Fuller’s and Friends 2019 “box set”

The 2017 Fuller’s and Friends box set was a set of collaboration brews that had piqued quite a lot of peoples’ interest. Some of the biggest UK brewery names in the form of Cloudwater Brew Company, Fourpure Brewing Company, Hardknott Brewery (sadly now defunct), Marble Beers Limited, Moor Beer Company and Thornbridge Brewery were all invited to brew a beer with Fuller’s. I think Galleon was probably my favourite.

Everyone was looking forward to the next set of collaborations, whenever they may come. Then in January 2019, Fuller’s sold their entire drinks business to Asahi for £250,000,000 in order to concentrate on running its chain of pubs and hotels. So there was a bit of a backlash, as there has been every time a brewery has been bought by another one over the last couple of years.

The dust has settled, so let’s have a look at the new set, available in your local Waitrose. This year, it is actually available, rather than the myth that the first box set became (it took quite a while to acutally get out into the wild). This year the beers are also available in Fuller’s pubs on cask and keg (I’ve already had one in Greenwich).

Let’s have a look inside…

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Misprized – Magic Rock

Mild – an undervalued beer style? Not anymore. A celebration of this classic English style, with some tweaks on a traditional recipe from 1920 by adding rum barrel oak chips to give a sweet, nutty depth of flavour. This is the one that I had in The Pilot in Greenwich and I don’t think they had kept it well as it was rather meh.

Respect your Elders – Tiny Rebel

Old brewery meets new brewery and bonds over their mutual appreciation of ESB – that’s the story behind this beer, which gives the classic style a contemporary tropical twist. With a trio of new world hops, this malty, marmaladey beer beautifully bridges the generation gap.

Kroke – Mack

Named after the Norse word for ‘Crowberries’, the sloes come fresh from the Arctic Circle and give this lager a slight tartness to offset its sweet, honeyed notes. Learning from Viking tradition, dried meadowsweet is used to add a slight bitterness to this crisp, pale gold lager.

Love on the Run – Woodstock

This hop-forward IPA is the perfect marriage of London town and Cape Town. The African Queen hop and native African cereal Sorgham are combined with British Olicana and Bramling Cross hops. Fresh blackcurrant and lemongrass aromas offset a dry, earthy malt base in what is a very sessionable IPA.

Way Down Ale – Stone and Wood

A trio of Tasmanian hops – including an unnamed experimental hop – combine to create a beautifully balanced beer, full of tropical fruit flavours. A fitting homage to Tasmania’s hop growers.

Huvvy Dug – Pilot

A Caledonian classic, this Wee Heavy is made using six malts – with not a new world hop in sight. Smooth caramel and biscuit notes come to the fore in this rich, full-bodied ale. Huvvy Dug? Well because it’s ‘huvvy like a huvvy dug’ of course.

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Brewdog fanzine issue 25

Remember these round ups? There hasn’t been one since October, when BD stopped updating their web site with details of what was being sent out. It obviously existed electronically because they still had a print out in the box. However, they were not interested in sending this out to subscribers. During this time, they’ve also stripped it back to a monthly box, but at least they’ve kept the price the same so far.

I think that Transatlantic Telegram and Old World Russian Stout (which featured in that October box) have been my favourites in the last six months or so. Here’s what’s in the July box…

Humulus Helmsman (5.6%) – West Coast IPA

Setting a course for the West Coast with some true American muscle. Seven different US hops have been deployed to proudly fly the flag for America’s favourite craft beer style in Humulus Helmsman – Simcoe, Cascade, Citra, Centennial, Ahtanum, Mosaic and Chinook. A who’s who of IPA, all involved in this tropical, citrus and pine-led new world hero. I have very high hopes for this one, so let’s hope it’s as good as the description might lead us to believe.

Coffee Caramel Curfew (5.0%) – Caramel Macchiato Coffee Porter

Get off the streets and take refuge with this night-black porter, brewed with five different malts and five different additions. You’ll find milk sugars, honey, Demerara sugar, vanilla and coffee pairing with crystal and dark malts to create a smooth, roasty coffee and chocolate porter with notes of mellow Macchiato and a sweet nuttiness. Another one that sounds very good, and nice to see they’ve included two below 6% for once.

