The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #9 – November 2019

The nights are drawing in and it’s not all about massive imperial stouts. I enjoy sour beers all year round, but some people think they are not for winter. Let’s dive in to the next selection, box number 46 overall.

3 Fonteinen – Armand & Gaston – 5%

A special cuvee from one of Belgium’s finest producers. This limited release Geuze is packed with lemon sherbet notes and all the funk you’d expect from a premium lambic but with more depth than the standard release.

Burnt Mill – Split your Infinities – 5.6%

A simple malt bill of pale & wheat provided a wort that was soured overnight, boiled, then sent to the fermenter to condition on blueberry puree. Clean, lactic aromas and light tartness are complemented by the Mosaic dry hop and the mellow, sweet taste of blueberries in this refreshing fruited sour.

Cigar City – Margarita Gose – 4.2%

Throw on your Hawaiian shirt and your lederhosen and meet Cigar City Brewing at the intersection of traditional German brewing and tropical relaxation. A German-style Gose with added orange peel and lime essence to create the perfect warm weather ale. It will definitely be drunk in cold weather here!

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Dugges – Black Currant – 4.5%

Premium Dugges. Black Currant is a sour beer fermented with blackcurrants. To give the beer its sour taste, lactobacillus was added to the mix. A beer within the New Nordic Beer Project, brewed with only Nordic ingredients. Think Ribena in beer form, and much classier than a purple nasty.

Dupont – Saison – 6.5%

Saison Dupont is a classic Belgian farmhouse ale. This is a beautifully balanced, complex beer that has a refreshing fruitiness and long, dry finish. It is bottled unfiltered so it may be cloudy or have a slight sediment but this is normal and perfectly natural. One of the greatest beers in the world.

Floris Kriek – Brouwerij Huyghe – 3.6%

Easy drinking and full on, a deep red colour and slightly cloudy, made with Maraschino cherries. Light and very refreshing. Floris is made by Brouwerij Huyghe the brewery famous for Delerium Tremens (the one with the pink elephant).

The 2019 International Rainbow Project beer box

I’ve written about the International Rainbow Project every year, so I’m not going to wax lyrical about it again. You can read lots about it from my 2016 post. The good news this year is that there was no need to use HonestBrew to get hold of the box set, so it was a very simple and pleasant buying process, unlike every other year where something went wrong. The whole process was easy and a few days later it arrived safe and sound without any HonestBrew induced dramas. It looks like I’ll never have to use them again, which is good. They were also charging more for this box set than other sites!

Last year was supposed to be the swansong of this project, as the original team felt they had done enough with it, going out with a barrel-aged bang. After conversations at fesivals, Siren handed the project over to Bristol’s Left Handed Giant, who decided to pull together a group of breweries of around their age (3 years) or younger. Their intention is to manage the project with the 6 breweries for the next 3 years, before passing it on to the next generation of young breweries.

Here’s what they came up with for 2019…

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Red

Track Brewing Co. (Manchester) x Highland Park Brewery (Los Angeles, CA)
Frontier Psychiatrist – 7.0% – Fruited IPA

A deep, rich IPA hopped with Citra, Galaxy & Sabro giving huge notes of Mango & Coconut elevated by additions of Flaked Coconut, Passionfruit, Grapefruit Zest & Vanilla, all tied together with Dragonfruit giving this beer its red hue.

Just your everyday run-of-the-mill dragonfruit IPA named after a song by The Avalanches. Said no one ever. Interesting sour fruit & hops.

Orange

North Brewing Co. (Leeds) x Fieldwork Brewing (Berkeley, CA)
Golden Milk – 6.0% – Sour With Fruit & Spices

North X Field Work – ‘Orange’ in 2019’s Rainbow Project.

A 6% sour beer brewed with a 20% grist of naked + rolled oats, 15kg of fresh peeled turmeric in the whirlpool, cinnamon in the boil, coconut in the mash, whirlpool and fermenter and then triple fruited with 1.2 tons of apricot.

This one weirded me out – too much going on, it’s like a fight in a glass and no-one seems to win.

Yellow

Burnt Mill Brewery (Suffolk) x Cascade Brewing (Portland, OR)
Panacea – 6.4% – IPA

An IPA dry hopped with Lemondrop & Citra, rounded out with ginger, chamomile & local honey.

