ClubGonzo’s Flanders Blue

Flanders Blue by ClubGonzo, Flanders Red/Fruit Beer,  6.4% ABV, 20.1 IBU.

Flanders Blue by ClubGonzo, Batch no. 70.

Flanders Blue by ClubGonzo, Batch no. 70.

The past 5 years I’ve been trying to learn how to appreciate sour beers, but I still haven’t fully succeeded. However, Flanders Red are really growing on me, so I’m looking forward to ClubGonzo’s first attempt at this style. But of course, this is ClubGonzo, so there’s a twist: he’s added blueberries.

It pours a very cloudy deep red body, with a quite large, creamy, medium head that settles as a fully lasting layer, and lots of foam sticks to the glass.

Deep red body. Goes well to our green lawn.

Deep red body. Goes well to our green lawn.

The nose is sour, funky and strong, with fermented red berries, cherries, cherry pits and barnyard, and marzipan in the back.

In the mouth it’s clear that this is the real deal, this is a sour that is true to the style, with no off-flavours. I get a strong flavour of vinegar, fermented red berries, including cherries, and other fermented fruity notes, upon a gentle barnyard background. It’s quite rough and maybe a bit too vinegary, but it’s very nice. The taste is light sweet, moderate sour, moderate acetic and light bitter.

It’s very dry on the palate, it has a medium body and a moderate carbonation.

Conclusion: a powerful and vinegary sour beer, with a nice fruitiness from the blueberries (although it’s hard to single out exactly these berries).

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    14/20
Ratebeer score: 3.6/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Bryggselv IPA #2 – Citric Assault

Bryggselv IPA #2 – Citric Assault by ClubGonzo, India Pale Ale/Fruit Beer, 6% ABV, 75 IBU.

Bryggselv IPA #2 - Citric Assault, batch no. 57 - Contract Brew no. 10.

Bryggselv IPA #2 – Citric Assault, batch no. 57 – Contract Brew no. 10.

Looks like an IPA.

Looks like an IPA.

ClubGonzo has played around with the Bryggselv IPA brew kit once again (here’s the first experiment), and has created a highly modified version that is brewed with zest and juice of grapefruit, lime and lemon.

It pours an amber body with a rather large, light beige, very long-lived head that reduces to a fully lasting layer.

The aroma is very crisp and strong, and is extremely citric, especially the lime is very obvious. The fruits don’t drown the hops completely, this is definitely a hoppy IPA.

The flavour is very strong, and dominated by the lime. The grapefruit doesn’t contribute that much to the flavour, but the mouthfeel is that of undiluted grapefruit juice. I suspect the main contribution of the lemon is to add quite a bit of acidity to the taste.  The bitterness of the dry finish is pretty heavy.

It’s a mid-bodied beer with a moderate carbonation.

Conclusion: a fine, crisp and acidic brew, but with a bit too much citrus for my taste.

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

ClubGonzo’s Raspberry Beret

Raspberry Beret by ClubGonzo, Porter/Fruit Beer, 6.2% ABV, 44 IBU.

I love porters. I love liquorice. I love raspberries. My highest rated beer ever on Ratebeer is a dark beer with raspberries. So, a porter with liquorice root and raspberries, how can this possibly go wrong?

ClubGonzo's Raspberry Beret.

ClubGonzo’s Raspberry Beret, batch no. 54, contract brew no. 8.

It pours a very viscous-looking, somewhat murky and pitch black body with a small-ish brown head that leaves some lacing on my glass.

Raspberry Beret in the glass. And the Beer With Me rating table in the reflection in the glass.

Raspberry Beret in the glass. And the Beer With Me rating table in the reflection in the glass.

The aroma is strong and is dominated by dark roasted malt, quite burnt for a porter (or at least, for my kind of porter). There is a good amount of coffee and some chocolate further back. I do detect some hints of liquorice as well, but I would never have guessed that this one is brewed with liquorice root. It’s a bit fruity, but I’m not able to pinpoint the raspberries.

But in the mouth… Wow. Simply wow. The salty liquorice, the raspberries, chocolate and coffee blend perfectly together, no one overshining the other. A magnificent mix of delicious flavours! The only thing I could wish for is a tad less dark roasted malt. The taste is moderate sweet and moderate bitter.

