S & M Brewing Teenage Computer Barley Wine

Barley Wine, 11.5% ABV, 45.6 IBU.

S & M Brewing Teenage Computer Barley Wine, batch 3. Photographed inside a Mac Pro cabinet.

S & M Brewing Teenage Computer Barley Wine, batch 3. Photographed inside a Mac Pro cabinet.

Batch 3 from S & M Brewing is a potent barley wine. It pours a cloudy, deep brown to copper body, with a creamy, dense, beige and long-lived head that ends up as a thin layer.

Strong aroma of caramel, lightly roasted malt, dark dried fruits and stinging alcohol. In the back I get overripe generic fruity notes, chocolate and honey.

The strong flavour is very much on the caramel malty side, there is very little hops in the flavour, but it has a good bitter bite in the long finish. Also orange and liquorice. I’m not sure if it has enough hoppy flavours to be called an American barley wine? It’s also very alcoholic, it’s stinging and boozy, but there are no solvent or unclean notes.

It has a fantastic mouthfeel (ignoring the booze), with a full body, oily texture and soft carbonation.

Conclusion: too boozy, too little hops but a nice caramel maltiness. It kept growing on me, so I finished the bottle with pleasure. 

 

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    12/20
Ratebeer score: 3.2/5.0
Trying to copy the picture on the label...

Trying to copy the picture on the label…

ClubGonzo’s Saintly Sins

Saintly Sins, batch 61.

Saintly Sins, batch 61.

Abt/Quadrupel, 10.2% ABV, 25.6 IBU.

I was quite impressed with ClubGonzo’s first Quadrupel, and this take on the brewer’s favourite beer style recently won the quadruple class in Vestkast’s beer competition, so I’m probably in for a treat!

Saintly Sins pours a deep brown body with an average sized, beige, long-lived head that sticks to my Rochefort chalice.

The aroma is strong with lots of dark caramel and dark dried fruits. In the back I get yeasty spiciness and banana. I also pick up a gently funkiness, the kind that may arise from oak barrel ageing. I even detect hints of red wine barrel storage! Too bad that the beer haven’t been close to a barrel… Could it be the first stages of a light infection?

Looks like a quad, right?

Looks like a quad, right?

Anyway, the red wine oak barrel funk is present in the rather strong aroma as well, but it’s in the background, along with spices. The most dominant elements are brown sugar, sweet caramel, dark caramel, dark dried fruits, Belgian yeast and nuts. Unfortunately there is also plenty of not-that-well integrated and rather stinging alcohol. It’s relatively clean, no solvent or fusel this time, it’s just quite overwhelmingly boozy. The taste is moderate to heavy sweet and light bitter.

Ignoring the stinging alcohol, the mouthfeel is rather pleasant – the beer is full-bodied and has a pleasant soft carbonation.

Conclusion: a sugary sweet and too alcoholic brew, but far from bad. But not a winner. What does Vestkast’s beer judge lead Gahr Smith-Gahrsen know about beer anyway?

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    12/20
Ratebeer score: 3.2/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Hoppenmead

Mead, 13.9%.

A mead with hops. Well, why not?

Hoppenmead, mead batch no. 39.

Hoppenmead, mead batch no. 39.

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A mead with haze.

In the glass it looks medium amber and slightly hazy. I’m so used to crystal clear meads by now, so the haze looks a bit off.

The aroma is strong, and there is something lurking in the back there in addition to the sweet honey, but hops are not the first thing that enters my mind. Maybe wet leaves, hay, caramel and dark overripe fruits? Either way, it’s a rather interesting aroma.

I can’t find any hops in the strong flavour either, the honey is the dominating element. The taste is rather sweet, but it dries up somewhat in the finish. Is there also hints of bitterness? The alcohol is also noticeable, but it’s clean.

Conclusion: an ok mead. The hops make it rather special, but not very hoppy.

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    12/20
Ratebeer score: 3.1/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Hipster-ish IPA

India Pale Ale, 6.5% ABV, 42 IBU.

