ClubGonzo’s Blue for My Honey

Blue for My Honey by ClubGonzo, Mead/Melomel, 11.6% ABV.

I had such a good time rating my very first homebrewed mead (ClubGonzo’s Heather Heathen) that I want to taste another one right away, before I’ll return to my regular beer ratings.

ClubGonzo's Blue for My Honey, Mead Batch no. 02.

ClubGonzo’s Blue for My Honey, Mead Batch no. 02.

Blue for My Honey is a melomel, or a fruit mead. It’s made from honey, the label doesn’t say what sort, and blueberries.

This mead is deep red to purple, and the body is opaque. It looks like the last pour of a ruby port wine that someone forgot to decant. Looks tempting to me!

The aroma is rather strong, and leads me to believe that this mead also is based on Norwegian heather honey. The honey notes are nowhere near as dominating as they where for the Heather Heathen, due to a distinct fruity background. I’m not sure if it’s the port wine glass that’s trying to trick me, but the fruity notes strongly remind me of a fruity port wine, or maybe a sharper sherry. I also get faint traces of alcohol. It’s a complex and very inviting aroma.

Blueberry mead.

Blueberry mead.

The flavour is not very strong, it seems like the honey and the berries play each other down somewhat, leaving the alcohol notes a bit too dominant. The honey part is no longer obvious heather honey, while the fruity side is definitely blueberries. The flavour also has a distinct port wine feel, it seems oxidised in a pleasant way.

The taste is sweet, but it’s far less sweet than e.g. the before mentioned Heather Honey. The finish feels almost dry-ish, with the fruity dryness of unsweetened blueberry juice and the tannin-like pluckiness of blueberry skin. There is also a light acidic taste.

Conclusion: complex and nice elements from both honey and berries, and an elegant fortified wine feel. The flavour and aroma could have been stronger, and the alcohol better integrated, but definitely a tasty brew and an exciting sub-style of mead.

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    13/20
Ratebeer score: 3.4/5.0
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ClubGonzo’s Heather Heathen

Heather Heathen by ClubGonzo, Mead, 10% ABV.

By now I’m starting to understand beer. I’ve tasted lots of beer styles, and I’ve built up my own vocabulary to describe the appearance, aroma, taste/flavour and mouthfeel, and when I drink a beer I have an instinctive feel of what grades it deserves in these categories. Rating a beer is no longer a close to impossible task. Mead, however, is very new to me, I think I’ve tasted two meads in total in my entire life. I therefore neither have the vocabulary nor a clue of where to put the grading scale. Therefore you shouldn’t take this rating too seriously, I need to taste a few meads before I understand what I’m supposed to look for in this type of brew and before my ratings get reasonably consistent.

So, with that disclaimer I open ClubGonzo’s very first mead, and pour a little sample into a… snifter? Wine glass? Sake cup? Tulip? Goblet? I think I’ll use the glass I usually serve port in. In the glass the mead looks pale yellow and cloudy, a bit like honey diluted in water. I guess it could look better, I guess it could look worse, actually I don’t know what a mead should look like. I would imagine that a crystal clear, golden body would the perfect looking mead? So a cloudy pale one should be given a… 2? Or a 3?

meadThe aroma is strong and completely dominated by pure Norwegian heather honey. This surely brings back childhood memories, Mom I need a slice of bread with heather honey please! In addition to the honey there’s a faint whiff of alcohol. It’s not an unpleasant aroma at all, but it’s extremely one-dimensional. Again I’ll have to stress that I haven’t got the faintest idea what I’m talking about, but would love a little more complexity, if I were to define this style of beverage.

Let’s taste. Oh yes, that’s better, if not exactly complex it’s not that one-dimensional. It’s still huge amounts of heather honey, the taste is so pure heather honey that one could believe that honey has been added after the fermentation. But the overall mouthfeel is fairly complex, it’s vinous, although the alcohol is very well hidden. The taste is quite heavy sweet and the finish is long-lasting and gently warming. The body is full and the texture is like a white wine/honey solution.

Conclusion: if you like heather honey, as I do (strike that, I love heather honey), you’ll probably like this mead. It’s pretty straightforward (I guess) and simple (I assume), but it’s definitely something I could have as a sweet night cap after my regular Beer of the Evening. It’s a pleasant drink, but I have no idea if it’s a successful mead. How nice to be an absolute n00b again!

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    13/20
Ratebeer score: 3.3/5.0

Meilby Brewing Sweet Chili Stout

Sweet Chili Stout by Meilby Brewing, 5.3% ABV, 55 IBU.

I pour a pitch black, viscous-looking liquid into my glass. The fairly long-lived head is averaged-sized, it has a medium brown colour and a nice creamy texture. Some of the foam sticks to the glass.

Meilby Brewing Sweet Chili Stout,

Meilby Brewing Sweet Chili Stout, batch 35, bottle 18/43, enjoyed 5 months after bottling.

The aroma is strong, dark roasted malty and very sweet, it’s almost sugary. I don’t know if this makes any sense, but it smells thick and viscous, just like it looks! It has some nice and gentle notes of woodsmoke. And, when I take a deep sniff, it’s actually possible to feel a chilli burn! Wow, this is probably hot stuff!

When i take my first generous sip my suspicions are immediately confirmed: holy chipotle, this is violently hot! An absurd chilli burn kicks in the moment I get the liquid into my mouth, and as I swallow my throat is ripped into pieces by the malevolent brew. I’ve had my share of chilli stouts, but none of those where even remotely close to the vindaloo strength of this evil devil. The flavour is totally dominated by the burning chilli, and it makes it difficult to concentrate on anything else than my melting tongue and my deteriorating inner organs. Ok, maybe I’m overdoing this a bit, but this really is far too hot for me.

But hey, let’s take another approach: maybe this this is a 5.5% beer that needs to be drunk as it was 4 times as alcoholic, maybe this is a sipper that shouldn’t be downed in a couple of gulps? So, pretending this is a heavy weight imperial stout (which isn’t very difficult, the body is full and the texture is thick and oily) I enjoy the rest of my glass in small, lady-like sips, and that actually works. After a while my brain and my palate have adjusted, and I start picking up other things than just pure pain. Especially the very nice gentle smoky notes go very well with the spices and the overall dark roasted coffee feel of the beer. The taste is very sweet and the long-lasting finish has a nice moderate bitterness.

And yes, the carbonation is soft.

Conclusion: it’s very difficult to rate this one. Even if it fits fairly well as a slow sipper it’s still too damn hot for me. But I really like the flavours that manage to escape the claws of the chilli, and the mouthfeel would have been perfect if it wasn’t for the chilli overdose. I’d love to taste a sissy version of this one!

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     2/5
Overall:    12/20
Ratebeer score: 3.2/5.0