The mouthfeel is thick and creamy, this is almost like drinking a smoothie. The carbonation is soft, and there is some dryness in the long-lasting finish.

Conclusion: a close to perfect mix of raspberries and liquorice. Brew me an imperial version of this one at 10% ABV/75 IBU, and add some cocoa nibs and vanilla, and I’ll have a new favourite beer!

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      8/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    15/20
Ratebeer score: 3.7/5.0

ClubGonzo's Frambozo

Frambozo by ClubGonzo, Fruit Beer, 4.7% ABV, 19 IBU

Finally I’m testing an award winning beer! ClubGonzo’s Frambozo won the 3rd prize in Bjorleik 2012, so this one ought to be good!

It pours a medium amber to red cloudy body, with a small, frothy head that isn’t that long-lived and doesn’t leave much lacing on my glass. But the colour is off-white with a light-pink hue, that’s cool.

ClubGonzo's Frambozo

The aroma is of moderate strength, and is an interesting blend of slightly overripe fruits and berries. Tart raspberries is absolutely the dominant part (I’m not sure how I can get overripe and tart notes at the same time, but anyhow), also some acidic citric notes and white wine. Yes, white wine.

The initial taste is light sweet and light acidic, the finish has even more acidity. It’s so tart and acidic that a sip of water feels sweet and sugary compared to this stuff. The flavour profile is simple and very fruity, although the flavours aren’t that strong. Again the raspberries are the most obvious, then citric notes.

The mouthfeel is quite light, thin and watery, and the very soft carbonation doesn’t fit the soft drink-like feel of the flavours.

Conclusion: Too much tart fruit, too little beer. ClubGonzo should be glad that I wasn’t in the Bjorleik tasting panel.

Aroma:      6
Appearance: 3
Taste:      5
Palate:     2
Overall:    9
Ratebeer score: 2.5

Beer With Me Nano Brewery Batch 004 A,B,C and D

Citra Enslig Humle, Rabarbrapapa, Nektaripa and Citratron by Beer With Me Nano Brewery, IPA/Fruit Beer, 6 % ABV, 60 IBU.

For my fourth batch of home brew I wanted to experiment a bit, and try to add other ingredients to the beer that just water, yeast, malt and hops. I made a simple Citra single-hop IPA as the base recipe, and after a week in the primary I racked part of the beer into three separate fermenters where I added nectarine purée, a rhubarb/honey mix and lemon balm tea. See the brewlog for further details.

The four beers turned out quite differently, so I’ll start with the two most similar beers, Batch 004 A and 004 C: Citra Enslig Humle and Nektaripa. They are both dry hopped with Citra, and in addition the Nektaripa is, believe it or not, the one with nectarine purée in the secondary.

Citra Enslig Humle and Nektaripa. Both dry hopped single-hop IPAs, with additional nectarine purée in Nektaripa.

In the glass the Citra Enslig Humle looks quite clear, at least the first glass. There are much sediments at the bottom of the bottle, and they make the second glass hazy. The colour is medium amber to orange, the head is average sized, white, reduces to a film with some build-up at the walls after a short time, and leaves some lacing on the glass. The Nektaripa on the other hand is very hazy even from the beginning, there are lots of tiny fruit particles suspended in the beer. The second glass turns out quite cloudy. There’s is almost no head, and no lacing, and the beer looks disappointingly flat.

The aroma of Citra Enslig Humle is rather intense, magnificently hoppy and tremendously fruity, with tons and tons of ripe tropical fruits. I’m really satisfied, I think I’ve found the perfect amount of aroma hops! The aroma of the Nektaripa is a bit less intense, and is more real fruity, not as hoppy fruity. The nectarines really shine through, in a slightly over-ripe way. The Nektaripa feels a bit less refreshing than Citra Enslig Humle, but still it has a wonderful aroma.

The taste of Citra Enslig Humle is light sweet and the finish is quite heavy bitter. Nektaripa is a bit sweeter and feels less bitter, and frankly a bit bland. The flavour follows the aroma of both beers, Citra Enslig Humle has strong notes of refreshing tropical fruits, while Nektaripa is laden with real, well ripened nectarines. I can imagine that some would claim that this is too much of a fruit beer and that the flavours of the hops are too masked, but I really like this fruit basket. Still, in a future version I would probably try reduce the amount of nectarine purée, to see if I can get the best of both worlds.

