The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #13 – September 2018

There have been 28 versions of the craft beer club, in standard, dark and sour forms. Only two people have had all 28. One of them is me, and the other is regular MOFAD drinking companion Alec. That’s a stat I like. Let’s dive into this month’s box which has a very welcome 4 session ales, one just over the edge of session and an interesting looking milkshake IPA.

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Brew York – Triple H – 4.3%

Triple H is a refreshing Hazy, Hoppy & Heavenly murk-bomb of a pale ale. The beer is intentionally hazy as the steps normally taken to clarify the beer have been skipped. And a few steps have even been taken to encourage haze formation. This better retains the delightful citrus & floral flavours of the Centennial, Citra & Mosaic hops within the beer. I had this one at the Brew York birthday party in 2017 and it was lovely

Cloudwater – Summer Pale – 4%

Summer Pale is a 4% abv Citra-led pale ale to sit back and unwind with. It’s the start of a seasonal offering of a straightforward, full-flavoured beer for catching up with friends, after work, or just to have for the everyday moments that make up our days. Cloudwater do session really well, they just need to do more of them.

8 Arch – Square Logic – 4.2%

Pale golden with a haze and a white head. Grapefruit, lemon and hints of green tea can be detected in both the aroma and the taste. Quite dry and easy to drink. Another one that I’ve had before, a refreshing golden ale.

Fierce Beer – Easy Shift – 4.5%

This light and easy drinking pale ale is something that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Citrus flavours and a light hoppy character mean that refreshment is guaranteed.

Gipsy Hill/Unity – Razend – 4.7%

Razend is a collaboration between Gipsy Hill and Unity Brewing Co. Fermented with Belgian yeast, it’s a crisp, spicy, fruity, refreshing beer. Perfect for hot summer days at the quay. Not many of those left but it sounds like a good beer for an autumn evening.

Neon Raptor – The Yard – 6%

The Yard milkshake IPA is a passion fruit and mango IPA infused with lactose and vanilla to give a smooth and refreshing mouthfeel. Low quantity hot side hops lead to a low bitterness allowing more of the hop flavour from the Citra led dry hop to come through, supporting the fruit additions and silky body.

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The Swan Inn visit #2, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire, August 2018

I’ve said pretty much everything I need to about this pub with Saturday night’s post. We booked the table tonight whilst we were finishing our dinner on Saturday night, which pretty much sums things up. Before we have a quick gander at tonight’s dinner, a quick note on poncy menu pricing. I’ve mentioned this before, but if something costs £6.50, please display it on the menu as £6.50 not 6 1/2. I don’t want to be told that a pudding is 7 3/4, it is £7.75 – why the need for fractions? What does it achieve apart from annoying people?

Anyway, on to dinner, and another beautifully kept pint, this time Butty Bach from Wye Valley Brewery, a classic malty bitter. And in a proper dimple pot too.

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More amuse bouche crisps soon came our way…

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For main course, something a bit different for me, hot smoked salmon nicoise salad. After the glory of Saturday night’s steak, I had to make a hard decision not to have that again, but it was a good decision as this salad was also glorious. And that’s not something I often say about salads!

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Mrs MOFAD had rack of lamb with polenta (another first) and that was also delicious.

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Another pudding was in order after more exertions on bikes and on foot today, so this dark chocolate and seville orange fondant with walnut and hazelnut granola and grand marnier and orange ice cream was an indulgent delight, melting in the middle.

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A second great meal at this great village pub. If we’re ever in the area again we’ll come here again.

The Swan Inn, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire, August 2018

A pub not far away from a camp site is something to always be explored. The Marton Arms in Thornton (Yorkshire) is probably our favourite “close to camp site” pub, given that it was just a few minutes walk away from the site.

The Swan Inn is about a mile away from where we were staying, but it had been recommended by regular MOFAD companions Karon & John, and looked really good on the web site. We had booked online, a quick and easy process, and they even e-mail you on the morning of your booking for you to confirm it. Very efficient and modern – I heartily approve!

