ClubGonzo’s Bryggselv IPA #3 – The Girl From Ipanema

Bryggselv IPA #3 – The Girl From Ipanema by ClubGonzo, India Pale Ale / Spice/Herb/Vegetable, 6.2% ABV, 60 IBU.

A light IPA

A light IPA

Bryggselv IPA #3 - The Girl From Ipanema, Batch no. 59 - Contract brew no. 11.

Bryggselv IPA #3 – The Girl From Ipanema, Batch no. 59 – Contract brew no. 11.

Another take on the Bryggselv IPA brew kit (here’s the last attempt), this time it’s spiced up with habanero chillies. The readers of this blog will know that I’m a sissy when it comes to chilli, so let’s see if I survive this one…

To my surprise the Bryggselv IPA #3 looks nothing like #2, this one is much lighter, it has a clear, pale amber colour, almost golden. The averaged-sized head is off-white, long-lasting and laces the glass well.

The aroma is quite strong and to my relief it doesn’t smell much like habanero. Instead it’s a rather standard IPA aroma, in other words fairly sweet tropical fruits, orange, and caramel in the back. Or are there also hints of something vegetal (in a good sense) far in the background?

But hey, once in the mouth it’s pretty obvious that there are chillies in this one! And it works! Sure it’s hot, but not undrinkably so. Instead the habanero contrasts the sweet tropical fruits and the light caramel, giving a refreshing and palate-cleansing brew. It’s difficult to give a qualitative description of the bitterness level of this one, since the spiciness governs the aftertaste. The brew is mid-bodied, moderately carbonated and have some sweetness in the initial taste.

Conclusion: hot and spicy, but also refreshing and tasty! The reasonable amounts of habanero has resulted in a spiced IPA, not a flaming hot chilli beer with hints of hops. 

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    13/20
Ratebeer score: 3.5/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Last Minute Xmas

Last Minute Xmas by ClubGonzo, Spice/Herb/Vegetable, 7% ABV, 29.4 IBU.

ClubGonzo's Last Minute Xmas, batch no. 46.

ClubGonzo’s Last Minute Xmas, batch no. 46.

Dark beer, Christmas spices. That's all you need to make a wonderful Christmas beer. Simple and efficient!

Dark beer, Christmas spices. That’s all you need to make a wonderful Christmas beer. Simple and efficient!

A spicy dark ale – that sounds like my kind of Christmas beer!

And spicy it is! The aroma is fairly strong and dominated by Christmas spices, mainly ginger, cloves, hints of cinnamon and a touch of cardamom. And it actually reminds me a bit of a mix of the Tomtegløgg and Tomtebrygg bottles you can buy at your local Rimi. Ah, Christmas!

It has a close to black body, with a bit smaller than average, long-lived, beige head that sticks to the glass.

The flavour is strong and fits the aroma like a glove. I’m very happy with the amount of spices, I love my Christmas beers intense and spicy. The spice mix is very well balanced, none of the spices dominate. It’s a quite a sweet brew, but there is enough bitterness to balance the sweetness, and the spices freshen things up further. Finally I don’t get any overwhelming notes of anise as I often do in spiced Christmas ales, I actually doubt that there are any anise in this one at all. Splendid!

It has a pleasant mouthfeel, maybe a bit too lively carbonated initially, but it gets smoother after a while.

Conclusion: it smells and tastes like Christmas. The main drawback is that it isn’t Nøgne Ø Underlig Jul.

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      8/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    14/20
Ratebeer score: 3.7/5.0

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

Cunningham Jul 2013

Jul 2013 by Cunningham, Spice/Herb/Vegetable, ?% ABV, ? IBU.

A warm summer evening last summer I met Cunningham at Café Sara in Oslo. Since he’s one of the most generous men in this part of the galaxy, he didn’t show up empty handed: he brought me a Pliny the Elder, a hop plant and a mysterious, unlabelled bottle of homebrew. The hop plant ended up in my garden and the Pliny in my stomach a few days later, and I sort of forgot about the homebrew. Until now.

Cunningham Jul 2013 in the glass (which I got as a gift from Café Sara the very night Cunningham gave me the beer at this café)

Cunningham Jul 2013 in the glass (which I got as a gift from the bartender at the very same bar, the very same night, as Cunningham gave me his bottle of beer.)

