The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – sour selection box #3 – May 2018

We are already up to the third sour beer selection box, lots of interesting beers from home and much further afield coming up in this one. Pucker up buttercup!

Brasserie Trois Dames – Joyeuse – 5.6%

A pile of whole raspberries was co-fermented with a fresh saison. After which, a mature barrel aged sour saison was added to taste, creating this lush and alluring blend. Unlfitered, unpasteurised, unadulaterated, and ready for the celebration of the everyday.

Brekeriet Beer AB – Pink Passion – 4.7%

Another Scandinavian discovery for me this year, Sweden’s Brekeriet Beer AB are all about sours and wild ales. So far I’ve had Wild & Juicy (super juicy sour fizz) and the far more subtle Rhuboise (gentle raspberry and rhubarb flavours).

Pink Passion is a tart, refreshing and gluten free oat Berliner with passion fruit and hibiscus.

Founders Brewing Co. – Rübæus – 5.7%

Optimising the flavour of fresh raspberries added at several stages during fermentation, Rübæus is the perfect blend of sweet, tart and refreshing, not just another boring summer wheat beer or shandy. With a hefty malt bill, this beer is 100% Founders.

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Stillwater Artisanal – Shoegaze – 6%

‘Distorted Farmhouse Pale Ale’ is a New England style IPA that met a farmhouse pale ale down a darkened alley. Brewed with oats, spelt and lactose and then hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Pacific Gem.

One that I’ve had before, a very easy drinking spicy saison.

To Øl – Sur NEIPA: Citra & Mosaic – 5%

A sour mashed New England style IPA (yes, another one) with Citra and Mosaic, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Hoppy and sour, but not too much of either – a quick shot of hoppiness followed by citrus notes of lime and spice.

Wild Weather Ales – Ask Me About Loom – 4.8%

Wild Weather Ales are another of my favourite breweries at the minute. I think I’ve now had 15 of their beers, and they excel at fruity and sour beers such as Dark of Ages Past, Peach of a Weekend, Damn Dead Strawberry and the ever reliable Curse of Threepwood.

The Monkey Island theme continues here, with Ask Me About Loom. For those of you not into 1990s PC games, Cobb was a character found in the Scumm Bar on Mêlée Island, and he wore a badge reading, “Ask me about Loom(tm)”. He mostly answered questions from Guybrush Threepwood by saying “aye” until asked about Loom, when he would then advertise ‘Loom’ – another game made by LucasArts.

Back to the beer, which is an orange and passion fruit sour, in fact it is a forward thinking tart colossus of a beer. An under current of rich passion fruit gives way to the satsuma umbrella wrapped around a lip puckering sour wheat base.

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The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #11 – May 2018

You know the drill by now, the latest selection of 6 beers from the “normal” club, a picture and some notes. Another different backdrop for this month’s photo too 🙂 And this time it’s all about the hop.

Anderson Valley – Hop Ottin – 7%

A new brewery to me, and an interesting sounding IPA. Brilliant copper colour with a lingering, lacy white head. The nose sings of grapefruit, pine needles, citron, roses and bergamot. The flavor is rich in the citrusy, resiny flavours from Columbus and Cascade hops packed into this beer balanced artfully with a solid, honey-drenched malt character and crisp bitterness leading to a beautifully dry, light herbal finish. Apparently it bites like a cankicky bluetail (a rattlesnake looking for a fight).

Arbor – Large Hop Collider – 8%

A double India Pale Ale, brewed with Citra & Mosaic hops. Big flavours and aromas of mango, passion fruit, lychee and sweet citrus. I’m a big Arbor fan, having had many of their excellently named (and brewed!) beers in the last 12 months, including Mega Mega White Thing, Lime in the Coconut, The Devil Made Me Brew It, Smac My Brew Up, Super Yakima, Piccolina and Oz Bomb. Look forward to trying some more at this month’s meet the brewer night at The Needle & Pin.

Black Iris – Cosmic Cream – 5.0%

A familiar beer this one, sampled at February’s meet the brewer event at The Needle & Pin. Smoothly creamed fruits come through from the mix of lactose and Vic Secret, Citra, Simcoe and Rakau hops.

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Dry and Bitter – Dank and Juicy – 6.2%

Denmark’s Dry & Bitter are one of my favourite discoveries this year. As Seen on TV is a cracking session IPA, Citra Bale Ale is a lovely session ale full of Citra goodness (I could drink it for days), Simcoe Bale Ale is similar, and Fat & Fruity has soft pine and a little fruit.

