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 Crown and Two Chairmen, Soho, February 2018

It’s another “pre-show dining” post, but with a difference. This is London pre-show dining, and a rather special show. I’ll get on to that in a minute.

Trying to find somewhere to eat before a show at the Soho Theatre can be a tricky proposition. At the weekend, you really need to have booked somewhere if you want to guarantee getting in to the place that you chose in advance. On a snowy midweek evening you might just be in with a better chance of finding a table, and I managed to grab one and order some food and drink.

Part of my reason for choosing this pub was that it was part of the Thornbridge “craft beer residency” running between the last week of January and the middle of March. This essentially means that those nice Thornbridge folks are invading lots of London pubs for seven and a bit weeks, and there will always be some Thornbridge beers in cask, keg or bottles (they are still can refuseniks).

Yes, I know that there are plenty of local (London) breweries around, but you don’t always find them in London pubs (too much Greene King estate around for my liking). So I’m happy to support some beer that has made a very similar journey to the one that I took to get here.

So, with all that preamble over, a Thornbridge Versa (left) kicks things off, a wheat beer with that classic profile of banana and clove, and a slight sweetness. Very nice.

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Also pictured is my other drink, more local this time, Fine and Dandy (right) from Truman’s Brewery, a famous London name which died in 1989 but came back in 2010, with a new brewery opening in Hackney Wick in 2013. It’s not quite heyday Truman’s (which was once the biggest brewery in the world) but it’s good to see this big name back in London. A good old fashioned brown ale too, sweet and malty, evoking memories of the past.

On to dinner next, lots of interesting pub grub to choose from which is exactly what you want to see. My choice was southern fried chicken with cherry BBQ sauce, fries & slaw (and a single unadvertised leaf).

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It was really nice, a good spicy kick to the wonderfully crisp batter, a nice sweet/sour/sticky balance to the cherry BBQ sauce and some good chips (complete with pointless tin cup). A decent meal in a cracking pub.

A cracking pub that is ideally situated for visitors to the Soho Theatre, which is where I was off to next, to see the band formerly known as “New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”, but now known as as “the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular folk duo in New Zealand”, aka Flight of the Conchords.

These were last minute warm up gigs for their forthcoming arena tour. We didn’t get tickets for that (having given arena comedy a few goes, it just doesn’t work for me), and I was rather happy to snap up the last ticket for tonight’s gig. The new songs still need a bit more practice, and there won’t be any crowd surfing after a recorder solo at the O2, but it was a brilliant night, certainly helped by a good pub trip beforehand!

The Beer Hall, Staveley – Hawkshead brewery tap, August 2017

All good things must come to an end. Our Lakes camping break is one of those things. We have bagged another 9 Wainwrights, enjoyed some great walking, and had some lovely pub dinners and decent local ales.

Handily, our route home involves going within half a mile of Staveley, the home of Hawkshead brewery (who outgrew Hawkshead itself many years ago) and The Beer Hall, their brewery tap. We came here twice in 2016, once for lunch and a shopping trip (you can read more about the brewery and The Beer Hall on that post), and once for a shopping trip. Today was another 2 for the price of 1 visit, with lunch and shopping on the agenda once more.

Lunch first, and a couple of drinks. A Solar Sour for Mrs MOFAD, a refreshingly sour wheat beer. For me, the August Session IPA, packed with Jester, Citra, Mosaic and Centennial hops, delicious fruity hoppiness.

Food next, and we both opted for the ploughman’s, two cheeses from a choice of many, some salad, a couple of slices of bread, a lovely ginger chutney and coleslaw.

Decent portions of cheese, a nice smoked cheddar and a brie were my choices. The smoked cheddar was really nice, a decent level of smokiness but not too much to overwhelm those who are not big smoke fans (I like a lot of smoke). The brie was a squishy delight. There’s also a pickled onion peeking out from behind the coleslaw.

As ever, the choice of a bread board to serve it all on makes life difficult, a piled up salad is always in danger of slipping off at some point, and we both lost salad items to the floor. Plates were invented in order to eat food from.

We lingered over lunch for as long as we could (a 200 mile journey still awaits), but the time had soon come to do a bit of shopping before departure. A good range of Hawkshead beers are available (I picked up 6 on my last visit) as well as an ever changing range from British breweries and a few very interesting European beers (mostly from those lovely Belgian types).

Let’s have a quick look through.

Mrs MOFAD opted for a Great White, two Chuckle Berry Sours (been waiting for ages to find bottles of this) and a Floris Mango.

My shopping basket contained Fallen Brewing’s Grapevine (a new world pale ale), two from Marble Brewery, Murk du Soleil, the excellently named double IPA, and Prime Time, a collaboration Kolsch style beer brewed with beer writer and “sommALEier” Melissa Cole.

The red can is Sputnik from North Brewing Co, a dry hopped pale ale and there’s a bottle of Thresher from Siren Craft Brew, a spelt IPA triple dry hopped with Galaxy, Mosaic and Citra, which just happened to be the first collaboration brew at Siren’s new brewhouse.

