The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #6 – February 2019

We are up to the 35th box overall. The Uncle Brett IPA from the previous box was definitely a highlight, with Dust Rings also an interesting sour with a citrus undertone. Let’s dive in to the spring selection…

Almasty – Passion Fruit Sour – 5%

The sharp summer bite of a sour, smoothed off with the delights of the subtle fruity juicy flavours of passion fruit – looking forward to this one.

Brick – Pink Gose – 3.1%

Fresh pink grapefruit juice and zest adds a lip-puckering quality to the sour base. Pink peppercorns offer a soft citrusy spice and pink Himalayan salt provides a clean saline finish. Sounds like a super session sour.

Lindemans – Cuvée René – 5.5%

Oohhh, René….

Gueuze Cuvée René contains one-third old lambic, aged for at least two years, and two-thirds young lambic, which is at least one year old, matured in large oak barrels called foudres. It is then bottled in a beautiful champagne bottle where a second fermentation takes place. After 6 months, the gueuze obtains a golden colour and is slightly carbonated and tart. Kept in a cellar for a few years, it becomes truly exceptional.

The use of a champagne bottle dates back to an uncertain time period when lambic brewers specialised in recovering empty bottles from great restaurants and other establishments where a lot of champagne was consumed.

This beer can be stored for a number of years in a cool, dark place where its taste will continue to evolve. Lindemans Oude Gueuze Cuvée René was elected the “World’s Best Gueuze” at the 2013 World Beer Awards. Lindemans is one of only eight breweries that, to this day, brew an authentic lambic beer in the Valley of the Zenne near Brussels.

Omnipollo – Moa – 3.5%

Moa lemon curd sour is an attempt by Henok Fentie, one of the founders of Omnipollo, to piece together the different elements of a beer that his girlfriend would enjoy. It is not for the faint hearted. It is as sour as lemon can be. Incredible, but incredibly sour. Be ready!

Three Hills – Fermentum – 7.5%

A Bretted IPA first fermented with a Saison strain and subsequently inoculated with two different strains of Brettanomyces in bottle. Best shared after a little aging to allow esters and carbonation to develop. This one needs a minimum of a year in the bottle…

Track – Visalia – 5.5%

A big fruity cherry sour. A nice and simple “does what it says on the label” beer to end the club this time around.

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The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #13, January 2019

The dark nights are getting shorter, bit by bit. However, there’s still time for plenty of dark beer. We are in to the 34th overall selection box. I’ve only had one from the previous dark selection box so far (plenty of big beasts in there), but I have already finished all of the ones from the last “main” selection box from December, due to their excellent sessionable status.

Let’s dive in to the first selection of 2019…

Buxton – Gatekeeper – 4.1%

When it comes to dark beers, I associate Buxton with big beasts like Kentucky Woods (13.8%), Rain Shadow (11.5%) and Arran (11.5%). So it’s very good to see a traditional porter from them. Bitter coffee and roasted malts lead the charge with more than a hint of liquorice.

Firestone Walker – Mocha Merlin – 5.5%

With an infusion of local roast coffee, a dash of cocoa nibs and touch of seasonal sorcery, Velvet Merlin milk stout has been transformed into Mocha Merlin. This beer is brewed with the Colombia La Granadilla blend from HoneyCo Coffee Roasters. The Colombia La Granadilla coffee meshes perfectly with the chocolatey character from the cocoa nibs, providing an oatmeal stout experience like no other. A touch of lactose provides suggestion of rounded sweetness on the finish. I’ve already polished this one off and there’s no false advertising here, coffee, chocolate and creaminess, a nice gentle stout.

Gipsy Hill – Percolator – 5.0%

Percolator is a coffee oatmeal brown ale collaboration with Dugges. It’s a Café Latte of a beer with three different types of oat, and premium English Cara and Vienna malts. It’s then blended with around a thousand litres of Volcano’s finest cold brew coffee. It offers smooth, full-bodied mouthfuls of oat milk latte.

