Beer Ambleside – #Tryanuary 2020

Shortly after our last “proper” visit to Ambleside, the nice people at Tarn Hows brewery opened up a shop and tasting room called Beer Ambleside. It’s taken me until now to visit as we’ve not been to Ambleside “properly” for quite a while.

I say “proper” and “properly” because we were in Ambleside in August 2017, but we’d walked over from Brothers Water via Middle Dodd and Red Screes and only had time for dinner and a taxi back.

After a few winters in Keswick and summers elsewhere in Cumbria, we are back in Ambleside, with a few more Wainwrights ticked off (144 down, 70 to go). Today’s weather was awful, low cloud mixing with rain, and then more rain. Rather than ticking off another Wainwright in the rain (that was October’s quest), we decided to nip over to Grasmere for a wander round the shops, then back to Ambleside for more shopping.

As well as picking up a few other bits (including a very nice new down jacket) there was time for some beer shopping. When this is just some of the selection you have to choose from (multiple fridges not pictured):-

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you know that you’ve got your work cut out for a little while, picking out a selection to have with dinner for the next few nights, and some to take home for the rest of the month of #Tryanuary.

After a long peruse, I managed to come away with a little selection from some of my favourite breweries (including one that I crowd-funded). You’ll spot lagers, pales, sours and similar styles, and just one stout from Tarn Hows brewery. This is because I’ve got shed loads of massive stouts still to get through so I don’t need to stock up on those. Session ales, table beers and lagers are what I need right now!

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There’s so much to choose from, and plenty of help available if you need it, with ciders, natural wines and gins also available alongside some merchandise and glassware (something else I definitely don’t need any more of).

Ambleside has been crying out for something like this for a good few years, so come here and buy beer, and don’t go to Tesco! You can also get growler fills of the beers that they currently have on (not available today as they are on holiday for a couple of weeks from this weekend).

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – selection box #21 – December 2019

It’s box number 47 overall, and not a moment too soon, as I’m all out of sessionable beers again. Oh, hang on, this box doesn’t have anything in the session category, but at least there are a few five percenters, and nothing over 6.5%. They probably won’t make it past Christmas because I need some easier drinking pales and lagers to offset those big imperial stouts that are calling my name.

Black Lodge – $100 Volvo – 5%

A lovely easy drinking Ekuanot Pale Ale. Hazy, fruity, lovely! Despite the name, it’s from Liverpool.

Cloudwater – The World, Just As It Is – 5%

Vienna lager is a style with a long history, pre-dating all other pale lager beers, but one that very nearly died out. Cloudwater are glad it didn’t, as the rich, elegant malt profile, and the balance between subtle sweetness and crisp bitterness create a lager that’s complex yet easy-drinking. The Cloudwater twist comes from the use of a New Zealand hop known for bright citrus and marmalade flavours.

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Cloudwater – West Coast IPA – 6.5%

The West Coast IPA style is a modern classic that changed perceptions of what beer could be, and paved the way for today’s craft beer scene. The Cloudwater approach is informed by experiences working with trailblazing brewers and diving deep into their celebrated beers, so this delivers the hallmark layered bitterness and a clean, dry, resinous finish alongside punchy flavours provided by a blend of modern and classic hop varietals.

Pomona Island – Aquarius and My Name is Ralph – 6.5%

It’s not every day that you get a beer named after a lyric found in “Float On” by The Floaters. This is an IPA that’s fermented with London Fog and double dry hopped with Vic Secret, Citra and Simcoe for juicy citrus and stone fruit flavours.

Float on.

Time and Tide – Manfred – 5%

All the way from Kent, the N&P crew are big fans of Time and Tide. Who can forget Spratwaffler? If double dry hopped beers are your thing, this one’s for you. Mosaic, Simcoe, Citra and Ekuanot all combine to give a full bodied, wonderfully spicy, fruity flavour with moderate bitterness.

Track – Half Dome APA – 5.3%

A super fruity American style pale ale. Crisp notes of pineapple and mango. A complex malt bill to give body and a beautiful yellow colour – hopped with Galaxy, Citra and Simcoe.

