The Needle & Pin – May 2017 shopping spree

Another N&P post. And another shopping spree. A few of the items pictured appeared in craft beer club boxes, but most of these are “extras”, things that have turned up on the shelves at the Needle & Pin since the last time I was there. The awesome Sean is always happy to put things aside for you, but by the time I got round to collecting this lot it was getting a bit embarrassing. And before you try and stage an intervention, I should point out that they are not all for me. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights. Cans first.

Just look at that lovely lot. Canned beer is not something to be ashamed of. In those cans above are going to be some of the best beers that I will try this year. On the left we have some new offerings from Magic Rock, including this year’s Human Cannonball (Double IPA) and Unhuman Cannonball (that’s a Triple IPA) as well as Tap Type (American Pale) and Psychokinesis (American IPA).

Next to them are new Cloudwater offerings Bergamot Hopfen Weisse, IPA Mosaic Exp 431, Motueka Pilsner, Session IPA Chinook Mosaic and NW DIPA Citra, the next evolution of the Cloudwater DIPA experiments, featuring yeast from one of Manchester’s oldest family brewers and fresh 2016 harvest hops. Citra takes the lead backed up by Simcoe, and JW Lees 4792nd generation yeast.

There are also some cans from recent visitors to #craftbeerhour including Pig & Porter’s Whispering Bob and Erdant’s Light Bulb.

Let’s move on to the bottles next.

We start on the left with No Rest for Dancers, a red ale from Lost and Grounded, three from Gypsy Hill, Hop Candy, a Simcoe forward DIPA from Siren and Astley’s Northern Hop Lager (yes that’s Rick Astley’s first beer brewed by Mikkeller). And please, no more “never gonna give you hop” remarks. On the right hand side you can see Beavertown Tempus Project Brosé, brewed in collaboration with Forty Hall Vineyard, the first commercial scale vineyard in London since the middle ages.

Looking forward to sampling these in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to report back on a few, but given that I’m four months behind on beer of the month and pub of the month posts, I’m making no promises.

Calcott Hall Farm Shop, Brentwood, Essex, May 2017

People of Essex! You have an awesome farm shop on your doorstep.

The McTurks have been farming at Calcott Hall for nearly 40 years. Their former dairy farm is 120 acres. They started out selling potatoes and sweetcorn from crates in 1974, and renovated an old Essex barn in 1983, using more and more of it as their shop needs grew.

They sell almost all of their produce through the shop, with lots of fresh fruit and veg on display as you enter.

As you wander around, you discover more and more treasures. A meat counter, with pre-packed meat next door. Extensive ranges of sauces (I stocked up on some of my favourite Tiptree sauces), jams, chutneys and pickles follow, with freezers full of fruits, veg, potato products (chips, wedges) and even Yorkshire puddings.

Turn the corner and there’s an excellent range of frozen ready meals, with portions from 1-4 people, and lots of cuisines on offer. And then there are biscuits, crisps, sweets and more. And bird food.

Finally, we get to the booze section, with wines nestled next to ciders (lots of Aspalls from just across the border), and beers. Lots of beers, mostly from literal neighbours Brentwood Brewing Company, and some from other Essex brewers. Definitely keeping it local. I picked up some new (to me) ones from Billericay Brewing Co.

Nestled just next to the A12, this is a true gem. Perfect for all of your food and drink needs, so much under one (ever-expanding) roof.

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.

Another quick trip to Booths…

I’ve written plenty of times now about Booths. You can find my original paean here. Today was the last day of our Lakes trip so we popped in for a bit of shopping on the way home. We bought some food, but also a few beers. Right now you won’t find Mikkeller beers in any other supermarket, it’s a joy to find some of their range on the shelves alongside some rather less good beers.

There are also a couple of Yeastie Boys beers there (from New Zealand but they started brewing in Scotland in 2015) as well as a Rhubarb Saison from Ilkley Brewery. This is just a tiny selection of what’s on offer, but it is without a doubt the best supermarket for beer.

The brilliance of Booths, December 2016

One day I’ll stop writing gushing blog posts about Booths. Today is not that day. Our first day of holiday means a trip to the supermarket to stock up on essentials. As well as the usual food stuff, it’s also a chance to pick up a beer or two. Or eighteen. Many of these will come home (some are for friends), but some of them will be sampled in the next week.

There is still debate about canning beer, there’s lots of science around the amount of oxygen that does or doesn’t get in during canning. Thornbridge for example are anti-canning, but so many breweries are moving towards cans for their ales.

In amongst this tower of beer you’ll find local brews from Hawkshead, a couple from across the Pennines, Northern Monk and Magic Rock, and a Flat Pack Fruit Bat from BrewDog (a collaboration with Swedish brewery Omnipollo).

There are also some from further afield, such as AEgir Bryggeri from Norway (when did you last see a Norwegian beer anywhere, let alone in a supermarket alongside your fruit and veg?) Staying in Europe, there are also cans from Stone Brewing in Berlin.

If that’s not exotic enough for you, how about a trip to America? No AB Inbev filth here (it is available if that’s your thing), instead we have Crazy Mountain Brewing Company from Edwards, Colorado and Two Roads Brewing Company from Stratford, Conneticut.

All of that in a sleepy Cumbrian town supermarket. A superb selection.

Low Sizergh Barn, December 2016

Low Sizergh Barn has become a fixture in our Lakes trips. It’s usually where we now stop for lunch before the last (short) leg of the journey. You do have to brave a short single track road if approaching from the south, but it’s worth it. As well as serving up some tasty lunch, the farm shop downstairs is full of great local produce as well as some things from a bit further afield. It is perfect for stocking up if you are coming here for a week in a self-catering cottage (just as a random example).

Lunch first though, and a Cumberland sausage ciabatta and some salad to keep me going for the rest of the day. Always a lovely lunch at the LSB, which is why there is always a queue for a table, but waiting is well worth it.

A note about raw milk.

Just a few days before we arrived, a recall was issued on all raw milk sold from the LSB due to a link to six confirmed cases of campylobacter infection. Raw milk is not treated or heated before being sold. It’s like Louis Pasteur never existed. Any talk of milk problems can only lead to a classic 1990s sketch…

 

Since they started selling raw milk in March 2016, LSB have been very active on social media talking about how great it is, but it seems that has rather backfired at the moment…