Meilby Brewing Amarillo Pale Ale

Amarillo Pale Ale by Meilby Brewing, American Pale Ale, 4.2 % ABV, IBU 38.

Meilby Brewing Amarillo Pale Ale, batch #011, bottle 29/56

A couple of days ago I had a Hornbeer Dryhop, an amazing Amarillo single hop bottom fermented beer. When I was trying to decide which of my newly received bottles from Meilby Brewing I was going to try first, I knew that I had to go for the Amarillo Pale Ale, which I assume is an Amarillo single hop top fermented beer. Are there any similarities between the two beers? What difference does the yeast make? Do you feel the pressure, Meilby?

The beer pours a hazy medium amber body with a huge, creamy, off-white head that never gets any smaller than a thick layer. Impressive amounts of lacing clings to the glass, long after the beer has been drunk.

Amarillo Pale Ale in the glass. Big ever-lasting creamy head.

The aroma is strong with lots of hoppy notes, but there is also a touch of sweet caramel. The sweet fruits are the dominants contributors though, I get ripe peach, slightly acidic mango, pineapple and grapefruit. A couple of strawberries are thrown in for good measure, and finally there are some faint refreshing herbal hints. Very, very inviting indeed!

The taste is light sweet with a moderate bitter finish. A quite gentle pale ale, this one. The flavours are quite strong, with lots of grapefruit up front, followed by peach and hints of honey. There are also traces of a strange rubber note, but the sharp and clean herbal, resinous, grapefruity bitterness removes the faint rubber as soon as the beer is swallowed, leading to a fairly long-lasting, dry and clean finish. Finally I get some extremely faint yeasty notes.

The mouthfeel is pleasantly dry, but the body is a bit too thin and watery. This is to be expected with such a low ABV, I suppose. Dangerously drinkable on a hot summer day!

How it compares with the Hornbeer Dryhop? Well, it’s less bitter but with the same obvious grapefruit flavour. On the other hand, I’d probably said that about most pale ales…

Conclusion: a very crisp, refreshing and gently hopped pale ale with no obvious flaws.

Aroma:     8
Apperance: 4
Taste:     7
Palate:    3
Overall:   13
Ratebeer score: 3.5

Thats what I call lacing!

Landstads mikromicrobryggeri Kristale

Kristale by Landstads mikromicrobryggeri, Belgian Strong Ale (?), ABV and IBU: unknown

This is not a Kristlager, its a Kristale. Well well.

This mysterious bottle arrived in my mailbox the other day. I know close to nothing about the beer or the brewer, other than that the bottle is mislabelled (it’s a Kristale, not a Kristlager), and that the brewer is a friend of fellow ratebeerian Cunningham. So, a real blind rating! This will show the world what an experienced rater I am, or, more likely, turn out to be a bit embarrassing for me…

I pour the contents into my glass, and note that the body has that homebrew look: a bit dirty-looking, cloudy and medium brown. The head is creamy, light-brown and very long-lived, it never reduces beyond a decent sized layer and the mandatory build-up at the walls of the glass. A quite ok amount of lacing.

The aroma is quite strong, one of the strongest aromas I’ve encountered on my journey into homebrew land so far! Being strong is of course only a good thing if the aroma actually is nice, and that is certainly the case for the Kristale. It starts out with pale malts, soon followed by hoppy notes with lots of fruits and finally very sweet caramel escapes the glass. The overall feel of the aroma is sweet, very sweet, but in a very inviting way. I get bubble gum, candy, overripe bananas, Dumle(!), yeast and a lovely vinous touch in the back. So far I’m very confused when it comes to the beer style, there are some many elements fighting for my attention!

The taste is moderate sweet with a very light bitterness and a very faint hint of acidity. I’m a hophead and usually I’m not a big fan of beers that are totally ruled by sweetness, but the sweetness of this one is really, really pleasant. It’s also a perfect fit with the sweet aroma and the flavours. The intensity of the flavours are a tad weaker than the aroma led me to hope for, but still quite impressive stuff: the caramel is there from the very start and far into the long-lasting aftertaste, hand in hand with spices and yeast. It’s Belgian yeast, right? I also get lots of sweet, ripe fruits, sweet honey, perfume, candi sugar and some vinous notes. I realise that I repeat the word “sweet” a lot, but again, this is a highly pleasant sweetness, there is nothing cloying in here.

