Dr M. Nr. 22 – Welhaven

Saison, 5.5 % ABV, 30 IBU.

Dr. M Nr. 22 - Lovely label!

Dr. M Nr. 22 – Lovely label!

After the huge head has settled it looks quite nice, save for the dirty body.

After the huge head has settled it looks quite nice, save for the dirty body.

This brew is hopped with Tettnang and an unknown variety that grows in Dr. M’s garden. Let’s see if The Doctor knows how to brew and how to grow hops!

Ouch. This one is very aggressively carbonated, but I manage to fill my glass with foam (and some beer) before all the liquid escapes from the bottle. The gushing causes the beer to be absolutely opaque with a rather dirty-looking yellow to orange colour. The big, frothy, fluffy white head shrinks to a peculiar collection of islands of foam with the texture of whipped egg-white. What have you done with this beer?

The quite strong aroma doesn’t reveal any infections, so hopefully the only fault of this brew is a violent over-carbonation. I get lots of Belgian yeasty notes, and since the label tells me so, I guess it’s saison yeast. It’s very fruity, with non-tropical light fruits being the most obvious contributors.  The aroma feels pretty yeast-driven to me, so I’m not sure how much impact the home-grown hops had on this brew.

In the mouth, however, it’s clear that something has gone wrong here. Sharp and stinging  solvent efficiently drowns most other components. There are some Belgian yeast lurking around in the background, and the fruits are still present, but they’re all overpowered by the dreaded solvent. The taste is light sweet and light bitter, and the finish is very dry.

Conclusion: it has a nice aroma and it might have tasted nice once…

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 2/5
Taste:      3/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    5/20
Ratebeer score: 1.9/5.0
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Dr. M nr. 15 – Konepone

Dr. M nr. 15 - Konepone, enjoyed 15 months after bottling.

Dr. M nr. 15 – Konepone, enjoyed 15 months after bottling.

Konepone by Dr. M, Saison, 6.5% ABV, 18 IBU.

Looking good!

Looking good!

This beer was brewed more than a year ago, but a modestly hopped saison shouldn’t change too much after an extended stay in my beer cellar. As the name indicates, Dr. M came up with the recipe for this beer in order to make a beer even his wine loving wife would enjoy. I’ve been told he succeed. He might know how to please his mistress, but I’m as always pouring my glass with a sceptical look upon my face.

The beer seems to have become slightly over-carbonated since bottling, and after I’ve filled my glass a huge pillow of foam keeps growing in the bottle. In my glass, however, everything looks great: the body is cloudy and yellow, and the huge white head is long-lived and sticks to the glass.

The aroma is strong and pleasant, with lots of fruity notes, especially apples and pears. Also saison yeast, pale malts, hints of wheat and a light spicy background.

Unfortunately things are not as convincing when I take my first sip. Sure, there are lots of nice light fruits, the yeast notes are in place, the surprisingly spicy rye is quite obvious, but there are also some quite disturbing notes of… well, this might not come as a surprise for the regular readers of this blog, but I do get stinging notes of solvent. Oh yes. They are not completely ruining the beer, but they’re not exactly increasing the drinkability.

There isn’t much sweetness left, but it’s not bone dry. The fairly long finish is light bitter, and the carbonation is rather lively.

Conclusion: I suspect that this one was a really easy-drinkning, refreshing and thirst quenching beer once, but the long wait has produced too much unpleasant off-flavours. I promise I’ll drink the next Dr. M beer as soon as I receive the bottle. 

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      4/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    8/20
Ratebeer score: 2.6/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Castle Beer

ClubGonzo's Castle Beer - Batch no 48 - Contract brew no 7.

ClubGonzo’s Castle Beer – Batch no 48 – Contract brew no 7.

IMG_2880

Castle Beer in the glass, including a huge infected head.

Castle Beer by ClubGonzo, Saison, 5.2% ABV, 30.8 IBU.

Kinn’s Slåtteøl is a quite nice saison, and Castle Beer (oh, the puns!) is a clone of this brew.

I open the bottle and… Ouch! A gusher! I barely manage to save my precious Mac from being marinated in beer, and luckily all the liquid ends up in my glass. The body is deep amber and hazy, and the off-white head is of course huge initially, but settles fairly quickly as a nice layer.

Quite strong aroma of old fruits, cellar, fart and sweat. This is really not something I would like to drink.

The first sip confirms that this is a ruined beer. It might not be as farty as the aroma indicates, but instead I get the good old notes of stinging solvent. Light bitterness, yadi-yadi-yada, dry texture… whatever… You know what I mean, I don’t think I want to waste any more electrons on this obviously bad bottle.

Conclusion: drainpour extravaganza.  I actually had two bottles of this beer, and the other bottle was equally nauseating. 