I must admit that I didn’t get any of those adjuncts, just a pleasant pale ale with a hint of pine.

Green

Deya Brewing Company (Cheltenham) x Holy Mountain (Seattle, WA)
Emerald Visions – 5.5% – Lime Wit

This one is supposed to have loads of lime and I really hope it does because I love lime.

Blue

Left Handed Giant (Bristol) x Alesong Brewing & Blending (Eugene, OR)
Why I Love The Moon – 6.2% – Blueberry Gose With Borage Flowers

Blueberry Gose with the addition of hand picked, local, Borage flowers and Oregon sea salt.

Indigo

Verdant Brewing Co. (Falmouth) x Temescal Brewing (Oakland, CA)
Indigo Tie-Dye Wolf T-Shirt – 8.8% – Imperial Stout

A strong stout inspired by baklava, the wonderful sweet of the east. Sticky and nutty from pistachios alongside flavours of cinnamon and rose.

Violet

Unity Brewing Co. (Southampton) x Alvarado Street Brewery (Monterey, CA)
Tech-Noir – 5.0% – Sour Porter

While trying to figure out what violet tastes like, they brewed a sour oatmeal porter with blueberry and vanilla. Inspired by the juxtaposition of dark nostalgic sci-fi and warm, fluffy, familiar flavours.

An interesting sour, but not a porter.

This year also had an added bonus of a 7 way collaboration between all of the UK breweries, which resulted in:-

Colour Vision – 7.0% – IPA

This beer was brewed to celebrate the spirit of the Rainbow Project. Brewed with a heavy dry hop of Galaxy, Loral, Mosaic and Voss Kveik yeast.

A mega collab which gets better as it goes on.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #8 – September 2019

It’s box number 44 overall, and some interesting sours for the end of summer. I enjoy them all year round, but some people think they are not for winter. Let’s dive in to the next selection of sours…

Dugges – Tutti Frutti – 6.0%

How many fruits do you need for a tutti frutti? Together with Sweden’s Wizard Brewing, Dugges decided to go for all of them. Almost. Pear, mango, passion fruit, peach, pineapple and mandarin. That’s right. Tutti Frutti! Not to be confused with Rowntree’s Tooty Frooties, that 80s tangy sweet. Although it does taste quite like them, absolutely crammed with fruitiness.

Mashionistas – As Lime Gose By – 4.1%

First brewed in collaboration with Warwick University Students’ Union Real Ale Society for their 2019 Real Ale Festival, this is a light tangy and refreshing gose made with Indian white limes, Calabrian Bergamot, and Himalayan pink rock salt. Oh, and Coventry’s finest water!

I’ve already had a bottle of this from an early batch and it has a subtle saltiness and citrus tang. Because of my obssession with lime, I want loads more lime in it. The Crooked Stave version of Key Lime Tau is probably my lime beer blueprint, with Westbrook Key Lime Pie Gose not far behind.

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Siren – Guava Script – 4.0%

Both Sean (Siren’s new Head Brewer) and Erwin (from collaborating brewery Van Moll) have been keen to experiment with pink guava, so this collaboration recipe almost wrote itself. This sour sensation is intensified with mango and passionfruit before being dry-hopped with Azacca and Mosaic. I’m intrigued by this.

Wander Beyond – Anura – 7%

Following on from Loris, (Wander Beyond’s Imperial Apricot Berliner Weisse), they brewed a high strength Berliner Weisse and refermented it on half a tonne of blueberries. This deep, dark, purple beer is ripe and bursting with tart blueberry fruit flavours.

Yonder – Goose – 6.8%

At last, something goose related that isn’t Untitled Goose Game, which has been all over social media at the moment. There are arguments over the etymology of gooseberry, but it’s quite likely that it did come from the fact that they grew in areas where geese would be found, so I like that explanation. Back to the beer.

Inspired by the wild gooseberries discovered growing in woodlands near the brewery, Goose combines those tart, fruity flavours with Cornish sea salt, for a delicous imperial take on a German Gose.

I’m a big gooseberry fan, we used to have gooseberry bushes and I’ve also made gooseberry jam, so I’m looking forward to this one.