The mouthfeel suffers a bit from The Curse of the Homebrewers, i.e. some unclean yeasty notes that also give a too chalky dry finish. Apart from that it’s quite pleasant, with a medium body, dry texture and soft carbonation.

So, let’s say that this is a Belgian Strong Ale? According to my slightly dizzy head right now I’d say that the ABV is approximately 7.5 % (but the dizziness may also be due to the fact that this is a very warm day and I’ve been bicycling 25 km).

Long-lasting head.

Conclusion: a very tasty beer with wonderful aroma and flavours. Despite the dominant sweetness it’s highly drinkable. A bit dirty-looking and too much mouthdrying yeast, but still a high quality beer!

Aroma:      7
Appearance: 3
Taste:      7
Palate:     3
Overall:   14
Ratebeer score: 3.4

ClubGonzo's Nutcase Brown

Nutcase Brown by ClubGonzo, American Brown Ale, 6 % ABV, IBU 36.5.

Nutcase Brown a.k.a. ClubGonzo SoloBrew no. 1. I love the label!

This interesting brew was provided by Stian Krog a.k.a. ClubGonzo, which is half of the famous (at least on this web page) JoKr Brewers. I must admit that I’ve never encountered nutmeg notes in a beer before, but I assume that ClubGonzo has, and that he designed this beer to see how much nutmeg he could possible fit into the little bottle. Experimental brewing FTW!

The first impression is not very good: a cloudy, dirty-looking dark brown body with a frothy, light-brown, short-lived head that vanishes more or less completely and leaves virtually no lacing.

The aroma is roasted with a spicy touch. I don’t know if I would have managed to pick out nutmeg if I hadn’t’ read the label, but now that I have, I do find lots of nutmeg. Cool! Unfortunately there’s also these sour yeasty notes that I’ve found in a couple of the JoKr beers. The yeast masks much of the more pleasant and interesting notes, and the aroma ends up as not that impressive.

There is some sweetness in the taste and a moderate to light bitter finish. Kind of dull, really. The flavours are very much in agreement with the aroma, with nice roasted notes, lots and lots of fun nutmeg but also far too much yeast. The yeast gives a rather dry chalky finish, but apart from that the mouthfeel is pretty good. Medium body, smooth texture, soft carbonation, and, brace yourself ClubGonzo: the alcohol is completely hidden!

Conclusion: a fun experimental brew with a really interesting spicy nutmeg twist, but that isn’t enough to rise this yeasty creation up from mediocrity.

Aroma:      5
Appearance: 2
Taste:      5
Palate:     3
Overall:   10
Ratebeer score: 2.5

Where did the head go?

JoKr Brewers Danmarksplass

Danmarksplass by JoKr Brewers, Smoked, 8 % ABV, 33 IBU.

Danmarksplass a.k.a. Test batch no. 10 by JoKr Brewers

I don’t actually like smoked beers that much. I find them far too meaty, sweet and unrefreshing. Liquid sausages just isn’t my thing. So, bear that in mind when you read this rating.

Danmarksplass pours a dark brown body with a copper hue. The big, rather creamy, slightly light-brown head is very long-lived. It actually never disappears, there’s always a healthy layer remaining on top of the beer. It even laces the glass quite well. I can see some grey sediments at the bottom of my glass, but this fact can’t prevent me from finding Danmarksplass a good-looking brew.

The aroma is quite strong and is dominated by, ta-daa, smoke. Proper, sour smoke coming from a campfire that is fed with wood that’s a bit too moist. Or is it the smell of your clothes after you have been sitting next to a big campfire, BBQ-ing sausages all day? There are of course salty notes of smoked meat, cured ham and sausages too, but those are elegantly placed in the back. Therefore, to my surprise, I find the aroma really, really pleasant and far from overwhelmingly meaty! And it’s very clean, I find nothing in here that isn’t put there on purpose by the clever brewers. Good job!

