York Tap, April 2017 #2

I said we’d be back. I was right 🙂 After a great weekend in York which started here at the York Tap and then took in Pavement Vaults, BrewDog, Brew York,  Lamb & Lion and House of the Trembling Madness (and a few more), we find ourselves back at the station and waiting for a train. What better way to pass the time at a station than with another drink. This time an Electric Bear NZ Pale, a delicate floral hop flavour in a gently hazy pale ale.

We sat and reflected on the highlights of our York trip, it’s certainly a city we want to return to. And I suspect we will start and end that trip (whenever it may be) at the York Tap!

Brew York 1st birthday party, April 2017

Brew York, so good they named it once. So good, that they are already celebrating their first birthday with a series of events at the brewery over the weekend. Today we have been exploring the city, via the city walls. York still has most of the walls that surrounded the city 700 years ago. The tops of these were partly rebuilt about 150 years ago so the public could walk along most of them, and “feel safer” by having a tall parapet on one side of them. They are usually just called “the walls” although locals also sometimes refer to them as “the bar walls”, after the four main fortified gateways or “bars” where you can access the walls.

It’s a great way to explore the edges of the city. And at many points, you can descend back down to street level, and explore more things in the middle.

This is how we came to our lunch stop, descending from the walls at Red Tower (where they finish for a while) and then making our way down to Brew York, on the banks of the Foss, where they just happened to be celebrating their first birthday.

Brew York was born when founders Wayne and Lee met on the stag do of a mutual friend. A few years later they met again, when Wayne’s home brew was served at a party hosted by that same friend. Soon, they started brewing together, gaining confidence from the feedback on their home brews. What if they could open a brewery? Well, they did.

In 2015 they started the admin work of opening a brewery, converting a warehouse by the Foss. In March 2016, Viking DNA was the first beer brewed on site. This beer was a nod to the heritage of the brewery’s location (where the Jorvik Viking centre was originally built).

The birthday weekend was in full swing when we arrived at lunchtime. Raffle tickets were being handed out at the door, a local band were just tuning up, and we grabbed a couple of seats inside. I went off to the bar to order some drinks and Mrs MOFAD stepped outside to check out the street food vendors in the yard, and order some lunch.

Let’s look at the drinks first. The murk bomb on the left hand side is a refreshing raspberry wheat beer called Razberet, and the hop bomb on the right is a classic session IPA called X-Panda, featuring Citra, Simcoe and Chinook hops.

Lunch soon appeared, some tasty pulled pork baps from Smokin’ Blues Street Food, some lovely rare breed pork shoulder, and not overpowered by a sickly sweet sauce. A nice crunchy slaw, much better than that supermarket stuff.

More murk next, in the form of Triple H, hoppy, hazy and heavenly, perfect with that pulled pork. This one combines Centennial, Citra and Mosaic hops to great effect, citrus and floral flavours. It went beautifully with the pork.

Whilst this was all going on, we were also doing some quizzes, identifying beers from labels and identifying breweries from bits of logos. Visitors were also invited to suggest a new beer to be brewed. My suggestion of Richard’s Third Hop, combining English, Australian and New Zealand hops with a Richard III based pun was not a winner. Maybe I’ll brew it myself when I retire!

There was more exploring to be done, but with the sun beating down outside (it was a glorious day) it was important to be properly hydrated, so I grabbed another beer from the bar. This was Big Eagle, an American IPA with four hops and four malts battling it out from dominance. I think the malts win the battle in this one, but it’s quite nicely balanced.

The Brew York Tap Room is a cracking place, a working brewery with enough space for a decent amount of visitors. With some good food and great beers on offer, it’s the perfect place to unwind in one corner of the city centre. You could stay all day. We had more to explore, so moved along. Whilst the scenery was just a little different, with the sunshine, live music and great food and beer, it also reminded us of last year’s trip to Fat Monk in New Zealand. We’ll definitely be back again one day!

Highly recommended!

