The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – sour selection box #5 – November 2018

The nights may be drawing in fast but there’s still a place in my beer store for some super zingy funky sours. Let’s see what’s in this sour box of delights this month, celebrating the first anniversary of sour smackers.

Brekeriet Beer AB – Uncle Brett IPA – 6.5%

A crisp and fruity Brettanomyces IPA with Citra, Centennial, Columbus, Mandarina Bavaria and Eldorado hops. The fermentation with different yeast strains adds a great complexity. Complexity for days. So much going on from the brett, even some vanilla. Hops are lurking somewhere. Clean and sour and dryer than a desert.

Brasserie de Blaugies – La Vermontoise – 6%

Collaboration with Hill Farmstead. A spelt saison (Saison d’Epeautre) with American hops (Amarillo). Looking forward to this lively little number.

Moor Beer Company, Left Handed Giant Brewing, Lost And Grounded Brewers – Berry Lush – 4%

An ode to Bristol as the original home of Ribena. Berry Lush is a tart and refreshing Blackcurrant Witbier. Pils malt, wheat malt, flaked wheat & oats have been combined with 300kg of blackcurrant puree to produce a beer that is slightly tart and refreshing with a magnificent red colour and pink foam.

Gipsy Hill – Moxie – Fruit Salad Sour – 4.5%

For this version of Moxie, Gipsy Hill added 200kg of raspberry and 200kg of pineapple to fermentation and cold side. A nod to an old, fruit salad, classic, gently tart, refreshing sour. Goes well with courage and spirit apparently.

Gipsy Hill – Dodger – Lemon Sherbert Sour – 5%

Dodger is a Lemon Sherbert Sour. A traditional kettle sour, with late citra hops in the boil and dry-hopped with lemongrass. Aroma hops are Citra, bittering hops are magnum, with lemongrass and lactose in the mix. Goes well with treats and sweets.

Union Craft Brewing, Stillwater Artisanal – Dust Rings – DDH Sour

On September 15th 2017 at 7:55:46 a.m. EDT NASA lost contact with the Cassini space probe as it made its final approach to Saturn. Approximately 420 minutes later, NASA received a strange message from the probe: “Yo! This is Strumke. Tell UNION I’ve got the dust for our collab.” Dust Rings was born, a very special Stillwater x UNION sour ale, dry-hopped with Lupulin space dust to commemorate the 9th Annual Baltimore Beer Week.

A nice sour with a citrus undertone, but NMHP. That’s “needs more hop powder”, a new variant on NMH (needs more hops).

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The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #14 – November 2018

The 30th box of beery delights to cross my threshold. Two familiar brews in here and four new ones, a couple of session beers, a few mid strengths, and a big DIPA beast.

Black Iris – East Midlands Pale – 6.0%

One that I had last month, a lovely clean hop bitterness to this one.

Cloudwater – DDH Pale Citra Ekuanot Mosaic – 5.5%

This 16 g/L double dry hopped pale features Citra BBC backed up by Ekuanot BBC and Mosaic BBC, whilst the malt base includes dextrin malt, flaked oats and wheat malt for body and texture. A classic Cloudwater hop profile and very easy drinking.

Cloudwater – System Failure – 9.0%

Here comes the big beast.

Brewed with Bagby Beer Co. in San Diego, this Imperial IPA is fully West Coast, using a staggered blend of classic US hops in the kettle for a complex flavour and bitterness, and a neutral West Coast ale yeast for a bright finish to let the hops shine. I’m looking forward to this one.

Magic Rock – Saucery – 3.9%

A supernatural session IPA made for drinking all day long. Lightly sweet and malty Golden Promise malt, a balanced bitterness and layers of tropical fruit filled Citra and Ekuanot hops in whirlpool and dry hop. Fermented with London Ale II yeast to add more fruity body, and enhance malt and hop profile…. Same again? Yes please! Lovely session bitterness and hoppiness.