Dank and Juicy is a full blown West Coast IPA with Citra, Equinox and Mosaic hops, to give loads of tropical fruit on the nose and a resinous hop backbone.

Marble – Pint – 3.9%

AKA the beer that moaning minnies grassed them up to Trading Standards over. A cracking pint, whatever the measure, a pale malt bill and a blend of NZ and US hops combine to make a 3.9% session ale with zesty aromas, grapefruit and subtle lemongrass.

Melvin – Melvin IPA – 7.5%

You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get lucky. It’s all about the right hops, at the right time. This is how Melvin grew up. Fruity, intense, but not bitter like the rest of them. As long as you don’t take advantage, Melvin think that this is the hoppiest relationship you could ask for. I’ll be the judge of that!

The Head of Steam is coming to Leicester

On Thursday April 5th, a new pub is opening in Leicester, replacing the Reynard on Market Street (which I never visited and didn’t particularly want to). The Head of Steam is the fifteenth pub of that name to be opened by Hartlepool-based Camerons Brewery, and I’ve heard good things about the other ones around the country.

Like other pubs in the chain, it will be presenting beers from local breweries such as Framework, Charnwood, Langton and Brewsters, alongside some of the best beers and ciders from around the world, which will be pouring from its 30 lines. With cans and bottles also available, there should be around 120 different beers/ciders available at any one time.

The HoS team pride themselves on hand-selecting the perfect range of beer for customers using expert knowledge from their team of passionate beer sommeliers.

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There will also be food available, served from 11am until 9pm, including breakfasts until 3pm (full English, pancakes, porridge and a veggie breakfast). Sandwiches and wraps are available until 5pm, with pulled pork and fish fingers among the fillings alongside light bites such as soup and nachos. There are eight burgers to choose from including vegetarian and vegan ones, as well as three foot long hot dogs, including Homer’s favourite “foot long chilli dog”.

Wait, there’s more. Five pizzas including pulled pork and chicken tikka varieties. There are three pies, served with mash, peas and gravy. Then we get to the main courses, with classics such as fish’n’chips, sausage’n’mash and steak’n’chips. There are also more international offerings in the form of Moroccan harissa marinated salmon, boeuf bourguignon, chicken tikka masala, mussels and chicken Milanese. There are puddings too. And many of these dishes come with suggested beer pairings too.

They have already become a verified venue on Untappd, which helps you to see what beer will be available when you visit. There will also be regular events such as quiz nights and live music, and the VIP floor can be reserved for your function. If it ever warms up, there’s a beer garden too.

Looking forward to checking it out on a future trip to Leicester.

The Devonshire Arms, Kensington, March 2018

We decided not to back into central London tonight. After a day out in Bermondsey we came back to the hotel to unwind with a cup of tea, and then headed out just around the corner for a hearty pub dinner.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we are in Derbyshire, given that is full of pubs called The Devonshire Arms (the various Dukes of Devonshire having owned much of the land in the area), but we are still in Kensington.

This was another pub taking part in the Thornbridge “craft beer residency” and once again my Thornbridge polo shirt caused a little confusion, as I was mistaken for an employee again 🙂 However, I didn’t have any Thornbridge tonight, because they were approaching the end of their residency, and I’d already had the one that they had left on keg. “What about these bottles” came the reply from the lady behind the bar. “Nope, had them too.” In fact I’ve had 58 different Thornbridge beers according to Untappd, so it was statistically unlikely that they would have one in stock that I hadn’t had.

Although perhaps I should have just had one anyway, as my first pint of Adnams Fat Sprat proved to be nothing more than a bog standard malty bitter.

On to the food, and a rare sight in a pub, a “fish pie for 2” served with beans and broccolini. Given that it has been freezing cold all day, and with snow swirling around outside as we arrived, a warm and hearty fish pie was just the thing, presented in this big cast iron pan to allow you to serve yourself.

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It was suitably delicious, very much hearty and warming, and certainly just what we needed on this bitterly cold night. Mrs MOFAD accompanied hers with a Stiegl-Weisse Naturtrüb by Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg, a very nice herbal wheat beer from Salzburg in Austria.