Aroma:      3/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      1/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    4/20
Ratebeer score: 1.4/5.0

Dr. M nr 9 – Tordensaison

Tordensaison by Dr. M, Saison, 7% ABV, 27 IBU.

Dr. M knows how to brew a tasty saison, e.g. the brilliant Maianthemum, so my hands tremble with anticipation as I open the bottle. It pours a cloudy medium yellow to orange body with a very huge, frothy, white head that leaves big patches of foam on my glass, before it reduces to a partially covering film and some foamy islands.

Dr. M nr 9 - Tordensaison

Dr. M nr 9 – Tordensaison

The aroma is strong and unusually sweet for the style. I get lots of heather honey, so much in fact that I first thought that honey was added to the beer. There are also distinct notes of pale malts, spices and faint yeast, with citric notes in the back.

The over-carbonated bottle produces a huge head.

The over-carbonated bottle produces a huge head.

The flavour is unfortunately ruined by the dreaded, unclean and stinging medicinal alcohol-like notes that I sometimes find in homebrews. In addition there are tart apples, pale malts, yeast and a white wine dryness in the finish. The unclean alcohol makes it an unpleasant experience to drink this beer, and I must admit that I didn’t manage to finish the bottle. The body is light and the initial over-carbonation is fairly long-lived, so the carbonation stays lively until I sacrifice this miserable beer to the Sink God. Dr. M, you can do so much better!

Maybe it didn't taste that good due to the sunny weather, this is after all a thunder saison.

Maybe it didn’t taste that good due to the sunny weather, this is after all a thunder saison.

Conclusion: something has gone wrong here, and the beer is a medicinal mess. There are some nice elements, but they can’t save this beer from the sink. This is not a saison worthy of Dr. M

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      4/10
Palate:     2/5
Overall:    8/20
Ratebeer score: 2.4/5.0

ClubGonzo & Bjarte + Charlotte’s Psycho Saison

Psycho Saison by ClubGonzo & Bjarte + Charlotte, Saison, Spice/Herb/Vegetable , 6.6% ABV, 28.2 IBU.

The summer of 2012 I started homebrewing (and I kind of stopped then as well, but I’ll start up again soon, I promise). Back then I really wanted to put rhubarb from my garden into a brew, and I assumed that a saison would be the most fitting style. However, all I had in my fermentors at that time where IPAs, so I made the Rabarbrapapa, an IPA with rhubarb and honey. IMHO it was a successful brew, and it made me certain that rhubarb is a good ting to add a beer. And then comes ClubGonzo with friends, and they’ve actually made the beer I wanted to brew: a saison with rhubarb (and sea buckthorn, just to be extra fancy). Cool!

ClubGonzo & Bjarte + Charlotte's Psycho Saison, Contract brew no. 3 - Solo batch no. 21.

ClubGonzo & Bjarte + Charlotte’s Psycho Saison, Contract brew no. 3 – Solo batch no. 21.

It pours an opaque, orange to whitish body with an average white head that reduces quickly in size. It ends up as a fully covering film, with some lacing left on the glass.

The flavours are strong, with obvious tart and acidic notes from the rhubarb. Also quite fruity, but I have no idea what sea buckthorn tastes like, so I don’t know if any of the fruity notes in this beer are caused by these berries. I also get lemon,  hints of alcohol and traces of honey. The finish is dry. Some sweetness initially, but the acidity soon takes over. It’s hard to say if there is any bitterness blended into the mix, or if the bite on my tongue is all due to the acid. This one might be a bit too acidic for my taste, but while I drink it grows on me. All in all a very, very, very crisp, tart and acidic feel.

The mouthfeel is a bit dull, at least when the beer warms up. It seems like the carbonation is very short-lived when the beer enters my mouth. Strange.  Still, when the beer is fridge cold is feels quite ok.

Overall: a fun experiment and a tasty brew, but the acidity decreases the drinkability slightly. Maybe a bit too generous with the rhubarb? 

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    12/20
Ratebeer score: 3.0/5.0

Dr. M nr 8 – Maianthemum

Maianthemum by Dr. M, Saison, 7% ABV, 27 IBU.

The Maianthemum is really eager to be freed from its bottle prison, and I start to pour right before the beer begins to gush out of the bottle all by itself. I end up with a glass consisting of 90% white, frothy foam and 10% cloudy, light orange to amber liquid. The head is very long-lived but shrinks to a reasonable size in a minute or two. Lots of huge patches of foam cling to the glass, in addition to finer curtains of laces. Giving a 3 in Appearance might be a bit too strict, but I really don’t like beers that gush and I definitely don’t like to wait a long time before I can start tasting the beer!

Dr. M nr. 8 - Masdfsdf, or Maiblomst.