North Brewing – Sputnik – 5.0%

Or “SPTK” if you just read the can through a fridge door with no access to further information. A gently hoppy pale ale that I first found in the Hawkshead beer hall, and you can also find it in Booths.

Tiny Rebel – Mosaic Milkshake – 4.2%

The second instalment of the Milkshake series, where the tropical and herbaceous notes of Mosaic are smoothed out by the creaminess of loads and loads and loads of lactose. Creamy, tropical, bitter, sweet. This milkshake brings all the hops to the yard.

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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.

Crooked Stave Taproom, Source Market Hall, Denver, October 2018

A beautiful sunny Sunday in downtown Denver. I spent the morning exporing the Civic Centre Park, the State Capitol area and the area around Union station. After grabbing a sandwich at the station, I decided to walk up to the “RiNo” district (short for River North) to visit a brewery or two (or three).

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As soon as I knew I was coming to Denver, there was one place that was on the top of my list. Crooked Stave. They appeared on my radar in 2015, as part of the 2015 Rainbow Project. Together with Hawkshead Brewery, they produced Key Lime Tau (2π), a mixed culture fermentation ale aged in oak with lactose, fresh lime peel and fresh lemongrass. It was gorgeous. On a trip to the Hawkshead Beer Hall in 2016, I picked up some more of their beers…

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You can spy a 2015 Progenitor (funky apricot, amazing nose, lots of tart fruit and fizz, with a few hops floating in there somewhere), a 2015 Surette Provision Saison (interesting fizz and funk, lots of barrel aged character), an Origins Burgundy Sour (fruity, acidic sourness) and that wonderful lime bomb that is Key Lime Tau.

Some of those descriptions will give you a bit of an idea as to what’s coming next, although I did choose a few items that you might not expect to find at Crooked Stave, known for their wild, sour and barrel-aged beers.

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So we start with Von Pilsner, an unfiltered Keller Pilsner, which was lovely, super fresh tasting. I didn’t know that they did a lager, and I’m so glad that I chose it.

Next is the imaginitively titled IPA, a lovely hoppy nose with well rounded bitterness. Really good stuff. There was only one way to go after that.

That was Trellis Buster DIPA (Double India Pale Ale). Double dry-hopped with Azacca, Citra, Motueka, and Simcoe to give delightfully rounded pine notes, and it was scarily easy to drink for 8%. A really great DIPA.

You can’t come here without trying some sours, so Vieille Artisanal Saison was next up. Lovely tartness and subtle oaky tones. Super sourness from this rustic ale aged in oak barrels.

To finish (because there are more places to visit this afternoon) a Sour Rosé, a wild ale fermented in oak with Washington raspberries and blueberries. A really beautiful raspberry tartness with pleasant blueberry hints. Absolutely lovely.

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What a lovely place, really nice people and a super chilled vibe on this lovely Sunday afternoon. I left with a few goodies to take home. If you find yourself in Denver, find your way here. If you prefer not to walk, the train from Union Station to 38th and Blake gets you pretty close.

MOFAD approved, of course!

Brewdog fanzine issue 13 – October 2018

Still hanging on by the skin of its teeth, another fanzine has popped itself into my hands. At least this time there are some new brews, and not just rehashed NEIPAs.

Old World Russian – Stout – 9.5%

All full bodied taste, this opulent whirl of hops and malts even rivals the most colourful of imperial Faberge eggs.

Originally created to celebrate the Russian Royal Family. This beer is a fitting tribute with which to toast your own empire.

Brutalist – Brut IPA – 6%

Pop the cork on this Brut IPA. German and American hops unite to give a subtle sauvignon blanc and fruity flavour profile. Stone fruits duke it out with apricot and peach winning the day, followed by a deft touch of grass and gooseberry to finish. A delicate effervescence and white wine character deliver this brutalist into polite society.

Nope. Don’t get it. Posh lager? Perhaps better on keg…

Flux Factory – West Coast IPA – 6%

Yuzu and bergamot flow into pine and grapefruit peel in this ever-changing West Coast IPA. This experimental pale utilises late hopping; delicate hop oils bring mango and lychee, running alongside toasty Crystal malt, with an underlying resinous bitterness bringing order to chaos.