I decided to risk an ABInbev subsidiary, Blue Point’s Toasted Lager, which was not toasted in any way, but was a perfectly pleasant amber lager, certainly a change from the general cold fizz that you might find in a London pub.

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A lovely dinner at The Devonshire Arms, well worth a visit if you’re in the area, and very handy if you’re staying in the nearby Holiday Inn. Lots of posh houses/flats to have a nose at on the way there and back too.

Become a Five Points funder

The Five Points Brewing Co, an independent brewery in the heart of Hackney has launched its first round of crowdfunded investment, offering you the chance to become a Five Points Funder and receive shares in the business. The funds raised will be used to meet growing demand, accelerate growth and bring everything back to where it all began; the brewery based on the landmark ‘Five Points’ of Hackney.

The crowdfunding campaign is live on Crowdcube, with a target to raise £750,000 of investment. The money will be used to open the first Five Points Taproom at the iconic Pembury Tavern, as well as investing in state-of-the-art new brewhouse equipment and fermentation tanks which will triple production capacity volume, and which they hope will allow them to meet their ambitious plans to increase sales from 2 million to 6 million pints a year (34,000 hectolitres). A new research and development brew-kit at The Pembury Tavern will also be used to develop new recipes and research innovative brewing processes.

The fundraising will also mean investing in their growing team as well as expanding UK distribution and developing their growing export business. The Five Points Brewing Co was founded by two local Hackney residents who have always strived to invest in their local community as well as their business. Five Points was the first brewery in the UK to be an accredited Living Wage employer, it sources electricity from 100% renewable sources and helped set up an apprenticeship scheme for young, aspiring brewers at Hackney Community College. This is what the Five Points team have continuously aimed to create; tasty beer brewed with the highest standards of quality and a company ethos which is accessible and inclusive to everyone.

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The decision to seek investment comes as the brewery is struggling to keep up with high demand. They reached capacity in late 2016 and have since been brewing some of their beer with an independent family-owned brewery in Belgium. This investment will enable the brewery to treble production capacity in Hackney and bring back all brewing production to London. Crowdfunding will also allow Five Points to open their first taproom, allowing this long-cherished ambition to become a reality.

As part of the crowdfunding campaign, Five Points is offering a number of exclusive rewards for investors, ranging from free birthday pints, to up to 25% discount in their taproom and online, and exclusive shareholder invites to brewery recipe development and hop-picking experiences, as well as investors receiving shares in the company.

The minimum investment is just £10, and the campaign is open until until Sunday 8th April.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #10 – March 2018

 

 

The tenth selection from the craft beer club, and I think the eighteenth overall. The last “main” box came just before Xmas, so let’s see what hoppy delights await this time. Thanks to the Needle & Pin for supplying this month’s photos, my beers were all bundled in with some other deliveries so I didn’t get chance to take the customary photo.

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Amundsen – Hop Magic – 7%

A collaboration with Dry & Bitter Brewing Company and Dugges Bryggeri. The three breweries describe this as the “ultimate crusher”, a tropical juice hop head butt with Magnum, Mosaic, Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Citra, Ekuanot and Simcoe all mixed in.

Shindigger – Mango Unchained Session IPA – 4.2%

A session IPA blended with mango and pineapple, described by the team as “if Rubicon made beer”.

Marble – Tuckerlovsky Session IPA – 4.7%

Named for Marble’s head of sales and his wife, this punchy session IPA is made with a blend of Northern and Southern hemisphere hops. Bright citrus and juicy tropical fruits partner with a subtle malt sweetness.

The other half of the box is below…

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Magic Rock – Brother Chucker – 6.7%

A collaboration with their mates at Basqueland Brewing Project, brewed to remind them of a fun filled week of bikes, beer, baked cheesecake, big smiles and darts in the Basque region. A smooth malt bill featuring Golden Promise, wheat and golden naked oats, alongside a defined bitterness to aid drinkability. They then used lots of lovely piney/citrus Simcoe and limey New Zealand Motueka hops as well as a dash of tropically crazy HBC 438. The beer was fermented with their house WLP001 yeast for minimal aroma/flavour interference and super easy drinking refreshment. Bullseye!

Arbor – Piccolina – 3.2%

Big flavoured low alcohol session beer, brewed with Vienna malt & oats and Mosaic and Simcoe hops. I’d love to tell you more about it, but that’s all that’s been written about it so far! (Edit : my words are hoppy, crisp, dry and bitter, which makes for a lovely session ale, an easy drinking pint that you could drink plenty of.)