Now for the real test: the taste. And that is even better! It’s light plus sweet and moderate bitter, the bitterness is balancing the sweetness perfectly. The flavours are rather strong, but not too strong, and the smoke is again the main contributor to the flavour profile. The meat is in the back, while the campfire, well integrated alcohol and some delicious whisky-like peaty notes are in the front.

The body is medium to light and the texture is oily and smooth. The mouthfeel is very pleasant both in the beginning, when the carbonation is quite high, and when I empty the glass, when the beer has become very softly carbonated.

Conclusion: the pronounced smoke and peat, subdued meat, perfectly balanced taste and the silky smooth and refreshing mouthfeel make this a very pleasant surprise. Before this day I didn’t really like smoked beers, but now the JoKrs have showed me how a beer of this style should be. I salute you!

Aroma:       7
Appearance:  4
Taste:       7
Mouthfeel:   4
Overall:    14
ratebeer score: 3.6

Some sediments, but who cares.

Looking good! The head looks a bit more creamy from above.

The bottle even has a label on the back.

JoKr Brewers Smoked & Oaked

Smoked & Oaked by JoKr Brewers, Porter, 6.5 % ABV, IBU 55.

Smoked & Oaked a.k.a. Test batch no. 8

This is how a label should be! The burning oak forest is a very fitting illustration for a smoked porter aged with oak chips from whisky barrels! The bottle even has a fire yellow bottle cap (ok, that is probably not intended, but just to prove that I’m a good-willed rater…).

The beer pours a close to black body with just a slight red tint. The head is creamy, light-brown and stays finger-thick for quite some time, before it settles as a layer and some additional foam along the walls of the glass. Good lacing.

The aroma is very nice, but not what I had expected. The smoke is very faint and I don’t get any oak/vanilla or whisky notes. It feels slightly sweet and vinous, and that might of course be partially due to the whisky barrel chip ageing. Most of all I find roasted notes with chocolate and coffee, dark fruits and liquorice. As the beer warms up the fruity part gets stronger and in come some some berries as well.

The taste is moderate to light sweet with a moderate bitter finish. If I’m not mistaken there are some faint traces of an unpleasant yeasty sourness as well. The flavours are what I usually detect in a porter, i.e. roasted notes, chocolate and coffee, although it might be a bit heavier roasted than many. When it comes to the smoke, oak and whisky, they are nowhere to be found. DISAPPOINTED! There is also a yeasty note that I don’t find that fitting, and this yeast also leads to a very dry, almost astringent finish. The alcohol is a bit too obvious, and that shouldn’t be necessary in a 6.5 % ABV beer. The flavour profile opens up when the beer gets warmer: when I took the first sip the bottle had been out of the fridge for 30 minutes, and that wasn’t enough. This beer needs 55 minutes in room temperature before the fruits and berries starts to creep out of the glass!

Conclusion: This beer should be called “Roasted Porter”, the present name is highly misleading! Misleading marketing claims put aside, I liked the aroma and flavours, but the sour notes and the yeasty astringency aren’t that pleasant. Still, a decent brew!

Aroma:      7
Appearance: 4
Taste:      6
Palate:     3
Overall:   12
Ratebeer score: 3.2

Another good looking beer from JoKr Brewers!

JoKr Brewers Cereal Killer

Cereal Killer by JoKr Brewers, Bitter/Brown Ale, ABV 4 %, IBU 33.

Cereal Killer a.k.a. Test batch no. 6

The Cereal Killer is an experimental beer brewed with 6 different pilsener, pale and caramel malts plus oat, rye and corn. Yummy, corn, my favourite adjunct! Maybe this beer is as lovely as Coors Light or Miller GD? Ok, now that I’ve used up my irony quota for today, I’ll go on with the review. The thought behind this brew is to enhance the grainy notes that one find in beers from time to time. I’m sure if I quite understand why anyone would want to do this, but the JoKrs move in mysterious ways… According to the brewers the yeast and hop profiles are minimalistic in order to give room for the malts. Yes, I’m a bit sceptical, but also very eager to check if I do pick up lots of grainy notes!

