The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #7 – February 2018

The seventh dark beer selection, perfectly timed for the depths of winter. Let’s peer through the gloom and into the darkness…

8 Wired – Flat White Coffee Milk Stout – 5.5%

Honourably named after New Zealand’s national style of barista coffee. A title that has been wrestled away from freeze dried instant coffee and made NZ one of the best coffee destinations in the world. Brewed with coffee, vanilla beans and lactose.

Buxton x Stillwater – Subluminal Coffee Imperial Stout – 10%

The second brew of Subluminal, this time with coffee. An imperial stout brewed in collaboration with Sillwater Artisanal (NY, USA). Delicious, pitch black, chewy, and unmissable. The latest addition to Buxton’s decorated lineup of impy collabs. Drink me. Love me. Never forget me.

Brouwerij De Molen – Rasputin – 10.4%

Rasputin is a sweet imperial stout with subtle chocolate and coffee notes accompanied by plums, the first brew from De Molen. The beer is brewed only in limited numbers once or twice a year. A heavy, bitter stout with a traditional high alcohol content to prevent the beer from freezing during the icy crossing from England to Russia. Strong yet not overwhelming. Try ageing it for a couple of years to unearth its full complexity. I already have one of these, so I might just do that 🙂 Don’t drink straight from the fridge or you’ll miss out on those complexities. Take it out around 15-20 minutes before you want to drink it.

Wild Weather Ales – Bello Di Mamma Tiramisu Stout – 6%

Vanilla and lactose make way for a rich Italian coffee centre. Notes of Amaretto and biscuit leave behind the memory of Mamma’s classic Tiramisu.

North Riding Brewery – Choc Fudge Brownie Stout – 7.4%

Brewed by Stu at North Riding brewed this beer on request from the N&P, and also bottled some especially for the Dark Beer Club. Brewed as a tribute to the Brouwerij Kees Fudge Brownie Stout that was a big hit in bottles last year (I’ve got one of these waiting for me in the garage). Think chocolate fudge, brownie, vanilla and little hints of red fruit and nuts. There are two casks also being aged, to be served when they are about a year old.

Buxton x Omnipollo – Yellow Belly Imperial Stout – 11%

A peanut butter and biscuit imperial stout. Brewed without peanut butter. Brewed without biscuits.

The Rainbow Project (created by Siren Craft Brew) brings together 14 breweries to make 7 collaborative beers themed on the colours of the rainbow. I’ve written about this a few times already. In 2014, Buxton drew yellow out of the hat and were paired up with the Stockholm based Omnipollo.

They sat down and discussed what they could brew based on the idea of yellow. After some time, there was consensus that the prime meaning or idea expressed by the colour yellow is cowardice. The next challenge was to turn this idea into a beer.

The political situation throughout Europe was in turmoil at the time, with lots of far right wing movements on the rise. “One thing that struck us while the preliminary political polls were being presented during election night was that the actual support for the Swedish fascist party was in reality 40% higher than what people had disclosed when asked (face to face) what they voted for just after casting their ballot. At the same time the polls were more or less accurate when it came to other parties on the political scale”, Omnipollo’s Henok Fentie said.

One thing that this could mean is that although people vote extreme right they are on average not as prone to admitting to it as people voting for other parties are. Being a coward can mean many different things, but protesting anonymously at the expense of people’s freedom and right to co-exist without showing your face is one meaning that that the team felt was relevant.

So, with all this in mind, the yellow beer became an 11% Peanut Butter and Biscuit Imperial Stout. Except there are no peanuts or biscuits in it, and it is in no way yellow. It was then dressed it in the most hateful, cowardly-anonymous costume they knew of. Taste, enjoy and don’t be prejudiced.

Another tasty selection, a few to store for a while, a few to start drinking a little sooner.

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The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #9 – December 2017

Just in time for Christmas, it’s time for the latest Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club selection box, which I think is the fifteenth in total. Today’s photo is not the most glamorous of backdrops, but this is about the contents, not the presentation! Let’s dive in…

Green Flash – Soul Style – 6.5%

Green Flash are one of San Diego’s finest breweries, and I’ve already had three of their beers, West Coast IPA (heavy pine, malty sweetness), Passion Fruit Kicker (subtle passion fruit and wheat) and GFB (an acronym with two definitions).

