The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #9 – November 2019

The nights are drawing in and it’s not all about massive imperial stouts. I enjoy sour beers all year round, but some people think they are not for winter. Let’s dive in to the next selection, box number 46 overall.

3 Fonteinen – Armand & Gaston – 5%

A special cuvee from one of Belgium’s finest producers. This limited release Geuze is packed with lemon sherbet notes and all the funk you’d expect from a premium lambic but with more depth than the standard release.

Burnt Mill – Split your Infinities – 5.6%

A simple malt bill of pale & wheat provided a wort that was soured overnight, boiled, then sent to the fermenter to condition on blueberry puree. Clean, lactic aromas and light tartness are complemented by the Mosaic dry hop and the mellow, sweet taste of blueberries in this refreshing fruited sour.

Cigar City – Margarita Gose – 4.2%

Throw on your Hawaiian shirt and your lederhosen and meet Cigar City Brewing at the intersection of traditional German brewing and tropical relaxation. A German-style Gose with added orange peel and lime essence to create the perfect warm weather ale. It will definitely be drunk in cold weather here!

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Dugges – Black Currant – 4.5%

Premium Dugges. Black Currant is a sour beer fermented with blackcurrants. To give the beer its sour taste, lactobacillus was added to the mix. A beer within the New Nordic Beer Project, brewed with only Nordic ingredients. Think Ribena in beer form, and much classier than a purple nasty.

Dupont – Saison – 6.5%

Saison Dupont is a classic Belgian farmhouse ale. This is a beautifully balanced, complex beer that has a refreshing fruitiness and long, dry finish. It is bottled unfiltered so it may be cloudy or have a slight sediment but this is normal and perfectly natural. One of the greatest beers in the world.

Floris Kriek – Brouwerij Huyghe – 3.6%

Easy drinking and full on, a deep red colour and slightly cloudy, made with Maraschino cherries. Light and very refreshing. Floris is made by Brouwerij Huyghe the brewery famous for Delerium Tremens (the one with the pink elephant).

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #8 – September 2019

It’s box number 44 overall, and some interesting sours for the end of summer. I enjoy them all year round, but some people think they are not for winter. Let’s dive in to the next selection of sours…

Dugges – Tutti Frutti – 6.0%

How many fruits do you need for a tutti frutti? Together with Sweden’s Wizard Brewing, Dugges decided to go for all of them. Almost. Pear, mango, passion fruit, peach, pineapple and mandarin. That’s right. Tutti Frutti! Not to be confused with Rowntree’s Tooty Frooties, that 80s tangy sweet. Although it does taste quite like them, absolutely crammed with fruitiness.

Mashionistas – As Lime Gose By – 4.1%

First brewed in collaboration with Warwick University Students’ Union Real Ale Society for their 2019 Real Ale Festival, this is a light tangy and refreshing gose made with Indian white limes, Calabrian Bergamot, and Himalayan pink rock salt. Oh, and Coventry’s finest water!

I’ve already had a bottle of this from an early batch and it has a subtle saltiness and citrus tang. Because of my obssession with lime, I want loads more lime in it. The Crooked Stave version of Key Lime Tau is probably my lime beer blueprint, with Westbrook Key Lime Pie Gose not far behind.

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Siren – Guava Script – 4.0%

Both Sean (Siren’s new Head Brewer) and Erwin (from collaborating brewery Van Moll) have been keen to experiment with pink guava, so this collaboration recipe almost wrote itself. This sour sensation is intensified with mango and passionfruit before being dry-hopped with Azacca and Mosaic. I’m intrigued by this.

Wander Beyond – Anura – 7%

Following on from Loris, (Wander Beyond’s Imperial Apricot Berliner Weisse), they brewed a high strength Berliner Weisse and refermented it on half a tonne of blueberries. This deep, dark, purple beer is ripe and bursting with tart blueberry fruit flavours.

Yonder – Goose – 6.8%

At last, something goose related that isn’t Untitled Goose Game, which has been all over social media at the moment. There are arguments over the etymology of gooseberry, but it’s quite likely that it did come from the fact that they grew in areas where geese would be found, so I like that explanation. Back to the beer.

Inspired by the wild gooseberries discovered growing in woodlands near the brewery, Goose combines those tart, fruity flavours with Cornish sea salt, for a delicous imperial take on a German Gose.

I’m a big gooseberry fan, we used to have gooseberry bushes and I’ve also made gooseberry jam, so I’m looking forward to this one.

