The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #11 – October 2018

The nights are drawing in and the beers are getting darker. That’s not to say that there’s no place for a super hoppy IPA in these shorter months, but a few more winter warmers find their way into the shelf of delights.

Here’s the latest selection, two for now, four for later…

Amundsen – White Crow – 10.5%

A White Imperial Stout packed full of cocoa beans, vanilla beans, tonka beans as well as coffee beans. This beer has all the characteristics of a full bodied imperial stout, whilst at the same time being white.

Brew York – Viking DNA – 5.0%

A smooth well balanced porter with subtly smoky character formed from a rich blend of 6 different malts.

Cloudwater – Parkin Cake – 10%

To celebrate their 500th gyle, Cloudwater brewed an homage to Parkin, the oatmeal and ginger cake much favoured in Yorkshire. In the Imperial Brown Ale base is a rich blend of malts, oats and treacle for sweetness, and added ginger and spices for that distinctive aroma.

Kasteel – Bruin – 11.0%

A strong Belgian brown ale. After extensive tasting, trying to fulfil increasingly strict requirements, the brewmaster found themselves with a creamy, dark Belgian brown ale: Kasteelbier. The quality of the past is still unmatched and the beloved taste is very much of the present. Kasteelbier is a dark, artisanal beer, soft and mild, full and creamy. It can age for many, many years, as indicated on the bottle.

Left Handed Giant – Choc Orange Milk Stout – 5.1%

Deeper Water is a seasonal milk stout, brewed with lactose, vanilla and cacao nibs – this time it’s been given the chocolate orange treatment! Gemma would hate this, I might just love it.

Stillwater – Critical Thinking – 11%

Stillwater brew some incredible beers across the spectrum. This does not disappoint. An opaque black colour with a lovely tan head. Roasted malt flavour with notes of bitter chocolate and liquorice. Big sticky mouthfeel and warming alcohol notes.

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North Sea Bridges project 2018

The beer world is an exciting place to be. More breweries, more styles and more choice than ever before. The global explosion of beer festivals has helped forge brewing links around the world, and as friendships grow opportunities arise. There are many reasons to collaborate with other brewers: marketing in new areas, learning new brewing techniques or even just as an excuse to hang out with pals and visit new places. New ideas can be taken home to be twisted, contorted and reframed.

The Rainbow Project is probably the most well known example of this, a long running collab-fest that has brought us some great beers. 2018 was supposed to be the end of it, but the buck has passed from Siren on to new breweries. North Sea Bridges is the “Rainbow of the north”, an annual collaboration project building on the ancient trading links between Scotland and Scandinavia. Six of Scotland’s finest brewers (Black Isle, Fallen, Fierce, Fyne, Pilot & Six Degrees North) paired with six of Scandinavia’s best (Amundsen, Beerbliotek, Dry & Bitter, Dugges, Rocket & To Øl).

No plans, no gimmicks, no hooks, just six great beers brewed every year, this year in Scotland, next year in Scandinavia. North Sea Bridges will showcase Scottish brewers in Scandinavia, England & Wales and hopefully further enhance the reputations of our Scandinavian friends in the UK.

The 2018 North Sea Bridges beers were brewed across Scotland over the summer and are now out in the wild.

The beers and collaborating brewers are:-

– Fyne / Rocket – Cowberry Heart (5.3%) – Lingonberry Rye IPA.
– Fierce / TO OL – Blood of Nidhoggr (7.0%) – Black Sour
– Six Degrees North / Amundsen – Amundsix (6.7%) – Dry-hopped Sour
– Black Isle / Dry & Bitter – Flame Out (8.0%) – DIPA
– Pilot / Dugges – Tropisk (7.4%) – DryPA
– Fallen / Beerbliotek – Tap Saff (8.5%) – Saffron & Spruce DIPA

Extra bonus point for the “tap saff” joke. Looking forward to trying these interesting collaborations.

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Brewdog fanzine issue 12, September 2018

As I mentioned last time, my subscription is hanging in the balance. After essentially 3 rebrews, this one could have been my last. Maybe the tone deaf Brewdog do occasionally listen to what people say, because there are new brews here, although the east and west styles aren’t the most innovative.