On the palate Citra Enslig Humle is a bit too thin and watery, but the carbonation is pleasantly soft. Nektaripa has a bit fuller body, and the texture is more oily. When I was bottling Nektaripa with all its fruity remnants, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t make lots of gushers, or even worse, lots of bottle bombs, so I primed with less sugar than I did for the other beers. That was obviously a big mistake, because this beer is close to flat, and that really ruins the mouthfeel.

Then for the two last beers: Rabarbrapapa and Citratron. In the glass Citratron looks a bit like Citra Enslig Humle, i.e. the first glass is clear medium amber, the second glass is hazy. Rabarbrapapa is cloudy. Both beers have rather small, frothy, white, short-lived heads.

Rabarbrapapa and Citratron: single-hop Citra IPAs, not dry-hopped, but with rhubarb/honey and lemon balm.

The aroma of Citratron has unfortunately not gained anything positive from the lemon balm tea, quite the opposite, actually. Instead of an additional layer of citric crispiness, I only get wet plants and compost. Ok, I do get some notes of citrus and lemon balm as well, but the rotting organic material is more obvious. The tropical peachy notes are still there, but these elements aren’t as strong as for Citra Enslig Humle and Nektaripa, not so strange given that this beer isn’t dry hopped. However, the aroma of Rabarbrapapa is completely different, much stronger and very sweet! I had forgotten that I had added some 30 grams of honey to this batch, but this addition really comes through very well! In addition to the tropical notes, there is lots of sugary candy sweetness and honey. Not bad at all!

When it comes to the taste the Citratron is quite similar to Citra Enslig Humle, i.e. a light sweetness and a rather heavy bitter finish. On the palate these two beers also feel quite similar. The flavour profile on the other hand is more resinous, the tropical notes are not as strong and the compost notes of the lemon balm are a bit disturbing. Now, for the Rabarbrapapa. This is another creature all together! It’s much sweeter and the finish feels considerably less bitter, but there is a magnificent acidity that really kicks in in the aftertaste. Such a fun contrast to the very sweet aroma! I don’t think I get much rhubarb flavorous, this sneaky little plant has given most of its efforts to the acidity. I don’t know if it’s the honey or the rhubarb remnants that lifts the mouthfeel to a higher level, but the body is far fuller than any other brews I’ve made, and the texture is smooth and oily. The carbonation is nice and soft.

Conclusion: The aroma and flavour of Citra Enslig Humle and Nektaripa are wonderfully tropical, but the mouthfeel of both beer isn’t quite up there, especially the close to flat carbonation of the Nektaripa is not fitting at all. The Rabarbrapapa is very different but tasty, acidic and interesting, while the Citratron is a bit spoiled by compost notes, without being a complete disaster. The two beers with added fruits had fuller bodies than the other two, especially the Rabarbrapapa. Conclusion of the conclusion: I’m slowly getting there!

Citra Enslig Humle (Batch 004 A):
Aroma:      8
Appearance: 3
Taste:      7
Palate:     3
Overall:   12
Ratebeerscore: 3.3

Rabarbrapapa (Batch 004 B):
Aroma:      7
Appearance: 3
Taste:      7
Palate:     4
Overall:   12
Ratebeerscore: 3.3 

Nektaripa (Batch 004 C):
Aroma:      8
Appearance: 2
Taste:      7
Palate:     2
Overall:   11
Ratebeerscore: 3.0

Citratron (Batch 004 D):
Aroma:      5
Appearance: 3
Taste:      6
Palate:     3
Overall:   11
Ratebeerscore: 2.8

JoKr Brewers Mangopia

Mangopia by JoKr Brewers, American Pale Ale, 4.4 % ABV, 42 IBU.

The last mango infused ale from JoKr Brewers, Hops meet Mango, was a bit disappointing: the aroma was amazing but the beer was a gusher, the murky body with chunks of mango didn’t look that good in the glass and it was far too alcoholic and yeasty. Hopefully this lighter version is more pleasant!

