No #fomo – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 2019

No #fomo for me as I have acquired one of this year’s beery box sets.  The rainbow collaboration sets have been the headliners over the last few years and now new sets of collaborative brews have been appearing.

Last year saw North Sea Bridges which saw Scotland’s Black Isle, Fallen, Fierce Beer, Fyne, Pilot and Six Degrees North pair up with Amundsen, Beerbliotek, Dry & Bitter, Dugges, Rocket & To Øl.

Northern Powerhouse was originally set up by Newcastle-based Wylam Brewery in 2018, and sees independent craft breweries from across the North of England coming together for collaboration brews.

The first series of beers was brewed in 2018, to coincide with the launch of the Great Exhibition of the North. The project was so successful that Wylam decided that it should be an annual event and given to a different brewery to host each year.

This year’s Northern Powerhouse series was brewed entirely at Northern Monk’s Leeds brewery and comprises collaborations with Wylam, Track, North Brew Co, Donzoko, Buxton, Cloudwater, and By the River.

Let’s see what this year’s box of goodies holds…

Northern Monk x Track – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 001 – Small IPA

Track, who have a track record for session beers, have put together the lightest of the Powerhouse beers. This small IPA is loaded with Citra, Ahtanum and Blanc hops for resinous tropical and stone fruit notes backed up by a floral, gooseberry finish over a robust malt bill designed to boost the beer beyond its restrained ABV.

Northern Monk x North Brewing Co – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 002 – Triple Fruited Gose

North Brew Co are neighbours of Northern Monk in Leeds, and they put together a fruit sour. Showcasing the fleshy cactus fruit prickly pear, we then backed it up with the zingy tropical notes of guava, a touch of tangy raspberry and rounded everything out with milk sugar and salt.

Northern Monk x Donzoko – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 003 – Bavarian Pilsner

A crisp, modern take on the Bavarian Pilsner with one of the up-and-coming brewers of the UK, Donzoko. A simple grist of German pilsner and vienna malt is supported by the floral, citrus notes of American Loral hops and stone fruit undertones from Hallertau Blanc.

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Northern Monk x Wylam – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 004 – Tropical Sour IPA

Northern Monk joined series originators Wylam for this tropical sour IPA. Kettle-soured overnight and whirlpooled with Mosaic, 200g/l of pureed tropical fruits were then added and it was dry hopped with El Dorado and Citra.

Northern Monk x Buxton – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 005 – IPA

It’s not secret that Buxton quietly continue to make some of the best IPAs in the UK so it was an obvious choice to team up with them to revisit the west coast IPA. Packed with classic US hops, this beer is resinous, piney and packs a long citrus finish over a sticky malt back bone.

Northern Monk x Cloudwater – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 006 – Double IPA

For the double IPA in this series, Cloudwater came in to help brew this Nelson Sauvin-led offering. Backed up with the classic tropical notes of Citra, NZ Nelson brings tons of gooseberry and sauvignon grape character to this smooth, oat-rounded beer.

Northern Monk x By The River – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 007 – Imperial Maple Brown

Newcastle brewers and brown ales are made for each other. This imperial take on the style features heritage malts, a range of crystals and of course, brown roast malt. We then loaded the FV with rich maple syrup for a decadent treat.

Looking forward to checking all of these out…

The Pilot, Greenwich, June 2019

South of the river? Whatever next. Greenwich is in the famous bend in the Thames, so you can easily spot it on the Eastenders title sequence. It’s also the bit where you’ll find the O2 (Millennium Dome in old money). Sadly, James Bond was nowhere to be seen.

The Pilot is situated in a little block of old London Georgian cottages (grade II listed) constructed for workers from the nearby tidal mill and chemical works, and dates back around 200 years, built in the early 1800s to serve the local coal workers. A painted stone tablet on the wall of the pub reads “Ceylon Place New East Greenwich 1801”, so it could be the oldest surviving building on the Greenwich Peninsula. It certainly sticks out amongst all of the modern tower blocks and student flats that are just a stone’s throw away. Several of the massive O2 car parks can be seen across the road.

You might be aware of the cottages and the pub, as they featured in the video for Blur’s “Park Life”. You know what I mean?

