The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – Dark Beer selection box #3 – June 2017

This is the eighth selection box from the N&P, the third from the Dark Beer Club. I’ve now sampled all except one from the first dark beer selection box, and still have four left from the second one. Let’s take a peek into box number three…

Buxton/Stillwater – Subliminal Imperial Stout  – 10%

From Buxton and Stillwater, a downright delicious imperial stout. Pitch black, chewy and unmissable, a collaboration 10% Imperial Stout that scored 99 on Ratebeer, a real rarity. This sold out when it was launched and the N&P have held this back for a few months to give it time to mature…

Dark Star – Espresso – 4.2%

An old favourite, ready for a comeback. A black beer brewed with roasted barley malt and Challenger hops, with freshly ground arabica beans, blended especially for Dark Star, added at the end of the boil to provide a rich and complementary coffee aroma.

Einstök Ölgerð – Toasted Porter – 6%

One that I’ve had before (in Suffolk), with clear notes of toffee and dark chocolate, this porter is roasty and rich, offering a medium body that is robust, yet smooth on the palate. Toasted and chocolate malts give it an apparently “sinister” black colour, but its easy-to-drink taste will have you believing that there’s no need to be afraid of the dark. This was tasty with gentle smokiness.

Omnipollo – Noa – 11%

From the genius that is Omnipollo in Sweden, Noa is their 11% Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Toffee Imperial Stout. This came about from the head brewer’s childhood ambition to be a pastry chef, evoking subltle notes of maple syrup and burnt sugar.

Ticketybrew – Tea and Biscuits Mild – 3.5%

This is a recognisable mild, but Ticketybrew have used amber malt for a biscuit taste, without the bitterness that biscuit malt can sometimes bring. They have added lactose for a milk flavour, then literally made a big pot of tea and thrown it in. When using tea you need to avoid steeping the teabags either in a slurry to use in the beer, or by way of “dry hopping” otherwise you’ll get a lot of tannins in the beer.

Tollgate – Old Rasputin Stout – 4.5%

Another local beer, brewed just down the road near Calke Abbey. With a rich caramel and fruity aroma, and mellow toffee and vanilla notes, this is a silky smooth old school stout.

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.

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 🙂

The Hanging Gate, Higher Sutton, April 2017

We had a bit of a longer stay in this pub than we had planned. Today we had a linear walk, which started out just next to the Wincle Brewery, and finished here at The Hanging Gate. This was all carefully planned out. We had two cars. Mark parked his car here at the Hanging Gate (with permission from the lovely staff), and John drove Mark back to the start point for us to begin our walk.

We arrived here at the end of the walk as planned. However, the best laid plans don’t always work out. Mark had left his keys in John’s car, back at the start point. We ordered some drinks and then tried to order a taxi to go and retrieve the keys. That proved too tricky, so one of the lovely bar staff offered a lift back down to the starting point, and the keys and cars were retrieved. Above and beyond the call of duty, and most welcome!

Whilst we were waiting I was enjoying a pint of Yeaster from Hydes brewery, a bitter red ale.

We will be back tomorrow when we are doing the same thing in reverse, starting here and finishing down at Wincle. Let’s just hope there are no more key related issues.

A lovely little pub up on the moorland, well worth a visit if you are passing. There are fantastic views all around.

The Lazy Trout, Meerbrook, April 2017 #1

The Lazy Trout in Meerbrook is our “home” for the next three nights. We are camping just down the road, on the outskirts of Leek. With Suzy the Ninja Hound joining us this weekend, we needed a dog friendly pub nearby. This was the closest and best one on our radar, so we decided to book in each night of our trip (it’s not the right time of year for BBQs, so pub trips are in order).

First up tonight, a Rye Pale Ale from Shipyard (another Marston’s empire brewery). How on earth can you call this a pale ale though? Barely a hint of hop inside this glass. That’s no surprise from Marston’s though…

An interesting cider option for Mrs MOFAD, a Fire Dancer from Lilley’s Cider (and their 1990s TFI Friday fonts). A lightly sparkling cloudy cider.

Dinner arrived soon afterwards, the Friday classic of fish’n’chips for me, a whale of a fish, lovely crispy batter, great chips and some nicely smashed up peas and home made tartare sauce. Pub poisson perfection.

Mrs MOFAD opted for one of several pies on offer and was not disappointed by this delicious pie with the same tasty chips and seasonal (ish) veg.

Another drink to accompany dinner, Burke’s Special from the very local Wincle Beer Co, a classic malty bitter.

No pudding tonight (we haven’t earned one yet), so we supped our drinks and played some card games for a while, enjoying the warmth of the fire.

When your first trip to this lovely little village pub is so good, it has to be a good omen for the rest of the long weekend…