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 (Spontaneous) Bramley’s Seedling 2013

(Spontaneous) Bramley’s Seedling 2013 by ClubGonzo, Cider, 5.5/5.4% ABV.

Cider Batches 18 and 19.

Cider Batches 18 and 19.

ClubGonzo made quite a few batches of cider from the 2013 crop of apples from Spildegarden in Øystese. Some of the ciders were fermented with a regular off-the shelf yeast strain, while others were left to their own devices and did the sugar-to-alcohol-and-carbondioxid-thingy all by themselves. This test is a comparison of two 2013 batches of ciders made from Bramley’s Seedling, one regular and one spontaneously fermented.

In the glass the two ciders look quite similar, the spontaneously fermented version has a tad darker amber colour and it looks more carbonated.

The aroma of the regular cider is strong, sweet and pleasant. I get lots of clean notes of succulent apples. The other cider has a less fresh aroma, the apples are not as crisp and there are also some faint hints of band-aid and glue (just to use another word than my regular “solvent”).

Regular Bramley's Seedling to the left, Spontaneous Bramley's Seedling to the right.

Regular Bramley’s Seedling to the left, Spontaneous Bramley’s Seedling to the right.

The flavour of the regular cider is less strong than expected, and it’s not as clean and full of sun-ripe apples as the aroma. There are also some vague off-flavours, which I of course, as always, elegantly classify as solventy. However, this is not a flawed cider, it’s drinkable and refreshing. It’s moderately carbonated and has a very dry texture.

The solvent is far more intrusive when it comes to the spontaneously fermented batch, especially in the bone dry finish. It’s not completely ruined, though, I’ve had others that were far worse, but this brew is not something I’ll spend my daily alcohol quota on.

Conclusion: Neither ciders are very successful, but the one fermented with regular yeast is the best one. The spontaneously fermented cider has more off-aromas and off-flavours, without being undrinkable. 

Bramley’s Seedling 2013:

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

Spontaneous Bramley’s Seedling 2013:

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      5/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    8/20
Ratebeer score: 2.6/5.0

ClubGonzo’s (Spontaneous) Aroma 2013

(Spontaneous) Aroma 2013 by ClubGonzo, Cider, 5.2/5.3% ABV.

I wasn’t very impressed by the spontaneous fermented ClubGonzo ciders I tasted earlier this year, i.e. Spontaneous Discovery 2013 and Spontaneous Crown Prince 2013. For this cider rating I’ll therefore rate two ciders both made from the 2013 harvest of Aroma apples, but with one bottle from a spontaneously fermented batch and one from a batch fermented with a conventional yeast (Safale US-05, in other words an ale yeast, not a cider yeast).

Aroma 2013, fermented with off the shelf ale yeast, batch 15.

Aroma 2013, 5.3% ABV,  fermented with off the shelf ale yeast, batch 15.

The colour of the both ciders is pale yellow with an orange hint. The fluid is clear, and the spontaneous version looks noticeably more carbonated. The increased carbonation is also evident on the palate.

Spontaneous Aroma 2013, fermented without any help from the brewer, batch 16.

Spontaneous Aroma 2013, 5.2% ABV, fermented without any help from the brewer, batch 16.

Aroma 2013 in the glass

Aroma 2013 in the glass

The Aroma 2013 has a strong and pleasant aroma that actually is a bit sweet. I’m used to ClubGonzo’s ciders being a tad drier than desert sand, so this comes as a surprise. The apple aroma is clean, slightly fermented and definitely inviting.  The spontaneous version has a bit less intense aroma and there are pleasant elements of fermented apples, but unfortunately there are also notes of solvent and band-aid.

The flavour of Aroma 2013 is strong and fairly clean, although there are some vague hints of baker’s yeast and rubber behind the fermented apples. It tastes less sweet than the aroma led me to believe. This a very dry and a bit acidic cider, but I think there is a bit more residual sugars than what I’m used to when it comes to ClubGonzo’s ciders. Or, as my wife put it: “This is almost like a real cider!”. The spontaneous Aroma 2013 is more or less ruined by unpleasant medicinal notes, solvent, band-aid and rubber, especially in the aftertaste. The apple notes are quite efficiently hidden.

