Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The other Carlsberg lager

I used to be fond of Carlsberg lager. The Danish brew was one of my favourite "pilsners" whenever I wanted a beer. However, that was then. These days I prefer other beers, and the rich flavours of some of the Czech lagers I have been drinking lately makes Carlsberg's ordinary lager an inferior product when comparing them.

Carlsberg is not the only brand name used by the Danish brewery giant. They also use the brand name Jacobsen for some products, and last week I found another Jacobsen beer in the shelves of a local supermarket. This time it was the Jacobsen Extra, which is one of several beers in a series brewed at Carlsberg's micro brewery.

In the glass this is a pale lager with little carbonation and a medium sized head. The nose is interesting with hints of malts and flowers. The first taste is somewhat watery, but then malts and grapefruit take over. The grapefruit stays there through the aftertaste, and leads out with an excellence not found in the ordinary Carlsberg lager. This is a much better lager beer!

I am going to Denmark later this year, and I will be looking for more of the Jacobsen products. There is no doubt after tasting Jacobsen Extra that Carlsberg knows how to make beer. Good beer, actually!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

From Lithuania with sweetness

As I entered the local Vinomopolet outlet yesterday, I was looking for some bottles of Budvar for the weekend. Unfortunately, the shop was out of Budvar, and the shop assistant could tell me that the central Vinmonopolet warehouse in Oslo also was empty. Therefore they do not know when the Czech lager beer will be available again in the shop. For me that is no problem, as I am soon returning to Prague and can have draughted Budvar instead.

I looked around the Vinmonopolet shop to find a beer that I had not tried before. On one of the shelves some bottles of Lithuanian lager was making themselves interesting for me. Covered in some dust, it looked as if these bottles were not a popular choice among the Vinmonopolet costumers. Anyway, I picked up a bottle and brought it home.

According to the label, Svyturys Ekstra is the most popular beer in Lithuania. In the glass this is a pale lager that builds a nice lasting head. It is fizzy, and in the nose there is little aroma. In the mouth, this is a very sweet and medium bodied beer. There is also some maltiness and hints of grains. The aftertaste is full of sweetness.

I did not like this beer, and after several sips, Svyturys Ekstra got much too sweet. It was almost sickening sweet for me, and I would have liked it to have some bitterness to counter the sweetness.

I guess I have bought my last bottle of Svyturys Ekstra. This was a beer that I did not care for at all. If I want something this sweet, I would rather have a Coke or a Pepsi.

Friday, February 19, 2010

From the fjords

The Ægir brewery is based in Flåm in the fjord district of Western Norway. The brewery has a presence as a little brewpub in the little village, and its beers can be found in well stocked bars in the major Norwegian cities.

I had tried Ægir's IPA on tap at Naboen in Bergen before Christmas, but it was just recently that I for the first time found beers from the brewery in bottles at a Vinmonopolet outlet I normally do not visit. I liked the IPA from draught, but at the time I felt it was much too bitter.

It was therefore very interesting trying the beer from bottles. In the glass Ægir's IPA is copper coloured. There is nearly no carbonation, and the beer builds a small head in the glass. In the nose there are hops, plums and a hint of yeast. The aftertaste is very bitter with some fruits, but even though there is an accented bitterness this is a very good beer.

I liked Ægir's IPA, and drinking it bottled at home felt better than drinking it from tap. It is a nice IPA, and it is a great local alternative for visitors to Norway.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Brew Dog

Among the newer beers at Vinmonopolet, you can find Brew Dog's Punk IPA. If we are to believe the label this is another of the Scottish brewery's no holds barred beer marketing products, and it is called "an aggressive beer" that the brewery does not care "if you don't like".

In the glass this is a somewhat unclear golden beer. There is nearly no carbonation, a small head and my first thought is that it looks like a Belgian wit. The aroma is sweet with some flowers and hints of yeast. In the mouth there is first sweetness before bitterness takes over. There is a lot of hops in the beer leading into a hoppy aftertaste nearly tickling the tongue before some grapefruit leads off.

I felt this was a nice and enjoyable beer. Myself, I was not scared by it, and compared to my other IPA experiences this was a moderate beer. I remember my first outing with Nøgne Ø's IPA, which has much more bite than Brew Dog's Punk IPA.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New year's beers

1 February is an important day in Norwegian supermarkets. The shelves are restocked, and new additions are placed in the shops. This also happens in the beer shelves, and some new beers make their way into the various supermarkets.

I entered two supermarkets I usually do not frequent last week, and among the new beers I could find Kronenbourg 1664, Birra Morretti and Jacobsen's Saaz Blonde. The first ones are beers I have already tried out. I was in France last year and tried both the ordinary Kronenbourg and 1664. The French 1664 was stronger in alcohol than the one I found in Norway. I believe the French version was 5.2% alcohol, while the one I found in Norway had 4.5% alcohol.