The Needle & Pin Belgian beer night, March 2017

Just moments after the inaugural dark beer night at the N&P, I was down at the bar reserving the first two spaces on the inaugural Belgian beer night (the other space for regular MOFAD drinking companion Alec). It felt like it was ages away, but time flies when you’re waiting for a Belgian beer night to arrive. Sean handed over the reins for this one to the N&P’s resident Belgian beer expert Iain, who was to guide us through the landscape of Belgian brewing past and present.

We opened with Westmalle Dubbel (7%), a rich and complex Trappist beer, which undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. The Westmalle monastery has been brewing beer for over 150 years, and is one of only twelve monasteries allowed to carry the “Authentic Trappist Product” label on their beer. The Dubbel is a dark brown beer with aromas of dark fruits, bread, warming spices, leading to flavours of raisins and other fruits with a dry finish.

My conclusion? Dark fruits, a little sourness and some very nice carbonation. A very pleasant Dubbel indeed.

We move on to Straffe Hedrick Tripel (9%), the winner of Belgium’s Best Belgian Style Tripel at the World Beer Awards in 2016. The Maes family have been brewing in the centre of Bruges since the mid 19th century, and this beer is now the most established product of the De Halve Maan brewery. A huge white head and big carbonation bring a hoppy aroma to the nose, unusual for many Belgian beers. Fruits and grains are apparent on the palate, but the bitterness dominates.

Does it? Kind of, those golden fruits certainly come through, and again the elegance of the carbonation is reminiscent of a good sparkling wine.

On we go, with Vicaris Tripel Gueuze. This is created by brewing two beers and then joining them together in the bottle. A creamy white head billows above a honey gold beer, with a nose of tart vanilla and spice, leading to a full body and long dry finish.

This was another with very nice carbonation, some tart vanilla flavours mixing with a little spice on the palate.

We now take a break for another Belgian classic, fries and mayonnaise. An awesome way to refuel and soak up a little liquid.

These were piping hot, salty and delicious. And lovely mayonnaise too.

Off for a little fruity number next,  Kriek Boon (4.5%). The brewery in Lembeek has brewed under different ownerships since 1680, and has been owned by Frank Boon since 1975, establishing a reputation for fine Gueuze lambic beers. This is a cheery beer made by blending different aged lambics and then ageing them again over whole cherries. This gives a tart cherry beer with a hint of sweetness, and a hint of something coming from the oak casks that the beer has aged in.

I’m not a fan of cherries, but this was a nice beer, flavours of cherry juice but with the cherries fading away. Very easy drinking, perfect for a summer BBQ.

Here we deviate from the plan. We were due to finish with Rochefort 10 (11.3%) but due to logistical issues, I had to take mine and run. Look out for a separate review later.

Before the evening began, there was time for a quick bit of shopping, with a couple of Cloudwaters and a Howling Hops IPA (which will be my first from this brewery). The photo also shows the left over Rochefort and my glass to commemorate the evening.

Another great night out at the N&P – the April instalment of the event is already sold out, but look out for another Belgian event in the autumn. Pop over to Facebook to keep up to date

Beavertown Tropigamma Tropical IPA

Another beer from the third Needle & Pin craft beer selection box.

The N&P love all things Beavertown (as do I), and they especially love this one off beer, brewed to celebrate Beavertown’s 1000th brew. Hugely fruity compared to Gamma Ray, a tropical IPA brewed with lactose, pineapple, mandarin, papaya, passionfruit, guava, mango and lime juice. Enough fruit for you?

Juicy tropical fruits combine with big bold hops on the nose to lure you in with complex aromas of citrus, ripe mango and piney hops. The flavour is fruit driven, leading with sweet mandarin, tangy passionfruit and round mango and finishing with a satisfying hop bite. The oats help make the drinking experience smooth and round. This is literally a fruit explosion in a can.

Lilt. The totally tropical taste. Tropigamma. The totally tropcial murkbomb. Not an IPA but an interesting tropical fruit attack. Produces both “hop face” and “grapefruit face” in Mrs MOFAD. Juicy and fruity, and a grapefruit hit, with smoothness from the oats. Dangerously drinkable delight.