Stroud Wine Company, September 2017

Oh look, another beer buying post. Today’s target was Stroud, as we were visiting the farmers market. We’d had a nice wander round, and once we were nearly done, we nipped down an alleyway and into a lovely little shop. Stroud Wine Company have plenty of shelves full of wine, but even better than that, they have a couple of walls full of beer. There’s stuff from near (Wild Beer Co) and far (Buxton, Cloudwater) and even further afield, with lots of Belgians and US imports also available.

I filled up a box with some varied delights to enjoy in the coming months.

A lovely little shop tucked away in a corner of Stroud.


Stroud Farmers Market, September 2017

Stroud farmers market has already featured on the blog this year, as part of Mrs MOFAD’s marvellous market meander. Her solo trip was the inspiration for this visit, as we knew that we were going to be camping nearby this weekend, and a wander around Stroud was a nice gentle Saturday morning activity for everyone.

Finding a parking space was a different matter, and our group’s two cars had to part ways in order to both get parked. It’s clearly very popular.

We had a little stroll around all the stalls, wandering in and out, tasting a few things as we went. A lovely array of stalls, some very traditional such as bacon and sausages, bread and rolls, cheeses, and then other more “modern” stalls like charcuterie, vegan snacks, rape seed oil and olives.

My mission was beer, although there were only two breweries this time, Hillside Brewery (I’ve had their beers from Gloucester Services before) and Gloucester Brewery (who were here on Mrs MOFAD’s last visit).

We had a good bit of chat at the stall and I picked up four of their beers that I’ve not had before for £10, very good value. Matt also picked up some different ones.

Looking forward to trying these, the ones I’ve had so far have been very nice.

Gloucester Services, September 2017

Another stop at our second favourite service station (the favourite being its older sister at Tebay). It was our lunch stop today, en route to our last camping weekend of the year at Slimbridge. We popped in to the shop to buy some sandwiches for lunch (Mrs MOFAD’s was a bit dull, but my chicken and bacon mayo was tasty) and also picked up a few other supplies. Which means beer.

A few from Bath’s Electric Bear and one from Warwickshire’s Purity Brewing Co. Gloucester Services is looking a bit more mature now (the grass has grown in the car park), and their range of produce has matured as they have grown older.

It retains its title as the second best service station on the motorway network…

Cloudwater Night, Needle & Pin, Loughborough, September 2017

Another themed night at the Needle & Pin. I got my name on the guest list for this one as soon as it was announced. Because Cloudwater.

My friendly Untappd list tells me that I’ve had 44 of their beers. In August 2016, DIPA v3 (a bit too old by then) got awarded beer of the month, and they’ve been clearing up in this year’s monthly round ups too.

They are making great beer, lovely hoppy beasts and the occasional darker beer such as the Christmas Cake imperial stout (with ToØl of Denmark) and a delicious Autumn + Winter Fazenda Ouro Verde Porter.

At the heart of Cloudwater Brew Co is a deep love for the changing seasons, each bringing with it an invitation to enjoy the scarcity and abundance the natural world offers. Cloudwater want to showcase the ebb and flow of nature by using seasonal ingredients at their very best, and taking inspiration from the change of lifestyle each season creates.

So we start tonight with a non-Cloudwater beer, as we had time for a swift half before proceedings began. Mount Hood by Great Heck Brewing Co was a gentle golden ale to kick things off.

On to the main event, four tasty cans of Cloudwater beer. A nice relaxed format to the evening, a card with four beers on it, take it to the bar to collect your next can and tick each one off. There was a suggested order which we followed.

First up, Spring + Summer Pale Ale Huell Melon. For a new twist on their lower strength hoppy beer, Cloudwater fermented this pale ale with a combination of Belgian yeasts. Hallertau Blanc, Amarillo, and Citra were added to the whirlpool, and it was dry hopped with Huell Melon and Hallertau Blanc in the FV.