Soul Style IPA is their manifestation of a single IPA, just to prove that there are still some out there in this world of DIPAs, TIPAs, IIPAs and the like. Simcoe, Citra and Cascade hops are layered, allowing bright tropical waves of flavourful citrus and floral notes to break gently on the palate.

Omnipollo – Zodiak – 6.2

A rather conformist beer from the Omnipollo team, Zodiak is their new house IPA. A blend of grains, untouched post fermentation and aspiringly hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Centennial.

Poppels – West Coast IPA – 5.4%

Brewing since 2012 and certified as organic since 2016, Poppels are a Swedish brewery who seem to be in the shadow of some of the more illustrious Scandinavian breweries.
West Coast IPA originates from the American west coast, known as the beer lover’s beer. This brew is packed with bouquet & bite from the variety of hops used to create an ever-evolving beer style.

Pressure Drop – Domino Topple – 7.2%

Located just around the corner from Beavertown, and brewing some great beers, Pressure Drop are a popular brewery. Bosko has been my favourite so far. Domino topple is full of chewy, mango fruitiness with that lovely hoppy bitter bite, a lovely dank IPA.

To Øl – Tangerine Dream – 4.6%

Tangerine Dream is a soft, balanced cream ale infused with ripe tangerines and ideas of balance. It is also named after one of the coolest electronic bands ever. You should listen to The Myth of Dragons or Light Flux while drinking this beer.

Yeastie Boys – Bigmouth IPA – 4.4%

It’s a bit of a surprise that this is the first Yeastie Boys beer to feature in the Craft Beer Club. I’ve had three of their output already, Digital IPA, Pot Kettle Black and Gunnamatta, all handily available in my favourite supermarket Booths. Their beer was brewed under contract in the UK at Brewdog, and they have just announced that their new UK brewer is West Berkshire Brewery shortly, after that relationship ended earlier this year.

Bigmouth is an extra pale, unfiltered, hoppy session ale. It is full of tropical, grapefruit, lemon and white wine notes from the Nelson-grown New Zealand hops (Nelson Sauvin, Wakatu, Taiheke). A luscious mouthfeel, from the heavy use of wheat and oats, carries the hop flavour across the palate before easing out with a dry, bitter finish.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #6 – December 2017

Christmas is coming, so luckily there’s a new dark beer box available for those cold winter nights ahead. I’m not one of those people who switches entirely towards dark beers in the winter months, but it’s always good to have a selection of delectable dark beers in stock to counteract the twenty DIPAs that are stacking up in the stock room (garage cupboard).

Arbor – The Devil Made Me Brew It – 5.5%

This oatmeal stout was brewed with seven different malts and a few generous additions of Bramling Cross hops during the boil. As much as the dark fruit flavour of the Bramling Cross hop works here, it is usually somewhat lacking in the aroma department, so the addition of Bravo, Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe after fermentation makes things a little more interesting.

Brasserie {C} – Black {C} – 8%

This imperial stout will surprise palates looking for character beers with a lot of flavour. Guaranteed non-pasteurised, non-sterilised and non-filtered, it offers roasted coffee and cocoa aromas, revealing an harmonious bitternes throughough the savouring of this beer. Black {C} refers to its impenetrable black body as well as the brewery that it originated from.

Chorlton – Dark Matter 2017 – 7.3%

Released just a few weeks ago on 10th November, a salty, dark, gently sour Gose, a little lighter in body than the 2016 version due to the addition of dark Belgian Candi sugar (not the same as invert sugar) in the boil. Madagascan single origin cocoa beans give it a subtle chocolate aroma that should vary as the beer ages.

Braueri Schloss Eggenberg – Samichlaus Classic – 14% (!!!)

The once strongest beer in the world is back! Brewed every year on December 6th, Samichlaus is aged for 10 months before bottling. This beer is perhaps the rarest in the world. Samichlaus may be aged for many years to come. Older vintages become more complex with a creamy warming finish. Serve with hardy robust dishes and desserts, particulary with chocolates, or as an after dinner drink by itself. Brewed under the exclusive licence of Feldschlösschen-Hürlimann-Holding, Switzerland.