1664 is a pale lager with little carbonation. It is sold in 0.25 litre bottles, and as far as I know it is the only beer sold in Norway in such bottles. The price is high. It costs 20 NOK, which is slightly more than 2 GBP or 2 EUR.

In the nose there is little aroma, but there are some hints of flowers. In the mouth 1664 feels a little watery. It is thinbodied but has some malts. In the aftertaste there are some grains. This is a boring lager that lacks some of the alcohol punch found in the version I had in France. This will not be a frequent visitor to my fridge.

Birra Morretti was my favourite when I tried some Italian pale lagers last year. Also this beer offers very little aroma, but there are some malts in the nose. In the glass there is a lot of carbonation but it builds only a small head.

The beer is medium bodied with a lot of malts in it. The aftertaste is watery with a hint of hoppy bitterness. Birra Morretti is another beer that I will not seek out actively. The price at a Rema 1000 supermarket was 26 NOK for a 0.33 litre bottle.

Last out is Jacobsen's Saaz Blonde, which costs 29 NOK at a Coop supermarket. This is brewed by Carlsberg on their Jacobsens craft brewery and is a blonde in the Belgian style. The beer is golden in colour with a lot of carbonation and a small head. The nose is aromatic with some yeast and hints of hops and fruit.

In the mouth there is more fruitiness with hints of grapefruit before the hops take over in the aftertaste. This is a great beer, and one I hope still is available in shops when Summer comes. Carlsberg knows how to make a good blonde!

Friday, February 12, 2010

New from Vinmonopolet

There are many interesting beers to be found at Vinmonopolet these days. As of January, the state owned liquor and wine stores in Norway has had a special focus on beers. There are many new beers available, and many styles are represented.

If you are looking for beers at Vinmonopolet, they will be among the stronger ones, as only beers with less than 4.7% alcohol can be sold in ordinary shops in Norway.

Myself I am happy to find Budweiser Budvar available at Vinmonopolet. They sell this Czech golden lager in 0.33 litre bottles. This is the Budvar svetly lezak, and it has 5.0% alcohol. It is actually cheaper than it's vycepni version in ordinary shops. The 4.5% alcohol Budvar is sold at 27.90 NOK in supermarkets, while Vinmonopolet sells it at 26 NOK. This is around 3 GBP or 3 EUR.

Among the new beers at Vinmonopolet is Goose Island India Pale Ale. This is an American beer from Chicago with a very beautiful label. It is my first American IPA, and it has a alcohol content of 5.9 %.

In the glass Goose Island IPA has a Pale and cloudy colour. It has a small, white head and there is very little carbonation. There is nearly no aroma, but some hints of apples can be found. In the mouth there is apples and hops. I feel it is nice balanced with nearly no bitterness. This is a very good and enjoyable beer and one of the best IPAs I have tried so far.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

White islander

Nøgne Ø's Wit is available in some Norwegian supermarkets. I have had several good wheat beers in this Belgian style during the last year, and I have become fond of beers like Hoegaarden.

The Norwegian attempt from the Grimstad brewery has a golden colour. In the glass there is some carbonation and a lasting, white head. In the nose there is a lot of flavour from yeast and fruits with accentuated banana. The taste is really nice. There is some yeast and more banana in the mouth. I like this beer. It is just delicious!

This is an excellent wit beer, and I am looking forward to drinking it in the sun next Summer. In the mean time I recommend Nøgne Ø's Wit for all wheat beer enthusiasts. The price for a 0.5 litre bottle at a Meny supermarket here in Norway was 39 NOK, which is slighty more than 4 EUR or 4 GBP.

Monday, February 1, 2010

First Brew Dog

I have seen people telling both good and bad things about the Scottish Brew Dog brewery and its beers. Until January I had never tried a Brew Dog beer. I have seen them on shelves in beer shops and bars abroad, but I had never seen a bottle here in Norway.

This changed as of 1 Januar when the Norwegian state owned wine and liquor outlets, Vinmonopolet, started selling some Brew Dog beers. I decided to try one out, and Rip Tide was my first Brew Dog beer.

According to the label this is a "twisted merciless stout". The alcohol content is 8%. The label also tells that this beer won the prize for "world's best stout-imperial" at the World Beer Awards. The beer is very dark. In the glass there is some carbonation and a small, tanned head.

In the nose there is coffee and some burnt notes. In the mouth the feeling of cold coffee takes the lead with much bitterness, but there are also hints of prune there. The beer is balanced, as the alcohol content does not show.

Rip Tide is a nice beer, but I feel the straight forward coffee taste makes it unneccessarily bitter. I would like to try it again, but I feel there are other dark beers out there that suit my palate better than this beer from Brew Dog.