The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #11 – October 2018

The nights are drawing in and the beers are getting darker. That’s not to say that there’s no place for a super hoppy IPA in these shorter months, but a few more winter warmers find their way into the shelf of delights.

Here’s the latest selection, two for now, four for later…

Amundsen – White Crow – 10.5%

A White Imperial Stout packed full of cocoa beans, vanilla beans, tonka beans as well as coffee beans. This beer has all the characteristics of a full bodied imperial stout, whilst at the same time being white.

Brew York – Viking DNA – 5.0%

A smooth well balanced porter with subtly smoky character formed from a rich blend of 6 different malts.

Cloudwater – Parkin Cake – 10%

To celebrate their 500th gyle, Cloudwater brewed an homage to Parkin, the oatmeal and ginger cake much favoured in Yorkshire. In the Imperial Brown Ale base is a rich blend of malts, oats and treacle for sweetness, and added ginger and spices for that distinctive aroma.

Kasteel – Bruin – 11.0%

A strong Belgian brown ale. After extensive tasting, trying to fulfil increasingly strict requirements, the brewmaster found themselves with a creamy, dark Belgian brown ale: Kasteelbier. The quality of the past is still unmatched and the beloved taste is very much of the present. Kasteelbier is a dark, artisanal beer, soft and mild, full and creamy. It can age for many, many years, as indicated on the bottle.

Left Handed Giant – Choc Orange Milk Stout – 5.1%

Deeper Water is a seasonal milk stout, brewed with lactose, vanilla and cacao nibs – this time it’s been given the chocolate orange treatment! Gemma would hate this, I might just love it.

Stillwater – Critical Thinking – 11%

Stillwater brew some incredible beers across the spectrum. This does not disappoint. An opaque black colour with a lovely tan head. Roasted malt flavour with notes of bitter chocolate and liquorice. Big sticky mouthfeel and warming alcohol notes.

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Brewdog fanzine issue 13 – October 2018

Still hanging on by the skin of its teeth, another fanzine has popped itself into my hands. At least this time there are some new brews, and not just rehashed NEIPAs.

Old World Russian – Stout – 9.5%

All full bodied taste, this opulent whirl of hops and malts even rivals the most colourful of imperial Faberge eggs.

Originally created to celebrate the Russian Royal Family. This beer is a fitting tribute with which to toast your own empire.

Brutalist – Brut IPA – 6%

Pop the cork on this Brut IPA. German and American hops unite to give a subtle sauvignon blanc and fruity flavour profile. Stone fruits duke it out with apricot and peach winning the day, followed by a deft touch of grass and gooseberry to finish. A delicate effervescence and white wine character deliver this brutalist into polite society.

Nope. Don’t get it. Posh lager? Perhaps better on keg…

Flux Factory – West Coast IPA – 6%

Yuzu and bergamot flow into pine and grapefruit peel in this ever-changing West Coast IPA. This experimental pale utilises late hopping; delicate hop oils bring mango and lychee, running alongside toasty Crystal malt, with an underlying resinous bitterness bringing order to chaos.

Once again it appears that the canned version is meh and the kegs are better.

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Brewdog Fanzine issue 11

Like issue 10, this selection didn’t have the usual tracking information, so it arrived slightly by surprise again (and a day later than usual). Also like issue 10, the details haven’t been published online (edit: 2 weeks on and they still haven’t, neither have issue 10). So I’ve just quickly typed up what’s in the box.

My fanzine subscription is still hanging in the balance.

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Alter Ego – 8.5% – DIPA

Another West Coast IPA. Punchy and aggressive, it puts American hops front and centre. A deft touch of caramel and toast runs alongside massive hop aromas of pine, mango, grapefruit and lychee and a bitter finale.

King of Eights V4 – German Hop Edition – 7.4% – NEIPA

Another recycled beer idea, the 4th version of King of Eights. A duo of new German hops (Ariana, Huell Melon) deliver massive tropical fruit notes with efficiency. This European powerhouse of flavour visits New England with cantaloupe, peach, mango, papaya, lime peel and kiwi. The full rounded texture is complemented with a smooth oatiness and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Ten Ton Truck – Black Forest Edition – 10% – Imperial Stout

More recycling. This rig is hauling a forest of flavour. Deep and intense, with bitter chocolate and espresso layered over vanilla and cherry character. Dark stewed fruit notes combine with coffee, running full tilt into cocoa and mocha and hint of almond. A complex and rewarding payload aided by the addition of honey, vanilla and cherry.