To Øl – Mochaccino Messiah – 7%

This is To Øl’s attempt at substituting the morning mochaccino coffee with a beer. You get the nicely roasted chocolate malts, some creamy lactose for the milk and a shot of nutty espresso coffee in your glass. And then some alcohol, it seemed just as obvious as vodka in a white russian. To Øl do not recommend opting for this beer instead of coffee all of the time, that way a ‘Spoons breakfast (fry up and a Stella) lies…

Tiny Rebel – Imperial Puft – 9%

A flavour explosion that’s like a proton torpedo in your exhaust port. An Imperial march into your mouth. Return of the marshmallow that’s fluffier than an Ewok, and not annoying like an Ewok.

Tiny Rebel have taken everything great about Stay Puft and gone bigger. They’ve imperialised the delectable marshmallow porter up to 9% ABV with rich roasty notes, a sticky sweetness and rich dried fruit flavours from the massive amounts of malt working to a higher strength.

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The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – sour beer selection box #1 – November 2017

If you cast your mind back to June 2017, my favourite pub The Needle & Pin held its first sour beers night where we travelled from Sweden to Newcastle to Belgium via Buxton and Baltimore, and then Reading, Leeds and London all via the medium of funky, tart, sweet and sour beer.

Following on from this, they have been selling a lot of sours, saisons, gose, Gueuze and Lambic beers, and demand has grown for a Sour Beer Club, to complement the existing Craft Beer Club and Dark Beer Club.

This then is the first selection of weird and wonderful and very different beers.

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – Oude Geuze – 6%

A true Geuze – a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year-old lambic, unfiltered and unpasteurized, and aged in the bottle for at least a year after blending. Refermentation in the bottle gives this Geuze its famous champagne-like spritziness. The lambic that goes into it is brewed only with 60% barley malt, 40% unmalted wheat, aged hops, and water, spontaneously fermented by wild yeasts, and matured in oak casks.

Brekeriet – Rhuboise – 6%

A fruity, tart and elegant ale with brettanomyces yeast. Loads of raspberries and rhubarb are added during the secondary fermentation at this interesting brewery in Landskrona, Sweden.

Dugges x Stillwater Artisinal – Mango Mango Mango – 4.5%

This collaboration with Stillwater Artisanal explores the true depth of mango flavour. Three layers of taste and aroma from fruit and hops. Go mango go! If you’re going to put fruit in a beer, there’s no better fruit to use than mango. At least that’s what Magnus at Dugges Bryggeri says. So, when there was time for another Dugges x Stillwater Artisanal collaboration, Magnus posed the idea of a mango beer to Brian of Stillwater. Turns out, Brian had the same ideas about mango and beer as Magnus. To make it sour was an easy decision. The mango flavour comes from two types of mango and mosaic hops. Mango, mango, mango!

Good Chemistry – Field Work – 5.1%

Refreshing and rustic beers were traditionally brewed by farmhouses to sustain seasonal workers out in the fields. The malts used in this are pretty simple, as they should be – Extra Pale Propino malt, Pilsner malt, Wheat and Rye. It’s hopped with classic continental hops – Tettnang and Hallertau. The yeast produces most of the flavour and aroma though, and eats through almost all the sugar to leave a dry and tart finish to the beer.

To Øl – Gose To Hollywood – 3.8%

To Øl got starstruck and went to Hollywood to creat a salty, sour and light gose brewed with the best fruits California can offer. Best consumed on warm summer days or on the red carpet. I had one of these in March, it wasn’t sunny, and there was no red carpet, just sour fruits and zingy tartness – it was very nice.

To Øl – Sur Amarillo – 7.5%

Sur Amarillo is a sour pale ale brewed with wheat and dry-hopped over and over again with Amarillo hops to give a flowerful tart imperial pale ale. The Amarillo gives a burst of orange to this sour wild/IPA crossover.

Looking forward to trying out some of these interesting beers.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #8 – November 2017

The thirteenth selection from the N&P and the eighth in the “normal” club (as opposed to the dark side club). This is going to get even more confusing going forward, as a Sours Club has just been announced. That’s a good confusion to have to deal with though 🙂

I think I’ve got one left from box 3 (Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA which really needs drinking), and three from box 7, although probably not for long. Let’s dive in to November’s box.

Anarchy – Citra Star – 4.1%

A familiar one this. Bought some back at Easter and had it on a camping trip, and then had it on cask at The Narrowboat in Skipton in September. This hoppy blonde is loaded with grapefruit, lemon and lime flavours but is light bodied enough to keep you coming back for more. Highly hopped with a big, bitter finish.