Once again it appears that the canned version is meh and the kegs are better.

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North Sea Bridges project 2018

The beer world is an exciting place to be. More breweries, more styles and more choice than ever before. The global explosion of beer festivals has helped forge brewing links around the world, and as friendships grow opportunities arise. There are many reasons to collaborate with other brewers: marketing in new areas, learning new brewing techniques or even just as an excuse to hang out with pals and visit new places. New ideas can be taken home to be twisted, contorted and reframed.

The Rainbow Project is probably the most well known example of this, a long running collab-fest that has brought us some great beers. 2018 was supposed to be the end of it, but the buck has passed from Siren on to new breweries. North Sea Bridges is the “Rainbow of the north”, an annual collaboration project building on the ancient trading links between Scotland and Scandinavia. Six of Scotland’s finest brewers (Black Isle, Fallen, Fierce, Fyne, Pilot & Six Degrees North) paired with six of Scandinavia’s best (Amundsen, Beerbliotek, Dry & Bitter, Dugges, Rocket & To Øl).

No plans, no gimmicks, no hooks, just six great beers brewed every year, this year in Scotland, next year in Scandinavia. North Sea Bridges will showcase Scottish brewers in Scandinavia, England & Wales and hopefully further enhance the reputations of our Scandinavian friends in the UK.

The 2018 North Sea Bridges beers were brewed across Scotland over the summer and are now out in the wild.

The beers and collaborating brewers are:-

– Fyne / Rocket – Cowberry Heart (5.3%) – Lingonberry Rye IPA.
– Fierce / TO OL – Blood of Nidhoggr (7.0%) – Black Sour
– Six Degrees North / Amundsen – Amundsix (6.7%) – Dry-hopped Sour
– Black Isle / Dry & Bitter – Flame Out (8.0%) – DIPA
– Pilot / Dugges – Tropisk (7.4%) – DryPA
– Fallen / Beerbliotek – Tap Saff (8.5%) – Saffron & Spruce DIPA

Extra bonus point for the “tap saff” joke. Looking forward to trying these interesting collaborations.

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Brewdog fanzine issue 12, September 2018

As I mentioned last time, my subscription is hanging in the balance. After essentially 3 rebrews, this one could have been my last. Maybe the tone deaf Brewdog do occasionally listen to what people say, because there are new brews here, although the east and west styles aren’t the most innovative.

Opaque Jake – NEIPA – 7.2%

Take the coastal road out East with this classic unfiltered IPA. Dry-hopped with Mosaic and Citra, it delivers juicy tropical and citrus fruit character. Zesty lime sits alongside pithy orange, while pungent myrcene is balanced with ripe blackcurrant. Oats and wheat lay down a velvet texture beneath the juicy sweetness and subtle bitterness.

Scarlet Fever – Red Rye Saison – 5.4%

Citrus melds to the light noble hop aromas, with orange peel adding a twist of zest to the nose. Layers of dry spicy rye fuse with toasty caramel malt notes, giving subtle and complex grain flavours to this Red Rye Saison. Spice builds with the Saison yeast, a peppery undercurrent lies alongside clove, with hints of nutmeg and thyme.

Having tried this one, there’s a tiny slice of rye spiciness, but at least it’s far better than endless rebrews of NEIPAs…

Mind Game – West Coast IPA – 6.9%

An all-American line-up for this West Coast IPA – classic floral, citrus and resinous C-hop aromas bring mango, blood orange, pine dust, lemongrass, bergamot, and lemon oil in numbers. All sitting on a resinous, bold and bitter baseline with hints of toast and cinder toffee sneaking through the perimeter.

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Edit : once again BD find themselves making headlines with PR that didn’t go to plan. A tie up with controversial US brewer Scofflaw somehow went sour over a “free beer for Trump supporters” promotion that appeared seemingly out of the blue. Who knows how much is truth and how much is fake news?