The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #10 – March 2018

 

 

The tenth selection from the craft beer club, and I think the eighteenth overall. The last “main” box came just before Xmas, so let’s see what hoppy delights await this time. Thanks to the Needle & Pin for supplying this month’s photos, my beers were all bundled in with some other deliveries so I didn’t get chance to take the customary photo.

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Amundsen – Hop Magic – 7%

A collaboration with Dry & Bitter Brewing Company and Dugges Bryggeri. The three breweries describe this as the “ultimate crusher”, a tropical juice hop head butt with Magnum, Mosaic, Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Citra, Ekuanot and Simcoe all mixed in.

Shindigger – Mango Unchained Session IPA – 4.2%

A session IPA blended with mango and pineapple, described by the team as “if Rubicon made beer”.

Marble – Tuckerlovsky Session IPA – 4.7%

Named for Marble’s head of sales and his wife, this punchy session IPA is made with a blend of Northern and Southern hemisphere hops. Bright citrus and juicy tropical fruits partner with a subtle malt sweetness.

The other half of the box is below…

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Magic Rock – Brother Chucker – 6.7%

A collaboration with their mates at Basqueland Brewing Project, brewed to remind them of a fun filled week of bikes, beer, baked cheesecake, big smiles and darts in the Basque region. A smooth malt bill featuring Golden Promise, wheat and golden naked oats, alongside a defined bitterness to aid drinkability. They then used lots of lovely piney/citrus Simcoe and limey New Zealand Motueka hops as well as a dash of tropically crazy HBC 438. The beer was fermented with their house WLP001 yeast for minimal aroma/flavour interference and super easy drinking refreshment. Bullseye!

Arbor – Piccolina – 3.2%

Big flavoured low alcohol session beer, brewed with Vienna malt & oats and Mosaic and Simcoe hops. I’d love to tell you more about it, but that’s all that’s been written about it so far! (Edit : my words are hoppy, crisp, dry and bitter, which makes for a lovely session ale, an easy drinking pint that you could drink plenty of.)

North Riding – Mosaic – 4.3%

Enter the new kid on the block, Mosaic hops are full of blueberry and citrus flavours and seriously pack a powerful punch to make a juicy banger of a pale ale. (Edit: this was a lovley session pale, so much fruitiness from the hops.)

Given that two thirds of the beers in this box are session strength, I suspect they won’t last very long, as I’m rather lacking in things that aren’t double IPAs or imperial dark beasts at the minute. I think 2018 will be seeing more sessionable brews…

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Moon & Bell, Loughborough, January 2018

I’ve written about ‘spoons before. It’s convenient, and when you’re meeting friends in the pub in order to plan summer trips then the most important requirement is wifi, so that you have facts at your fingertips. With any luck, the beer will be in good condition, and the food will be ok.

With any luck, there will actually be some food, as Wetherspoons has been hit by meat shortages this week (no steak on steak night) after a product recall from their supplier Russell Hume, who were unable to demonstrate compliance with food hygiene rules at its locations. (Edit : just one month later, Russell Hume went into administration after JD Wetherspoon and Jamie’s Italian amongst others cancelled their supply contracts).

Beer first, and something new to me from the reliable Titanic brewery, in the form Black Ice, described as a black IPA or Cascadian dark ale.

I wasn’t really in agreement with this, it’s more dark red ice, a not unpleasant beer but nothing special and not really in the black IPA category like Beavertown’s Black Betty or Saltaire’s Kala Black.

Thankfully, there was some food available tonight, that pub classic “half chicken and chips”, with a dash of coleslaw and some BBQ sauce. Another of those dishes that are very easy to get wrong, but simple and tasty if you get them right.

It was pretty good, and helped to fuel our evening of planning. Lots of trips on the cards later in the year, and I suspect that will lead to more blog posts, as these things tend to 🙂

Framework Tryanuary Tap Takeover, The Needle & Pin, January 2018

One of a large number of events happening all over the country as part of #tryanuary. Tonight saw a “tap takeover” at The Needle & Pin, featuring Leicester based brewery Framework. This was also combined with a bit of meet the brewer action, the chance to chat to some members of the Framework team. Framework’s beer is brewed from a handsome Victorian red brick building in Leicester’s industrial heartland. They call their recipes “patterns” as this pays tribute to the patterns used by framework knitters who used to occupy the building. With each pattern number, the beer changes and develops to keep the drinker’s glass full of good beer – both twists on an established styles and boundary-pushing new brews.

Proceedings kicked off with a Jackpin Pale Ale, a nice bitter American pale ale which got the evening off to a good start.

Our “hosts” for the evening soon arrived, and there was a sudden influx of brewery staff from the area all having a chat. How many can you spot?

Another pale ale next, Centennial Pale Ale – Pattern #PA0015, a good showcase for the Centennial hop, which must be up there in my top 10 hops.

After 2 good cask ales, we switch our attention to keg, and Dr Dawson’s Magic Mix, a spiced stout based on the Yorkshire classic, Parkin. The addition of nutmeg, ginger, treacle and golden syrup makes for a rich, warming flavour.