Drygate – Disco Fork Lift Truck – Mango Pale Ale – 5.1%

Another familiar one, as I bought some in Sainsbury’s in August. How can you resist a beer with the name Disco Fork Lift Truck? A great name but the beer didn’t live up to it for me. It’s so hard to get a mango ale right. The brewers say that this is a juicy pale ale loaded to the gunnels with US hops and mango. I think they needed to add some more gunnels and put more mango in them 🙂

Flash House – Tiny Dancer – 5.4%

Flash House beers have been very popular on cask at the N&P, so it was about time they made their way to the craft beer club. This one doesn’t disappoint, a big juicy and fruity American pale. That will do nicely!

Marble – Lagonda IPA – 5%

The use of 6 different types of hop are what this IPA owes its broad range of hop flavours to. Lemon and tropical fruit flavours merge seamlessly with a grassy, resinous background, pine and nettles to give a masterclass in how to balance hops and control bitterness.

Camra ‘Real Ale in a Bottle’, Champion Beer of Britain, Silver 2012. A proud contemporary classic, just like its namesake the 1927 Lagonda.

ShinDigger – IPA – 5.6%

ShinDigger was born whilst Paul and George were living together at Manchester University. They invested their spare cash into a home-brewing kit. The beers were brewed in the kitchen and fermented in the basement of their student house, and then sold at house parties. Back then, they were producing 50 pints a week.

In Autumn 2013, armed with a small loan from the government they started delivering kegs to bars around Manchester out the back of Paul’s banged up hatchback. They are “shadow brewers” who develop their recipes on their own pilot kit and then brew them on another brewery’s spare capacity.

To date they have released over 20 beers that are available from Newcastle to Brighton. They’ve moved on from pints a week to 50,000 pints per month.

The name ‘ShinDigger’ embodies their ethos that beer is about having a good time with your friends and enjoying the moment.

Their IPA contains a plethora of big American juicy hops thrown in over a juicy malty backbone. A lovely balance to this one.

6 Degrees North – Wanderlust Wheat – 5%

All the way from Aberdeen to complete a set that are all from north of LE11.

“Lustful” creamy aromas bounce around with orange citrus, coriander seed, barley sugar and macadamia nut. The palate is balanced, refreshing and carries on where the nose left off. Typically cloudy and whiter like a good wheat beer should be. A good match for goats cheese and caramelised onions.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #5 – October 2017

Here it is. The twelfth selection box from the N&P, which is the fifth from the dark beer club. With the nights drawing in, more people turn to dark beer, but it can be enjoyed all year round. I’ve still got one bottle left from the first box (Buxton Rainshadow), two from the second (Mutiny and Old Freddy Walker) and two from the third (Omnipollo Noa and Buxton/Stillwater Subliminal Imperial Stout). These are all big beasts, not for when you are keeping it session. There are also three left from August’s box.

Here we go with this month’s selection.

Anchor – Porter – 5.6%

With a deep black colour, a thick, creamy head, rich chocolate, toffee and coffee flavours, and full-bodied smoothness, Anchor Porter is described by its brewer as “the epitome of a handcrafted dark beer, the definitive American Porter”.

A blend of specially roasted pale, caramel, chocolate, and black malts, along with their top-fermenting yeast, creates complexity without bitterness. The brew is hopped at a high rate, and naturally carbonated. The result is dark in the glass, but surprisingly light on the palate.

Anchor Porter became the first modern American porter style beer when it was introduced in 1972. Over 40 years later, it continues to reward those who look beyond its intimidating appearance to discover its smooth, full-bodied drinkability.

Ayinger – Celebrator Doppelbock – 6.7%

originally brewed at a monastery in northern Italy, “double bock” was quickly introduced by Bavarian brewers to compete with bock. Doppelbock names end with the suffix “-ator.”

A rich, dark elixir with cascading layers of malt complexity balanced by elegant hops. Notes of toffee, caramel, elegant dark-malt roastiness, and pure malt. Pinpoint conditioning and semi-dry finish.

Celebrator has a creamy head of tight bubbles contrasting beautifully with its profound dark robe. It is full-bodied and velvety from half a year’s aging. Although it is strong, it is not overpowering. There is a wonderful and complex balance between the various malts, the alcohol and the subtle hops. A complex fruitiness of roasted malt and whole hop flowers make Celebrator great as a party drink with friends and family at celebrations. Despite its richness, it has a faintly smoky dryness in the finish.