Opaque Jake – NEIPA – 7.2%

Take the coastal road out East with this classic unfiltered IPA. Dry-hopped with Mosaic and Citra, it delivers juicy tropical and citrus fruit character. Zesty lime sits alongside pithy orange, while pungent myrcene is balanced with ripe blackcurrant. Oats and wheat lay down a velvet texture beneath the juicy sweetness and subtle bitterness.

Scarlet Fever – Red Rye Saison – 5.4%

Citrus melds to the light noble hop aromas, with orange peel adding a twist of zest to the nose. Layers of dry spicy rye fuse with toasty caramel malt notes, giving subtle and complex grain flavours to this Red Rye Saison. Spice builds with the Saison yeast, a peppery undercurrent lies alongside clove, with hints of nutmeg and thyme.

Having tried this one, there’s a tiny slice of rye spiciness, but at least it’s far better than endless rebrews of NEIPAs…

Mind Game – West Coast IPA – 6.9%

An all-American line-up for this West Coast IPA – classic floral, citrus and resinous C-hop aromas bring mango, blood orange, pine dust, lemongrass, bergamot, and lemon oil in numbers. All sitting on a resinous, bold and bitter baseline with hints of toast and cinder toffee sneaking through the perimeter.

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Edit : once again BD find themselves making headlines with PR that didn’t go to plan. A tie up with controversial US brewer Scofflaw somehow went sour over a “free beer for Trump supporters” promotion that appeared seemingly out of the blue. Who knows how much is truth and how much is fake news?

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.

Brewdog Fanzine issue 11

Like issue 10, this selection didn’t have the usual tracking information, so it arrived slightly by surprise again (and a day later than usual). Also like issue 10, the details haven’t been published online (edit: 2 weeks on and they still haven’t, neither have issue 10). So I’ve just quickly typed up what’s in the box.

My fanzine subscription is still hanging in the balance.

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Alter Ego – 8.5% – DIPA

Another West Coast IPA. Punchy and aggressive, it puts American hops front and centre. A deft touch of caramel and toast runs alongside massive hop aromas of pine, mango, grapefruit and lychee and a bitter finale.

King of Eights V4 – German Hop Edition – 7.4% – NEIPA

Another recycled beer idea, the 4th version of King of Eights. A duo of new German hops (Ariana, Huell Melon) deliver massive tropical fruit notes with efficiency. This European powerhouse of flavour visits New England with cantaloupe, peach, mango, papaya, lime peel and kiwi. The full rounded texture is complemented with a smooth oatiness and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Ten Ton Truck – Black Forest Edition – 10% – Imperial Stout

More recycling. This rig is hauling a forest of flavour. Deep and intense, with bitter chocolate and espresso layered over vanilla and cherry character. Dark stewed fruit notes combine with coffee, running full tilt into cocoa and mocha and hint of almond. A complex and rewarding payload aided by the addition of honey, vanilla and cherry.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – sour selection box #4 – September 2018

After the warmest summer on record in England, it’s time for just a few more funky and refreshing brews to enjoy in the early autumn sunshine.

Almasty – Raspberry Saison – 6%

A funky aroma meets a full body and the sharp sweetness of raspberries in this refreshing twist on a traditional summer farmhouse ale.

Amundsen – Loosh – 5.3%

Loosh is a happy place, an ever evolving series using whatever fruit that the Amundsen team could lay their hands on. A rich tropical fruit explosion rounded off with the sour tang of kalamansi, a Philippino fruit that is a hybrid of mandarin and kumquat. When was the last time you had a beer with that in? No, me neither.

Blaugies – Saison D’Epeautre – 6%

Saison D’Epeautre is a saison beer made in a unique traditional style, using spelt and barley malt in the mash. Very dry and light in body, with a hint of wheat tartness and a hardy texture that expresses the character of spelt, a primitive strain of wheat. It is one truly feisty brew, with an outrageous pop and a natural long-lasting head. And ah, the aroma! It has a wonderfully heady, musty, cellar character that is unmistakably Belgian and a lot like champagne. The taste delivers on the promise of the nose. Very enjoyable, and perfect for summer, but wonderful at any time of year.