Festive spices after epiphany are okay aren’t they? Lovely nose, hint of sweetness and easy drinking.

Afer a bit more chat, it was soon time to head off into the night, although there was just time for a #tryanuary gift, in the form of this magnificent bar blade, the best of breed bottle opener. It is pictured here opening a To 0l Tangerine Cream (subtle creamy citrus 🍊, lovely and refreshing).

A fun evening down the pub, talking all things beer. This is what #tryanuary is all about.

Beer of the month – December 2017 – Double Heathen by Northern Monk

December can be a tricky month when it comes to choosing a beer of the month, because there are often special edition beers knocking around, and there are bound to be some Xmas specials like last year’s beer of the month for December, Christmas Cake Imperial Stout from Cloudwater and To 0l. This year it’s another month where there’s only 1 beer that was drunk in a pub, the rest are bottles and cans sampled at home or elsewhere.

There are quite a few “honourable mentions” this month, such as Wyoming Sheep Ranch by Buxton Brewery (sweet and strong pine forests),  Spring + Summer Session IPA Amarillo Citra by Cloudwater Brew Co (tropical citrus, hint of peach, some dryness, some bitterness), Catch My Eye (another Cloudwater), The Tropical by Wild Weather Ales (very nice peach sour), Mormora Sour (different from Cloudwater, a coffee sour with classic coffee bitterness, almost a green coffee bean flavour).

On then to the main event, where we find sours, stouts, IPAs and something a bit different.

Sour first, with Summer/Hallertau Blanc Double Sour by Chorlton Brewing Company, a massive sour beast which was really nice. Probably a perfect summer sour but still worked in December.

An old friend next, Bourbon Oktober by Vibrant Forest Brewery (winner in October 2016). As it has aged, the former liveliness has dissipated but the big flavours are still there.

You knew it wouldn’t be long before Cloudwater came along, so here’s their first in the round up, DDH IPA Amarillo, full of delightful hoppy bitterness, very nice indeed.

Beaverillium by Beavertown is up next, another brewery who have featured reasonably regularly in these round ups. Beaverillium was full of smooth and silky mango, with bitterness and some malt creeping in later on.

Two more Cloudwaters next, a DDH IPA Nelson Sauvin Galaxy which was super smooth and fruity juice with a nice rounded flavour. And to prove that they do other stuff as well, we have our only pub beer, Black Forest, served from the newly installed keg lines at the Needle & Pin. It was a delightful beast, cake in a glass, a festive delight and another winner for #evilkegfilth (yes, that’s an ironic hashtag).

We return to bottles for third place, and a Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) by Founders Brewing Co. This was smoother than a sand blasted smooth thing, big stout flavours with coffee on the nose and chocolate swirling around. No alcohol burn which is often a danger with these big stouts.

We have literally finished off the year with a New Year’s Eve bottle of Serpent by Thornbridge, a suitable celebratory beer, because it’s not really a beer, more of a beery cider, and it feels right for the annual celebration as another year closes.

On then to the winner for December 2017, Double Heathen by Northern Monk, another brewery that have featured a few times in the end of month round ups, but haven’t won since January 2016 (with Eternal their session IPA).

The “normal” version of Heathen featured in May 2017’s round up, and Double Heathen takes that beer to the next level, full of fantastically vicious bitterness, some sweet pine and madly easy drinking for a 10% DIPA. Love it.

So that’s another 12 months in beer. Now to try and choose the beer of the year.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #9 – December 2017

Just in time for Christmas, it’s time for the latest Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club selection box, which I think is the fifteenth in total. Today’s photo is not the most glamorous of backdrops, but this is about the contents, not the presentation! Let’s dive in…

Green Flash – Soul Style – 6.5%

Green Flash are one of San Diego’s finest breweries, and I’ve already had three of their beers, West Coast IPA (heavy pine, malty sweetness), Passion Fruit Kicker (subtle passion fruit and wheat) and GFB (an acronym with two definitions).

Soul Style IPA is their manifestation of a single IPA, just to prove that there are still some out there in this world of DIPAs, TIPAs, IIPAs and the like. Simcoe, Citra and Cascade hops are layered, allowing bright tropical waves of flavourful citrus and floral notes to break gently on the palate.

Omnipollo – Zodiak – 6.2

A rather conformist beer from the Omnipollo team, Zodiak is their new house IPA. A blend of grains, untouched post fermentation and aspiringly hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Centennial.

Poppels – West Coast IPA – 5.4%

Brewing since 2012 and certified as organic since 2016, Poppels are a Swedish brewery who seem to be in the shadow of some of the more illustrious Scandinavian breweries.
West Coast IPA originates from the American west coast, known as the beer lover’s beer. This brew is packed with bouquet & bite from the variety of hops used to create an ever-evolving beer style.

Pressure Drop – Domino Topple – 7.2%

Located just around the corner from Beavertown, and brewing some great beers, Pressure Drop are a popular brewery. Bosko has been my favourite so far. Domino topple is full of chewy, mango fruitiness with that lovely hoppy bitter bite, a lovely dank IPA.

