ClubGonzo’s Warming Christmas

Warming Christmas by ClubGonzo, Spice/Herb/Vegetable / Mead, 9.5% ABV, 43 IBU.

This is probably one of the most experimental brews I’ve ever had. A beer with several syrups, candi sugar and oak aged mead. Wow.


ClubGonzo’s Warming Christmas, aka. batch 32.

It pours a dark amber to orange body that is slightly hazy. The head is very light brown and leaves some lacing on the glass.

The aroma is strong, sweet and lovely. Distinct notes of dark dried fruits, sweet caramel, burnt sugar, honey and an overall vinous feel.

The taste is moderate to heavy sweet with a moderate bitter long-lasting finish. It feels fairly well balanced.

The strong flavours are dominated by the dried dark fruits, but there is also spices that I didn’t pick up in the aroma, also wood. There is too much alcohol mid-palate, but it gives way for some lovely sweet honey notes in the late finish.

Is it a beer? Is it a mead? No, it's a braggot!

Is it a beer? Is it a mead? No, it’s a braggot! [edit: it turns out that this isn’t a braggot,  see comment from the brewer below]

The body is full and has a nice, creamy texture. The carbonation is moderate to soft, hints of dryness in the finish.

Conclusion: an extremely interesting and complex brew that is both tasty and drinkable. A pleasant surprise!

Aroma:      8/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    13/20
Ratebeer score: 3.6/5.0

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