In the glass the beer has a slightly hazy medium brown colour and is topped by a small frothy to creamy light brown head. The head reduces to a thin film and some build-up at the walls quite quickly, and doesn’t leave much lacing.

The aroma is… well, unusual. And, congratulations JoKr Brewers, you have succeeded, the aroma is indeed very grainy! But despite ClubGonzo’s assurances that only very lightly roasted malts have been used, I feel that the roasted notes are just as obvious as the grains. And I get lots of coffee. Not the strong type of coffee notes that you find in an imperial stout, far from it, this is more like watered down cold filter coffee. Actually the aroma reminds me a bit of the smell that comes from the coffee capsule container of my Nespresso espresso machine: old, cold and used espresso capsules mixed with water. Or, the waste water bucked we used to have in our mountain cabin, i.e. a mix of used dish water, coffee and bread crumbs. On the bright side I also find some some quite nice notes of molasses and maple syrup. All in all a very special aroma that is a bit faint and not that inviting, but it’s certainly very interesting.

The taste is light sweet with very nice moderate bitter finish. I was fearing that the lack of hoppy notes in the aroma meant that this would turn out to be a sweet and bland beer, but the bitterness is really good. The flavours follow the aroma, with grains, toasted notes and cold watered down coffee. Again not terribly exciting, but ok.

The mouthfeel is surprisingly nice. The body is not that light, the carbonation is soft and the texture is smooth and pleasant.

Conclusion: a rather special brew that is more interesting than tasty. I like the bitter finish and the mouthfeel, but I guess I’m not that found of grains. Or cold, weak coffee.

Aroma:      5
Appearance: 3
Taste:      5
Palate:     4
Overall:    9
Ratebeer score: 2.6

I forgot to take a picture of the newly poured Cereal Killer, but here it is after a few minutes.

JoKr Brewers Shoggoth

Shoggoth by JoKr Brewers, American pale ale, ABV 4.8 %, IBU 40

JoKr Brewers Shoggoth a.k.a. Test batch no. 5

I survived! 9 days without a drop of beer! To celebrate my victory over The Flu I got this scary looking bottle from the homebrew shelf of my beer cellar. I can’t guarantee that my taste buds still work after I’ve been completely knocked out for more than a week, but I’ll try to give this beer a fair rating.

It pours a slightly hazy medium amber body, with an average sized head that is close to creamy, but also with some big bubbles. The head is fairly long-lived and leaves a foamy film and some additional build-up at the walls, but not that much lacing.

The aroma is strong and pleasant with tons of hops and noticeable malty notes in the back. It’s fruity with grapefruit and peach, and also a refreshing almost herb-like resinous feel. Speaking of resin: how do you guys distinguish between resin, pine and spruce? When I was on a hike in my local forest the other day, I tasted pine needles, spruce needles and resin, and no way I could have guessed which one was which (apart from the texture)!

After a few sniffs I feel that the there are some too overripe fruity notes in the back, almost compost like, but they are not disturbing. As always I find it hard to describe the malty elements, but I guess sweet caramel is quite close.

A light to moderate sweet initial taste followed by a moderate plus heavy bitter long-lasting finish. Nice! The flavours are a bit less strong than the aroma, but they are still very present: this is a brew that wants your attention! Grapefruit and resin are the most obvious flavours.

Now, the mouthfeel. There’s something that isn’t quite right here. It’s not bad, it’s not unpleasant, but an APA with such a crispy and inviting aroma and flavours should be more drinkable that this. The body is quite light, the texture is watery and the carbonation is soft, it’s moderate dry and yeasty, and frankly it feels a bit bland (if it’s possible to claim that a beer is both bland and full of strong aromas and flavours). But again, keep in mind that I’ve been sick for 9 days (hey, I repeat: 9 days without a beer, n-i-n-e days!).

Conclusion: fruity and crisp flavours with a lovely bitter finish, but not that more-ish.

Aroma:      7
Appearance: 3
Taste:      7
Palate:     2
Overall:    12
Ratebeer score: 3.1

Shoggoth in the glass