The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #6 – July 2017

This is the sixth Craft Beer Club selection box from the N&P,  and the ninth overall. I’ve still got one left over from selection box #3 (Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA) and two left from box #5 (Whispering Bob and 4 Degrees of Separation). I’m also way behind of my reviews of the individual beers, with no sign of catching up any time soon (at least another 40 posts to write!) Let’s take a look inside box number six…

Brewski/Ale Farm – Stone the Crows – 6.5%

A one-off collaboration that is sold out everywhere, but luckily some was procured in time for CBC subscribers. A meeting of Brewski from Helsingborg in Sweden and Ale Farm from Køge in Denmark. This will appeal to fans of big, juicy American-style IPAs (aka me!). Hazy and dank, with lemon peel and pine on the nose, followed by an explosion of grapefruit, melon and tangerine. Yes please!

Fallen Brewing – Just the Ticket – 4%

Whenever any Fallen beers arrive at the N&P, they fly out of the door. Brewed in Kippen near Stirling, this is described on the can as “hoppy extra pale”. The brewery is situated in an old station house, which leads to plenty of railway punnage in the beer names. The beer is hoppy and pale, brewed with NZ and US hops to make a refreshing light beer. Dominant flavours and aromas are lemon, lime, tropical fruits and orange zest.

Mikkeller – Session IPA Citra – 4.5%

A session IPA from Mikkeller who need no introduction. This is crisp and clean and packed full of Citra hops. Bitter notes on the nose from the Citra hops combine with an earthy and citrusy palate to create a fresh session beer. The robust bitterness is balanced by sweet tropical fruit flavours, followed by notes of tart grapefruit and pine needles. WIth a juicy character and spritzy carbonation, the finish is light and refreshing.

Pressure Drop – Bosko – 6.5%

We reach the first one that I’ve had before. This beer was inspired by classic American beers like Flying Dog IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Stone Pale Ale. Bosko has a more balanced approach, loaded with aromatic American hops but brewed with crystal malt to give the sweetness that Pressure Drop wanted to emulate in the beers they were inspired by. When I had it last there were good fruity notes and a good balance of hoppiness, bitterness and sweetness.

Three Fiends – Bukowski All American IPA – 7%

This was a big hit when a cask of it was served in May of this year.  This is an American style IPA, with intense fruit flavours and resinous hops, hints of grapefruit, tropical fruits and pine, with a pale malt base.

Wiper & True – Kaleidoscope – 4%

Wiper & True are an inventive bunch of people based in Bristol who are never afraid to experiment. They are a favourite of the N&P, always turning out flavoursome beers packed with interesting tastes. Just like the three mirrors that make up the internal chambers of the titular optical instrument to create an ever-changing picture, the Kaleidoscope series combines three different hops to create a seasonally evolving flavour profile. Whilst the hops change, the intention remains the same – to create a beer that is harmonious, bright and refreshing. This bottle is from batch 31 – it contains Ahtanum, Amarillo and Columbus hops. This produces a juicy whopper, refreshingly light but with big summer fruits and exotic aromas such as lychee and mandarin. It retains a rustic edge to remind you that beer is an agricultural product. A dreamy watercolour of a beer.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – Dark Beer selection box #3 – June 2017

This is the eighth selection box from the N&P, the third from the Dark Beer Club. I’ve now sampled all except one from the first dark beer selection box, and still have four left from the second one. Let’s take a peek into box number three…

Buxton/Stillwater – Subliminal Imperial Stout  – 10%

From Buxton and Stillwater, a downright delicious imperial stout. Pitch black, chewy and unmissable, a collaboration 10% Imperial Stout that scored 99 on Ratebeer, a real rarity. This sold out when it was launched and the N&P have held this back for a few months to give it time to mature…

Dark Star – Espresso – 4.2%

An old favourite, ready for a comeback. A black beer brewed with roasted barley malt and Challenger hops, with freshly ground arabica beans, blended especially for Dark Star, added at the end of the boil to provide a rich and complementary coffee aroma.

Einstök Ölgerð – Toasted Porter – 6%

One that I’ve had before (in Suffolk), with clear notes of toffee and dark chocolate, this porter is roasty and rich, offering a medium body that is robust, yet smooth on the palate. Toasted and chocolate malts give it an apparently “sinister” black colour, but its easy-to-drink taste will have you believing that there’s no need to be afraid of the dark. This was tasty with gentle smokiness.

Omnipollo – Noa – 11%

From the genius that is Omnipollo in Sweden, Noa is their 11% Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Toffee Imperial Stout. This came about from the head brewer’s childhood ambition to be a pastry chef, evoking subltle notes of maple syrup and burnt sugar.