Brewdog Fanzine issue 10

I’m still in the club, but it’s getting to be something that needs reviewing on a regular basis, with Brewdog coming out with so many “stunts” that are really leaving a nasty taste in the mouth.

Interestingly, this selection didn’t have the usual tracking information, so it arrived slightly by surprise.

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The details haven’t been published online (edit: 2 weeks on and they still haven’t). So I’ve just quickly typed up what’s in the box.

Heist Monkey – 5.4% – American pale ale with Hallertau Taurus and Blanc, Mosaic, Simcoe and Columbus in the mix. That would suggest lovely hoppiness, but this one turned out to be very ordinary.

Coin-op Kaiser – 6% – dry-hopped “imperial” pils. This sounds like a remix of last year’s small batch imperial pilsner, which was a nice idea but didn’t quite work. It was actually better than that, but still nothing too special. More Hallertau Taurus in this one.

Choco Libre – 8.2% – nitro Mexican chocolate stout. A stout with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, chilli, coffee and vanilla. ark chocolate mixes with mocha, vanilla and spice, all layered over a smooth nitro-styling you never saw coming. This set-up finishes with a delicate habanero drop kick as the bell sounds. Should be interesting, it needs to be to make up for the other two.

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 Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #10 – August 2018

More darkness awaits within…

Arbor – Amarone Bristol Porter – 8.4%

One of the favourite N&P breweries have excelled themselves here with a rare dark beer brew, a barrel aged imperial porter brewed with eight different grains and Bramling Cross hops. The recipe for this strong porter was devised to create complex notes of chocolate, burnt caramel and stone fruit. After fermentation, it was matured in Amarone barrels, which allowed these flavours to mellow and contributed additional touches of raisin & vanilla.

De Struise – Cuvee Delphine – 13%

After the success of the De Struise in a recent Dark Beer Club,  it was time for another one. Their beer Black Albert was used in a new barrel aging project. More than a year ago, Carlo was able to get his hands on a stock of Four Roses Bourbon barrels, and filled them up. This unique creation was originally to be named 4 Black Roses in honour of its heritage, but Four Roses strongly advised against it. As the disowned offspring of Black Albert, the name Cuvée Delphine imposed itself. Savouring the Belgian irony, the artwork on the label is by Delphine Boël.

Rudgate – Ruby Mild – 4.4%

Time to go a bit old school. A dark cherry, ruby red mild, with an aroma of sweet, strawberries, and smoke, tasting soft, rich and complex.

To 0l – Mr Brown – 10.0%

This year’s Mr. Brown is very brown. An intense and full bodied stout, brewed with coffee and matured with cognac oak chips and cedar spirals for richness.

West by Three – Chocolate Milk Stout – 4.5%

This was on draft a few months ago and everyone loved it. This deep and creamy stout is built on a rich chocolate malt foundation and laden with toffee aroma from the Amber and Crystal malts. Is it the closest thing you can get to liquid cake? The rolled oats and lactose sugar work together to create a velvet smooth mouth feel. The sweetness is balanced with a touch of bitterness and some subtle chocolaty notes from the cacao nibs. Enjoy this decadent ale with your favourite roast dinner or rich dessert.

Wylam – Macchiato – 6.5%

Wylam have appeared occasionally in the N&P since opening, but you can expect to see a lot more of them in the fridges and on the taps. This hazelnut praline coffee porter has a complex grain bill for extra body and mouth feel, and a cold brew hazelnut coffee shines through in this winter warming porter.

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Brewdog fanzine issue 6

Here we go again with the next fanzine. I think I’ve had 6 out of the 12 beers so far, and King of Eights v1, a tribute NEIPA, is about the best yet, although I’ve been saving up some of the imperial/double beers which could turn out to be better (and hopefully nothing will be worse than the small batch English IPA). Here’s what’s in the mix this time…

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Raspberry Rivet – 6.5% – “Speciality Beer”

A cranachan-inspired New England Pale Ale, brewed with the addition of raspberries and a lot of love (whatever that tastes of). Perhaps raspberry, lactose and Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo hops.

Zephyr V3 – Pina Colada – 4.6% – Sour Ale

The latest twist in the Zephyr series, a Pina Colada-inspired summer session sour, made with Perle hops and the addition of coconut, pineapple & lime.

Vinyl Vigilante – 7% – Stout

A coffee milk stout making use of bold espresso and smooth sweet mocha to mix it up, coffee and lactose added to Magnum hops.