The Needle & Pin craft beer club – selection box #22 – March 2020

So here we are. The 50th incarnation of the Needle & Pin craft beer club, the 22nd “standard” box. There are only 2 people who have collected all 50 since that first one in September 2016, that’s me and regular MOFAD drinking companion Alec.

This month’s collection is brought to you by the letters I, P and A, and is a bit of an “unsung heroes” selection. Siren, featured here, were also in that first selection box, and have continued to grow alongside four of the other breweries in there, Beavertown (now minority owned by Heineken), Tiny Rebel, Thornbridge and Wild Beer Co. The only sad story from the first box is the demise of Hardknott, who closed down in 2018 after 12 years of brewing.

Here’s what is to be found in the March 2020 line up…

Amundsen – Fade to Green – 6.5%

A lovely NEIPA brewed in collaboration with Finback Brewery from New York, using Azacca, Galaxy, Citra, Simcoe and Chinook.

Arbor – Basta Rosse – 5%

A beautiful red IPA brewed with Cascade, Vic Secret & Mosaic hops, in collaboration with Italian brewery Mezzo Passo. I had this one back in 2018, a delightful hoppy red ale. It was also one of the only beers on in the taproom when we visited in March 2019.

Black Iris – Anarchists Across the Pond – 6.9%

Back in Oct, we brewed up a tasty New England IPA with renowned American home brewer, Andy Tipler, while he visited Nottingham from Connecticut. Packed full of Citra, Mosaic, Vic Secret and Simcoe and fermented with London III Ale Yeast, this NEIPA has a big fruit character with notes of pineapple and peach.

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Overtone – Citra Mosaic NEIPA V3 – 6%

The V3 New England IPA is very much the same as v2, except that it is juicer, hazier and thicker than the first time around, with more of a mouth presence. A beautiful aroma of tropical fruits comes bursting out, well balanced with the bitterness hitting you late.

Siren – Hard Rollin’ – 7%

Dry & Bitter return for the first Siren collaboration of 2020. Hard Rollin’ is one of the most pillowy, smooth and creamy IPAs they’ve ever created, with plentiful rolled oats, flaked oats and milk sugar all working their magic. It’s lavishly hopped with Ekuanot, Citra, Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavaria for a beautiful dank depth with aromas of tropical fruit.

Time and Tide – Ham Sandwich – 7.4%

New England IPA packed to the rafters with Mosaic hops. This one is fruity, juicy and refreshing. I’ve had it already because why wouldn’t you want to try a beer called Ham Sandwich? Just don’t put mustard on it.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – selection box #20 – November 2019

It’s box number 45 overall, and not a moment too soon, as I’m all out of sessionable beers, and three of these count as session. So they probably won’t make it past the weekend, leaving the bigger units to fight another day.

71 Brewing – NEIPA Here Nor There – 6.5%

As Dundee’s first brewery for 50 years, 71 is reviving the lost art of brewing in Scotland’s fourth city. A New England IPA with Simcoe, Citra, Centennial & Azacca in the whirlpool and then double dry-hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic & Citra. I might be tempted to go back to Dundee – the beer scene was awful the last time that I was there!

ABC – Juice Springsteen – 4.5%

A 4.5% tropical fruit juice session IPA. Bags of pineapple, mango, passion fruit, guava and mandarin just bursting to get out of the can. Fruits plz!

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Amundsen x Lervig – Even More Cowbell – 7.5%

This collaboration between Amundsen and Lervig from Norway is the biggest dryhop ever attempted in Scandinavia equivalent to 50 grams/litre. Piney, dank, resinous. Not for the faint hearted, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

Campervan – Leith Juice – 4.7%

A fruity, juicy session IPA dry hopped with Simcoe, Cascade and a van full of orange zest. Leith Juice packs a huge zesty citrus kick, with flavours of grapefruit, lemon and orange in abundance. I had this in Edinburgh at the lovely Holyrood 9A back in September, and it was full of juicy orange flavours.

