The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #17 – October 2019

It’s box number 45 overall, and more darkness to get us through the darker evenings and rainy autumn days. Most of these will probably go into storage for future sharing events as there are some more big units in here, but a few will be out to accompany some weekend puddings.

Arbor – Goo Goo G Joob – 12%

Arbor are renowned for their pale hoppy beers, but they also brew some very special dark beers, and this is a great example of Maple Imperial Stout with complex dark malt, burnt caramel and black treacle flavours. Whether it contains any actual walrus is yet to be determined.

Beartown – Imperial Crème Bearlee – 9%

A velvety stout with burnt cream, Madagascan vanilla and molasses. I’d like to tell you more than that, but there’s very little information out there.

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Chimay – Blue – 9%

The Cistercian Trappist monks of Chimay have been brewing since 1862, with their abbey being located on the site of a well which provides pure water for the beer.

Chimay Blue Strong Dark Ale is world-class Belgian elegance in a bottle. This authentic Belgian beer is complex, rich and powerful, all of which improve and transform over many years thanks to its classic bottle-conditioning.

Whilst obviously strong, the alcohol is barely noticeable, giving way instead to the beautiful aromas of spicy Belgian yeast, bread dough and toffee, the mark of great craftsmanship. Rich and intense with lovely caramel notes, it’s the lovely dry finish allows the distinct Belgian flavours to linger well into the next sip. Absolutely gorgeous.

Evil Twin – 60 Day Dry Aged Stout – 6%

Evil Twin have treated us to a lovely stout, it’s a style that is often neglected by breweries due to the big boys in Dublin. However, the style originated in London. A jet-black pour leads to an aroma of dark chocolate and tobacco. You’re then warmly greeted with a light, airy mouthfeel with a dry smoky finish. 60 days does seem like a while but some things are certainly worth waiting for. And for once, it’s a dark beer from Evil Twin that isn’t 10%+

Left-Handed Giant – That Life – 6.9%

You’ll want triple servings and you’ll dish out a triple thumbs up for Left-Handed Giant’s Triple Chocolate Stout. Hopped with Bramling Cross and packed with creamy rich ingredients such as vanilla, chocolate, cacao nibs, lactose and cocoa powder, this brew means there’s no need for dessert.

Wander Beyond – Scoop – 11%

Scoop is an Imperial Black Ice cream IPA. Based on the theme of mint choc chip ice creams, Wander Beyond added cacao nibs and vanilla to a dark milkshake IPA base before dry hopping with Fuggles, Polaris and Citra hops and steeping peppermint tea from their friends at Atkinsons of Lancaster.

I’ve been looking for a chocolate mint beer since Thornbridge’s Baize. I love chocolate and mint in my puddings and chocolate covered minty sweets that are consumed 20 hours into the day, but there’s very little out there in the beer world that will stand up to them.

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The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #15 – June 2019

It’s box number 40, and whilst the evenings are getting lighter (it’s light until 10pm in Cumbria at the minute), the beers in here are getting darker. These ones are pretty much all absolute units, with just a couple of five percenters in the mix. As I don’t have my selection yet, I’m borrowing N&P photos again 🙂

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Arbor – Breakfast Stout – 7.4%

An elegantly creamy strong stout whose soothing and silky character combines evocative coffee notes with luxurious bittersweet chocolate.

Atom – Into the Abyss – 10.5%

For this collaboration Atom drew inspiration from eating s’mores. They took a biscuity, roasty and chocolatey imperial stout, boiled it for 12 hours to intensify the flavours then added a copious amount of vegan marshmallows.

Box Social – Cry Agony – 7%

A bit of a wildcard this one. Its nether dark nor pale, but Box Social brew some great quirky beers, and this is one of them! A pale beer, with a rich, rounded mouthfeel and savoury sweetness from peanut essence. Real oak wood provides a depth of flavour layered with peanut notes. Hops give a further layer of sweet/vanilla aromas. Safe for those with peanut allergies.

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Moor – Stout – 5%

Moor were asked if they would ever consider a simple request to brew “something purely enjoyable to drink, not a curiosity beverage to tick off.” This is that beer. No unicorn hair, solar dust or celebrity nail clippings. Pontificate if you must, but please just drink and enjoy.

Prairie – Double Dunk – 11.9%

Imperial Stout from Tulsa, Oklahoma (the home of the Danny Flowers song “Tulsa Time”) brewed with Oreo Cookies. A deep dark stout with no head. In aroma, sweet fruity chocolate malt with light vanilla, alcohol warmth, very nice and smooth. In mouth, a nice sweet fruity chocolate malt with loads of vanilla, coffee crisp, oily mouth feel, alcohol warmth, very nice and rich.