Yeastie Boys – Heaven Up – 3.8%

Heaven Up is a refreshing, lemonade-inspired, Berliner-style pale sour ale with aromatic doses of lemon and lime and an effervescent and satisfying drinkability.

We missed out on this one at Thornbridge Peakender, so it’s time to give it a try.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #7 – May 2019

The 39th selection box overall, and the seventh selection of sours. All about the fruitiness this time, which is a very good idea with summer approaching. Can’t beat a fruity sour on a warm summer’s night. Another selection where I’ve borrowed the N&P photo because I didn’t get time to take one!

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Box Social – Ride Over Me – 6%

Tart and sweet raspberry, balanced by lactose creaminess make up the body of this unique beer. This brew is full of oats and caramel malt to provide a full on malt base to compliment the fruit notes, reminiscent of a perfect cheesecake. Box Social beers are well loved at the N&P and this is one of the first ever cans from Box Social. I visited their little railway arch on a very rainy night in Newcastle in June 2017.

Brick – Manhattan – 5.9%

There have been some fantastic sours from Brick (I’ve picked up a few from St Pancras), and this is no exception. Great label designs too. Manhattan Sour has a robust malt body and is flavoured with sweet cherry and bitter orange, before being spiced with ginger and cinnamon and aged on cherry wood.

Cloudwater – Peach Bellini Slushie – 8%

The original idea for this quirky beer came when Cloudwater’s Paul and Evil Twin’s Jeppe added Champagne to a slushie machine full of sour beer at a festival. To recreate that, they blended a grape juice-infused Brut IPA fermented using Champagne yeast with a fruited sour. This edition is one in a series based on Champagne cocktails, so peach has been used to replicate a Bellini.

Evil Twin – G is for Grapefruit – 4.5%

A fresh tartness, a twist of salt and a balanced fruitiness of grapefruit – apparently a complete reflection of your personality

Hackney – Millions of Peaches – 4%

Yes, to mark the start of evenings being light enough to enjoy the last of the sun in the evenings, Millions of Peaches is back! With the third year of its release, Hackney have packed in more peaches than last year but have kept the rest the same. If it ain’t broke…

Vibrant Forest – Actinia – 7.1%

Actinia sees massive quantities of mango, guava, passion fruit and mandarin layered onto an oat and wheat heavy malt bill that’s been soured with Lactobacillus. The result is explosive fruity mayhem. Sticky tropical purees coalesce around a scintillating acidity, itself smothered in a thick, oaty mouth feel. Juicy, puckering, indulgent, this is Actinia. Really looking forward to this one.

Meet the Brewer – Three Hills – Needle & Pin – March 2019

Another lovely meet the brewer event at the N&P. Three Hills owner Andrew cut his teeth as a brewer in China, and now he is back home in the UK brewing up some sensational beers. Named after local neolithic tombs, Three Hills Brewing is a garage nano-brewery based in Woodford, Northamptonshire.

Their mission is to produce high quality, innovative and experimental small-batch beers for those who love to explore new taste sensations (that would be me). Rather than reproducing the same beers, they focus on creating a new recipe every time to keep things interesting. When they say small batch, they mean it: whether it’s IPA, saison, stout, wheat or unhopped gruit, their 225-600L batches allow them to brew with love and creativity. The result is truly unique, limited edition beers. There’s a lot of debate about core ranges versus constant evolution, but I think there’s room in the market for both.

One of the main reasons for tonight was to launch the collaboration brew between Three Hills and the N&P, a 5% Rhubarb Crumble Stout called “Giant Leap”. It was sweet and smooth with definite rhubarb notes. Paired well with a little rhubarb cakey treat too!

The other beers available were:-

Three Hills IPA V4 – sweetness, maltiness and a little bitterness. Well rounded.

Woodford Experiment Pale – smooth cask pale with a tasty hop profile and a nice bitterness.

Kveik – ooh that’s Belgian. I mean technically it’s Norwegian because it’s their word for yeast but a definite Belgian flavour profile. Very farmhouse!

Small Steps V3 – mint on the nose and some grapefruit on the finish. Light and refreshing, a lovely summer beer.

Due to having to catch an earlier bus (curse work in the morning!) I didn’t get chance to have a good natter tonight, but there’s always next time. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more from Three Hills in 2019.

Hotel Teatro, Denver, October 2018

A spooky evening and another quick Denver post. This evening picks up where this afternoon left off, networking with the people that I met at The Renaissance earlier on today, along with a few more who couldn’t make it, as they have only just rolled into town.

Another buffet meal, with the usual selection of meats, breads, salad bits and other things. There was an added tasty bonus here, lots of plates full of churros, the Spanish doughnut which is probably from Portugal by way of China. These were lovely, as they almost always are, crunchy and sprinkled with lightly spiced sugar.

