The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #4 – May 2017

This is the fourth selection box from the N&P,  and the seventh overall. I’ve got one left from selection box #3 and one from box #2 that I need to drink up. Let’s dive in…

Abbeydale/Magic Rock/Northern/Monk/Siren – 4 Degrees of Separation – 7%

A collaboration and reunion rolled into one. Three brewers who began their careers at Abbeydale returned for one day only from their current posts at Magic rock, Siren, & Northern Monk to take full advantage of the brewery’s massive hopstore. This beer combines Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade & Galaxy hops to create this big, bold and oh so juicy IPA. I knew I wanted to try this one, so I also bought a can last month whilst shopping in Beer District. Now I have two 🙂

Pig and Porter – Whispering Bob American IPA – 6.5%

A lesser known brewery who featured on #craftbeerhour just last night. This beer is named in honour of the legend that is “Whispering” Bob Harris, still whispering away after 71 years. This American IPA is packed full of Amarillo, Simcoe, EXP431 (catchy name) and Citra hops to give hints of peach, grapefruit and pine, all married with a gentle toffee background from Pig and Porter’s signature Belgian aromatic malt.

Roosters – Baby-Faced Assassin – 6.1%

I had this one a couple of times last year, as these are available in Booths. Brewed with 100% Citra hops that create aromas of mango, apricot, grapefruit & mandarin orange, along with a lasting, juicy, tropical fruit bitterness, the Baby-Faced Assassin is a deceptively quaffable India Pale Ale that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Siren – Ten Dollar Shake – 6.6%

Another one that I had last year, this beer was originally brewed in collaboration with Brewdog Shepherds Bush. Siren and the Brewdog team put their heads together to create a fruit smoothie of a beer, a juice-packed IPA with the most fruit they’ve ever used in a brew (mango, papaya and passion fruit). Add to that a huge hit of lactose for a thick and smooth body and you have something as smooth as silk. A silk woven from hops and a calippo. This is a juice bomb.

Weird Beard – Little Things That Kill – 3.8%

With a low ABV beer it is difficult to smack you over the head with hops, however Weird Beard have thought of a way around this. Little Things that Kill will sneak round behind you, cut your hamstrings, then when you are on the ground, smack you over the head with hops. A session IPA hopped with Citra, Summit and Mosaic? Yes please!

This beer will have the same malt and body each time, but the hops will change depending on the whim of the brewers.

Wild Weather – Great British Opaque Off – 5.2%

With help from their friends at Bad Seed brewery, Wild Weather have tried to create their own juicy murk bomb. They think they’ve done it. I’ll soon find out. On your marks. Get set. Opaque! It will be appearing on cask at the N&P soon, alongside Skadoosh, their new 11% DIPA. I already have a can of that 🙂

The Bulls Head, Castleton, April 2017

Another sunny April day, and a twist on a familiar Peak District walk. We’ve walked from Hope to Castleton and back quite a few times over the years, and via quite a few different routes. Last time we did it, we stopped off at The George in Castleton for lunch.

Today we did the low level bit first, and arrived in Castleton with plenty of time to stroll around the shops (picking up a beer or two at the village shop), as well as buying some gifts elsewhere. As before, you are spoilt for choice in Castleton, as there are so many great pubs. We opted for The Bulls Head, a Robinsons pub that we have passed by so many times.

We sat down, checked out the menu and then popped up to the bar to order. This interesting looking concoction is Lucy Jack (Grapefruit Edition) from Norwegian brewery Lervig, full of juicy grapefruit goodness, although it could have even more hops and grapefruit for me. Very refreshing after a morning of walking.

My lunch was predictable, because pulled pork was on the menu. Pulled pork was ordered, in the form of this sourdough sandwich, served with salad, and we ordered some sweet potato fries on the side.

It was delicious. So often pulled pork can be sickly stuff, but this had the right balance to it, and it was a very tasty lunch. Another great Castleton pub.

We headed off soon afterwards, as we have the high bit of the walk still to come, returning to Hope via the Lose Hill ridge.

The Old Hall Hotel, Hope, April 2017 #3

We keep coming back. Tonight we came back for the pub quiz. You might have already worked out that we love a pub quiz.

First up a Peculier Pale Ale from Theakston, a cold, smooth and inoffensive keg ale from Theakston. Very middle of the road.

Food arrived soon afterwards. Tonight I went for the Derbyshire bacon and cheese steak burger, with red coleslaw and skinny fries.

