February 2020 round up

My resolution to do at least one post a month is going well so far, so let’s look back on February 2020.

A “double win” to start the month, with a trip to my favourite Leicestershire fish’n’chip shop, which was also (allegedly) where Sven-Göran Eriksson used to go for fish’n’chips when he was Leicester City manager. A fish supper at Rothley Fisheries is obviously good brain food, since it powered My Pointless Friend Richard to another win in the Intercare annual pub quiz. A rather nice raffle prize was won too 🙂

Despite being an Everards pub (the Leicestershire brewery that hasn’t brewed in Leicestershire since 2017), there was a nice pint on, Hop & Stagger’s Triple Hop IPA, a gentle English IPA with First Gold, Target & Celeia hops.

A day out in the sunshine (a rare thing in this six month long winter of constant rain) a few days later, wandering around East Leake, with a stop for lunch at The Three Horseshoes. They’ve had a bit of a makeover since we were last in, but there’s still a walker-friendly bar area where you can have lunch with slightly muddy boots (you can wash them in Sheepwash Brook just outside). It’s a local chain (PubPeople.com) pub, where the food was very nice and the beer was rubbish, so a refreshing pint of lime and soda was in order.

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The next week saw our only visit to the Leicester comedy festival for this year (another show was cancelled due to Storm Dennis). We used our usual pre Y Theatre dining venue of the Parcel Yard next to the station. Tasty Friday night burgers served on silly tin trays as usual. A tasty pint of Hackney Hopster from London Fields was a good accompaniment. A pub that serves good food and good beer is exactly what you should be able to find in every city, town and village across the nation.

A much needed beer delivery arrived just two days later, including the latest dark beer selection box from the Needle & Pin craft beer club, and the Tiny Rebel 8th Birthday Beer Box, with 4 pairs of beers designed to be drunk apart and mixed together. And some funky Cwtch socks.

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Not much more on the out and about front this month as we’ve been working on some decorating projects for much of it. However, there was time for the first meet the brewer event at The Needle & Pin, with the very nice Ryan from Pentrich Brewing Co, from not too far across the border in Derbyshire. It was another great night of beer and chat and a chance to catch up with what’s been happening and plans for the future.

Metronome was probably the best pint of the night, a lovely fruity pale ale. Mild Chaos had a classic Citra profile and Blank Maps was a simple stout with lots of bitter roastiness. We also had a taster of the freshly canned Daydreaming DIPA as well as some Fragments pale ale.

With the extra leap day, there was time for one more pub trip, but the beer was not up to scratch, so it was another lime and soda night, to go with some tasty chicken burgers at The Clock Warehouse.

So, on to the beers of the month.

Number of the Yeast from Cloudwater was by far and away the winner. Huge sweetness, thick and boozy and it has aged very nicely. A To Øl Mr Blue 2018 was another that has aged nicely, fruity, smooth, soft, sour. A big blueberry unit, which pairs well with boeuf bourguignon. Death By Caribbean Chocolate Cake from Siren Craft Brew was the other winner this month, deep woody goodness with spicy notes.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #19 – February 2020

It’s box number 49 overall. There’s no point even thinking about session beers here, these are all absolutely massive units, most of which will be saved for summer bottle share sessions…

Amundsen – Peanut Butter Caramel Chocolate Brownie – 10.5%

That’s a lot of words for a beer name. A chocolate peanut butter caramel brownie edition of Amundsen’s legendary Dessert in a Can series. Huge peanut aroma, before peanut, chocolate and caramel flavours overwhelm you. Stunning addition to the Dessert in a Can range!

Cloudwater/Track – Love in the Dark – 10%

Since Cloudwater’s good mates from Track are currently sharing their tap room space at Unit 9, they felt it was only right to brew a collaboration with their housemates. This is a true indulgence for the festive period (or beyond), a deliciously deep and smooth imperial stout, loaded with additions of cacao, hazelnut and vanilla, with a touch of fenugreek used for maple-like sweetness.

Aroma & flavour: rich chocolate dessert flavours, caramel and hazelnut
Body: Full-bodied, sweet and silky
Aftertaste: Smooth vanilla, sweet maple and light roastiness.

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It’s a triple Kees nirvana next.

Kees – Caramel Fudge Stout – 11.5%

One of the favourite dark beers ever at The Needle & Pin. This is the beer that they gave to Stu at North Riding and asked if he could brew a beer like it. That was a success, so now time to try the original. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Kees – Caramel Fudge Stout Maple Oloroso – 11.5%

A Pedro Ximenez edition of Kees’ caramel fudge series, with maple syrup added and then barrel aged in PX barrels. PX does wonders for whisky so I’m certain it will do the same for this beer.

Kees – Export Porter 1750 – 10.5%

Black beer with a modest warm and brown head, full of dark chocolate and coffee, incorporating roasted bitterness and a very intense taste. The aftertaste is very long-lasting. This is an imperial porter that requires your time and attention. This is for an evening when you only want one beer!

Unity – Nocturnal Supremacy – 8%

Unity love their house oatmeal porter Nocturne so much that they decided to take it to the next level by doubling the malt and conditioning it on bourbon, vanilla, and single origin Brazilian Rio Verde coffee from River Coffee Roasters.