Dr. M nr. 8 – Maianthemum with a huge head, enjoyed 9 months after bottling

The aroma is strong and very inviting, even through the initial 10 cm of foam. I get crisp spicy notes, saison yeast, fruits, pale malts and a whiff of honey.

The flavours are strong and fruity, with the same notes as in the aroma. The alcohol is present, but it’s clean and pleasant. There is very little sweetness in the taste, the yeast has clearly done a thorough job. The long-lasting finish has a pleasant light bitterness, that backs up the sweet honey notes very well.

The head settles and laces the glass well.

The head settles and laces the glass well.

The carbonation is as expected lively, and that fits this dry and rather light beer.

Conclusion: A superb beer! Crisp, dry, refreshing and ridiculously drinkable, with strong and clean aromas and flavours. Dr. M, I think I need one more of these!

Aroma:      8/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      8/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    15/20
Ratebeer score: 3.8/5.0

Dr. M nr. 11 – Jula 2013

Jula 2013 by Dr. M, Saison/Belgian Ale, 7.2% ABV, 90 IBU.

This very untraditional christmas beer comes in two versions: a regular and one with a little gnome on the label. I can’t quite remember what the difference between the two versions is, but we’ll find that out soon enough.

IMG_3549

Dr. M nr. 11 – Jula 2013. The spiced version (a.k.a. gnomed version) to the left, the regular version to the right.

Both beers pour a slightly hazy, medium amber body. They seem to be quite lively carbonated, the gnomed version even more so, and the lightly tanned head is bigger and more frothy. Both heads are long-lived and lace the glasses well. The aroma and taste of the two beers are so different that I’ll have to rate them separately. First the regular version:

The aroma is strong, and it has lovely notes of Belgian yeast, or rather saison yeast I suppose, citrus, pale malts and lots of sweet fruits with hints of overripe strawberries. It’s a pleasant mix of crispness and sweetness.

IMG_3548

The labels have all the gory detail, but the additions to the gnomed version isn’t revealed.

There is very little sweetness in the taste and the finish is heavy bitter. Totally out of style perhaps, but fun. The flavours are moderate, it feels like the bitterness drowns most of the elements that should be present according to the aroma. I get yeast, fruits in the back and some alcohol. Even further in the back I get resin, pine needles and bitter grapefruit, vague hints of anise and traces of honey in the late aftertaste.

As expected the body is quite light, the texture is bone dry and the carbonation is lively.

The gnomed version is a totally different creature all together! The aroma is very strong, far stronger than for the regular version, but most of the notes found in the regular version are in the gnomed version efficiently masked by a massive wall of herbs, anise seeds, cloves and liquorice. There is nothing saison-ish about this one. But still an interesting aroma, I wonder what Dr. M has actually added to this brew!

The strong flavours follow the aroma, with lots of herbs, anise, spices (again especially cloves). There is really lots of herbs in this one. Lots and lots. This is like drinking a Jägermeister. Not very christmassy, but definitely an unusual and entertaining experiment! The alcohol feels better hidden than in the regular version, it also feels a bit less bitter, less dry and there are more sweetness.

Conclusion: The regular version is a quite nice beer, but there is too much bitterness for the gentle flavours. Maybe more late hops should have been used to back up the bitter taste? On the other hand, that would move the beer even further away from it’s saison origin. Finally it’s a bit too alcoholic. The gnomed version is a fun one, but it’s also quite demanding, and the herbal overdose is simply a bit too much. Neither of the beers are very more-ish, and it wasn’t a great loss to partially rate these two beers Polden Arnesen style. 

Regular version:

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    11/20
Ratebeer score: 3.1/5.0

Gnomed version:

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    10/20
Ratebeer score: 2.9/5.0

Anodyn Hindu Saison

Hindu Saison by Anodyn, 7% ABV, unknown IBU.

The previous saison I rated on this blog was the delicious ANodyn Rosenkrantz Sommer-Saison, a beer with a bit more bittering hops that I’m used to for this style. One of the very best homebrews I’ve ever rated is the Houblon Saison from Meilby Brewing, so my hopes are really high when I open the bottle of extra hoppy saison from the Anodyn crew.

Anodyn Hindu Saigon (batch 5)

Anodyn Hindu Saigon (batch 5)

In the glass it looks opaque, with a medium orange colour. The huge, white head is very long-lived, and it laces the glass very well.

The strong aroma is definitely more IPA than saison, it lacks the crispiness and freshness of the latter style. Instead this is very sweet, it’s almost like smelling a soft drink. I get notes of sugary, overripe tropical fruits like peach. The aroma is in fact so overripe that I sense some rotting leaves far in the back. Also yeast, bubble gum, candy and some faint ripe strawberries. It’s a pleasant aroma, but a bit unexpected.Hindu Saison, enjoyed in the sun 7 months after brewing

There is quite much sweetness in the taste as well, and the finish is moderate bitter. The flavours aren’t that strong, but they are fairly decent. Fruits, yeast, a bit too much alcohol and traces of spices.