We arrived a little early and ordered drinks from the bar. A very friendly barman handed us drinks and menus and we waited a few moments to be shown to our table. We had a nice little “mini booth” in the corner. We sipped our drinks and perused the menu, lots of nice things to choose from.

A waitress came over, looked at us drinking our drinks and reading menus, and asked us if we wanted to order drinks. Errrr, no. We’d like to order food. Oh, ok, I’ll get someone to take your order. She goes back to the bar, puts down her notepad, picks up a different notepad, and then comes back to take our order. Odd.

I continued to sip an excellent pint of HPA from Wye Valley Brewery. Really nice to see that a “foodie” pub is also capable of looking after their beer and presenting it in tip top condition.

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A little “amuse-bouche” arrived, a small basket of freshly cooked crisps and a little pot of salsa. This was a nice surprise, a freshly cooked crisp is a rare sight, and it was a pleasant little mouth pleaser. The salsa could do with a bit of a reduction though, rather watery tomato.

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On to the main courses, and most excellent they were. Mrs MOFAD opted for the asparagus risotto which was very flavoursome.

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After 10 miles of cycling and 5 of walking (both of which involved plenty of uphill), I needed some big tasty protein, in the form of a lovely bit of sirloin steak.

There was a time when I would almost always have steak when out and about. Now, it’s something that I only have only rarely (and always rare). Rareness (or lack of it) is one of the reasons why, it seems that it is a struggle to find places that cook steak to your liking (and it’s a personal preference which should be easy to honour).

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This one was cooked to perfection (for me) and was really tasty. Classic accompaniments of triple-cooked chips (we do love a bit of a triple cooking nowadays), a mushroom, roasted/grilled tomatoes and a few leaves on the side (with interesting parmesan shavings bringing another flavour into play). With the addition of some nicely warm English mustard, this was a perfect plate of steak and chips. More like this please!

After the exertions of the day, it’s fair to say that we had earned ourselves a pudding, and given there were plenty of lovely options on offer, we decided to indulge.

Mrs MOFAD had apple and cinnamon crumble with a scoop of ice cream. It was quite tart and might have benefitted from a spoonful of sugar. There was also a lot of cinnamon, which is exactly why I avoided it. Keep cinnamon out of my puddings 🙂

I had the roasted peach pavlova, which was a sweet delight. A very firm meringue, half a peach, nicely whipped cream and some cheffy squiggles along with some micro leaves, a couple of flowers and some fruity dots. It was lovely, although some more peach wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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A really nice dinner in a lovely pub. Whilst we waited for our plates to be cleared, I booked online for Monday night too. A fantastic village pub!

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #10 – August 2018

More darkness awaits within…

Arbor – Amarone Bristol Porter – 8.4%

One of the favourite N&P breweries have excelled themselves here with a rare dark beer brew, a barrel aged imperial porter brewed with eight different grains and Bramling Cross hops. The recipe for this strong porter was devised to create complex notes of chocolate, burnt caramel and stone fruit. After fermentation, it was matured in Amarone barrels, which allowed these flavours to mellow and contributed additional touches of raisin & vanilla.

De Struise – Cuvee Delphine – 13%

After the success of the De Struise in a recent Dark Beer Club,  it was time for another one. Their beer Black Albert was used in a new barrel aging project. More than a year ago, Carlo was able to get his hands on a stock of Four Roses Bourbon barrels, and filled them up. This unique creation was originally to be named 4 Black Roses in honour of its heritage, but Four Roses strongly advised against it. As the disowned offspring of Black Albert, the name Cuvée Delphine imposed itself. Savouring the Belgian irony, the artwork on the label is by Delphine Boël.

Rudgate – Ruby Mild – 4.4%

Time to go a bit old school. A dark cherry, ruby red mild, with an aroma of sweet, strawberries, and smoke, tasting soft, rich and complex.