Pulp Patriot V4 (9.5%) – Single Hop Double IPA

I really hope this is better than the first two that I had. V1 and V2 didn’t have much more than strength going for them. It’s about time that I had V3, because then I can have this one which is a tribute to Mosaic, introduced into the whirlpool and at the dry-hop stage. This single-hopped superpower is a classic Mosaicathon – tropical fruit, mango, stone fruit and citrus. Resinous pine also gets a look in but the wheat and flaked oats balance the body and lift the mouthfeel as the near-10% ABV brings the flavour home, and then some.

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Joiners Arms, Bakewell, July 2019

Bakewell has been crying out for a decent pub for a long while. For somewhere that’s the home of the Thornbridge brewery, you’d expect something a little better than some Greene King and Marston’s houses, but that’s what you’ve had to put up with.

Until May 2019, when the Joiners Arms opened its doors for the first time, serving 6 cask lines of local and further afield beer, alongside 6 keg lines which included on opening night (and still do today) Pravha, Staropramen and Aspall’s cider. We’ll come back to them later.

The Joiners Arms is cast in the classic micropub mould, a nice minimalist design based around joinery (I love the planes inset into the bar). It’s all about the beer, which is kept in excellent condition. Food wise, there are some crisps, nuts and other small snacks around, and they have a selection of wines and smaller batch gins as well as soft drinks for those not wanting a beer. They are dog friendly too, with free snacks for your canine companions, and a water bowl for them as well.

I spent a few hours here (with a break for fish’n’chips down by the river) with regular MOFAD drinking companion Steve, and much less regular drinking companion (and friend to badgers everywhere) Andy. Our fourth member was unwell so had stayed back at base.

In different orders, we worked our way across all of the cask ales. The keg lines were ignored, as two of them were empty, one had Thornbridge Satzuma (a permanent fixture, which some of us had yesterday), and the other three contained the offerings mentioned above. On a weekend, you’d expect all of the keg lines to be in action, so it was a shame to miss out on some potential bangers. The cask line up was pretty decent though, so let’s explore what we sampled.

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I started out with West of the Sun from nearby Torrside Brewing, a lovely NZ hop profile coming through. Fruity hoppiness continued with Downdays from Rivington Brewing Co which was mellow and superbly sessionable. A more familiar name came next, Deception from the just over the border Abbeydale Brewery. A classic showcase of another New Zealand hop, Nelson Sauvin.

After our lunch break, the final three beers, all of which were familiar to me. My third encounter with Hawkshead Red, sweet maltiness and much better on cask than the bottled versions that I’d had a few years ago.

I passed on the Jaipur as I’ve had it (and variants like Jaipur X and Dry Hopped Jaipur) many times. That left one more beer, Lucaria from Thornbridge, which I had twice. I first had it back in December 2016, and remember it fondly as chocolate ice cream in a glass, a smooth, milky vanilla porter. There are now four other variants (strawberry, salted caramel, rocky road and mint choc chip, which sounds like old Thornbridge favourite Baize).

It was a nice way to round off our afternoon in the Joiners Arms, which is a pleasant micropub in the centre of Bakewell. You can’t miss it, it’s on the big roundabout on the A6, and passengers in cars can spot you as they pass.

I think the lady behind the bar was having a bit of an off day today, since she got very confused when being offered £11 to pay for £6 worth of drinks.

If I still had time to do my pub of the month round ups, this would definitely be in contention for July 2019. Given that I’m 18 months behind with that, I can’t see them coming back any time soon I’m afraid!

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #19 – July 2019

It’s box number 41, and what could be better for summer evenings than some crisp and refreshing session pales? In fact, there are only two that are session in here, with the rest weighing in at 5, 6 and 7 or more percent.

Amundsen – Pillars of Light – Lemon – 7.5%

Milkshake IPA with Amarillo, Citra, Lemondrop, Mosaic, Lactose, Lemon and Vanilla. Pillars of Light is a small series being produced throughout 2019, mixing up fruit and flavour to create a new milkshake experience every few months. This one is all about lemon.

Arbor – Zero Zero – 4.3%

A session strength New England IPA brewed with lots of Citra and Mosaic hops. Should be murky and juicy without being a 9% beast.

Framework – Jackpin – 3.9%

Your friends and mine, with a new design. Had this one 18 months ago, a delightful bitter ale that has flavour way beyond its session strength. This is their first ever canned beer.