Chorlton – Saffron bretted Marzen Weisse – 6.8%

One of two 2018 expressions of the annual Märzen Weisse release. Bottle conditioned with Brettanomyces isolated from a 1972 bottle of Hoschule Berliner Weisse. With a subtle addition of saffron.

Redchurch – Urban Farmhouse IPA – 6.7%

A dry hopped sour. A combination of juicy acidity, hoppy flavour and bitterness from the Citra hops combined with the Redchurch house lactobacillus strain create a suggestion of sweetness and a tropical nose.

Stillwater – Sake Styled Saison – 4.2%

Brewed with rice and dry hopped with Citra, Hallertau Blanc and Sterling. Designed to mimic the subtle and drinkable flavour of the Japanese wine, sake, without its typical strength, this low alcohol saison is the softer side of Stillwater.

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900th post!

It’s been just over 5 months since 800, but I think that has something to do with the fact that I still have 90 posts still in draft. There’s a lot to catch up with, but I’m determined to get up to date at some point. It might be in 2020, but I will do it!

Let’s do the usual quick round up then. April saw lots of pub trips in the Peak District, and a very welcome surprise when we got back home, in the shape of the Reservoir Inn, Thornton. Walkers welcome, and lovely Sunday roast baguettes (if you only do roasts on Sundays, stick them in a baguette!)

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May saw the arrival of the first of the Brewdog fanzines, an interesting idea where they send 3 cans in the post for a fixed price. No delivery issues with couriers and the promise of interesting beers. That hasn’t quite panned out over the months, there have been a few of interest, but also some utterly dull things. With Brewdog’s recent stunts (beer.porn being the worst), it’s becoming increasingly difficult to continue supporting their endeavours.

There have also been a good few Needle & Pin selection boxes, some lovely sours and some big dark beasts like Marble’s Decadence, a double mashed Russian Imperial Stout, barrel aged for nine months, so that it gives a satisfying viscosity with dark and firm bitterness, Black Forest fruits and a hopped aroma.

Quite a few camping trips have resulted in numerous takeaway posts – we’ve had a lot of fish’n’chips over the summer, almost exclusively *from a van*.

May saw another trip (only one this year though) to The Lazy Trout in Meerbrook. After a 14 mile walk, this burger was massively deserved and incredibly tasty, nice crisp bacon and big flavoured cheese added to the experience.

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Not long after this, we had chaos theory demonstrated by the Planet Pavillion Cafe at Jodrell Bank. They took your order for items on display. You paid. And then you go to your table, drop some stuff off, and go back to pick up your order. Which is still sitting in the cabinet, so other people could be ordering it, not knowing if they are going to be able have it, because one or more people could have already secured it ahead of them.

The usual summer trip to the Lake District saw us defend our title at The Pack Horse Inn (three in a row so far), as well as plenty of other pub trips. And the usual June camping trip saw the first of our “bottle share beer festivals”. That same trip also saw the crowning of the worst Wetherspoons award, with The Catherine Wheel in Henley being tagged with #avoidthisspoons.

Three trips to London have generated a fair bit of content. Interestingly, Brewdog in Camden was my World Cup watching venue of choice, accompanied by burgers and beer.

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July was about long hot summer days and camping, more takeaways and the second “bottle share beer festival” of the year. The next one is just around the corner. Some good pub trips, mixed with one very dull one. The kind of pub where you have lime and soda because you know that all of the beer that you own has been looked after far better than the dull casks delivered there each week.

August saw Yorkshire, and the completion of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. This was also celebrated with fish’n’chips *from a van*, as well as Northern Monk Patrons Project Ingleborough, the most appropriate beer for someone who has just been up and down Ingelborough.

After camping in West and East Yorkshire, the end of the month found us just outside Great Malvern, and after more fish’n’chips *from a van* on our first night, on two other nights we were visiting The Swan Inn in Hanley Swan, a fantastic village pub with well kept beer and really nice food. This steak was utterly divine…

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The final instalment of the Rainbow Project brings us right up to date with posts. A quick peek at visitor statistics show visits from exotic places like Ethiopia, Slovakia and the Isle of Man. I still seem to have one of the only web sites where you can find information on Midway Fast Food (fish and chips) in Hastings, New Zealand.

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So time to stop procrastinating and get back to writing blog posts. Next up – the big 1000!