It pours an ever so slightly hazy, good-looking, medium amber body with a small white head that soon reduces to a fully covering film. Ok lacing.

The aroma isn’t very strong, but it’s pleasant: I get notes of sweet pine needles, herbs (sweet mint and peppermint, I think), mint candy, caramel and pale malts. This is something special!

Very strong foresty flavour of pine needles, bitter herbs like bog-myrtle, lingon berries, caramel, a touch of citrus and some sweet fruits. I’ve had several Danish commercial brews with bog-myrtle, but they have all been too simple and one-dimensional, and nothing like this complex little beauty. The taste is moderate sweet and moderate+ bitter. The brewer claims that he didn’t use much hops in the boil, so maybe some of the perceived bitterness is due to the bog-myrtle?

The mouthfeel is extraordinarily pleasant. It’s a softly carbonated and full-bodied beer with an amazing, silky smooth texture.

Conclusion: an unusual, inventive, complex, drinkable, tasty and highly successful brew!

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      8/10
Palate:     5/5
Overall:    15/20
Ratebeer score: 3.8/5.0

 

 

 

ClubGonzo + Tom’s Beetnik Brew

Beetnik Brew by ClubGonzo + Tom, Imperial Brown Ale, Spice/Herb/Vegetable, 8.5% ABV, 55 IBU.

An imperial brown ale with beetroot juice and ginger. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

ClubGonzo + Tom's Beetnik Brew, batch no 21.

ClubGonzo + Tom’s Beetnik Brew, batch no 21.

In the glass it has a deep brown to copper body with a large, creamy, very long-lived, light tan head that leaves some lacing.

The aroma is strong with lots of crisp, spicy and somewhat soapy ginger notes on a modest, sweet malty caramel background with hints of dark dried fruits. It’s tempting and fairly interesting.

Beetnik Brew in the glass. This rating is not sponsored by Café Sara.

Beetnik Brew in the glass. This rating is not sponsored by Café Sara – one of the best places in Oslo to get new Norwegian microbrews on tap.

The flavour is quite strong and is dominated by ginger. Or as my co-rater this evening, Mr. Father-in-law, puts it: «this is concentrated ginger!». There are also hints of caramel and some hoppy notes, although it’s hard to be more specific than “hoppy”. Ok, I’ll try, let’s call it “floral”. Some of the floral stuff may also be caused by the beetroot. And, of course, this being a ClubGonzo beer and I’m me and all, of course I get quite much alcohol, and I must admit that I find these notes fairly unclean. The taste is moderate sweet and moderate plus bitter.

It has a pleasant mouthfeel, with a smooth and creamy texture, despite the quite lively carbonation. It’s a full-bodied beer, but the general impression suffers from the unclean alcohol in the finish.

Conclusion: a nice one if you love ginger, but it’s a bit one-dimensional and the alcohol is too obvious. And where’s the beetroot? But, as my co-raters says, “this is different”.

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

ClubGonzo’s Norwegian Naturist

Norwegian Naturist by ClubGonzo, Spice/Herb/Vegetable, 7.3% ABV, 31.7 IBU.

ClubGonzo's Norwegian Naturist, batch no.  36.

ClubGonzo’s Norwegian Naturist, batch no. 36.

Another beer in the Norwegian/Israeli homebrewing project of ClubGonzo and Shmuel Naky/Naama Halevi, this time a dark beer with juniper berries, meadowsweet and honey.

The naturist pours a cloudy, dark brown body with a light-brown head that stays big for a long time, before it ends up as a fully covering film, some build-ups at the walls and pretty lacing on the glass.

The aroma is moderate with notes of dark roasted malts and gentle smoke. In the back there is coffee and herbs. Unfortunately, as I often find is the case with herbal beers, the herbs has a certain unfresh feeling, almost rotten.

...and thanks to Murat at Café Sara for the glass!

Norwegian Naturist in the glass (which, by the way, was kindly donated by the fantastic staff at Café Sara in Oslo).

The flavour is pretty strong and partially follows the aroma, but with more complexity and hardly any herbal rottenness. It’s the pleasant and gentle smoke that dominates, together with the roasted notes, dark caramel and coffee. The herbs are present as an interesting crisp and resinous background. Maybe the rotten stuff in the aroma is caused by the meadowsweet, while the herbal touch in the flavour is due to the juniper berries? Finally, in the late aftertaste there is a very nice touch of honey. The taste is moderate sweet and the long finish is light to moderate bitter. (Talking about the bitterness: hey, ClubGonzo, an IBU of 31.7? Not 30, not 32, but 31.7? We need to have a chat about significant numbers and uncertainties one day!)