Anyway, on to the pub. You can get here by cable car (not many pubs you can say that about), plane (London CIty airport is just on the other side of the river), boat and train. Or you can just walk from your nearby hotel, which is what I did. It’s a lovely old London pub, one of many in the Fuller’s estate that they are now concentrating on since they sold all of their brewing activity to Asahi earlier this year.

It’s definitely got the feel of a “food pub” as opposed to a “pub pub”, lots of dining space, and staff on the prowl as you arrive to find you a table to eat at. There is a little spot along the bar where you could have a pint and a chat, but on this overcast June evening, most people were dining.

I was shown to a little table just up the stairs and my order was taken. The barman/waiter seemed to struggle with it a little bit, as I’d ordered Misprized, one of the recent Fuller’s and Friends collaboration brews, and I suspect most tourists who come in here order London Pride. It was soon sorted out and my pint arrived.

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It wasn’t really worth the wait. Slightly woody, slightly mild, and mostly meh. I think I can see what they were trying to do, but it just didn’t work for me. However, the food was much better.

Even though we are just ten days away from midsummer night, it felt very much like a pie and mash kind of night, and a steak and ale pie with caramelised shallot & button mushrooms, spring greens and red wine gravy was enough to warm the cockles on a grey evening. A proper pie, completely encased in lovely crusty pastry, and none of this “pastry lid on a small casserole dish” nonsense.

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It was very tasty (juicy meat, crisp pastry and very nicely seasoned) and it was also soon hoovered up and I made my way off into the grey night. Some more veg and gravy wouldn’t have gone amiss, but everything worked well together.

A nice little food pub which offers a small number of menu options that they probably do well (based on a sample size of this one pie) rather than twenty different things in five or six cuisine styles which are all done to mediocrity.

Recommended if you find yourself looking for some food when you are south of the river.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #15 – June 2019

It’s box number 40, and whilst the evenings are getting lighter (it’s light until 10pm in Cumbria at the minute), the beers in here are getting darker. These ones are pretty much all absolute units, with just a couple of five percenters in the mix. As I don’t have my selection yet, I’m borrowing N&P photos again 🙂

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Arbor – Breakfast Stout – 7.4%

An elegantly creamy strong stout whose soothing and silky character combines evocative coffee notes with luxurious bittersweet chocolate.

Atom – Into the Abyss – 10.5%

For this collaboration Atom drew inspiration from eating s’mores. They took a biscuity, roasty and chocolatey imperial stout, boiled it for 12 hours to intensify the flavours then added a copious amount of vegan marshmallows.

Box Social – Cry Agony – 7%

A bit of a wildcard this one. Its nether dark nor pale, but Box Social brew some great quirky beers, and this is one of them! A pale beer, with a rich, rounded mouthfeel and savoury sweetness from peanut essence. Real oak wood provides a depth of flavour layered with peanut notes. Hops give a further layer of sweet/vanilla aromas. Safe for those with peanut allergies.

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Moor – Stout – 5%

Moor were asked if they would ever consider a simple request to brew “something purely enjoyable to drink, not a curiosity beverage to tick off.” This is that beer. No unicorn hair, solar dust or celebrity nail clippings. Pontificate if you must, but please just drink and enjoy.

Prairie – Double Dunk – 11.9%

Imperial Stout from Tulsa, Oklahoma (the home of the Danny Flowers song “Tulsa Time”) brewed with Oreo Cookies. A deep dark stout with no head. In aroma, sweet fruity chocolate malt with light vanilla, alcohol warmth, very nice and smooth. In mouth, a nice sweet fruity chocolate malt with loads of vanilla, coffee crisp, oily mouth feel, alcohol warmth, very nice and rich.

Three Hills – Rhubarb Crumble Stout – 5%

This is a very special beer indeed, brewed by three N&P customers at Three Hills. It was launched back in March. It has got better and better over the three months or so that it has aged for so far. Dark roasted flavours with a sweet twang of rhubarb and a hit of dark sugar and vanilla.

Church House Pub, Sutton, May 2019

We have been staying at Jarman Farm in Sutton again, with regular MOFAD companions Karon & John. It was the second outing of Mrs MOFADs shiny new camping machine. The weather hasn’t been kind this weekend, so we’ve been straight out to the pub each night.

It’s a pub that we are familiar with, having been three times in 2016 when we were staying at Jarman Farm over two weekends. It’s a lovely village pub, friendly and welcoming, and with great food and drink, so it’s a very easy choice to decide to come back, even though there are several other pubs within walking distance. If a pub is good, why risk going somewhere else that might be less good?