Conclusion: Aroma 2013 is a successful cider with mostly clean notes of pure fermented apples. It’s very dry, but the acidity is tamed and there is enough residual sweetness to make it drinkable. The Spontaneous Aroma 2013 is ruined by medicinal off-flavours and should be poured into the nearest sink.

Aroma 2013:

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    12/20
Ratebeer score: 3.3/5.0

 

Spontaneous Aroma 2013:

Aroma:      5/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      3/10
Palate:     2/5
Overall:    5/20
Ratebeer score: 1.9/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Spontaneous Discovery 2013

Spontaneous Discovery 2013 by ClubGonzo, Cider, 5% ABV.

It’s time for some ciders again! The 2012 vintage ciders I got from ClubGonzo were decent, although most of them where too acidic for my taste.

ClubGonzo's Spontaneous Discovery 2013, cider batch 12.

ClubGonzo’s Spontaneous Discovery 2013, cider batch 12.

It looks like a cider.

It looks like a cider.

The Discovery pours a slightly hazy and pale golden body, just like most ciders.

The aroma is strong and has some nice notes of fresh, acidic, crisp apples. There are no wild funky notes at all, and no fermented apples, just tart apple juice. I also get a whiff of higher alcohols that isn’t that pleasant.

The taste is moderate acidic with hardly any sweetness, quite in line with my expectations. The flavour is rather strong and is completely dominated by lots of unclean nail polish remover. There are some apple notes as well, but the off-flavour is so overwhelming that this can’t be used for anything else than pouring down the drain. The cider is very dry and has a lively carbonation, if that matters.

Conclusion: something has gone very wrong with this one. There are some crisp apple notes both in the aroma and flavour, but this is not something you would want to drink.

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

 

 

ClubGonzo’s Juiced

Juiced by ClubGonzo, Cider, 5.7% ABV.

So far I’ve tasted exclusive ciders made from handpicked apples from local apple orchards, this one is in another league. What happens if you buy the cheapest apple juice (from concentrate, of course) and add yeast? Can this simple approach yield a good result?

ClubGonzo's Juiced

ClubGonzo’s Juiced

The cheat-cider pours a clear pale golden colour with a fizzy head that disappears immediately. In the last glass, when I also get some sediments and the body turns out quite hazy, the fizzy head sticks around for quite some time. Interesting.

The aroma is less strong than for the other ciders from ClubGonzo, but it’s surprisingly nice! This is like smelling a sparkling wine with obvious apple notes. The apples feel ripe, with some slightly fermented notes in the back.

Finally a cider with some residual sweetness! There is also a light acidity present, but that one is nicely balanced by the light sweet taste. The flavours are not strong, but some nice apple notes are present.

The mouthfeel is too thin and watery, and the carbonation is too soft. In my opinion a cider should either be flat, or it should have a lively sparkling mouthfeel. This one is somewhere in between, and I don’t think the soft carbonation is that fitting. There is also an unpleasant banana peel astringency that reduces the drinkability. The finish is light to moderate dry.

Conclusion: surprisingly nice cider, considering the main ingredient juiced…ehrm… used for making the brew. It has a more pleasant taste with less acidity than the previous ClubGonzo ciders, but the aroma and flavours are too faint and the mouthfeel is not very pleasant. I would really like to taste a cider with the sweetness and pleasant acidity of this cider, but with as delicious and strong aroma and flavours as the previous ones.

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     2/5
Overall:   10/20
Ratebeer score: 2.7/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Spontaneous Torstein

Spontaneous Torstein by ClubGonzo, Cider, 4.7% ABV.

Ouch. The fermentation isn’t the only thing that’s spontaneous about this this cider, it even comes out of the bottle spontaneously, no need to pour!  The lively carbonation and the absurd amounts of sediments lead to an absolutely disgusting looking brew once in the glass. It’s a turbulent and muddy cauldron with huge bits and pieces that takes forever to partially settle at the bottom of my glass, and I feel the urge to filter the murky liquid between my teeth while drinking. The colour of this monstrosity is medium orange (when not taking the brown apple bits into account).