ClubGonzo's Hipster-ish IPA, batch 78.

ClubGonzo’s Hipster-ish IPA, batch 78.

Ordinary IPAs are just so 2014, white IPAs are a thing of the past and Black IPAs are passé. Welcome to the next big thing for the hopheads: New England IPA!

Looks like an IPA.

Looks like an IPA.

In the glass it has a cloudy amber body, maybe a bit too dark and too little orange juice-like to be a school book example of a NEIPA? Ah, now I see, NEIPAs are yesterday’s news as well, this must be an ANEIPA (which of course is Amber New England India Pale Ale). Or, as it would have been called a year ago, a Pale Ale.

The head is large, creamy and off-white.

The aroma is very strong, and of course very hoppy. I get lots and lots of sweet tropical fruity notes, including peach and mango. There is also a spicy touch, some gooseberries and caramel.

Strong flavour of tropical fruits, grapefruit, citrus peel and spices, with some caramel in the back, and hints of a bit too pronounced and stinging alcohol (without me drawing the “solvent” card once again). The taste is light sweet and the very dry finish is moderate bitter. The mouthfeel is on one hand very pleasant – the body is close to full and the texture is smooth and almost creamy. On the other hand the astringency of the citrus peel and the peppery dryness of the spices makes the aftertaste a bit demanding.

Conclusion: ANEIPAs might be a bit to hipster-ish for me, I prefer a regular IPA with more bitterness and less spiciness and astringency. Or maybe a more juicy NEIPA.

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    11/20
Ratebeer score: 3.1/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Apple Harvest

Mead/Cyser, 11% ABV

Did you know that a mix of cider and mead is called “cyser”? No? Me neither. It sounds like a Pokémon, if you ask me.

Apple Harvest, mead batch 35.

Apple Harvest, mead batch 35.

In the glass it has a light amber to orange colour, the liquid is clear and does not look carbonated.

Looks pretty much like a mead. A good-looking mead.

Looks pretty much like a mead. A good-looking mead.

Initially the strong aroma is very much closer to a mead than a cider, but after a short while the apples start to emerge. The aroma has that undefinable fruit-in-mead contribution that I often find in melomels – it’s a kind of raw, dark, fruit cellar-like thing. Even a banana mead had this quality. It’s not bad, just a bit… strange.

The apple cider is more noticeable in the flavour, this is definitely a ClubGonzo cider, i.e. bone dry. I find the dryness of the cider to crash rather violently with the sweet mead, this is not my cup of fermented brew. The strong flavour is dominated by fruit-in-mead™ and honey, with hints of apple.

Overall: fun name, not so fun brew. It’s too dry and it doesn’t taste enough of apples. Said the man who has no idea of how a cyser should taste like.

Aroma:      5/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      5/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    10/20
Ratebeer score: 2.7/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Witmead

Mead, 10% ABV.

A wheat beer with bitter orange peel and coriander seeds can be delicious, so why not a mead with the same additives?

It pours a clear and rather light amber colour.  I find it difficult to rate the appearance of a mead, they all tend to look rather similar. But I guess it look rather nice, right?

Witmead, mead batch no. 43.

Witmead, mead batch no. 43.

img_0720The aroma is strong and enchanting! I want to curl up in my sofa with a glass of this the next time I catch a cold – the mix of sweet and soothing honey with the citric freshness of the orange peel is really delicious. There might be a light spicy background, but I can’t really identify the coriander.

The taste is as sweet and lovely as I had hoped for, and it contrasts the orange peel bitterness in the finish perfectly.  The strong flavour is a carefully balanced mix of sweet honey and bitter and crisp orange. The coriander is rather hidden, so the wit beer feeling isn’t really present at all.

Overall: a perfectly balanced brew, both when it comes to taste and flavour. This one should become a part of Mjøderiet’s core lineup! Recommendation:  try it on pancakes and in mayo/mustard/honey/mead dip for chicken nuggets!

