ClubGonzo’s M

M by ClubGonzo, Imperial Stout, 10.7% ABV, 67 IBU.

Looks good, tasted good.

Looks good, tasted good.

ClubGonzo batch number 50 is a birthday present for his gal's on her 40th birthday. Isn't that sweet?

ClubGonzo batch number 50 is a birthday present for his lady on her 40th birthday. Isn’t that sweet?

Is there something about the letter M that attracts homebrewers? I’ve rated several beers on this blog from Dr. M and from Meilby Brewing, the latter using a big bold M on his labels. Anyway, this time it’s the beer itself that’s called M.

It pours a viscous-looking, pitch black body with a dark brown head of decent size.

The aroma is strong and it’s dominated by dark roasted malt, strong coffee (you’ve added coffee to this one, right?) and chocolate. Maybe a bit too dominated by coffee for my nose, but absolutely an inviting aroma.

The flavour is very strong, magnificently complex and lovely! It’s not at all as dominated by coffee as the aroma, coffee is just one of many delicious flavours.  In additional to the coffee, I get chocolate, chocolate sauce, liquorice, dark caramel, vanilla, a touch of raspberries, some brown sugar and hints of leather. It’s a very sweet brew, with just the right amount of bitterness to back it up. The alcohol is perfectly integrated.

It’s a full-bodied brew with a smooth and creamy texture with a fitting soft carbonation. The pleasant mouthfeel makes it hard not to drink this masterpiece too quickly.

Conclusion: I’m speechless. One of the very best homebrews I’ve ever had. A tad less coffee, and it would have been perfect. This should be in the core lineup when you start a commercial brewery. Thanks to Marianne for inspiring ClubGonzo, Hurra!

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      8/10
Palate:     5/5
Overall:    16/20
Ratebeer score: 4.0/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Infernal Empire

Infernal Empire by ClubGonzo, Imperial Stout, 12.5% ABV, 79 IBU.

Finally, my favourite beer style, an imperial stout! For his 40th batch ClubGonzo makes his very first attempt at this demanding style, and he goes in with full force: this little 25 cl bottle is packed with chipotle, espresso, vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and honey!

Flat beers look dull, no matter how black they are.

Flat beers look dull, no matter how black they are.

ClubGonzo's Infernal Empire, batch 40. Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn!

ClubGonzo’s Infernal Empire, batch 40. Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn!

Hardly any sound escapes as I remove the cap, so I suspect that this one is very softly carbonated. The suspicion is further enhanced when I pour my glass: I end up with a pitch black body with a few bubbles that disappears completely quite quickly. As there is no head there is no lacing either.

The dark roasted aroma is strong and very dominated by dry coffee. As the beer warms up a little I also get sweet vanilla and chocolate.

The flavour is veeeeryaaahAAAH! AAAAH! Sorry, it’s just took my first sip of this hellish brew, and my tongue is melting! If the coffee dominated the aroma, it’s definitely the chipotle that runs the show when it comes to the flavour and the mouthfeel: this is burning hot! Initially the first sip feels well balanced, but after a couple of seconds the chipotle marches in and drowns the other flavours effectively. I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to hot foods and drinks, but I know that my palate gets used to the hotness after a little while, so I keep drinking. After a few more sips I begin to appreciate the beer. True, it’s very hot, but not overwhelmingly so, and the slightly smoked chipotle allows other elements to play along: dark roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, light vanilla and a fitting touch of well integrated and clean alcohol. Having said that, please go easier on the chillies next time, if you want to please this little wimp. The taste is moderate sweet and quite heavy bitter.

It’s completely flat on the palate, it’s full-bodied and has a oily texture. I don’t expect beers of this strength to be lively carbonated, but a couple of bubbles would have been nice.

Conclusion: A powerful and complex imperial stouts with lots of components, but a bit too hot.

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 2/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    14/20
Ratebeer score: 3.3/5.0

JoKr Brewers Crumbling Empire

Crumbling Empire by JoKr Brewers, Imperial Stout, 8.2% ABV, 33 IBU.

This is a beer I’ve beed storing in my cellar for more than half a year, by orders of the brewers. By now it should hopefully be mature and nice!

It pours a very dark brown body, almost black, with a large, light-brown, creamy head that is very long-lived and laces the glass excellently. What more could you ask for?

Crumbling Empire, a.k.a. Test Batch no 9.

The aroma is strong, roasted and has distinct notes of coffee and liquorice, with some additional hoppy fruity notes in the back. Not very complex or extraordinary, but an inviting aroma.

