The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #18 – May 2019

The 38th selection box overall.  Spring is in full fling and the days are getting really long now. It’s definitely time for plenty of session pales, and there are three here, alongside two sixers and a 9% DIPA unit. At the time of writing, I’ve already polished off five of them. I didn’t get chance to take any photos, so I’ve borrowed the N&P ones again this time 🙂

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Cloudwater – Small Pale – 2.9%

Designed to pack the punchy flavours you’ve come to expect from Cloudwater into a low-strength package. Cloudwater have dedicated time to developing a beer that has enough body to balance the bold hop notes, so you’ll find flavours of mandarin and grapefruit held by a smooth, firm base. I loved this one.

Framework x Needle & Pin – Wide Mouth Frog – 3.4%

The collaboration with Framework in January, named after Sean’s favourite joke. You only have to ask and he’ll tell you it. You have been warned. Full bodied from the oats, with a lovely refreshing hoppiness, a great table beer. Very soft and a nice hop profile.

Salopian x Team Toxic – Dangermousse – 6%

This is the 2019 version, with a limited amount in cans. A collaboration brew between Salopian and Team Toxic, the aroma is bright and breezy with sly hand of pine, grapefruit and lemongrass. Light mango and resinous pine slides across a dry floral body and a fruity filled finish. A big west coast vibe to this one, creamy and lovely lacing.

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Three Hills – Small Steps V3 – 3%

Every few months, Three Hills brew three different strength IPAs, typically at 3%, 6% and 9%. This month the full set of version 3 is in the box. Small Steps is a DDH pale, dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic BBC & Denali. Mint on the nose and some grapefruit on the finish. Light and refreshing, a lovely summer beer.

Three Hills – In Pursuit V3 – 6%

This month, “In Pursuit” is a juicy NEIPA made with Mosaic BBC, Galaxy and Citra. A good balance to this, nice bitterness but also easy drinking.

Three Hills – Of Juice V3 – 9%

This month, “Of Juice” is a DIPA made with Cryo Mosaic, Citra and Mosaic BBC. I’m looking forward to this one.

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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.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #16 – March 2019

The 36th selection box overall.  Spring is upon as and the days are getting longer. There are still dark beers for the dark nights, but when the sun starts shining, there’s definitely a need for something pale and hoppy. Let’s get stuck in, there are four in the session category (most welcome) and two bigger beasts.

Abbeydale – Heathen – 4.1%

Formerly called Mosaic. Wonderfully refreshing pale session beer showcasing the marvellous Mosaic hops from America. Bursting with tropical fruit flavours and a pleasant citrus bitterness. Just in case there wasn’t enough in the initial brew, Abbeydale have dry hopped with even more Mosaic for good measure. A lovely session pale ale that I’ve had a few of.

Magic Rock x Cloudwater – Big Dipper – 8.3%

A revisit of the collaborative Double IPA brew with their friends from over t’hills Cloudwater Brew Co. Golden Promise, Wheat, Oat and Crystal Malt were used for a smooth, golden, malty body. A combination of Citra, Simcoe, Eureka and Mosaic T90 hops were used in the whirlpool and dry hopping, with additional Citra & Mosaic LupulN2 Pellets added in the dry hop. Fermented with London Fog yeast, the result is a fruit-filled DIPA with loads of mango and peach aroma and flavour, a little residual sweetness and a gravity-defying drinkability. Strap in for a ride on the Big Dipper…

Northern Monk x Deya – Patrons Project 9.06 – Skelatory DDH IPA – 6.8%

This IPA utilises a blend of New Zealand, Australian and American hop varieties, with NZ Motueka taking the lead with its distinctive upfront lime character, Vic Secret and Mosaic contributing hints of passion fruit, dark berries, and grapefruit. Continuing a bit of a theme in projects with DEYA, Northern Monk put together a multi grain grist, with the earth and spice flavours of malted rye prominent once again, this time backed up with malted oats and flaked barley for a robust, complex backbone. And a little bit of politics thrown in.