North Riding – Coffee and Walnut Stout – 7.4%

The Needle & Pin’s 1000th unique cask ale, bottled. Brewed by the team and a few customers at North Riding in September 2018, this is a seriously good coffee stout brewed with a huge sack of locally roasted coffee beans in the FV. It has a little sweetness from the walnuts at the end. I don’t like walnuts, but I’m told this is not an issue.

Redwillow – Restless – 8.5%

Think chocolate fondant meets coffee. Loaded with Vietnamese coffee beans; it’s dark and full bodied with sweet nutty chocolate notes. Good Morning Vietnam! All the Redwillow beers I’ve had so far (quite a few on cask, and lots in cans from Booths) have been great.

Three Hills – Anglian Porter – 5%

From one of the UK’s most up and coming breweries. You may not have heard of them before, but you’re sure to hear lots in the future. Look out for a collaborative brew with them in March. This light, hoppy porter is designed to suit the local water profile and to find the sweet spot between drinkability and flavour.

Wilde Child – Beast Master – 10%

This one is the beast, in name and strength. A salted caramel and cacao nib Imperial Stout. The salted caramel really stands out. Apparently this is up there with Amundsen Zygoat.

Some of these won’t last, some will go into storage for a bit…

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The Lansdowne, Leicester, January 2019

The first theatre trip of the year, and we don’t have much booked in for 2019 so far. As tonight’s show was a 7:30 start, we had to opt for our “go to” dining choice, The Lansdowne. There are numerous other places to choose from, but none of them are close enough for a 90 minute turnaround. I think we came here at least four times last year, so it’s very familiar, but hopefully not too familiar.

Something that was familiar was a Framework beer on the bar. Familiar, because this is the pub where I’ve had most of their beers, and familiar because I was brewing a beer with them only five days ago. If a beer only has to travel just over a mile to get to the pub, it should be in pretty good condition when it gets there. Brewer’s Gold was indeed in good condition,  easy drinking with a nice hop profile and a good bitter edge.

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On to food, and I had what I pretty much always have, the standard burger. I’ve written more than enough words on the joy of the burger now, so you know my thoughts. Simple and tasty.

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Ever reliable pre-show dining.

Tonight’s show was Sandi Toksvig’s “National Trevor”, kind of like an episode of QI with extended anecdotes, a pub quiz and an audience Q&A at the end. Very funny, informative and entertaining.

Keyworth Tavern, January 2019

A winter wander today. We’ve not been to Keyworth for a good few years, but a walking event brought us here to explore with friends. First things first though, lunch. Eventually.

We found a table, had some menus delivered and ordered some drinks. I was pleasantly surprised to see an Adnams Sloe Storm on the bar so I opted for that.

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I’m not certain that it has been well looked after, as it was a bit meh. Important note – don’t believe all of the beers that have been checked in here on Untappd – you won’t find any Patrons Project, Het Uiltje or Evil Twin here, despite what someone is trying to convince you. Back to lunch…

One of our party was running a bit late due to sat nav issues, so we waited until they had arrived to order food. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. The first half of West Ham v Arsenal had been and gone. Eventually our lunches turned up, but how long should it take for a few sandwiches and jacket potatoes? Not as long as it did.

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It was lovely when it did arrive, a pulled pork melt on a Spanish baguette (lovely and crisp), and some token salad. Just a shame that it took so long, as that had a knock on effect on the rest of our day.

A nice village pub, in a village full of pubs. We’d definitely go back, just as long as we weren’t in a hurry.

The Sultan of Keswick, January 2019

It’s the end of our Lakes holiday. The weather has been very kind to us, seven walks and seven more Wainwrights added to our total, which now stands at 123, with 91 to go. We’ve completed book 6, the North Western Fells.

As it’s a Friday night, we’re having curry as usual, and treating ourselves to a takeaway. Regular readers will know that we very rarely eat in at a curry house as they just don’t have anything that we would like to drink. The beer and cider that we have bought from local shops is way better than what’s on offer here, so our #tryanuary adventure is continuing at home tonight after a couple of nights out down the pub.

In keeping with the spirit of #tryanuary, we’re trying a new curry house, The Sultan of Keswick. We usually go to Lakeland Spice Cuisine, so we decided to take a chance on this one. The first thing you notice is that the price is much higher than everywhere else in town, even with a 20% discount for takeaways.