Ticketybrew – Tea and Biscuits Mild – 3.5%

This is a recognisable mild, but Ticketybrew have used amber malt for a biscuit taste, without the bitterness that biscuit malt can sometimes bring. They have added lactose for a milk flavour, then literally made a big pot of tea and thrown it in. When using tea you need to avoid steeping the teabags either in a slurry to use in the beer, or by way of “dry hopping” otherwise you’ll get a lot of tannins in the beer.

Tollgate – Old Rasputin Stout – 4.5%

Another local beer, brewed just down the road near Calke Abbey. With a rich caramel and fruity aroma, and mellow toffee and vanilla notes, this is a silky smooth old school stout.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #5 – May 2017

This is the fifth 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 Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – Dark Beer selection box #2 – April 2017

This is the sixth selection box from the N&P, the second from the Dark Beer Club. I’ve now sampled all except one from the first dark beer selection box, as I’m saving Buxton Rainshadow for a rainy day. Let’s take a peek into box number two…

Moor – Old Freddy Walker – 7.3%

Moor, from Bristol, are celebrating their 10th birthday this year. Old Freddy Walker was Champion Winter Beer of Britain in 2004, and is one of Roger Protz’s “300 beers to try before you die”. A cult ale, described as “one for the connoisseur”, it’s a rich, dark, and full bodied old ale that really has to be tasted to be appreciated. This beer is usually the first to sell out at beer festivals, thanks to its blend of Pale, Lager, Crystal, Wheat and Black malts that are fermented with an English yeast. Bramling Cross hops are added to provide a hint of orange and a balancing dose of bitterness. I’m really looking forward to this one.

North Riding – Neapolitan Milk Stout – 4.5%

I had this one just a few weeks ago. Brewed especially for the Needle & Pin, the casks sold out very quickly. They also bottled some for the Dark Beer Club. It is like childhood in a glass, the 1980s chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream classic in beer form.

Siren – Bourbon Broken Dream Extra Shot – 6.5%

Siren are at the top of their game when it comes to dark beers. This special edition of Broken Dream is brewed with Siren’s very own bourbon barrel aged coffee. They source the finest green beans (coffee beans) from Guatemala and age them in wet barrels for at least 12 months before roasting in small batches when required.

Stringers – Mutiny – 9%

Another champion. This time, champion bottled beer of Britain, awarded by CAMRA in November 2016. This imperial stout is brewed with seven different types of malt, oats and barley, and three types of hop. It has huge flavours of chocolate, coffee and liquorice, with vinous and hedgerow fruits. It almost impossible to get hold of, so it’s a bit of a coup to get a bottle in this month’s selection.

Tiny Rebel – Staypuft Marshmallow Porter – 5.2%

Another one that I had last month, and another that is also quite tricky to get hold of. Mallow sweetness and very smoky bitterness. Smooth too. Very nice.

Weird Beard – 7th Church of the Apocalyptic Lawnmower – 6.5%

We save the best named beer until last, a collaboration between Weird Beard and Anspach & Hobday. A lawnmower beer is somewhere between a lager and an ale, the kind of beer that you crack open and quaff whilst mowing the lawn or working out in the yard. This one has been tampered with.

Taking the A&H cream ale as a base recipe and then amping it up with flaked corn for a smooth finish, Blackprinz dark malt, and the coconut flavours Sorachi Ace hops, mixed in with some Summit hops for good measure.

Siren Proteus IPA Vol II

The final bottle from the inaugural  Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box. This one took quite a while, because my original bottle very swiftly came to an unfortunate end when it met hard tarmac on its journey home. Luckily, there was another bottle available some months later, so I grabbed it and then found a gap in the schedule in which to open it up.

Proteus is a series devised to make the most of three hops, with this volume using Mosaic, Chinook & Cascade. Siren have brewed three pale ales using this combination, before creating this dialled-up IPA version, based on everything the brewers have learned about the hops and how they work together.

Big body, big tropical fruits, big hops, big pine. This is a fantastic IPA, those three hops work so well together. Lovely stuff. I want to find lots more of this series now, but that may prove tricky!

Tiny Rebel – Beat Box

A big hit when it appeared on cask at the Needle & Pin earlier this year, lots of floral notes in this American inspired ale. Pithy fruit and grass come through on the nose, with a lingering bitterness.

Classic American Pale Ale flavours in here, clean, smooth and refreshing. Bitter hoppiness, some tropical fruit and citrus on the nose. On a par with almost all of the other Tiny Rebel beers I’ve tried, which have all been very good.

Powderkeg – Cut Loose – Happy Pils

It’s time for the third visit toThe Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #4. The winner of the World’s Best Lager in 2016, this is a traditional pilsner pepped up with a touch of the Motueka hop from New Zealand. This gives a dry, satisfying lager with invigorating citric fruitiness.

Lager is a dirty word. It shouldn’t be, as when it is done well, it is a very pleasant drink. A tastily hopped pils, very clean, very crisp, and a hint of citrus from those hops. If your last experience of lager was some fizzy nonsense from a global megacorp, try this instead.