The taste is moderate sweet with a long-lasting, heavy to moderate bitter finish. I can’t believe that the IBU isn’t higher than 33? When it comes to the flavour I understand why the jokers wanted me to let this beer stay in its bottle for quite some time before trying it, they probably felt that the alcohol was too obvious when the brew was fresh. Me? I would have let the beer mature for another decade or two: a stinging alcohol flavour is far too dominant. Luckily there are also strong notes of coffee and liquorice, the latter is particularly obvious in the long-lasting aftertaste. Finally I get some very faint fruity notes.

The mouthfeel would have been wonderful, if it wasn’t for the too obvious alcohol. Medium to full body, oily texture and moderate carbonation.

Conclusion: a good-looking and tasty beer with a bit too much alcohol.

Aroma:      7
Appearance: 5
Taste:      7
Palate:     3
Overall:   13
Ratebeer Score: 3.5


Simen André Sørby Imperial Stout

Simen's imperial stout. Or rather, what's left of it after I've had some sips.

Imperial Stout by Simen André Sørby, Imperial Stout, 9 % ABV, 80 IBU.

I’ve been waiting for so long to try this one, and after an adventurous journey all the way from Kolbotn, it’s finally right here in front of me! Thanks to Facebook, Simen, Tora and Morten!

Unfortunately I was a bit too eager to start the drinking and rating, so I completely forgot to take a picture of the newly poured beer. But I assure you, simply pouring this one is a pleasure! It looks thick and viscous, like raw oil (not that I’ve ever seen raw oil in real life, but you get my drift), and pours a pitch black body crowned by a brown, creamy head that is larger than the average imperial stout head. It reduces to a thin layer with a healthy build-up against the walls of the glass, and leaves a good deal of lacing.

The aroma is strong, very sweet and pleasant. It’s heavily roasted with truckloads of strong coffee, a whiff of chocolate, some vague dark berries, traces of yeast and faint hints of hops. Not as complex as the aroma of a perfect imperial stout should be, but still absolutely inviting.

The taste is moderate to heavy sweet with a long-lasting, heavy bitter finish. The flavours are strong, lovely and follow the aroma, but in addition I also get some salty liquorice. It’s not very complex and doesn’t really open up as the temperature rises, but sometimes simplicity is enough. The alcohol isn’t as well integrated as I’d hoped for, it gives a sharp and stinging bite in the finish. Also the yeasty notes from the aroma manifest themselves as faint metallic notes, but they are not that disturbing.

The mouthfeel is very pleasant, apart from the alcoholic sting: the body is thick and full, the texture is oily to creamy and the carbonation is quite soft.

Conclusion: a quite clean, simple, elegant and very nice imperial stout that is true to the style. Lovely aroma and flavour and a nice mouthfeel, although the alcohol is a bit to aggressive. If the alcohol had been a bit better hidden, this would have been an absolute winner!

Aroma:      7
Appearance: 4
Taste:      7
Palate:     4
Overall:   14
Ratebeer score: 3.6

Meilby Brewing Imperial Licorice Stout

Imperial Licorice Stout by Meilby Brewing, Imperial Stout, 12.8 % ABV, 80 IBU. 

The autumn is here and with it my crave for dark and powerful beers. What better way to start the stout season than an imperial licorice stout?

Meilby Imperial Licorice Stout, bottled 19.12.2011, batch 003, bottle 22/23.

Out of the bottle pours a very viscous looking, oily, black liquid that doesn’t seem to be carbonated at all. Even when I raise the bottle far above the glass no head is formed, apart from some brown big bubbles that migrate towards the walls of the glass. They are sort of long-lived, but don’t leave any lacing.

Black, oily beer with a few bubbles.

The aroma is amazing, complex, strong and sweet! Coffee, chocolate, liquorice, dark caramel, dark sweet fruits, raisin and a touch of port wine. It’s roasted, but not as heavily roasted as the utter black body indicates.

The heavy sweet taste is nicely backed up by a slight salty feel and a moderate to heavy bitter finish. The flavours are quite strong and very, very pleasant. Sweet dark caramel, port wine and roasted notes, but most of all intense and ever-lasting notes of liquorice that explode in the aftertaste. The alcohol is extremely well integrated, it’s only present as this lovely port wine feel. Absolutely amazing!

In the mouth this black monster feels like liquid liquorice, this must be the definition of a full bodied beer! The texture is thick, viscous, oily and wonderful. The only thing that prevents me from giving a 5 is the lack of carbonation. It’s very close to flat with just the slightest tingling sensation on my tongue, but that might as well be caused by the alcohol.

Conclusion: an absolutely delicious beer with stunning aroma and taste, and although the flavour profile is a bit too dominated by the liquorice to be called complex, it’s still one of the very best homebrews I’ve ever tasted. 

Aroma:     8
Apperance: 3
Taste:     8
Palate:    4
Overall:  15
Ratebeer Score: 3.8