We came here three nights in a row, over a rather soggy and cold Whitsun bank holiday weekend. The usual drill of decent walks during the day (with the added challenge of waiting for the rain to stop on Sunday morning) and then dinner in the pub. It was not weather for sitting around chatting on the camp site, so it was a weekend of early nights.

On to the pub and the meals then. Friday night saw hunter’s chicken (a pub classic) with chips and token salad (sad iceberg), followed by a deliciously gooey chocolate brownie. Liquid accompaniment was provided by Moorhouse’s Blonde Witch (a lovely cask pint) and Silk of Amnesia from nearby Storm Brewing Co, a classic caramel bitter.

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On Saturday night, we were back at the same table, this time tucking into the classic burger and chips with token salad (sad iceberg), and a decent apple crumble. This time last year it would have been way too hot for a crumble, and we were tucking into strawberry pavlovas at The Lazy Trout in Meerbrook. A warm crumble was very welcome on a dull night.

Liquid accompaniment was provided by Moorhouse’s Blonde Witch again, and Exmoor Gold, a simple malty golden ale.

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Sunday was very much a day of rain. We waited for it to stop. It didn’t stop. We drove out to Alderley Edge (the actual edge, not the bit where all the footballers live). We waited for the rain to stop. It eventually stopped. We went out for a walk, and got a bit more rain for our trouble. The sun did eventually come out towards the end of the day.

Once again we were back at our usual table, and tonight it was the turn of my pub yardstick, gammon. I judge most pubs that serve food by their gammon, because it’s easy to get right, but horrible if you get it wrong. Sadly, it’s another pub where you have to choose between pineapple and egg. I want both. You can have both if you pay an extra £1.50, for a slice of pineapple. No thanks, I could buy a huge pineapple for that. A lovely piece of gammon, a perfect egg, chips and peas. And more of that token salad.

Once again, liquid accompaniment was provided by Moorhouse’s Blonde Witch and Exmoor Gold. Not a big turnover on casks this weekend, but they were all in good condition.

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A lovely long weekend in a lovely village pub. I’m sure we’ll be back at Jarman Farm again in a year or two, and we’ll be back here when we do return. A great place to go if you’re staying nearby.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #7 – May 2019

The 39th selection box overall, and the seventh selection of sours. All about the fruitiness this time, which is a very good idea with summer approaching. Can’t beat a fruity sour on a warm summer’s night. Another selection where I’ve borrowed the N&P photo because I didn’t get time to take one!

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Box Social – Ride Over Me – 6%

Tart and sweet raspberry, balanced by lactose creaminess make up the body of this unique beer. This brew is full of oats and caramel malt to provide a full on malt base to compliment the fruit notes, reminiscent of a perfect cheesecake. Box Social beers are well loved at the N&P and this is one of the first ever cans from Box Social. I visited their little railway arch on a very rainy night in Newcastle in June 2017.

Brick – Manhattan – 5.9%

There have been some fantastic sours from Brick (I’ve picked up a few from St Pancras), and this is no exception. Great label designs too. Manhattan Sour has a robust malt body and is flavoured with sweet cherry and bitter orange, before being spiced with ginger and cinnamon and aged on cherry wood.

Cloudwater – Peach Bellini Slushie – 8%

The original idea for this quirky beer came when Cloudwater’s Paul and Evil Twin’s Jeppe added Champagne to a slushie machine full of sour beer at a festival. To recreate that, they blended a grape juice-infused Brut IPA fermented using Champagne yeast with a fruited sour. This edition is one in a series based on Champagne cocktails, so peach has been used to replicate a Bellini.