Oh, and it comes with a small plastic goat attached. Obvs.

Brussels Beer Project – Dark Sister – 6.6%

Like many more beers, the idea behind this beer started off with a joke. In the winter of 2013 BBP were looking to make a Christmas beer without the classic herbs and high alcohol content. They came up with the “evil twin” of the Delta with a variety of roasted and toasted malts to darken his soul. The community’s reaction was clear : don’t stop making this beer. The Vox Populi reigned and the beer has risen from the dead!

A robust black IPA with flavours of grapefruit and citrus on top of deep roasted bitter malts.

Fierce Beer – Imperial Cafe Racer – 8.5%

Devil’s Peak brewery have taken Fierce’s deep and dark coffee porter to another level with rich roasted Kenyan espresso and Madagascan bourbon vanilla for a sweet little lift. The Café Racer name is inspired by the dangerous edge of leather-clad bikers, making an imperial porter to satisfy even the hardiest of tastes.

Redchurch – Old Ford Export Stout – 7.5%

Rich dark and deep black export stout. A complex malt base providing burnt chocolate, espresso coffee, molasses and leather aromas. The complexity of the malts is perfectly balanced by the warmth of the alcohol, with punchy bitterness and earthy spice provided by the Columbus hops.

If you’d like some and you can’t get the N&P, you can find it in Waitrose.

Wild Beer – Jambo – Imperial Stout + Chocolate + Raspberries – 8.5%

An imperial stout brewed with raspberries and Valrhona cocoa nibs. Rich flavours of chocolate and fruit collide with boozy heat.

Building on the Wild Beer repertoire of wild stouts they have combined our love of locally foraged fruits with their penchant for sweet dark beers. The combination of fruit and chocolate is always amazing and what better way to combat the cold nights of the changing seasons than with a rich warming stout? Specially packaged in 750ml bottles to encourage sharing, it’s a beer to be savoured and divvied out to those you deem fit.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #7 – September 2017

The eleventh selection from the N&P and the seventh in the “normal” club (as opposed to the dark side club).

I think I’ve finished everything from box six and five and still one left from three (Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA). Let’s dive in.

Alechemy – EH54 – 5.7%

A rare beer from a brewery who are always a hit when their casks pop up at the N&P. A strong hop aroma with juicy fruit notes of pineapple and mandarin. A pale malt base gives a light digestive biscuit backbone which soon gives way to the torrent of hops. Strong fruity flavours of mandarin and pink grapefruit explode in the mouth, with a finish that is hoppt and tangy, with grapefruit becoming drier. A good west coast IPA full of body and complexity.

Almasty – West Coast IPA – 7%

Canned on 8th August, these super fresh cans are crammed full of old school, new world hops in the kettle. It has then been dry hopped excessively with the new breed of U.S super hops. Big aroma, big flavour and big bitterness. West coast style.

Hops in the boil: Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Cascade
Dry hop: Mosaic, Eureka, El Dorado and Citra
Yeast: US-05

Brew York – Nuba – 6.7%

We loved our visit to the Brew York 1st birthday party in April. Nuba is a Vermont style hazy and dank east coast IPA. Expect grapefruit passion fruit and bubble gum (!) with a gentle resinous finish. Do not expect massive bitterness or a challenge. An easy drinker packed with Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops.

Fourpure – Deucebox Double Citrus IPA – 8.3%

Last year Fourpure made Juicebox, a citrus IPA. What if they made it bigger, bolder and better? Step forward Deucebox. Oranges are added to the Juicebox recipe with double the hops, double the malt and double the juice to give a punchy and tropical glass of joy. Yes please!

Thornbridge – Tzara – 4.8%

A familiar one this, you can get it in M&S! Tzara is a hybrid beer, fermented like an ale but matured like a lager. A broad, almost fruity palate with some bready notes. A crisp, refreshing beer. Voted Best Kolsch Ale in Europe in the 2013 World Beer Awards.

Wild Weather Ales – Motorcycle Emptiness – 5%

Drawing from the Manic Street Preachers’ song that inspired it, its bitter background is soon overturned by big hop notes. Sherbert and lemon contend on the nose while a full bodied grape and lime flavour cleanse the palate.