The remaining items are a can of this year’s batch of Key Lime Tau (2π) by Crooked Stave and Hawkshead Breweries. The 2015 version was brewed for the 2015 Rainbow Project, and was my runner up in August 2016’s beer of the month. It has been brewed in the last two years, and the 2017 version had to go in my shopping basket. If you love lime like I love lime, you’ll love this.

Finally there are two bottles of Brodie’s Prime Export. I’ve already got one of these in stock, so these are for MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve. I think they’ll like it.

Another lovely visit to The Beer Hall. It’s the place to go if you are passing by on the A591. Today we had the added bonus of driving out over Britain’s newest bridge, the new Gowan Bridge in Staveley. The old bridge was destroyed as a result of Storm Desmond in December 2015, and there’s even a sign on the A591 inviting you to visit Britain’s newest bridge.

Cosy Club, Leicester, July 2017

A rare weeknight shopping trip to Leicester. We are going to a wedding later in the year (a trip that shoud generate some interesting blog posts), and various items of clothing are required. Luckily, I’m not going to go on about that. Instead, I’ll tell you about dinner. As we have done on a few occasions recently, we found ourselves in the Cosy Club again (the same chain who run our local Centro Lounge).

Rather splendidly, they had a cask of Centennial Wheat Beer – Pattern #WB0002 from very local brewery Framework, who were the subject of last night’s craft beer hour (#craftbeerhour). So having spent an hour last night talking about their beers, tonight I had one. I’ve had one or two of them from the Needle & Pin, so nice to see them elsewhere in the wild. Centennial Wheat Beer – Pattern #WB0002 was a good mix of wheat, hops and malty sweetness.

On to dinner next, and it was burger time. The Brigadier burger with cheese, pulled pork and chorizo to be precise, and it was very tasty. The chips (probably technically fries) were soon removed from their silly metal cup, and deposited on the nice twee china plates that are favoured here. The slaw was also decent, not spoilt by being full of half a raw onion.

Another nice dinner at the Cosy Club, a good post-shopping place for dinner.

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.

House of the Trembling Madness, April 2017

After a lovely dinner at the Lamb & Lion, we took a short stroll to the House of the Trembling Madness. We’ve been here once before, back in 2012, when we visited the bottle shop on the ground floor, bewildered by the array of beers and ciders on offer.

This time round we were less bewildered (we’ve seen a few lovely beer shops like this now), and so we made our way upstairs to the bar. By some happy coincidence (or perhaps I’d been keeping an eye on these things on Twitter), the first kegs of Beavertown Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA were released today, and THOTTM were one of the places to have a keg on.

The beer menu is impressive, basically anything that’s in the shop can be drunk, and they also have a number of beers on keg and cask, as well as bottles in the fridges along with hot drinks and some food.

Mrs MOFAD opted for something all the way from San Diego, Passion Fruit Kicker from Green Flash Brewing, a wheat beer with subtle passion fruit flavours, very gentle and tasty.

There was no choice for me, it had to be the Bloody ‘Ell, a super tasty mish mash of hops and blood orange. It’s a really good modern beer.

To contrast with that, I went for The Devil Made Me Brew It from Bristol’s Arbor Ales. It wasn’t quite as contrasting as I was expecting, an oaty stout with hoppiness and massive burnt flavours. I really enjoyed this one too, and a dinky half pint dimple pot was also pleasing.

We’ve had plenty of great beers today so curtailed our drinking activities. However, you can’t leave without passing through the shop, so we had to look around. As we were travelling by train, we had to be strict and limit ourselves to just one thing each. Otherwise I could happily have had one of everything. You might spot beers from Thornbridge, Siren, Wild Beer, Vocation, Chorlton and Beavertown (to name but a few) in this slightly blurry photo.

The one thing I didn’t get chance to capture was the total and utter quirkiness of the decor upstairs. A medieval style drinking hall could be expected to have lots of mounted animal heads on the wall, and it does.

A fantastic pub and beer shop all in one. No trip to York would be complete without a trip to the House of the Trembling Madness. Just take it easy so you don’t get the DTs 🙂

The Needle & Pin, March 2017

A little “halfway between birthdays” event for us. We had a bit of a think about where we wanted to have a little event with a little group of friends. Often these happen in various chain pubs about the area, but I wanted our one to happen in my favourite pub. So we made it happen (with thanks to Sean who let us reserve the entire upstairs area for the evening).

My evening began with a pint of Beer Hub Brew #1 from The West End Brewery, a new Leicester brewery that opened up last year. This was a cracking session pale ale with good hoppy notes.

Some pizza arrived from Peter Pizza. We tucked in.

This was accompanied by North Riding Brewery’s Neapolitan Milk Stout, which is like childhood in a glass, the 1980s ice cream classic in pint form.

Downstairs, it was bar manager Jet’s birthday. Sean had very kindly rebranded one of the pumps to celebrate this 🙂

Whilst one or two people were confused by this, Mrs MOFAD was choosing another beer, Curse of Threepwood from Wild Weather Ales, a fruity and tart rhubarb and hibiscus sour wheat beer. If you don’t recognise the name, Guybrush Threepwood was the main character in the Monkey Island series of games. One for you 90s gamers!