Northern Monk – Striding Edge – 2.8%

A former Patrons Project beer which is now a core beer for Northern Monk. Patrons Projects beers usually explored working outside of the classic four brewing ingredients, introducing different coffee, fruits, and other additions more common to the culinary world, and most of them have also been very much towards the higher end of the ABV scale.

Striding Edge had no fruit additions, and was without the firm canvas that higher ABV gives, so the team set about creating a low ABV session beer with a flavour, intensity and mouthfeel of a drink of much higher strength. Starting with the base, they made sure the water was super soft and well balanced. Enough sulphates to lift the hops, enough chloride to smooth out the mouthfeel. For the malt they trialled a new super pale variety, making this by far the palest beer they have ever brewed, and made up a quarter of the grist with oats for their creamy mouthfeel.

Ensuring the mash temperature was as high as possible whilst ensuring some enzyme activity, they filled the wort with complex sugars to ensure a higher finishing gravity and consequently a chunkier body. Then add as much hop flavour across 3 dry-hop additions, going with west coast favourites Simcoe, Amarillo and Mosaic for an intense pine, grass and citrus character, backed up with hints of orange and mango from a bonus Citra addition.

It’s one of the best sub 3% beers around, big flavour in small ABV.

North Riding x Needle & Pin – Cryo for Help – 4.3%

A limited edition pale ale brewed with The Needle & Pin to commemorate their 999th different cask ale since opening in late 2015. Brewed back in September 2018, with customers Alex, Matt, Nick and Scott, this is a very powerful Mosaic hopped beer with a strong bitter finish.

Wild Beer – Bibble – 4.2%

Another familiar one that I first had back in summer 2015, a fruity pale ale that goes down nicely. Brewed with Vienna malt and oats, for an unusual mouth filling malt base. Hopped with Mosaic hops, renowned for their tropical fruit beauty. It is unfined, and so naturally hazy. A moreish bitterness is complimented by tropical fruit tastiness. The name ‘Bibble’ in Somerset dialect means to drink loudly, often and well.

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Tiny Rebel 7th Birthday box

Tiny Rebel appeared on my radar back in 2014 when I came across “Dirty Stop Out” which was smoky, malty, oaty and with a hint of hoppiness. I also came across Urban IPA that year, and Cwtch the following year. It wasn’t hard to see why Cwtch was voted Champion Beer of Britain. More great beers came my way in the years that followed, like the wonderfully named Clwb Tropicana and Frambuzi.

I was very much looking forward to getting my hands on their 7th birthday collaboration beer box. It contains:-

– 1 x Limited Edition Birthday Glass (a thing of beauty)
– 1 x 440ml Tiny Rebel x Deya 6.8% NEIPA
– 1 x 440ml Tiny Rebel x Fourpure 5% DDH Pilsner
– 1 x 440ml Tiny Rebel x Neon Raptor 4.8% Tropical Sorbet IPA
– 1 x 440ml Tiny Rebel x Magic Rock 4% Citra Session IPA
– 1 x 440ml Tiny Rebel x Siren 11% Dark Cherry & Chocolate Barley Wine
– 1 x 440ml Tiny Rebel x Yeastie Boys 8% Pomegranate Molasses Belgian Strong
– 1 x 440ml Tiny Rebel x Big Drop 0.5% Imperial Mocha Vanilla Shot Stout
– a packet of balloons (can’t have a birthday party without balloons)
– a packet of colouring pencils (to colour in the box)

That last line might appear confusing. See below:-

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Let’s have a look at each of the beers. If you’re lucky, I will update this post with brief reviews, but I’ve said that before, so don’t keep checking every day, because I’ve got about 90 posts still to catch up with…

Tiny Rebel x Deya 6.8% NEIPA

A meeting of two breweries who are very comfortable with putting lots of hops in their beers, I’m looking forward to this one.