Howling Hops – Pinball – 6.7%

A NEIPA brewed in collaboration with Track Brewing Co and heavily hopped with Galaxy, cryo Citra and cryo Amarillo. A light hazy yellow appearance and a pillowy white head mixes with aromas of citrus and peach. A beautiful soft and delicate mouthfeel with a bit of hop bite at the end. Stone fruits dominate the juicy flavour with a slight late bitterness. The real life equivalent of an added time multi-ball bonus!

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Polly’s Brew Co – Ekuanot Mosaic – 5.1%

The artists formerly known as Loka Polly present two great hops combined into a hazy golden beer. The aroma has notes of citrus fruits, hops, and malt. The flavour is sweet with notes of hops, citrus fruits, and malt, leading to a bitter finish.

Ridgeside x Black Iris – What we Brew in the Shadows – 6.0%

New Zealand IPA collaboration with Black Iris. They’ve gone all Kiwi with the hop bill: Motueka, Nelson Sauvin & Waimea dry hop, alongside a pale barley, wheat and oat grist for a soft, pillowy mouthfeel.

No #fomo – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 2019

No #fomo for me as I have acquired one of this year’s beery box sets.  The rainbow collaboration sets have been the headliners over the last few years and now new sets of collaborative brews have been appearing.

Last year saw North Sea Bridges which saw Scotland’s Black Isle, Fallen, Fierce Beer, Fyne, Pilot and Six Degrees North pair up with Amundsen, Beerbliotek, Dry & Bitter, Dugges, Rocket & To Øl.

Northern Powerhouse was originally set up by Newcastle-based Wylam Brewery in 2018, and sees independent craft breweries from across the North of England coming together for collaboration brews.

The first series of beers was brewed in 2018, to coincide with the launch of the Great Exhibition of the North. The project was so successful that Wylam decided that it should be an annual event and given to a different brewery to host each year.

This year’s Northern Powerhouse series was brewed entirely at Northern Monk’s Leeds brewery and comprises collaborations with Wylam, Track, North Brew Co, Donzoko, Buxton, Cloudwater, and By the River.

Let’s see what this year’s box of goodies holds…

Northern Monk x Track – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 001 – Small IPA

Track, who have a track record for session beers, have put together the lightest of the Powerhouse beers. This small IPA is loaded with Citra, Ahtanum and Blanc hops for resinous tropical and stone fruit notes backed up by a floral, gooseberry finish over a robust malt bill designed to boost the beer beyond its restrained ABV.

Northern Monk x North Brewing Co – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 002 – Triple Fruited Gose

North Brew Co are neighbours of Northern Monk in Leeds, and they put together a fruit sour. Showcasing the fleshy cactus fruit prickly pear, we then backed it up with the zingy tropical notes of guava, a touch of tangy raspberry and rounded everything out with milk sugar and salt.

Northern Monk x Donzoko – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 003 – Bavarian Pilsner

A crisp, modern take on the Bavarian Pilsner with one of the up-and-coming brewers of the UK, Donzoko. A simple grist of German pilsner and vienna malt is supported by the floral, citrus notes of American Loral hops and stone fruit undertones from Hallertau Blanc.

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Northern Monk x Wylam – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 004 – Tropical Sour IPA

Northern Monk joined series originators Wylam for this tropical sour IPA. Kettle-soured overnight and whirlpooled with Mosaic, 200g/l of pureed tropical fruits were then added and it was dry hopped with El Dorado and Citra.

Northern Monk x Buxton – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 005 – IPA

It’s not secret that Buxton quietly continue to make some of the best IPAs in the UK so it was an obvious choice to team up with them to revisit the west coast IPA. Packed with classic US hops, this beer is resinous, piney and packs a long citrus finish over a sticky malt back bone.

Northern Monk x Cloudwater – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 006 – Double IPA

For the double IPA in this series, Cloudwater came in to help brew this Nelson Sauvin-led offering. Backed up with the classic tropical notes of Citra, NZ Nelson brings tons of gooseberry and sauvignon grape character to this smooth, oat-rounded beer.

Northern Monk x By The River – Northern Powerhouse Brew Series 007 – Imperial Maple Brown

Newcastle brewers and brown ales are made for each other. This imperial take on the style features heritage malts, a range of crystals and of course, brown roast malt. We then loaded the FV with rich maple syrup for a decadent treat.

Looking forward to checking all of these out…

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.

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.