JoKr Brewers Mangopia, batch no. 11

The Mangopia doesn’t gush, so there’s a huge improvement right away! So let’s pour the clear, sparkling liquid into my gl… eh… What? Mango lumps again? Putting the fresh mango in a finely masked net bag clearly didn’t solve the mango residue problem: here are plenty of bits, pieces and lumps of mango suspended in a cloudy medium orange body. I might have poured the beer too quickly, but still. The off-white head is of average size, quite frothy and a bit short-lived. It leaves virtually no lacing on the glass.

The aroma is very strong, delicious, very crisp and refreshing! It’s sweet fruity with perfectly ripe fruits, the slightly acidic mango is very obvious. Also peach, citric notes, refreshing herbs, resin and a whiff of caramel. Absolutely lovely!

The taste is light sweet with a moderate bitter long-lasting finish. Quite gentle bitterness for an APA. A very light acidity further enhances the crisp impression from the aroma. The flavours are of moderate strength, again with mango as the main component. Unfortunately there is also a light yeasty feel that I don’t like that much: neither the flavour nor the yeasty dryness in the finish. Still, good stuff, and the yeast is far less intrusive than in the Hops Meet Mango.

Decent mouthfeel, although a bit thin. The carbonation is soft, it could have benefited form an higher carbonation level.

A bit too cold Mangopia with an ok head.

Conclusion: it’s getting there! The aroma is very strong and lovely, the flavours are nice but a bit weaker than I’d hoped for, and the overall feel is a tiny bit too yeasty. A big improvement from the Hops meet Mango!

Aroma:     8
Apperance: 2
Taste:     7
Palate:    3
Overall:  12
Ratebeer score: 3.2

JoKr Brewers Hops meet Mango

Hops meet Mango by JoKr Brewers, DIPA, ABV 9.8 %, IBU 130
a.k.a. Test Batch 4

Hops meet Mango a.k.a. Test batch no. 4

A nice (D)IPA has an intensely fruity aroma, but often I’m a bit disappointed when it comes to the actual flavours: where have all the fruits gone? JoKr Brewers are obviously of the same opinion, and they have brewed an ale with real mango in order to enhance the tropical fruitiness of the flavour profile. Ever since ClubGonzo told me about their efforts I’ve wanted to try this beer, and finally the bottle is here on my table. Or actually, the bottle is safely placed in my kitchen sink, since this is a very aggressive carbonated brew that’s very eager to escape the bottle. I was warned about the beer’s gushing capabilities by ClubGonzo, so I opened the cap extremely carefully and the beer fountain was therefore somewhat tamed.

In the glass the beer has a medium amber colour. Murky, close to muddy body with particles of all sizes and colours. Not that good-looking. A decent sized but disappointingly fluffy, bath foam-ish off-white head consisting of big, very short-lived bubbles. The sad remains of the head leave virtually no lacing.

The aroma is another story all together! A lovely, strong, sweet fruity hoppy aroma with a firm malty backbone. The tropical fruits are dominating (I might be a bit biased, but I think I get lots of ripe mango). Also peach and citric notes and some sweet caramel-like stuff lurking in the back.

Moderate sweet taste with a heavy bitter finish. Moderate flavours with bitter grapefruit and alcohol, tropical fruits (mango and peach) in the finish. To be honest I had hoped for a far more pronounced mango flavour. The stinging alcohol is too dominating, especially in the aftertaste. Together with a very chalky, yeasty, dry feel the beer is a bit too rough on the palate to be really pleasant. Despite the initial gushing this medium bodied beer ends up rather softly carbonated in the glass.

Conclusion: A fun and interesting experiment resulting in decent beer with a very pleasant aroma and ok flavours. Unfortunately it’s too alcoholic and it has a heavy chalky dryness that doesn’t correspond all that well with the very sweet tropical aroma.

Aroma: 8
Appearance: 2
Taste: 6
Palate: 2
Overall: 11
Ratebeer score: 2.9
A newly poured Hops meet Mango

A newly poured Hops meet Mango. Frothy bath foam head!

The head is almost gone when Im done rating the aroma. Note the piece of mango that clings to the glass; this is the real deal!