Yeastie Boys – Heaven Up – 3.8%

Heaven Up is a refreshing, lemonade-inspired, Berliner-style pale sour ale with aromatic doses of lemon and lime and an effervescent and satisfying drinkability.

We missed out on this one at Thornbridge Peakender, so it’s time to give it a try.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #7 – May 2019

The 39th selection box overall, and the seventh selection of sours. All about the fruitiness this time, which is a very good idea with summer approaching. Can’t beat a fruity sour on a warm summer’s night. Another selection where I’ve borrowed the N&P photo because I didn’t get time to take one!

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Box Social – Ride Over Me – 6%

Tart and sweet raspberry, balanced by lactose creaminess make up the body of this unique beer. This brew is full of oats and caramel malt to provide a full on malt base to compliment the fruit notes, reminiscent of a perfect cheesecake. Box Social beers are well loved at the N&P and this is one of the first ever cans from Box Social. I visited their little railway arch on a very rainy night in Newcastle in June 2017.

Brick – Manhattan – 5.9%

There have been some fantastic sours from Brick (I’ve picked up a few from St Pancras), and this is no exception. Great label designs too. Manhattan Sour has a robust malt body and is flavoured with sweet cherry and bitter orange, before being spiced with ginger and cinnamon and aged on cherry wood.

Cloudwater – Peach Bellini Slushie – 8%

The original idea for this quirky beer came when Cloudwater’s Paul and Evil Twin’s Jeppe added Champagne to a slushie machine full of sour beer at a festival. To recreate that, they blended a grape juice-infused Brut IPA fermented using Champagne yeast with a fruited sour. This edition is one in a series based on Champagne cocktails, so peach has been used to replicate a Bellini.

Evil Twin – G is for Grapefruit – 4.5%

A fresh tartness, a twist of salt and a balanced fruitiness of grapefruit – apparently a complete reflection of your personality

Hackney – Millions of Peaches – 4%

Yes, to mark the start of evenings being light enough to enjoy the last of the sun in the evenings, Millions of Peaches is back! With the third year of its release, Hackney have packed in more peaches than last year but have kept the rest the same. If it ain’t broke…

Vibrant Forest – Actinia – 7.1%

Actinia sees massive quantities of mango, guava, passion fruit and mandarin layered onto an oat and wheat heavy malt bill that’s been soured with Lactobacillus. The result is explosive fruity mayhem. Sticky tropical purees coalesce around a scintillating acidity, itself smothered in a thick, oaty mouth feel. Juicy, puckering, indulgent, this is Actinia. Really looking forward to this one.

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – sour beer selection box #6 – February 2019

We are up to the 35th box overall. The Uncle Brett IPA from the previous box was definitely a highlight, with Dust Rings also an interesting sour with a citrus undertone. Let’s dive in to the spring selection…

Almasty – Passion Fruit Sour – 5%

The sharp summer bite of a sour, smoothed off with the delights of the subtle fruity juicy flavours of passion fruit – looking forward to this one.

Brick – Pink Gose – 3.1%

Fresh pink grapefruit juice and zest adds a lip-puckering quality to the sour base. Pink peppercorns offer a soft citrusy spice and pink Himalayan salt provides a clean saline finish. Sounds like a super session sour.

Lindemans – Cuvée René – 5.5%

Oohhh, René….

Gueuze Cuvée René contains one-third old lambic, aged for at least two years, and two-thirds young lambic, which is at least one year old, matured in large oak barrels called foudres. It is then bottled in a beautiful champagne bottle where a second fermentation takes place. After 6 months, the gueuze obtains a golden colour and is slightly carbonated and tart. Kept in a cellar for a few years, it becomes truly exceptional.

The use of a champagne bottle dates back to an uncertain time period when lambic brewers specialised in recovering empty bottles from great restaurants and other establishments where a lot of champagne was consumed.

This beer can be stored for a number of years in a cool, dark place where its taste will continue to evolve. Lindemans Oude Gueuze Cuvée René was elected the “World’s Best Gueuze” at the 2013 World Beer Awards. Lindemans is one of only eight breweries that, to this day, brew an authentic lambic beer in the Valley of the Zenne near Brussels.