On the palate the beer feels dry to oily, but the finish is definitely dry. The body is medium and the carbonation is moderate.

Conclusion: a quite ok IPA with hints of saison, but a bit too sweet and overripe fruity.

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      6/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    11/20
Ratebeer score: 3.1/5.0

ANodyn & Co. Rosenkrantz Sommer-Saison

Rosenkrantz Sommer-Saison by ANodyn & Co., Saison, 6.5% ABV, unknown IBU.

A new addition from the Bergen homebrew scene, this time 1/3 of Anodyn 33.3 bryggeri og drikkeri, Anders Fjelstad to be precise, who has brewed this saison together with Benedicte Røen og Rakel Helgheim.

Rosenkrantz Sommer-Saison, enjoyed 6 months after brewing.

Rosenkrantz Sommer-Saison, enjoyed 6 months after brewing.

It pours a very cloudy and opaque medium orange body, with a very large, creamy, quite dense, egg-white head that is long lived and laces the glass well.

The aroma is strong, crisp and very inviting. I get spices, fruits, especially citrus, pleasant yeasty notes and to my surprise also some hefeweizen-ish banana notes in the back. A bit unusual with the banana perhaps, but it’s highly inviting and it plays well with the crisp citric notes and the yeast.

The taste is light acidic, there is some sweetness, and the rather long-lasting finish has a moderate to light bitterness. I find this beer more bitter than most saisons, but it’s very fitting, and it’s still far from being an India Saison clone. The rather strong flavours are complex and delicious, with spices, some fruity notes (again banana in the back), citrus, yeast, honey and a touch of alcohol. The alcohol is clean, but quite noticeable, it’s almost of the level of a Belgian golden strong ale.

It’s a crisp and refreshing beer. I had it in my garden a sunny september afternoon, and the light body, dry texture and lively carbonation were those of perfect summer beer.

Rosenkrantz Sommer-Saison by Anders Fjeldstad & the girls.

Rosenkrantz Sommer-Saison by Anders Fjeldstad & the girls.

Conclusion: a very successful saison with hints of German hefeweizen meets Belgian golden strong ale meets abbey tripel. Very tasty, powerful aroma and flavour and dangerously drinkable.

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

JoKr Brewers Dandy Lion

Dandy Lion with its huge head.

Dandy Lion by JoKr Brewers, Saision / Spice/Herb/Vegetable, 7.8% ABV, 32 IBU.

The Dandy Lion pours a beautiful, medium orange, nearly opaque body with no visible particles. The head is huge, creamy, off-white and very long-lived. It eventually ends up as foamy islands resting on a thin layer of foam, and my glass is draped with lacing. Nice!

Dandy Lion by JoKr Brewers. Batch no. 12.

The aroma is strong and absolutely lovely! It’s quite belgian-like, I’m immediately thinking Duvel and triples. Delicious yeasty notes, sweet light fruits like banana, but also slightly overripe fruity notes and even some fermented apples. Also flowers, herbs and spices with sweet honey in the back.

Now, the taste… Oh my. My wife thought I was sick or something when she heard my reaction when I took the first sip! This is absolutely awful! My palate is violently attacked by the most massive wall of alcohol I’ve ever encountered in any beer, this is like drinking pure vodka! What on earth has happened here? 7.8% ABV? Are you sure it’s not 78% ABV? Initially it is difficult to say anything about the taste and flavours, everything is completely drowned in alcohol. After a few sips however I think I can detect quite much sweetness in here, also some light acidity and a very light bitterness in the finish. It is also possible to find other flavours than alcohol: the first 0.5 seconds are actually quite nice, with very pleasant yeast, sweet fruits and honey. But then the alcohol kicks in and actually makes it difficult to swallow the beer. In the aftertaste, after the alcohol has faded out, I get some slightly rotten floral notes, and far far far in the aftertaste the dandelions start to show up: I can actually taste the white dandelion sap bitterness! That’s cool!

It doesn’t help that the body is medium, the moderate to soft carbonation is fitting and the texture is pleasant creamy to oily when everything is completely spoiled by the harsh alcohol finish. This is the definition of an unpleasant mouthfeel. I actually couldn’t finish the tiny 25 cl bottle.

Conclusion: An utter confusing beer. Wonderful aroma, some nice flavours but with a mouthfeel straight from the darkest pits of Hell. I guess I should have kept this in my beer cellar for a few more months?

Aroma:      8
Appearance: 4
Taste:      4
Palate:     1
Overall:    7
Ratebeer Score: 2.4