One more pint to celebrate, a Thornbridge favourite, Lord Marples, a classic bitter.

A lovely night out with friends and beers.

The Needle & Pin, February 2017

So often, you have to compromise when out for food and drink. If you go somewhere where the food is good, the beer will often be very limited, or not very good. If you go somewhere where the beer is good, the food may have been neglected, or they don’t do food at all.

Thankfully there are places where compromise is not necessary, and my pub of the year 2016 is one of those. As you might expect 🙂

How do they do this? Simple. There’s no kitchen. You bring the food, they bring the beer. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that’s something that we do quite often. If you just want a quick sandwich or salad, you can pop over the road to The Hog Stop to stock up on porky goodness. You can bring other things in from nearby food outlets. Or you can do what we usually do, which is to order pizza from our local pizza place, Peter. They deliver here, by hand, and it was one of the only places that they delivered to until they signed up with Deliveroo.

So, on to the thing that the Needle & Pin does best. Beer. Since my last visit, a fourth hand pump has been installed, so they now have four ales on cask at all times. Tonight my choice was Barefoot Blonde from Tenby Brewing company, a delicious pint full of delightful grassy, citrus hoppiness. I’ve had a few Tenbys now, and all have been good. And luckily I know someone who regularly visits Tenby, so I shall make sure he brings me some more back 🙂

Here comes the food bit, my favourite Peter pizza, number 3, “The Sausages”. More on that (briefly) here.

On to another beer, this time from the bottle. Thornbridge’s Raindrops On Roses was the winning brew from their 2016 “Great British Homebrew Challenge”. This hazy gold beer has a gentle aroma of rose and lemon, something like Turkish delight with a slight hoppy character.

As it was a work night, it was time to be off home. Back again soon!

Beavertown x Heretic – Peacher Man Peach Cobbler witbier

The third beer review from the Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box, and the sixth overall from both boxes. Let’s look through the beer blurb…

Beavertown / Heretic – Peacher Man Peach Cobbler witbier – two things you probably already know – Herectic love hops, and Beavertown love hops. However, that seemed a little obvious of a choice when constructing theirr collab, and would definitely have been the easy way out. So they started thinking about the classic dessert, the peach cobbler. They started by breaking down the recipe; peach, toasted oats, lemon zest, muscovado sugar and bourbon vanilla pods. They fermented the beer out with a delicate Belgian Wit ale strain to add hints of spice and fruit and completed the picture by dry hopping lightly with Nelson Sauvin to add another layer of the aroma.

Enter the “Peacher Man.” A silence falls on the bar as his distinctive Peacher garb sweeps over the dusty saloon doors. Outwardly a strict man of the cobbler, but there are murmurs on the warm prairie winds of his dubious morals and heavy-handed sweet justice. His drink is already poured, and without a word it is slid down the bar to a waiting palm. The quick wit of the barman renders not a quiver on the Peacher Man’s face. The young bandit reaches for his revolver but The Peacher Man has already fired. Another convert.

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Those are their words. What about mine? Well, there are certainly peachy and vanilla notes in here, much heavier on the nose than the palate, as well as some yeasty and hoppy notes. I was expecting some huge flavours from this one (Beavertown never skimp on flavour) but they were rather muted. It is crisp and refreshing (thank the lemon zest for that) but just lacking that certain something.

There will be a sequel, as 50% of the wort was taken over to their Tempus Barrel Programme where the fermentation has been pulled into the wild world of Brettanomyces and its other funky bacterial cousins. The Peacher Man will return…

Surely it has to be Son of a Peacher Man?

The Basin, Loughborough, August 2016

A quick post. Regular MOFAD drinking companion Alec usually organises a summer meal of some sort, usually to coincide with increasing age by a year. A bit later than usual this year, but we find ourselves in The Basin, a minimalist restaurant serving Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisine.

We were supposed to go to the awesome Needle & Pin first for a drink but Arriva buses had other ideas, leaving us hanging around at the bus stop for around half an hour’s valuable drinking time.

So when we eventually got to town, it was straight to the Basin for a drink first. And despite interesting things like Hitachino Nest being available at Wagamama, The Basin haven’t really caught up with this modern thinking, and have a very average selection. So Hoegaarden is the best choice, a fruity witbier with a touch of coriander and orange that works well with the food. A few of these were consumed.

A hoisin duck temaki to start, a hand roll of sticky rice, shredded duck, cucumber, spring onion and sweet hoisin sauce. Classic Oriental starter stuff. A nice little pea of wasabi on the side, not for the faint hearted.

To the main course. Salmon teryaki, a Japanese classic served with simple boiled rice. Yay! And pointless iceberg lettuce. Boo! What a waste of space that lettuce is, taking up valuable real estate on the plate where something much tastier could be sitting.

A pleasant meal certainly, but that unadvertised iceberg rather leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.