpour or any time you want a great beer.

Looking forward to trying out this haul soon…

Calcott Hall Farm Shop, Brentwood, Essex, May 2017

People of Essex! You have an awesome farm shop on your doorstep.

The McTurks have been farming at Calcott Hall for nearly 40 years. Their former dairy farm is 120 acres. They started out selling potatoes and sweetcorn from crates in 1974, and renovated an old Essex barn in 1983, using more and more of it as their shop needs grew.

They sell almost all of their produce through the shop, with lots of fresh fruit and veg on display as you enter.

As you wander around, you discover more and more treasures. A meat counter, with pre-packed meat next door. Extensive ranges of sauces (I stocked up on some of my favourite Tiptree sauces), jams, chutneys and pickles follow, with freezers full of fruits, veg, potato products (chips, wedges) and even Yorkshire puddings.

Turn the corner and there’s an excellent range of frozen ready meals, with portions from 1-4 people, and lots of cuisines on offer. And then there are biscuits, crisps, sweets and more. And bird food.

Finally, we get to the booze section, with wines nestled next to ciders (lots of Aspalls from just across the border), and beers. Lots of beers, mostly from literal neighbours Brentwood Brewing Company, and some from other Essex brewers. Definitely keeping it local. I picked up some new (to me) ones from Billericay Brewing Co.

Nestled just next to the A12, this is a true gem. Perfect for all of your food and drink needs, so much under one (ever-expanding) roof.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #4 – May 2017

This is the fourth selection box from the N&P,  and the seventh overall. I’ve got one left from selection box #3 and one from box #2 that I need to drink up. Let’s dive in…

Abbeydale/Magic Rock/Northern/Monk/Siren – 4 Degrees of Separation – 7%

A collaboration and reunion rolled into one. Three brewers who began their careers at Abbeydale returned for one day only from their current posts at Magic rock, Siren, & Northern Monk to take full advantage of the brewery’s massive hopstore. This beer combines Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade & Galaxy hops to create this big, bold and oh so juicy IPA. I knew I wanted to try this one, so I also bought a can last month whilst shopping in Beer District. Now I have two 🙂

Pig and Porter – Whispering Bob American IPA – 6.5%

A lesser known brewery who featured on #craftbeerhour just last night. This beer is named in honour of the legend that is “Whispering” Bob Harris, still whispering away after 71 years. This American IPA is packed full of Amarillo, Simcoe, EXP431 (catchy name) and Citra hops to give hints of peach, grapefruit and pine, all married with a gentle toffee background from Pig and Porter’s signature Belgian aromatic malt.

Roosters – Baby-Faced Assassin – 6.1%

I had this one a couple of times last year, as these are available in Booths. Brewed with 100% Citra hops that create aromas of mango, apricot, grapefruit & mandarin orange, along with a lasting, juicy, tropical fruit bitterness, the Baby-Faced Assassin is a deceptively quaffable India Pale Ale that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Siren – Ten Dollar Shake – 6.6%

Another one that I had last year, this beer was originally brewed in collaboration with Brewdog Shepherds Bush. Siren and the Brewdog team put their heads together 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). Add to that a huge hit of lactose for a thick and smooth body and you have something as smooth as silk. A silk woven from hops and a calippo. This is a juice bomb.

Weird Beard – Little Things That Kill – 3.8%

With a low ABV beer it is difficult to smack you over the head with hops, however Weird Beard have thought of a way around this. Little Things that Kill will sneak round behind you, cut your hamstrings, then when you are on the ground, smack you over the head with hops. A session IPA hopped with Citra, Summit and Mosaic? Yes please!

This beer will have the same malt and body each time, but the hops will change depending on the whim of the brewers.

Wild Weather – Great British Opaque Off – 5.2%

With help from their friends at Bad Seed brewery, Wild Weather have tried to create their own juicy murk bomb. They think they’ve done it. I’ll soon find out. On your marks. Get set. Opaque! It will be appearing on cask at the N&P soon, alongside Skadoosh, their new 11% DIPA. I already have a can of that 🙂

600th post!

Another 4 months have passed, and another milestone has arrived, in the form of the 600th post. The end of 2016 saw a load of round up posts, including beer of the year and brewery outlet of the year, which always bump up the numbers.

January began with Wainwrights’ Inn in Chapel Stile, swiftly followed by a visit to one of our Lakeland favourites, The Mortal Man in Troutbeck.

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There was also something new, a rant about a bus. How on earth can you justify a bus fare of £3.50 for a journey of 3 miles/6 minutes on the 555 alongside Thirlmere? After that, we had a couple of trips to the same pub, which lacked beer on both occasions. And those were followed by another pub lacking in beer.

You might have expected this lack of beer to have put a dent in #tryanuary but thankfully it didn’t. Over the course of the month I sampled 44 different beers, with Cloudwater Brew Co’s Autumn + Winter IPA Mosaic Exp 431 coming out as the beer of the month for January 2017.

February started with some shopping at the Needle & Pin, picking up the inaugural dark beer selection as well as some other things that I’d reserved since Xmas. I think there are three beers that I’ve not yet opened in this photo…

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We opted for a spot of culture with a trip to the King Richard III visitor centre in Leicester, and then a few trips to Leicester for the comedy festival and various pubs. Next up was the first dark beer night at the Needle & Pin. This one turned out to have a little twist on all of the previous beer tasting events. There was a little bit of food involved, pairing some little nibbles with a selection of 5 dark beers. It was another one that felt like one of those events that you expect to find in London bars and brewery taps, so it was really great to have it in our sleepy little market town.

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February ended with an underwhelming trip to Pizza Express. March soon cheered things up with the arrival of the next craft beer selection box. All of these (except for the Double Chin) have now been sampled.

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There was a special birthday trip up The Shard for a lovely afternoon tea, and then another Leicester trip saw another visit to The Lansdowne, and then there were two consecutive trips to The Needle & Pin. First up we held a “halfway between birthdays event” with some friends, and the following night saw the first Belgian beer night, which was brilliant. Sean handed over the reins for this one to the N&P’s resident Belgian beer expert Iain, who was to guide us through the landscape of Belgian brewing past and present.

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We took a journey through some delicious Belgian beers, with a brief stop for some hot and salty fries and mayonnaise.

There are still several outstanding posts for April, and it didn’t start brilliantly with “labelgate” at The Field Head. Things soon improved with our trip to York, which got off to a great start at the York Tap:-

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and saw visits to the Pavement Vaults, Walmgate Ale House, BrewDog, the Brew York 1st birthday party and a few more. The rest of April was dominated by our trip to Hope, and there are lots of posts from that trip still to write up, although Beer District in Buxton was just one of the many highlights:-

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There are also a few May posts to catch up with, but that has already brought us up to 600. As with all milestone posts, a quick stats peek shows new visitors from Romania, Puerto Rico and Taiwan, as well as plenty from the commonwealth as usual. There are another 33 posts still in draft, so I’ll be tapping away at this keyboard for a while yet 🙂