To 0l – Mr Brown – 10.0%

This year’s Mr. Brown is very brown. An intense and full bodied stout, brewed with coffee and matured with cognac oak chips and cedar spirals for richness.

West by Three – Chocolate Milk Stout – 4.5%

This was on draft a few months ago and everyone loved it. This deep and creamy stout is built on a rich chocolate malt foundation and laden with toffee aroma from the Amber and Crystal malts. Is it the closest thing you can get to liquid cake? The rolled oats and lactose sugar work together to create a velvet smooth mouth feel. The sweetness is balanced with a touch of bitterness and some subtle chocolaty notes from the cacao nibs. Enjoy this decadent ale with your favourite roast dinner or rich dessert.

Wylam – Macchiato – 6.5%

Wylam have appeared occasionally in the N&P since opening, but you can expect to see a lot more of them in the fridges and on the taps. This hazelnut praline coffee porter has a complex grain bill for extra body and mouth feel, and a cold brew hazelnut coffee shines through in this winter warming porter.

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Clapham Cafe, Bunkhouse and Bar, Clapham, August 2018

Another quick post. I would like to tell you about the cafe bit and the wonderful array of cakes and pastries that they have on offer. However, I have no idea if they actually have any of these things, because this cafe follows the Linda Smith rule of tea shops – in that it closes around 30 minutes before you want to have some tea and cake.

Imagine that you owned a cafe at the foot of one of Yorkshire’s three peaks, right next to a big car park full of cars whose owners have been walking up the nearby hill. Would you slavishly close at 5pm in high summer when people could be still be out walking? No, neither would I.

Instead, here is the beer that I had, accompanied by my own choice of snack. This was Bob On by Copper Dragon, full of massive bitterness and a refreshing pint after a long day out on the fells.

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Cafes in high traffic tourist areas – stop closing so early! We want cake!

Wheatsheaf Hotel, Ingleton, July 2018

It’s the classic “first night of holiday” trip to the pub. We are in Yorkshire for a week of camping, and we have the Yorkshire three peaks ahead of us this week, as well as some other, flatter, walks. We decided to stroll down to the village of Ingleton from the camp site, and settled on the Wheatsheaf Inn. It seems that a local couple had also settled on it as their wedding reception venue, as there was a lot of activity out the back, and a large number of wedding guests milling around the bar.

The first pint was a familiar one from across the border, Moorhouse’s Brewery’s Pride of Pendle, full of caramel and malt.

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What to choose to eat when in an unfamiliar pub? Gammon of course, my “go to” dish when trying out a new pub. It was off to a good start before it even arrived, as it was to be accompanied by egg and pineapple. It should always be accompanied by both, never a choice of one or the other. Pineapple has a definite place in savoury dishes, and boo to all those pineapple haters out there (you know who you are). It was also to be accompanied by big fat chips and peas, the classic partners.

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As you can see, it was exactly as advertised, and was really nice. The only let down was the mustard, cheap stuff in a sachet which is never as good as something freshly made. Accompanied by a pint of Gale’s Seafarers Ale, now a Fuller’s beer.

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This was Blandy McBlandface. I swear it was better before they were taken over by Fuller’s but it’s been quite a few years since I had it, so the mind could be playing tricks.

A pleasant town centre pub, just a bit too popular on this particular Saturday night.

Craft Beer Co, Islington, June 2018 #2

Just a short fortnight ago since I was last here, and as it was pretty much on my route back to St Pancras, I decided to pop in for a little more refreshment on this beautiful sunny day.

The first glass of refreshment came in the form of Jubilee Anniversary Cucumber Pale Ale, a 4% cucumber pale ale from Rooster’s Brewing Co, which was very refreshing on a scorching London evening. The cucumber flavour is very subtle so don’t let that put you off. It’s almost a watermelon flavour.

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Staying with Rooster’s, there was also Helter Spelter, a 4.5% pale ale with subtle apricot tones, another nice summer beer.

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A great place to stop for a little refreshment before wandering down to catch the train home.