Tonight I got to sample Sour Apricot from Dry Dock brewery in Aurora, Colorado. A nice balance of sweet apricots and sourness, tart and fruity with sourness from the brewing process. It went well with some nice bits of cheese from the buffet.

There was also a Tivoli Helles Lager, another Denver brewery, who are based on the Auraria College campus of Metropolitan State University in Denver. A very easy drinking lager with a very German taste, which is probably because it is brewed from entirely imported ingredients.

Finally a “Face Down Nitro Brown” from Telluride Brewing, also in Colorado. A bit of a hybrid of an English and American style brown ale (the beer that your Uncle drank in the 1970s) that is silky smooth and super malty.

Afterwards, I found out that this is a four time award winner, taking gold in 2012 and 2014, and bronze in 2016 at the Great American Beer Festival for “American Style Brown,” and also a gold at the 2012 World Beer Cup.

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A pleasant evening of chat and beer and food.

Great Divide barrel bar, 35th Street, Denver, October 2018

The past!

If there’s one thing better than a brewery tap with a great selection of beers, it’s a brewery tap with a great selection of beers that’s playing a great selection of 1990s Americana, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Only a short stroll away from my previous refreshment stop, and I was soon settled in at a table here, and off to the bar for my next tasting flight. I asked one of the friendly bar staff for a few recommendations and picked some of my own, to sit back and enjoy on this wonderfully lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Let’s run through them from left to right.

Colette Farmhouse Ale, a 7.3% saison, had a subtle fruity note and there was a slight wheatiness to it. A nice starter to go with some Counting Crows on the jukebox (well, I think they call it Spotify nowadays).

Strawberry Rhubarb, a fruity sour with mellow fruitfulness and a nice touch of rhubarb, one of my favourite vegetables to feature in a beer.

Fresh Hop (2018) is this season’s freshest beer, brewed with “wet” whole cone hops from the Pacific north west, to give something that’s a little malty with light hoppiness. I think we’d moved on to Hootie & The Blowfish at this point.

Hazy IPA does exactly what it says on the tin, full of hazy hoppiness and a nice bitterness. A decent NEIPA that puts some of the others that I’ve had recently to shame.

It was a lovely drop, but I think it’s fair to say that I saved the best for last, in the form of Barrel Aged Hibernation Ale. Sticking an old ale into whisk(e)y barrels produces wonderful results, a beautiful maltiness in this grand old ale.

A great place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon, relaxed and with a very chilled vibe. If you want to stretch your legs then there are tours every hour from 2-6 at weekends. There’s a food truck parked outside if you get peckish. Oh, and they love yetis.

To Øl Mr Series 2018

The Mr Series for 2018 is a 360 degree showreel of the most potent, playful and powerful recipes that To Øl have ever done. The Mr Series takes its beer names from Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs, and the colours in the names have inspired the ingredients in the beers. This year’s series is entirely different from the 2017 Mr Series. Let’s have a peek.

Mr. Blue – 9.0% Imperial Berliner Weisse

This year Mr. Blue is a handsome Imperial Berliner Weisse packed with blackberries, aronia, acai and blackcurrant. The sour mash is balanced with subtle berry notes to roam around your glass.

Mr. Pink – 6.0% East coast IPA with a twist

For this year’s Mr. Pink, a trip to the east. East coast of the US and east of Europe. Mixing one of Russia’s favourite ingredients, the beetroot, with the juiciness of the east coast IPA. The result is a juicy & pink beetroot IPA. Yes, you read that correctly. A beetroot IPA.

Mr. Blonde – 4.5% Peach Melba gose

This year’s Mr. Blonde is a Gose with vanilla, peach and raspberry. Expect fruits, slight sourness and a touch of salt.

Mr. Orange – 9.0% Sour-mashed Citra IIPA

With this year’s tropical mix of papaya, mango, apricot, orange and lemon zest, Mr. Orange is bringing the safari to your cup – wrapped up as a sour mashed Citra IIPA with a light malt profile to add space for all the hops and juice.

Mr. Brown – 10.0% Coffee stout

Be prepared (I am, because I was a Scout). Mr. Brown this year is… BROWN. An intense and full-bodied stout brewed with coffee and matured with cognac oak chips and cedar spirals for richness.

Mr. White – 5.0% New-England style grisette

This year’s Mr. White has taken a tour to the countryside. He’s full-bodied, heavy on wheat and with a decent amount of white grapefruits to balance the dryness.

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