Spontaneous Torstein w/ 1 cm of apple sediments

Spontaneous Torstein w/ 1 cm of apple sediments

When smelling the brew I believe I can detect some light funky notes in the back, but they are not dominant. Even so they make this one smell a bit more like a traditional cider than the two previous ones from ClubGonzo that I’ve rated. The aroma is strong and rather sweet with an acidic touch, with lots of apples. I get a mix of ripe apples and slightly overripe bordering on fermented apples. Again, comparing to commercial available ciders, the ripe apples are more obvious here, the more common notes of overripe and fermented apples are subtle.

The taste is moderate acidic and the the texture is very dry indeed. No way this is a semi-dry cider, as the label claims, this is Sahara-style bone dry. I guess the heavy dryness and the over-carbonation tells me that ClubGonzo didn’t successfully manage to stop the fermentation, and once again I’m drinking a cider that feels like it’s got no residual sweetness. After a glass of this stuff my sensitive tummy aches. However, the flavour is lovely. I get incredibly clean and crisp apple flavours, again with hints of over-ripe and lightly fermented components. I don’t get much wild barnyard-ish notes.

Conclusion: once again a far too acidic and dry cider, but with a lovely aroma and flavour.

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 1/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:   11/20
Ratebeer score: 2.9/5.0
Shopped? Whaddya mean?

Shopped? Whaddya mean?

 

ClubGonzo’s Raspberry Discovery

Raspberry Discovery by ClubGonzo, Cider, ABV 4.7%.

This is the same cider as the Øystese Discovery, with the slight modification of some raspberries in the fermenter.

Raspberry Discovery

Raspberry Discovery aka. Cider Batch 02.

The raspberries definitely is evident visually: the body is hazy and medium red, what a lovely colour! You might argue that it would have looked more elegant with a bit more subtle red colour, but I like it. Interestingly the light pink fizzy head forms a fully lasting bubbly ring at the walls of the glass. Why? Proteins from the raspberries? Anyway, it makes the cider look even more interesting.

Raspberry Discovery

Raspberry Discovery in the glass.

The aroma is quite strong and very pleasant. I get a lovely mix of tart apples and overripe raspberries and a lambic-like acidic scent, but also some sweetness. Interesting!

The taste has the same moderate to heavy acidity as the non-raspberrified version, but somehow it feels more fitting when accompanied by raspberry flavours. The raspberries are most evident initially, then sweet apples take over (note: flavours of sweet apples, the taste is very acidic). I also get notes of lemon and some cherries in the back, I guess it’s the acidity and the raspberries that fool me. The finish is moderate dry, the carbonation is moderate and the body is quite light.

Conclusion: the raspberries was a really good idea! It’s still too acidic, though.

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:   10/20
Ratebeer score: 3.0/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Øystese Discovery

Øystese Discovery by ClubGonzo, Cider, 5.5% ABV.

First of all I’ll have to admit that my experience with ciders is very limited, but I like this style, and that’s all it takes for me to do a rating, right?

The very first home made cider that I’m now about to try pours a slightly hazy yellow-ish golden body. As expected for a cider the head is fizzy and very short-lived.

Øystese Discovery

ClubGonzo’s Øystese Discovery aka. Cider Batch 01.

The aroma is quite strong and both sweet and acidic. I get notes of both acidic and sweet ripe apples, also apple juice. There are no overripe notes and absolutely no fermented elements, as I often find is the case with ciders. There are no funky stuff, no wild fermented scents, this smells like a gentle cider for beginners!

The taste however reveals that this is definitely not something you should serve a person who thinks that ciders are the sugary sweet soft drinks that Kopparberg & Co produce. A very acidic taste hits my tastebuds as soon as the first drop enters my mouth, and the acidity lasts into the finish. Initially I thought that I got flavours of tart, very acidic and unripe apples, but the following sips made me understand that I was simply fooled by the heavy acidity. The flavours actually consist of gentle and  ripe apple notes (again without any overripe, fermented or barnyard notes). In a way the taste and the flavours are out of sync, they would have fitted better if the acidity was much lighter.

The mouthfeel is of course very crisp, the texture is dry, and combined with the acidity the finish feels very dry indeed.

Conclusion: too acidic, but apart from that it’s actually a quite nice cider.

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      5/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:   10/20
Ratebeer score: 2.7/5.0