Chicken a la King

A classic from the past, revived for the 21st century. We had this on holiday last year, and decided that we should start cooking it. There are loads of recipes out there so here’s my one…

Serves 6

4 chicken breasts
3 sweet peppers (long pointy ones like romano or ramiro)
400g mushrooms
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon oil
salt and pepper
400ml chicken stock (I make my own, but a cube plus water will do the job)
100ml white wine (anything you have to hand)
150ml creme fraiche, cream or double cream (your choice)

Cut your chicken breast into bite size pieces, cubes of about an inch.
Slice your mushrooms to around the thickness of a couple of pound coins.
Deseed and chop your sweet pepper into squares of about an inch.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the chicken over a high heat until it starts to brown. Once the chicken is brown enough for your liking, add the mushrooms and fry them until they are well cooked.

Then add the sweet peppers and cook for a few minutes. Now add the salt, pepper and flour and cook for a minute or so. Don’t worry if some of the flour starts to stick, it will soon blend in.

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Now add the wine and cook for a minute – it will start to pick up some of the flour from the pan. Now add the chicken stock and cook for a few minutes.

Then add the creme fraiche/cream/double cream and give everything a good stir around until it starts to bubble gently.

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When it looks like that, it’s pretty much done, serve with rice of some kind, perhaps a mixture of red, brown and wild rice.

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A simple and tasty tea.

Getting back in the habit?

Apparently, I haven’t posted a recipe in over 3 years. It’s just one sign of how far behind I’ve got with my blogging. I averaged about 3 posts a month last year, down from 12 a month in 2018, and nearly 24 a month in 2017. I haven’t done a beer of the month for 2 years.

I’m going to fix some of that tonight, with a recipe post imminent. I’m also going to try and do at least a monthly round up each month, as I’ve kind of got out of the habit of blogging and I need to find my way back into it. We got a slow cooker just before Xmas, so I’m hoping this will inspire more recipe posts, as we’ve definitely been making good use of it so far.

I’m not far away from what feels like a big milestone of 1,000 posts. I got to 900 in September 2018, so things have definitely slowed down. This is a rather belated resolution to try and write more stuff in 2020. There’ll be plenty of things to write about, so I have to make the time. Perhaps I might even catch up with a few posts from last year too.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #9 – February 2020

It’s box number 48 overall, and not a moment too soon (again), as I’m all out of sessionable beers (again). Oh, hang on, this box doesn’t have anything in the session category (again). At least there are three under 5.5%, and I’ve also picked up some other things that are definitely session so I’ll be ok. I’ve borrowed Sean’s photo for this one because I forgot to take my own one! Let’s look in to this winter wonderland…

Brick – Windfall Saison – 5.4%

Brewed in collaboration with their friends from Unbarred Brewery in Brighton. This brew used fresh apricots and quince from Boarden fruit farm in Kent to add a juicy, jammy stone fruit flavour to the spicy, dry and slightly tart beer base. The spice is accentuated from additions of cinnamon and vanilla, giving the final finish of warming and comforting autumnal fruit crumble.

Double-Barrelled – The Martingale System – 5.2%

A relatively new brewery in Reading, established in late 2018, Double- Barrelled have concentrated on brewing sours and dark beers since opening. This kettle sour is made with 600kg of raspberry, blackberry and redcurrant puree, which makes this beer a definite all in on red. High persistent acidity with soft ripe berries on the nose, the body is full of juicy forest fruits with a redcurrant twang. The finish is yoghurty, despite no lactose, with lasting redcurrant and raspberry.

Brauerei Flugge – Imperial Fill – 9.0%

The first ever beer to appear in the Needle & Pin from this brewery in Frankfurt am Main, who were founded in 2017 with a focus on sour and wild ales. This is an imperial blackcurrant sour fermented with lactobacillus, kveik and brettanomyces. A serious beer.

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Northern Monk – Culinary Concepts – 7%

This beer takes the Northern Monk experimentation in fruited sour IPAs and introduces the influence of their friends at Northern Bloc who are ice cream masters. Throw in the sour beer expertise of other guests HOMES and Ology and you have something pretty special for this gold edition culinary concept collaboration. A winning combination of raspberry, guava, passion fruit and vanilla.

The base beer was kettle-soured for 48 hours and features high portions of flaked oats, some wheat and some milk sugar, a perfect combination for a soft and creamy ice cream-like mouthfeel. It was then whirlpool hopped with 6g/l of Citra, enough for some deep tropical fruit without taking away from the 200g/l of fruit puree added through fermentation.

Pressure Drop – Promenade – 4.8%

Pressure Drop say that they always have a blast brewing with yuzu. Their now retired sour IPA, Nanban Kanpai, was all about the yuzu (alongside lots of  Citra and Amarillo) and they have missed its delicious citrus flavours.

With this in mind, and taking inspiration from Espadrille, their first triple fruited sour, they decided to take things up a notch with Promenade. Mega layers of flavour, as yuzu and apricot mingle with vanilla and smooth milk sugar, all with a small sharp kick of sea salt to finish. It’s a smoothie sour party, and it’s a whole lot of fun.

Siren – It’s My Jam – 6.3%

A trio of fruits bring this sour beer to life. There’s blueberry for tangy acidity, blackberry for delicious bramble flavours and then offsetting everything with apricot for some natural stone-fruit sweetness. The tart compote gets an extra dimension with a delicate Mosaic and Ekuanot dry-hop. This is their jam. I hope it’s as good as Acid Jam.