Aroma:      8/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      8/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    15/20
Ratebeer score: 3.9/5.0

S & M Brewing Move On Up

Golden Ale/Blond Ale, 5.4% ABV, 30.6 IBU.

Golden body.

Golden body.

S & M Brewing batch 1.

S & M Brewing batch 1.

Look what I found in my beer cellar, the very first batch from S & M Brewing!

It pours a close to clear, golden body with a rather small, white head that soon reduces to partially covering film. A decent amount of foam still clings to my glass when it’s empty.

The moderate aroma is pleasant, fruity, mellow, well balanced and clean, with nice yeasty notes, light fruit and hints of vanilla. It’s neither revolutionary nor especially exciting, this simply smells like an easy-to-drink session beer.

The flavour is also restrained, but as was the case with the aroma, it’s quite pleasant and clean. I get a generic fruitiness, perhaps with some apples and with a dash of citrus, hops and a gentle backbone of pale malts. The taste is light to moderate sweet, and I’m a bit surprised that the IBU is as high as 30.

It’s rather light-bodied, is has a smooth texture, it’s softly carbonated and it dries up a bit in the finish.

Conclusion: a drinkable, simple and pleasant brew that won’t make anyone feel ecstatic.

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    12/20
Ratebeer score: 3.2/5.0

Dr M. Nr. 22 – Welhaven

Saison, 5.5 % ABV, 30 IBU.

Dr. M Nr. 22 - Lovely label!

Dr. M Nr. 22 – Lovely label!

After the huge head has settled it looks quite nice, save for the dirty body.

After the huge head has settled it looks quite nice, save for the dirty body.

This brew is hopped with Tettnang and an unknown variety that grows in Dr. M’s garden. Let’s see if The Doctor knows how to brew and how to grow hops!

Ouch. This one is very aggressively carbonated, but I manage to fill my glass with foam (and some beer) before all the liquid escapes from the bottle. The gushing causes the beer to be absolutely opaque with a rather dirty-looking yellow to orange colour. The big, frothy, fluffy white head shrinks to a peculiar collection of islands of foam with the texture of whipped egg-white. What have you done with this beer?

The quite strong aroma doesn’t reveal any infections, so hopefully the only fault of this brew is a violent over-carbonation. I get lots of Belgian yeasty notes, and since the label tells me so, I guess it’s saison yeast. It’s very fruity, with non-tropical light fruits being the most obvious contributors.  The aroma feels pretty yeast-driven to me, so I’m not sure how much impact the home-grown hops had on this brew.

In the mouth, however, it’s clear that something has gone wrong here. Sharp and stinging  solvent efficiently drowns most other components. There are some Belgian yeast lurking around in the background, and the fruits are still present, but they’re all overpowered by the dreaded solvent. The taste is light sweet and light bitter, and the finish is very dry.

Conclusion: it has a nice aroma and it might have tasted nice once…

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 2/5
Taste:      3/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    5/20
Ratebeer score: 1.9/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Roggenmead

Braggot, 9.9% ABV.

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Mead batch 28, Roggenmead.

Mead batch 28, Roggenmead.

I wasn’t that impressed with ClubGonzo’s previous attempt at a braggot , but maybe it’s a better idea to mix mead with a strong rye-based ale than with an IPA?

It pours a clear, amber body with a small, white, fizzy, short-lived head that doesn’t stick to the glass.

The aroma is quite obviously a beer/mead mix, with an emphasis on the mead – I get lots of tempting, sweet honey notes, together with exiting, refreshing, spicy notes from the beer. It’s vinous, almost in a sherry kind of way. Very nice!

The strong flavour is a bit too dominated by boozy alcohol, but the other typical mead and rye ale components are still present. I also get some brown sugar, dark caramel and lightly roasted malt. It’s quite sweet for a beer, not sweet at all for a mead.

The soft carbonation fits this full-bodied creation well.

Conclusion: a nice mix of beer and mead, which I guess is the purpose of a braggot. Still not my favourite style, though…

 

 

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     3/3
Overall:    13/20
Ratebeer score: 3.3/5.0