North Riding – Mosaic – 4.3%

Enter the new kid on the block, Mosaic hops are full of blueberry and citrus flavours and seriously pack a powerful punch to make a juicy banger of a pale ale. (Edit: this was a lovley session pale, so much fruitiness from the hops.)

Given that two thirds of the beers in this box are session strength, I suspect they won’t last very long, as I’m rather lacking in things that aren’t double IPAs or imperial dark beasts at the minute. I think 2018 will be seeing more sessionable brews…

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #7 – February 2018

The seventh dark beer selection, perfectly timed for the depths of winter. Let’s peer through the gloom and into the darkness…

8 Wired – Flat White Coffee Milk Stout – 5.5%

Honourably named after New Zealand’s national style of barista coffee. A title that has been wrestled away from freeze dried instant coffee and made NZ one of the best coffee destinations in the world. Brewed with coffee, vanilla beans and lactose.

Buxton x Stillwater – Subluminal Coffee Imperial Stout – 10%

The second brew of Subluminal, this time with coffee. An imperial stout brewed in collaboration with Sillwater Artisanal (NY, USA). Delicious, pitch black, chewy, and unmissable. The latest addition to Buxton’s decorated lineup of impy collabs. Drink me. Love me. Never forget me.

Brouwerij De Molen – Rasputin – 10.4%

Rasputin is a sweet imperial stout with subtle chocolate and coffee notes accompanied by plums, the first brew from De Molen. The beer is brewed only in limited numbers once or twice a year. A heavy, bitter stout with a traditional high alcohol content to prevent the beer from freezing during the icy crossing from England to Russia. Strong yet not overwhelming. Try ageing it for a couple of years to unearth its full complexity. I already have one of these, so I might just do that 🙂 Don’t drink straight from the fridge or you’ll miss out on those complexities. Take it out around 15-20 minutes before you want to drink it.

Wild Weather Ales – Bello Di Mamma Tiramisu Stout – 6%

Vanilla and lactose make way for a rich Italian coffee centre. Notes of Amaretto and biscuit leave behind the memory of Mamma’s classic Tiramisu.

North Riding Brewery – Choc Fudge Brownie Stout – 7.4%

Brewed by Stu at North Riding brewed this beer on request from the N&P, and also bottled some especially for the Dark Beer Club. Brewed as a tribute to the Brouwerij Kees Fudge Brownie Stout that was a big hit in bottles last year (I’ve got one of these waiting for me in the garage). Think chocolate fudge, brownie, vanilla and little hints of red fruit and nuts. There are two casks also being aged, to be served when they are about a year old.

Buxton x Omnipollo – Yellow Belly Imperial Stout – 11%

A peanut butter and biscuit imperial stout. Brewed without peanut butter. Brewed without biscuits.

The Rainbow Project (created by Siren Craft Brew) brings together 14 breweries to make 7 collaborative beers themed on the colours of the rainbow. I’ve written about this a few times already. In 2014, Buxton drew yellow out of the hat and were paired up with the Stockholm based Omnipollo.

They sat down and discussed what they could brew based on the idea of yellow. After some time, there was consensus that the prime meaning or idea expressed by the colour yellow is cowardice. The next challenge was to turn this idea into a beer.

The political situation throughout Europe was in turmoil at the time, with lots of far right wing movements on the rise. “One thing that struck us while the preliminary political polls were being presented during election night was that the actual support for the Swedish fascist party was in reality 40% higher than what people had disclosed when asked (face to face) what they voted for just after casting their ballot. At the same time the polls were more or less accurate when it came to other parties on the political scale”, Omnipollo’s Henok Fentie said.

One thing that this could mean is that although people vote extreme right they are on average not as prone to admitting to it as people voting for other parties are. Being a coward can mean many different things, but protesting anonymously at the expense of people’s freedom and right to co-exist without showing your face is one meaning that that the team felt was relevant.

So, with all this in mind, the yellow beer became an 11% Peanut Butter and Biscuit Imperial Stout. Except there are no peanuts or biscuits in it, and it is in no way yellow. It was then dressed it in the most hateful, cowardly-anonymous costume they knew of. Taste, enjoy and don’t be prejudiced.

Another tasty selection, a few to store for a while, a few to start drinking a little sooner.