Just one small problem. The bacon and cheese were missing, much like parts of yesterday’s lunch. And yesterday’s plates have been replaced with boards and a silly basket for the fries. It was a very tasty burger and a nice coleslaw, just a shame that there were bits missing.

It was accompanied by another Theakston brew, the Peculier IPA.

How on earth can you call this an IPA? In the same “class” as Greene King so called IPA. Ou est le hop? A pretty poor excuse for an IPA, just a very dull keg ale, all malt and no hops. If this was your first introduction to IPA, you’d never bother going back and be missing out on some stunning beers. This is not an IPA. Back to school for Theakston.

A nice dinner at The Old Hall, I think they just need to tighten up a bit in the kitchen at the moment as there appears to be a lack of attention to detail on the meals that are going out. It’s still a lovely village pub.

Oh, and the very worst bit? There was no pub quiz. It was cancelled for a private event. So we went back to the cottage instead.

Buxton Brewery Tap, April 2017

We’ve been here before. In May 2015 to be precise. Ever since that visit we’ve been wanting to come back. It took almost 2 years, but we made it 🙂

After a leisurely morning of strolling around Buxton, including a little shopping at Beer District, we were ready for some lunch. There was only ever going to be one place we were going to go. I had been singing the praises of Buxton Brewery Tap for a while, and with MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve as well as Mrs MOFAD, Hazel, Janette and Andy and Kerrie all in tow, I was hoping that there would be something for everyone here.

There was.

My choice was Myrica, a tasty session IPA with oaty smoothness and hazy hoppiness

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Sky Mountain Sour, a collaboration between Buxton and To Øl which has resulted in a nicely balanced sour ale. Mrs MOFAD was a fan of this.

Matt & Steve both had a Rednik Stout which was right up their street. Kerrie tried the Lemon Meringue Pie, which both Mrs MOFAD and I really like. She was not a fan, but surprisingly Hazel (the queen of tea who is not a beer drinker) liked it, and ended up with a bottle to take home.

On to that lunch, I had a buffalo burger with potato wedges, which was very tasty and a perfect portion for lunch. Mrs MOFAD opted for chicken souvlaki, marinated in yoghurt, mustard, lemon & oregano and served with sautéed peppers, tzatziki, sunblush salad & pitta breads. This which was also very nice. My burger came from the specials board, so it might not be available when you visit. Perhaps plates will be though, as this burger appeared on a board.

On then to the shopping. You can’t come here and not take away a bottle or two. Or ten. You’ll spot the “Belgians” on the left, a Bourbon Skyline (barrel aged Berliner weisse), another Sky Mountain Sour and Lemon Meringue Pie for Mrs MOFAD, a Trolltunga (just another gooseberry sour IPA), a Superluminal (sour IPA) and one more.

That last one is Bomba Generation 4, the sequel to Tsar Bomba Generation III which was almost beer of the year for me in 2016. Generation 4 of the Buxton Brett fermented Imperial Stout has been born. The yeast strain from 1978 is alive and well and has chewed relentlessly through the regular Russian Imperial Stout to bring us the Great Grandson of the original batch. This one will go into storage for a while, and come out on a special occasion. If it’s as good as Generation III then it will be rather special.

Matt & Steve also did some shopping, although none of us could convince the nice people behind the bar to thrown in a free glass, despite the amount that we were all spending…

Another great trip to the Buxton Brewery Tap. If you are ever in Buxton, go there. You will find good food and great beer to drink in and take away. End of.

Beer District, Buxton, April 2017

Today we were having a morning out in Buxton with MOFAD companions, Hazel, Matt, Janette, Steve, Kerrie & Andy. Nothing in particular planned, just wandering around the shops. There were a couple of important places that we had lined up. I won’t be reviewing the wool shop (this was Mrs MOFAD’s important destination).

This was the first of my important destinations. Beer District was opened in August 2016 by Matt and Darren, two friends who wanted to bring local beers to Buxton, as well as selling some things from other UK breweries and beers and ciders from further afield.

If it’s local you’re after, you’ll find beers from Thornbridge, Whaley Bridge Brewery and Torrside Brewing, as well as things from across the border (Manchester based breweries such as Cloudwater).

I was in beer heaven perusing the shelves, and did have to limit myself to try and avoid buying everything on display. Fellow beer lovers Matt & Steve were also drooling at the selection of beers on offer, and we all left with bulging sacks full of beer. My selection is below:-

You’ll spot the newly released Mango Halcyon from Thornbridge, two from Whaley Bridge (the first time I’ve seen them in the wild), a Double Heathen from Northern Monk, a couple from Ashover brewery (first time I’ve seen these too), and something from Swedish brewery Dugges.