A tasty treat to start, a little bit of fruit and pepperiness, very easy drinking. You’ll also spot my latest glassware (all included in the price), a very nice looking new Cloudwater glass.

On to a familiar face next. I had a can of this DDH IPA Citra back in July, one of my offerings for the home made Hooky beer fest.

DDH stands for “double dry hopped”. Cloudwater has doubled the amount of hops in this IPA to bring you the brewery’s first DDH IPA. Fermented with WLP4000 yeast and dry-hopped with Citra, Amarillo, Chinook and Centennial (big name American hops). WLP4000 yeast was isolated from a uniquely crafted double IPA from the the USA and produces a balanced fruity ester profile of peaches and light citrus that complements any aggressively hopped beer.

Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to a beer to add more of a hop aroma. Traditionally, dry hopping is done in beer styles like pale ales and IPAs, but brewers are utilising this process in many other styles as well. Since you are not boiling the hops, you won’t be extracting any of the oils from them, and therefore will not be contributing to the beer’s bitterness. What you will be adding are hop flavour and aroma. If you are a big hop fan, dry hopping is a must.

A hoppy juice bomb that goes really well with a spicy dhansak. I didn’t have any of that tonight though.

A collaboration brew next, ™ Life, an East Coast meets North West IPA collaboration celebrates some of their favourite ™ hops – Amarillo, Mosaic and Chinook, and of course the guys from Other Half NYC who they brewed it with.

Yeast: A38, JW Lees
Aroma hops: Amarillo, Mosaic, Chinook
Malts: Golden Promise, Flaked Oats, Oat Malt.

This was full of oily grassiness with big bitterness and a bit of a lavender kick to it.

A quadruple collaboration to finish the night off. Awkward Phase was brewed with old friends of Cloudwater in the shape of Northern Monk, and their new friends Verdant and Deya. This IPA features more of that Chinook hop, and a prominent, aromatic, and complex maltiness from a touch of Munich and Château Arome malts in the grist. A power outage shut things down in mid brew, but rapid service and repair saved the day and got the brewery back up and running in time to finish brewing.

A solid beer, the Château Arome shines through, with the hops turning up to the party a little later on.

On reflection, we would have put the DDH IPA Citra after the ™ Life, but overall it was another great night of beers at the N&P. I’ve said this before, but these are the kinds of events that are happening in London bars and pubs all the time, so it’s nice to see them in our sleepy East Midlands market town.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #7 – September 2017

The eleventh selection from the N&P and the seventh in the “normal” club (as opposed to the dark side club).

I think I’ve finished everything from box six and five and still one left from three (Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA). Let’s dive in.

Alechemy – EH54 – 5.7%

A rare beer from a brewery who are always a hit when their casks pop up at the N&P. A strong hop aroma with juicy fruit notes of pineapple and mandarin. A pale malt base gives a light digestive biscuit backbone which soon gives way to the torrent of hops. Strong fruity flavours of mandarin and pink grapefruit explode in the mouth, with a finish that is hoppt and tangy, with grapefruit becoming drier. A good west coast IPA full of body and complexity.

Almasty – West Coast IPA – 7%

Canned on 8th August, these super fresh cans are crammed full of old school, new world hops in the kettle. It has then been dry hopped excessively with the new breed of U.S super hops. Big aroma, big flavour and big bitterness. West coast style.

Hops in the boil: Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Cascade
Dry hop: Mosaic, Eureka, El Dorado and Citra
Yeast: US-05

Brew York – Nuba – 6.7%

We loved our visit to the Brew York 1st birthday party in April. Nuba is a Vermont style hazy and dank east coast IPA. Expect grapefruit passion fruit and bubble gum (!) with a gentle resinous finish. Do not expect massive bitterness or a challenge. An easy drinker packed with Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops.

Fourpure – Deucebox Double Citrus IPA – 8.3%

Last year Fourpure made Juicebox, a citrus IPA. What if they made it bigger, bolder and better? Step forward Deucebox. Oranges are added to the Juicebox recipe with double the hops, double the malt and double the juice to give a punchy and tropical glass of joy. Yes please!