Very nice mouthfeel, with a medium body, a creamy and smooth texture, soft carbonation and a light dry finish.

Conclusion: An interesting, inventive, tasty and successful brew! The only thing I didn’t fancy was the notes of decomposing herbs in the aroma.

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     4/5
Overall:    14/20
Ratebeer score: 3.5/5.0

Meilby Brewing Pumpkin Xmas 13

Pumpkin Xmas 13 by Meilby Brewing, Spice/Herb/Vegetable, 5.5% ABV, 30 IBU.

It’s getting close to summer, i.e. it’s time for a christmas beer!

Meilby Brewing Pumpkin Xmas, all the gory details.

Meilby Brewing Pumpkin Xmas, all the gory details.

The Pumpkin Xmas makes a loud PSSST when I remove the cap, this sounds like a heavily carbonated one. It pours a very hazy, medium amber body with a large, creamy, beige head that is very long-lived. After a long time it settles as a thick layer, and impressive amounts of foam is left on the glass.

The aroma is pretty strong, and it’s spicy, sour and funky. Regarding the latter two: I clearly identify notes that to me are rather bretty, but that might also be due to the fact that all pumpkin beers I’ve ever tasted are funky stuff from Jolly Pumpkin, so what I think is wild yeast might actually simply be the pumpkin. I’d like to hear the brewer’s opinion on this! However, this is a christmas beer, and no christmas beer without some christmassy spices, in this one I mainly get anise and clove. Maybe a bit disappointing given the long and impressive ingredients list (see photo to the right).

Looking good!

Looking good!

The rather strong flavour is also very spicy. It’s dominated by anise, so heavily dominated that it’s a bit hard to detect the other spices, although clove and nutmeg shine through, the latter probably caused by the allspice. The wild yeasty notes (which may or may not be partially due to the pumpkin) are also a main element of the flavour profile. Finally there are some citric notes in the back. The taste is light to moderate sweet, and the long finish is moderate to light bitter.

It’s quite light and dry on the palate, with a lively carbonation, and a particularly dry finish. Christmas beer is a pretty loose style, but to me a christmas beer should be sweeter, but I will of course not hold the lack of residual sweetness against this little pup.

Conclusion: a nice and refreshing beer that will probably fit well as a break between overly sweet christmas beers. It’s loaded with christmas spices, although a bit heavy on the anise, and the pumpkin and the wildness is a nice twist. 

Aroma:      6/10
Appearance: 5/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    13/20
Ratebeer score: 3.4/5.0

ClubGonzo’s Israeli Wheat

Israeli Wheat by ClubGonzo, Wheat Ale, 4.2% ABV, 17 IBU.

According to the label this is a clone of a beer from the Israeli homebrewers Shmuel Naky and Naama Halevi. Let’s see if a Norwegian can brew with sage, lavender and lemon!

ClubGonzo's Israeli Wheat, batch no 34

ClubGonzo’s Israeli Wheat, batch no 34

The aroma is strong with lovely sweet floral notes, this truly smells like the lavender plant I bought a week ago.

Israeli homebrew clone from Bergen.

Israeli homebrew clone from Bergen.

Equally strong and lovely are spicy minty herbs, wheat and citric hints. I promise, I’m not just reading from the ingredient list on the label.

The flavour is very herbal, the minty herbs from the aroma now also has a liquorice anise seed touch. The lavender notes are still present, and the lemon gives just the right crispiness. The taste is moderate to light sweet with some dryness in the surprisingly long-lasting floral finish. There is very little bitterness, and very little flavour or aroma that could be attributed to hops. It’s quite light on the palate, the carbonation is moderate and it’s absolutely clean without any off-flavours.

In the glass it’s medium amber and clear, with a small white head that pretty soon reduces to a partially covering film, without lacing the glass.

Conclusion: an exciting, complex, unusual and enjoyable beer!

Aroma:      7/10
Appearance: 3/5
Taste:      7/10
Palate:     3/5
Overall:    14/20
Ratebeer score: 3.4/5.0

 

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

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.

IMG_3532

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