Looking forward to trying these all over the coming weeks and months. This is the best selection of beers from different craft breweries you’ll find in Buxton. Waitrose have a few good ones but nothing like the variety on offer here. There’s also cider, gin, vodka, whisky and some interesting mixers too.

Get down here for great beer.

All Bar One, York, April 2017

Yes, we are still in York. Another wonderful sunny day today. We checked out of our hotel, left our bags with reception, and then explored the city some more. We wandered around the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, the Minster, the Treasurer’s House, and went off to spot some wildlife along the river.

As it was such a lovely day, we did explore a few riverside pubs for lunch, but they were all absolutely rammed and had waits of nearly an hour for food. As it was already getting into late lunch territory, we wandered away from the river for a short time, and found ourselves at what we hoped would be a reliable chain for some lunch. All Bar One opened its first bar in 1994, and there are now over 50 dotted around the UK. I say “the UK” – there are 4 in Scotland and the rest in England, with half of those being inside the M25.

The first tick goes to the drinks menu. This is the kind of place that you expect endless lines of bland fizzy lagers, and you will find some of those. Thankfully they also have a “world and craft beer” section of the menu, which features a Spanish lager, a German wheat beer and a Belgian blonde ale, alongside some bigger (Adnams, BrewDog) and smaller (Fourpure, Siren) names from the UK beer scene.

Siren Liquid Mistress Red IPA was my choice, and it’s probably the best beer I’ve ever had in a chain pub, hoppy, malty and bitter.

Lots of options when it comes to food, we chose 5 things from the “small plates” menu, which essentially makes it an international tapas menu. Here’s what they looked like:-

And here’s what they were.

Just hiding behind a drink you can spot crushed avocado & tomato bruschetta, topped with kalamata olives. In front of that same drink sit some ginger teriyaki chicken skewers, served with pickled vegetables and sesame seeds. Next to those you might recognise salt & pepper calamari, tossed in a citrus, red pepper and pink peppercorn seasoning with a sweet chilli & lime dip (delicious).  At the bottom left you can see feta & spinach bourek, crisp pastry parcels served with chilli tomato jam. Finally, there are crispy duck dumplings with some deconstructed slaw and more sweet chilli sauce.

This turned out to be the perfect lunch. Light enough not to slow you down for the rest of the day, filling enough to keep you going for the rest of the day. Paired with a lovely beer, this was a surprisingly good lunch venue. There are plenty of great independent places (I’ve already showcased some of them), but sometimes the chains can do a good job too.

House of the Trembling Madness, April 2017

After a lovely dinner at the Lamb & Lion, we took a short stroll to the House of the Trembling Madness. We’ve been here once before, back in 2012, when we visited the bottle shop on the ground floor, bewildered by the array of beers and ciders on offer.

This time round we were less bewildered (we’ve seen a few lovely beer shops like this now), and so we made our way upstairs to the bar. By some happy coincidence (or perhaps I’d been keeping an eye on these things on Twitter), the first kegs of Beavertown Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA were released today, and THOTTM were one of the places to have a keg on.

The beer menu is impressive, basically anything that’s in the shop can be drunk, and they also have a number of beers on keg and cask, as well as bottles in the fridges along with hot drinks and some food.

Mrs MOFAD opted for something all the way from San Diego, Passion Fruit Kicker from Green Flash Brewing, a wheat beer with subtle passion fruit flavours, very gentle and tasty.

There was no choice for me, it had to be the Bloody ‘Ell, a super tasty mish mash of hops and blood orange. It’s a really good modern beer.

To contrast with that, I went for The Devil Made Me Brew It from Bristol’s Arbor Ales. It wasn’t quite as contrasting as I was expecting, an oaty stout with hoppiness and massive burnt flavours. I really enjoyed this one too, and a dinky half pint dimple pot was also pleasing.

We’ve had plenty of great beers today so curtailed our drinking activities. However, you can’t leave without passing through the shop, so we had to look around. As we were travelling by train, we had to be strict and limit ourselves to just one thing each. Otherwise I could happily have had one of everything. You might spot beers from Thornbridge, Siren, Wild Beer, Vocation, Chorlton and Beavertown (to name but a few) in this slightly blurry photo.

The one thing I didn’t get chance to capture was the total and utter quirkiness of the decor upstairs. A medieval style drinking hall could be expected to have lots of mounted animal heads on the wall, and it does.

A fantastic pub and beer shop all in one. No trip to York would be complete without a trip to the House of the Trembling Madness. Just take it easy so you don’t get the DTs 🙂