Tiny Rebel x Fourpure 5% DDH Pilsner

A collaboration with London-based Fourpure who make some very tasty and accessible beers. Some of which you can get in Tesco. This was always going to be one of the first to get opened, and it was a lovely flavourful lager, some biscuit malt hints and a nice floral hoppiness. I like a hoppy pils.

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Tiny Rebel x Neon Raptor 4.8% Tropical Sorbet IPA

Neon Raptor come from just up the road from me. They produce consistently good beers and are also no stranger to the hop. The Tropical Sorbet IPA was also likely to be one of the early ones to be opened, and it did not disappoint. Sherbert lemon sorbet with lots of citric fizziness.

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Tiny Rebel x Magic Rock 4% Citra Session IPA

Magic Rock are another of my favourite breweries, and yet another who are not a stranger to the hop. No surprise to see them collaborate on a Citra session IPA, and no surprise that this was the first one that I opened. Lots of lovely citrus hoppiness that we’ve all come to know and love from Citra.

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Tiny Rebel x Siren 11% Dark Cherry & Chocolate Barley Wine

This one is going away for a while. Siren know a thing or two about making big beasts, and a 440ml can of 11% barley wine is ideally one for sharing. I think this one will be in storage until camping season at least when we can look forward to creamy chocolate and cherry goodness.

Tiny Rebel x Yeastie Boys 8% Pomegranate Molasses Belgian Strong

Another on the “beast” side, it’s not every day that you come across a pomegranate molasses Belgian ale. I’m hoping that the pomegranate is dominant here, maybe a hint of sweet and sour, maybe some wine-like properties.

Tiny Rebel x Big Drop 0.5% Imperial Mocha Vanilla Shot Stout

Yes, you read that right. One of the birthday beers is a 0.5% imperial stout. Big Drop specialise in making beers of 0.5% and below. I wasn’t impressed by their lager, but the stout is genuinely impressive for 0.5% and is probably the best “no/low” alcohol beer I’ve had so far (I have a few new ones in the fridge to try). I’m going to save this one too, and will take it somewhere where I’ll be driving.

Looking forward to celebrating the Tiny Rebel 7th birthday for a while yet!

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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 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 🙂

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #15 – December 2018

The final selection for 2018, and the 33rd box overall. Three session pales and a few stronger ones to see you through the Xmas period. Probably too late for any of them to get in to my selection for #12beersofxmas but perhaps a late substitution could occur. Let’s get on with it.

Almasty – IPA – 6%

A beer with few words to describe it, so a calculated gamble from the N&P, because they’ve never had a bad beer from Almasty. Neither have I, a lovely coffee stout, Passion Fruit pale and Camillo (a tribute to Negroni) being my favourites so far.

Gipsy Hill – Galaxy – 4.3%

Galaxy is a part of a single hop series. Built around the hops, the grist is simple, designed to pull out the nuanced flavours of Galaxy.

Siren – Vu Du Yu Lu – 7.3%

Siren have always celebrated brewing milestones with amped-up versions of their favourite flagship beers. This time Yu Lu gets the treatment, turning a delicate loose leaf pale ale into a fully fledged IPA. Big hitting citrus and fruity hops lead the charge, followed up with Earl Grey tea and bergamot notes echoing the quintessential Yu Lu flavours. The original Yu Lu was very light with hints of citrus, also well carbonated and refreshing.

Summer Wine – Pacer – 4.1%

Rides a relatively modest ABV yet still has a basket brimming full of aromatic American hops. I had a tasty pint of this on cask in September.

Verdant – Neal Gets Things Done – 6.5%

With lashings of Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops, Neal Gets Things Done is the latest juicy banger from juicy banger specialists Verdant. Everyone that I know who has had this tells me it’s an absolute classic.

Wilde Child – Beyond Redemption – 4.0%

A Pineapple Milkshake IPA. Yes, that is a thing nowadays. Big American hops are at the fore with a massive dose of lactose for that creamy mouthfeel. And so much concentrated Pineapple Juice that you will think you are sat on a Caribbean beach.

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