Hackney – Our House – 3.5%

Our House, in the middle of our street.

A light, summery, refreshing, juicy number. Heavily hopped with Citra and Centennial, it has tropical notes and a nice round body to carry those fruity flavours. At a low abv of 3.5% it is certainly suited to quench your thirst in the heat of the summer. Unfortunately, we are now in cold and dreary November, but this will still do nicely.

Pomona Island – I eat with Gusto – 3.4%

Manchester’s Pomona Island are one of the best breweries around at the moment. Their DDH Table Beer is dry hopped with Citra BBC & Vic Secret. I’ve had one of their previous DDH Table Beers, Bonbonbonbons, which was fantastic.

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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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?

Brewdog Fanzine, issue 9, August 2018

Off we go again into the fanzine. This time, a sequel, something new and a mash up.

Ten Ton Truck v2 – 10% – Imperial Stout

Another sequel pops up, and this edition of Ten Ton Truck hits you with dark and rich espresso coffee, a burst of red berry and a deeply sweet chocolate edge combined with a subtle hit of vanilla.

Cloud Cartel – 5% – Session NEIPA

A sessionable (except that 5% is not session) New England IPA with bags of tropical and citrus flavours. New German hops provide myriad notes of melon, pineapple, mango and lime.

Nice nose, gentle hops on the palate, very low bitterness but needs more oats for smoothness. Another fanzine miss I think.

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Elvis Hammer – 6.8% – Grapefruit IPA

Everything you love about Elvis lands itself front and centre in the form of an explosion of grapefruit. Before you know it, the bitter and bite of Jack Hammer presents itself for a big finish. I have high hopes for this one, as it is a mash up of Elvis Juice and Jack Hammer, which are 2 of my favourite BD brews…

The Crown and Two Chairmen, Soho, June 2018

Good to be back at my new favourite Soho pub after another evening at the Soho Theatre. A typically manic performance from Robin Ince (trying to squeeze a good few hours of material into an hour slot).

On my last visit, they were in the middle of a Thornbridge craft beer residency, a kind of mini-tap takeover. The next instalment of craft beer residency just happens to be up and running now. It’s an American theme this time, with Sierra Nevada and Anchor both represented here tonight.

First up was West Coast Hazy IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Yes, that’s a west cost NEIPA, very easy drinking and refreshing, and only 4.2% too.

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Alongside this was Blood Orange Blonde from Anchor Brewing Company, a rather non-descript blonde ale with not a lot of blood orange in evidence.

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Dinner was a simple pub classic, fish’n’chips. Nothing to get excited about, just plain fodder. Some pub fish’n’chips are fantastic, others are just ok. This was just ok.

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Still a great Soho pub, just avoid it at the weekends as it gets absolutely rammed! It was busier than usual because they were showing the World Cup, but the game was almost over and it soon emptied out afterwards.

Brewdog Fanzine issue 5

A new set of beers have arrived. Hopefully none of them are as bad as the English IPA from issue 4, which was very poor by BD standards, like a tribute to Greene King IPA (and why would you do that?)

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Origami Orangutan – 8.5% – Tangerine Double IPA

A big, classic American IPA brewed to double strength and packed with C hops and tangerine. The addition of tangerine carries itself through the beer with notes of pine, citrus and fresh cut grass also making an appearance.

King of Eights v2 – 7.4% – East Coast IPA

This juicy, smooth New England IPA has returned, and this time around it’s been double dry-hopped with an increase in ABV. Hopped with just Citra (but a lot of it), the hops take the spotlight and show exactly what they are capable of. After tasting it, there’s a lot of Citra but not much else in there.

Alice Porter – 6.2% – Nitro Porter

The first #ReBrewDog for Fanzine is here, and it’s pretty darn special! The enigmatic porter Alice Porter is back, brewed with the addition of vanilla and put into nitro cans exclusively for Fanzine.