To Øl – Tangerine Dream – 4.6%

Tangerine Dream is a soft, balanced cream ale infused with ripe tangerines and ideas of balance. It is also named after one of the coolest electronic bands ever. You should listen to The Myth of Dragons or Light Flux while drinking this beer.

Yeastie Boys – Bigmouth IPA – 4.4%

It’s a bit of a surprise that this is the first Yeastie Boys beer to feature in the Craft Beer Club. I’ve had three of their output already, Digital IPA, Pot Kettle Black and Gunnamatta, all handily available in my favourite supermarket Booths. Their beer was brewed under contract in the UK at Brewdog, and they have just announced that their new UK brewer is West Berkshire Brewery shortly, after that relationship ended earlier this year.

Bigmouth is an extra pale, unfiltered, hoppy session ale. It is full of tropical, grapefruit, lemon and white wine notes from the Nelson-grown New Zealand hops (Nelson Sauvin, Wakatu, Taiheke). A luscious mouthfeel, from the heavy use of wheat and oats, carries the hop flavour across the palate before easing out with a dry, bitter finish.

Poppy and Pint, West Bridgford, December 2017

We are back again. If only this pub wasn’t so far away (time as opposed to distance) then I’m sure we would come here a bit more. It’s just such a pain getting to West Bridgford in the early evening. The dark and winding A60 or the hell on earth that is the current situation around junction 24 of the M1. No thanks.

Enough logisitical lamentation, on to our visit. Here with walking friends as usual, for the standard mix of food, drink and chat. A drink first, in the form of this Sorachi Mango IPA from Totally Brewed, who hail from just a mile or two down the Trent. The mango is rather strangled by the Sorachi Ace hop, which is why Mrs MOFAD didn’t like this one, and I did. I love the Sorachi Ace, a definite Marmite amongst hops.

To dinner then. And with Christmas just around the corner, a festive twist on a standard menu item, in the form of this brie, bacon and cranberry topped burger.

It was lovely. I do like a tart cranberry (too many gloopy sugary sauces on the market for my liking), and this was a cracking burger, with decent thin fries, lovely crisp onion rings and a little pot of coleslaw. The bonus sweet chilli sauce was from Mrs MOFAD’s chicken burger, and I wasn’t going to turn down a sweet chilli hit for my chips.

Another nice meal at this lovely community hub that just happens to be a pub. Great local beer, good food and well worth a visit, particularly if you live a bit closer than we do!

The second Thornbridge night at The Needle & Pin, December 2017

A year ago, as part of the “twelve days of Thornbridge”, I went to the inaugural Thornbridge night at The Needle & Pin. The theme was “Serpent – deconstructed”, and we tasted our way through the components that make up Serpent, a collaboration between Thornbrige, Oliver’s Cider in Hereford, and Brooklyn Brewery. I think the bottle I bought last year will be the accompaniment to this year’s Xmas dinner.

The twelve days of Thornbridge are back, and this year’s event was a more relaxed affair, but still great fun. Meg from Thornbridge was back again to lead the event, but it was very much a choose your own adventure event, with a choice of 4 Thornbridge beers in any order, and cheeses to match.

I started out with Sampo and a little goat’s cheese. The Sampo is a Galaxy hopped pale ale, brewed with pineapple, which produces soft pineapple flavours, a nice cask pale ale.

Next up, a new version of an old classic, Dry Hopped Jaipur, which appears to take Jaipur back to its early days of what it used to taste like, creamy, hoppy and a nice bitter finish. Goes well with mature cheddar.

Whilst this was slipping down, a Thornbridge pub quiz was in full flow. Meg had 10 questions for us, although I still maintain that her clues made some of the questions too easy. No matter, as My Pointess Friend Richard thrashed the opposition to take home the prizes of Thornbridge merch and bottled beers.

Victory complete, more beer. Brock is a soft session stout. I had this at Peakender this year, in fact it was the last beer of the festival for me, but it was probably not in the best condition then as it was rather thin and light. Today it was much better, a smooth and easy drinking session stout.

We travel to the final beer for tonight. Lord Marples, the classic English bitter, and the first beer ever made by Thornbridge. This might help you in a future pub quiz, as it was one of the answers tonight. You might also need to know that it has never been bottled 🙂

I’ve had it three times, twice here, and the first time at Peakender 2015, and it’s still a classic pint, and not hard to see why it is such a big cask seller in the Thornbridge heartland of Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Nice with a bit of Gouda too.

And if that wasn’t enough, we all left with bottled beers, some included in the price, some bonus gifts from our lovely Thornbridge friends.

Another classic night at the Needle & Pin, lots of fun, good chat (and not just about beer), a bonus quiz, and new friends made as I shared a taxi home with two of them. A good pub with a good community feel is the original social network, and the N&P is definitely one of those.

Looking forward to the next tasting night already, by happy coincidence from the brewery at the other end of the Monsal Trail, Buxton Brewery.