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.

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 Corner Office, Denver, October 2018

A not so spooky night out. More networking after a long day of conferencing. My conference day started at 7:30am with a “brain date”. That’s a chat about work stuff if you were wondering. And yes, that does say 7:30am. Even if you can throw a stone at the conference venue from your hotel bedroom window, it’s still an early start.

When you get invited to a networking event later in the day, it does lift the spirits a bit. Another buffet tea, chicken legs, vol au vents, cheesecake, etc. As it turns out, no work chat, since I spent most of the evening talking about travel, our trips to Vegas, Oz and New Zealand being the main topics of the evening.

A choice of seven decent beers (and Stella, which is treated as exotic here) made for a relaxing evening, with lots to select from, including one that I had last night. Three more local beers ticked off tonight. To start, Pretzel Assassin, an amber lager from Denver Beer Co, with a nice touch of maltiness.

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More travel chat and more beer. Simone Rosé Saison from Renegade Brewing Compay was a French style Saison made with wheat and rosé juice, making for a refreshing and interesting beer-wine hybrid.

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Another Renegade brew to wrap things up, the Envy Brut IPA. For me, another fizzy lager that is not an IPA. I’ve yet to meet one that lives up to the letters I, P and A.

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A fun night. It was Halloween but there were fewer scary outfits here than I saw on Sunday afternoon’s travels around the city. In fact the staff here just had random fancy dress, nothing to do with Halloween, which was rather confusing. Denver seems to be a city where it’s harder to find bad beer than it is to find good.

Hotel Teatro, Denver, October 2018

A spooky evening and another quick Denver post. This evening picks up where this afternoon left off, networking with the people that I met at The Renaissance earlier on today, along with a few more who couldn’t make it, as they have only just rolled into town.

Another buffet meal, with the usual selection of meats, breads, salad bits and other things. There was an added tasty bonus here, lots of plates full of churros, the Spanish doughnut which is probably from Portugal by way of China. These were lovely, as they almost always are, crunchy and sprinkled with lightly spiced sugar.

Tonight I got to sample Sour Apricot from Dry Dock brewery in Aurora, Colorado. A nice balance of sweet apricots and sourness, tart and fruity with sourness from the brewing process. It went well with some nice bits of cheese from the buffet.

There was also a Tivoli Helles Lager, another Denver brewery, who are based on the Auraria College campus of Metropolitan State University in Denver. A very easy drinking lager with a very German taste, which is probably because it is brewed from entirely imported ingredients.

Finally a “Face Down Nitro Brown” from Telluride Brewing, also in Colorado. A bit of a hybrid of an English and American style brown ale (the beer that your Uncle drank in the 1970s) that is silky smooth and super malty.

Afterwards, I found out that this is a four time award winner, taking gold in 2012 and 2014, and bronze in 2016 at the Great American Beer Festival for “American Style Brown,” and also a gold at the 2012 World Beer Cup.

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A pleasant evening of chat and beer and food.

Henrys Tavern, 16th Street, Denver, October 2018

Another night, another bar full of wall to wall TVs showing a feast of sports. You certainly don’t need to miss any sporting action if you want to go out to eat in Denver. It’s everywhere.

Henry’s is a small chain which originated in Portland, but it was hard to tell it apart from Yard House, where we went last night. Not quite so many beers on tap, but still a decent selection, and a similar menu with the usual selection of burgers, tacos, pizzas, fish’n’chips and stir fries.

If I see a BBQ chicken pizza then I’m likely to have it, and that was the case here, BBQ marinated chicken, applewood smoked bacon and “sharp” cheddar (which didn’t lacerate my mouth).

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Another local beer to go with it, Upslope lager, malty with a crisp finish, brewed up the road in Boulder.

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Nothing remarkable about this place, but a perfectly pleasant place for a pizza and a pint (actual volume of pint may vary, because Americans have a smaller gallon, so if you have 1/8th of a gallon here it’s 473ml instead of 568ml). Oh, and there’s sport. World series again tonight.