Omnipollo – Moa – 3.5%

Moa lemon curd sour is an attempt by Henok Fentie, one of the founders of Omnipollo, to piece together the different elements of a beer that his girlfriend would enjoy. It is not for the faint hearted. It is as sour as lemon can be. Incredible, but incredibly sour. Be ready!

Three Hills – Fermentum – 7.5%

A Bretted IPA first fermented with a Saison strain and subsequently inoculated with two different strains of Brettanomyces in bottle. Best shared after a little aging to allow esters and carbonation to develop. This one needs a minimum of a year in the bottle…

Track – Visalia – 5.5%

A big fruity cherry sour. A nice and simple “does what it says on the label” beer to end the club this time around.

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The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – sour selection box #5 – November 2018

The nights may be drawing in fast but there’s still a place in my beer store for some super zingy funky sours. Let’s see what’s in this sour box of delights this month, celebrating the first anniversary of sour smackers.

Brekeriet Beer AB – Uncle Brett IPA – 6.5%

A crisp and fruity Brettanomyces IPA with Citra, Centennial, Columbus, Mandarina Bavaria and Eldorado hops. The fermentation with different yeast strains adds a great complexity. Complexity for days. So much going on from the brett, even some vanilla. Hops are lurking somewhere. Clean and sour and dryer than a desert.

Brasserie de Blaugies – La Vermontoise – 6%

Collaboration with Hill Farmstead. A spelt saison (Saison d’Epeautre) with American hops (Amarillo). Looking forward to this lively little number.

Moor Beer Company, Left Handed Giant Brewing, Lost And Grounded Brewers – Berry Lush – 4%

An ode to Bristol as the original home of Ribena. Berry Lush is a tart and refreshing Blackcurrant Witbier. Pils malt, wheat malt, flaked wheat & oats have been combined with 300kg of blackcurrant puree to produce a beer that is slightly tart and refreshing with a magnificent red colour and pink foam.

Gipsy Hill – Moxie – Fruit Salad Sour – 4.5%

For this version of Moxie, Gipsy Hill added 200kg of raspberry and 200kg of pineapple to fermentation and cold side. A nod to an old, fruit salad, classic, gently tart, refreshing sour. Goes well with courage and spirit apparently.

Gipsy Hill – Dodger – Lemon Sherbert Sour – 5%

Dodger is a Lemon Sherbert Sour. A traditional kettle sour, with late citra hops in the boil and dry-hopped with lemongrass. Aroma hops are Citra, bittering hops are magnum, with lemongrass and lactose in the mix. Goes well with treats and sweets.

Union Craft Brewing, Stillwater Artisanal – Dust Rings – DDH Sour

On September 15th 2017 at 7:55:46 a.m. EDT NASA lost contact with the Cassini space probe as it made its final approach to Saturn. Approximately 420 minutes later, NASA received a strange message from the probe: “Yo! This is Strumke. Tell UNION I’ve got the dust for our collab.” Dust Rings was born, a very special Stillwater x UNION sour ale, dry-hopped with Lupulin space dust to commemorate the 9th Annual Baltimore Beer Week.

A nice sour with a citrus undertone, but NMHP. That’s “needs more hop powder”, a new variant on NMH (needs more hops).

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Brewdog Camden, November 2018

At least my sixth visit to this Dog house, following three in the scorching hot summer of 2018, one this time last year, and another a good few years back.

Tonight it was time for a couple of relaxing drinks to unwind, after an evening of networking with the day job. After around five hours of talking shop, it was time just to kick back and chill for a bit. No football on tonight (this was my World Cup venue during my week here in June), so just time to unwind with a couple of interesting beers. This was Buck Craft by Moncada, a collaboration with this very bar.

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When was the last time that you had a kettle sour inspired by Buckfast Tonic Wine, brewed to the Flemish Red style? No, me neither. Loads of grapes mixed with lactic acid results in a refreshing kettle sour, although not as awesome as it should be given the description.

I also had another collaboration beer, Crossover by La Calavera, a Berliner Weisse sour with Lactobacillus, a pretty standard sour with not much on the finish. It was nice just to kick back here for an hour. Off to bed now as I’m an invited speaker at a conference tomorrow…