Thornbridge – Tzara – 4.8%

A familiar one this, you can get it in M&S! Tzara is a hybrid beer, fermented like an ale but matured like a lager. A broad, almost fruity palate with some bready notes. A crisp, refreshing beer. Voted Best Kolsch Ale in Europe in the 2013 World Beer Awards.

Wild Weather Ales – Motorcycle Emptiness – 5%

Drawing from the Manic Street Preachers’ song that inspired it, its bitter background is soon overturned by big hop notes. Sherbert and lemon contend on the nose while a full bodied grape and lime flavour cleanse the palate.

BrewDog Liverpool, September 2017

I can be a bit of a predictable creature. If you look at some of my recent city trips (Edinburgh, York, Newcastle and now Liverpool), you’ll spot a pattern. Whenever I arrive I go to BrewDog. I don’t *just* go to BrewDog, but it will usually be one of my first stops. Why? Well, it’s because I know what I’m going to get. I always want to check out local bars and brewery taps and the like that you don’t get in any other city, but I’m always happy to start off at BrewDog. As well as their always evolving line up, the range of guest beers is always interesting.

As a review printed on their new staff t-shirts says, “unless you’re into beers and trying new ones, this place isn’t for you”. I am into beers and trying new ones.

So here’s the first of those, Sidewalk Shark, part of the “Small Batch” project. It’s a light, effervescent German-style sour wheat beer; lemon peel, herbal lime leaf, notes of orange and a fresh bready malt base. Sharp, sweet and sour, with a tiny salty note – a lovely refreshing beer.

The other thing you will find in BrewDog bars is a food offering. In Liverpool, this is a burger and hot dog offering. I had the Patriot Burger, brioche bun, 6oz beef brisket patty, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickles, onion, baby gem & bbq sauce.

It was a decent juicy burger, good flavours and nicely put together. Unfortunately it was served on a silly tin tray with a silly tin cup of chips. We want plates.

To accompany this, another couple of beers. First, the Prototype Blonde Ale. I didn’t think BrewDog did bland, but this tasted of nothing. Nothing bad about it, just a very middle of the road blonde ale. I could go to most other pubs and bars in this city to find that, so I just don’t expect it here.

Thankfully, the last one was more interesting. Another of the Small Batch series, this time the Imperial Pilsner where a quintessential pilsner malt base and German lager yeast combine with some modern German aroma hops to make an interesting lager. You can feel the strength in this one.

As ever, a pleasant trip to BrewDog. Tonight was also the monthly bottle share club. Sadly I couldn’t stay as I had friends to meet elsewhere but I was sorely tempted.

Church Inn, Chelmorton, Derbyshire, September 2017

If this looks familiar (like the pubs from the last 2 days did), that’s because it is. We were here on Easter Saturday with friends for dinner. They were a bit funny about taking a group of 8, but eventually relented.

Today we had a morning walk around the village and surrounding area, and the weather was not on our side. Periods of rain and drizzle were upon us, such a contrast to the glorious weather of yesterday. We called it a day on our walk and popped in to the Church Inn for lunch. Luckily soggy walkers are welcome.

Walker’s reward today was Dexter’s UXB from Storm Brewing Co in Macclesfield. I had quite a few of their beers when we stayed in Higher Sutton last year. A good bitter golden ale and most welcome today.

Given the rather damp and dreary conditions that we’d been out walking in, I did consider something warming. But when there’s ploughman’s around, it’s always worth a go.

This one was a mixed bag. Lovely warm fresh bread, a tangy stilton and a rare boiled egg were the good bits. Tasteless coloured cheddar, horrible iceberg lettuce and a poor coleslaw were the bad bits. And where’s the pickle and sliced apple or bit of orange or something? The good just about outweighed the bad. A very close run thing though.

A bit of a mixed bag today, but this is still a lovely village pub. I just won’t have the ploughman’s next time as they need more practice…