I went for one of my usual selections when trying out a new curry house, chicken shatkora, a chicken curry with small pieces of a citrus fruit known sometimes as a wild orange. I love the sourness of this fruit with the richness of a curry sauce, but tonight there was an enormous lack of fruit, although plenty of chicken. And lots of spiciness, probably the spiciest shatkora that I’ve ever had.

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It was accompanied by a lovely naan bread. Overall, it was not bad, but I don’t think it’s better than our usual haunt.

On to that #tryanuary bit. I like a spot of IPA with my curry, and this Eden River Brew Co “Yakama” was full of dry and fruity bitterness, lovely west coast stylings. Very tasty stuff, one of their best, up with Amber Rocket.

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If you think that Eden River Brew Co sound a bit familiar, it’s because until last summer they were known as “Eden Brewery”, changing to something more “craft-oriented” (their words) to get them recognised outside of Cumbria. I’ve been drinking their beer before they were trendy 🙂

Quiz night at The Pack Horse Inn, Keswick, January 2019 #tryanuary

Our fourth visit to the Pack Horse quiz night. On our last three visits, we’ve won every time. What happened to “My Pointless Friend Richard” tonight? Find out later.

Today we climbed Whiteside, our 120th Wainwright. It was one of the trickier ones, very much a straight up and down visit, and it took quite a bit of effort. A good feed was required, and a decent home made burger and a pile of chips was just what the doctor (me, definitely not a doctor) ordered.

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The burger was fantastic. You’ve read this from me many times already, but when properly done, a decent burger is hard to beat. Really tasty beef, extra tangy cheddar and some proper English mustard. Big fat chips which were crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. A decent salad and some dressing too, not just a pile of limp iceberg (the excuse for salad that I usually moan about).

The only fly in the ointment was the lack of a plate, a silly bread board having taken its place. To be fair to them, they would have needed a decent sized plate to accommodate this tasty portion.

On to the #tryanuary bit. I was hoping to taste a new beer from Robinsons who own this pub. They have made over 150 different beers but this doesn’t seem to be a market where they are wanting to test anything new, as they always seem to have the same ones on. So it was Double Hop and Dizzy Blonde, which still hasn’t been rebranded, despite this being announced back in May 2018.

On to the quiz bit. For the first time, we lost. Beaten by our neighbours, a table of 8 which felt like a bit of an unfair fight, but we were well and truly thrashed. We shall return to reclaim our crown another day.

#Tryanuary is back for 2019

Now entering its fifth year, Tryanuary is a nationwide campaign to encourage support for the beer industry throughout January. It’s all about getting out and trying new things. Don’t go crazy in December, and you can still enjoy January like a normal person.

The brainchild of Mancunian beer blogger Andy Heggs and brewery owners Stuart Swann and Shane Swindells, Tryanuary was created to encourage beer fans to support independent breweries, pubs, bars and other retailers during what can be a challenging month for the industry. Since its inception in 2015, the campaign has garnered huge support.

In November 2017, Andy passed the baton on to Tom Stapley. Within a fortnight of announcing that the campaign had come under the wing of Craft Beer Hour, the team had scaled to nearly 100 volunteers, spread out across UK and Ireland. That army of Local Champions (one of whom was me) went on to help the 2018 campaign be felt more locally than ever before.

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In October 2018, the campaign was adopted in its entirety by Mike Hampshire. Mike, who is based in Leeds, was already the Regional Coordinator for West Yorkshire and in tune with the work of the volunteers. As the founder and organiser of the Festival of Brewers, a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, a brewery guide, consultant and a speaker, Mike’s repertoire of experience in the brewing industry made him a great fit for the role.

Mike is leading the team into the fifth year of Tryanuary, something that you too can be a part of. Volunteer today to help put your region on the Tryanuary map!

This isn’t about drinking more.
It’s about trying something different.
Tasting something new.
Experiencing something interesting.

Find the main campaign on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tryanuary and our local account here (curated by yours truly) https://twitter.com/tryeastmidlands – share your experiences on social media with #tryanuary