Three Hills – Rhubarb Crumble Stout – 5%

This is a very special beer indeed, brewed by three N&P customers at Three Hills. It was launched back in March. It has got better and better over the three months or so that it has aged for so far. Dark roasted flavours with a sweet twang of rhubarb and a hit of dark sugar and vanilla.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer club – dark beer selection box #14 – April 2019

The nights are getting lighter, the days are getting longer, but there are still times when only darkness will do. This is another month of big beasts, with one sessionable mild in the mix. That was a deliberate choice when we brewed it back in January.

This box has new beers, new breweries, new styles, an old classic, one of the best in the world and one for laying down.

Dig – Durr – 6.8%

Durr is a brand new stout made with milk sugar and conditioned over organic vanilla and roasted cocoa nibs. It comes from Birmingham’s Dig Brew Co, and was released only a few weeks ago.

Erdinger – Pikantus – 7.3%

A wild card beer this month, to demonstrate how beautiful a dark weiss bock can be. There won’t be the usual hit of coffee, vanilla and chocolate in this one.

Framework – Anything But Mild – 3.5%

I made this, along with Alec and those lovely folks at Framework. I’ve already mentioned that we brewed it back in January, and there are only 36 bottles of this little beauty in existence. Mild, gentle, with little hints of coffee, chocolate and maple syrup. A deliberately session mild to provide something other than chocolate laden imperial monsters for the dark beer lover. Here it is in being made…

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Lervig – Three Bean Stout – 13%

A collaboration brew with Way Beer from Brazil. Contains that common trinity of vanilla, cocoa and tonka beans, equating to a big dollop of deliciousness. The N&P team say that this is one of the greatest dark beers ever brewed…

Museum Brewing – P2 Imperial Stout – 8%

This exceptionally smooth stout is produced from the original recipe that was shipped to the Russian port of St. Petersburg for the Tsar’s Imperial Court. The smooth mellowness derives from the long maturation time in cask before being bottled in very limited numbers.

Three Hills – Faba – 11%

This is a very special beer indeed, brewed by Andrew and Zak at Three Hills. There are only 400 bottles of it and 48 of them have gone to the dark beer club. A big Imperial stout brewed with tonka, cacao and vanilla beans. The body is viscous and flavour decadent and rich. Best shared inside by the fire. This one is going into storage for a couple of years…

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The Royal Redgate, December 2018

The pub is in Warwickshire, the pub car park is in Leicestershire (according to the boundary signts outside at least). It describes itself as the most central pub in England, and was awarded the “Country pub of the year” award by the “Living in the Shires” magazine.

It was our destination for Sunday lunch today, as we had taken some plants over to Mrs MOFAD’s sister’s new house, after her recent stay with us. It was also a chance to say hello to our former feline house guest Holly, who is adjusting to her third house in as many months.

As the pub is only a mile and a half away, it was the ideal choice for lunch. They serve the full menu on a Sunday lunchime alongside a choice of roasts (beef or chicken today). Between us we chose pies and a chicken burger, from the rather mucky menus (they really need a clean folks).

Five beer engines available, although only two populated, with Hobgoblin, and a Ringwood beer. This tells you that this is a Marston’s pub, which tells you that the beer will be meh. Lime and soda it was then, although this turned out to be £3 a pint – ouch!

The food arrived, and it was very nice. All of the pies came on plates, with chips and veg. My chicken burger came on a silly bread board. Maybe they only had 3 plates, so didn’t have one for me. It was very tasty, as were the pies that everyone else had (although they all left their greens!) Proper good pub chips too.

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We decided to have pudding, and as ever, the chocolate torte was the right choice, which Mrs MOFAD and I shared. Rich and dense, with a nice blob of pistachio ice cream, a hazelnut tuille sort of thing, and some crushed nuts too. And some saucy cheffy squiggles.

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A pleasant Sunday lunch, but clean up those menus please, and check your lime and soda pricing 🙂

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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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.

Brewdog Fanzine issue 10

I’m still in the club, but it’s getting to be something that needs reviewing on a regular basis, with Brewdog coming out with so many “stunts” that are really leaving a nasty taste in the mouth.

Interestingly, this selection didn’t have the usual tracking information, so it arrived slightly by surprise.

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The details haven’t been published online (edit: 2 weeks on and they still haven’t). So I’ve just quickly typed up what’s in the box.

Heist Monkey – 5.4% – American pale ale with Hallertau Taurus and Blanc, Mosaic, Simcoe and Columbus in the mix. That would suggest lovely hoppiness, but this one turned out to be very ordinary.

Coin-op Kaiser – 6% – dry-hopped “imperial” pils. This sounds like a remix of last year’s small batch imperial pilsner, which was a nice idea but didn’t quite work. It was actually better than that, but still nothing too special. More Hallertau Taurus in this one.

Choco Libre – 8.2% – nitro Mexican chocolate stout. A stout with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, chilli, coffee and vanilla. ark chocolate mixes with mocha, vanilla and spice, all layered over a smooth nitro-styling you never saw coming. This set-up finishes with a delicate habanero drop kick as the bell sounds. Should be interesting, it needs to be to make up for the other two.