Evil Twin – G is for Grapefruit – 4.5%

A fresh tartness, a twist of salt and a balanced fruitiness of grapefruit – apparently a complete reflection of your personality

Hackney – Millions of Peaches – 4%

Yes, to mark the start of evenings being light enough to enjoy the last of the sun in the evenings, Millions of Peaches is back! With the third year of its release, Hackney have packed in more peaches than last year but have kept the rest the same. If it ain’t broke…

Vibrant Forest – Actinia – 7.1%

Actinia sees massive quantities of mango, guava, passion fruit and mandarin layered onto an oat and wheat heavy malt bill that’s been soured with Lactobacillus. The result is explosive fruity mayhem. Sticky tropical purees coalesce around a scintillating acidity, itself smothered in a thick, oaty mouth feel. Juicy, puckering, indulgent, this is Actinia. Really looking forward to this one.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #18 – May 2019

The 38th selection box overall.  Spring is in full fling and the days are getting really long now. It’s definitely time for plenty of session pales, and there are three here, alongside two sixers and a 9% DIPA unit. At the time of writing, I’ve already polished off five of them. I didn’t get chance to take any photos, so I’ve borrowed the N&P ones again this time 🙂

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Cloudwater – Small Pale – 2.9%

Designed to pack the punchy flavours you’ve come to expect from Cloudwater into a low-strength package. Cloudwater have dedicated time to developing a beer that has enough body to balance the bold hop notes, so you’ll find flavours of mandarin and grapefruit held by a smooth, firm base. I loved this one.

Framework x Needle & Pin – Wide Mouth Frog – 3.4%

The collaboration with Framework in January, named after Sean’s favourite joke. You only have to ask and he’ll tell you it. You have been warned. Full bodied from the oats, with a lovely refreshing hoppiness, a great table beer. Very soft and a nice hop profile.

Salopian x Team Toxic – Dangermousse – 6%

This is the 2019 version, with a limited amount in cans. A collaboration brew between Salopian and Team Toxic, the aroma is bright and breezy with sly hand of pine, grapefruit and lemongrass. Light mango and resinous pine slides across a dry floral body and a fruity filled finish. A big west coast vibe to this one, creamy and lovely lacing.

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Three Hills – Small Steps V3 – 3%

Every few months, Three Hills brew three different strength IPAs, typically at 3%, 6% and 9%. This month the full set of version 3 is in the box. Small Steps is a DDH pale, dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic BBC & Denali. Mint on the nose and some grapefruit on the finish. Light and refreshing, a lovely summer beer.

Three Hills – In Pursuit V3 – 6%

This month, “In Pursuit” is a juicy NEIPA made with Mosaic BBC, Galaxy and Citra. A good balance to this, nice bitterness but also easy drinking.

Three Hills – Of Juice V3 – 9%

This month, “Of Juice” is a DIPA made with Cryo Mosaic, Citra and Mosaic BBC. I’m looking forward to this one.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer club – dark beer selection box #14 – April 2019

The nights are getting lighter, the days are getting longer, but there are still times when only darkness will do. This is another month of big beasts, with one sessionable mild in the mix. That was a deliberate choice when we brewed it back in January.

This box has new beers, new breweries, new styles, an old classic, one of the best in the world and one for laying down.

Dig – Durr – 6.8%

Durr is a brand new stout made with milk sugar and conditioned over organic vanilla and roasted cocoa nibs. It comes from Birmingham’s Dig Brew Co, and was released only a few weeks ago.

Erdinger – Pikantus – 7.3%

A wild card beer this month, to demonstrate how beautiful a dark weiss bock can be. There won’t be the usual hit of coffee, vanilla and chocolate in this one.

Framework – Anything But Mild – 3.5%

I made this, along with Alec and those lovely folks at Framework. I’ve already mentioned that we brewed it back in January, and there are only 36 bottles of this little beauty in existence. Mild, gentle, with little hints of coffee, chocolate and maple syrup. A deliberately session mild to provide something other than chocolate laden imperial monsters for the dark beer lover. Here it is in being made…

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Lervig – Three Bean Stout – 13%

A collaboration brew with Way Beer from Brazil. Contains that common trinity of vanilla, cocoa and tonka beans, equating to a big dollop of deliciousness. The N&P team say that this is one of the greatest dark beers ever brewed…

Museum Brewing – P2 Imperial Stout – 8%

This exceptionally smooth stout is produced from the original recipe that was shipped to the Russian port of St. Petersburg for the Tsar’s Imperial Court. The smooth mellowness derives from the long maturation time in cask before being bottled in very limited numbers.

Three Hills – Faba – 11%

This is a very special beer indeed, brewed by Andrew and Zak at Three Hills. There are only 400 bottles of it and 48 of them have gone to the dark beer club. A big Imperial stout brewed with tonka, cacao and vanilla beans. The body is viscous and flavour decadent and rich. Best shared inside by the fire. This one is going into storage for a couple of years…

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