Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to Bodø

A ten hour train journey from Trondheim took me past the Arctic circle and to Bodø. Bodø is one of the largest cities in Northern Norway, but with about 46,000 inhabitants it is really a small sized city.

A few years ago, Bodø had a brewpub in the city centre. Bryggerikaia served several beers brewed on site. These days the brewing equipment inside the combined restaurant and pub is a sign of the former brewpub activity. The brewer has left Bodø, and visitors to Bryggerikaia must make do with beers from Tromsø based Mack brewery.

Bryggerikaia is a nice place to have a few beers and something to eat. At lunch time there is a lunch buffet with a lot of tempting courses. I sat down and had several servings of among others Spanish meatballs, marinated prawns and tasty fish.

Mack is one of the better of the large Norwegian breweries. As usual in Norway, pale lagers are the most common beers brewed by any brewery. My favourite from Mack is the Arctic Beer, and fortunately that was one of the available draught beers at Bryggerikaia.

Arctic Beer is a decent pale lager with a nice and grainy aftertaste. The nose is flowery and in the mouth malts and hops dance along in a fine combination.

If you go to Bodø, Bryggerikaia is perhaps the best place in town. Unfortunately it is no longer a brewpub, but it has a great atmosphere and a fantastic view of the harbour and the wild, North Norwegian nature.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

At the office

Kontoret is one of the better places to visit in Bergen if you are looking for beer. The fridges are filled with quality beers, and the pub is among the better stocked places in the Norwegian town.

Myself, I prefer drinking draught beer when I visit a pub, and I have several choices at Kontoret (which means office in English). Old Speckeled Hen is a nice ale, and I prefer Murphy's to Guinness when I want a glass of stout. If I want a pint of the local Hansa pale lager, it is also available as a draught beer at Kontoret.

Kontoret is also supporting Norwegian craft beers. For the last year or so, one of the taps has been given to the little Ægir brewery. Before Christmas I was able to drink Ægir's Juleøl (Christmas beer) at Kontoret, and right now Ægir's IPA is available.

The IPA from Ægir is among my favourite beers from the little brewery in Flåm. On my last visit I came from Naboen and had just tried Vestkyst India Øl from Kinn brewery. The taste of it was still on my palate, so I wanted to try out Ægir's IPA once again to compare the beers.

Ægir's IPA was also a copper coloured beer, but it had nearly no carbonation. The head was medium sized, and in the nose I felt hops, plums and yeast. The plums danced with hops and a hint of citrus before a nice bitterness lead on in the aftertaste. This is a very good IPA, and it is one that I really recommend.

But which is best, then? Kinn or Ægir? I liked Kinn's IPA effort very much, but it is Ægir's IPA that is the one I feel is the best. The price? 94 NOK for a half litre of IPA from Ægir at Kontoret.

Friday, August 27, 2010

In the neighbourhood

Visiting Bergen, anyone interested in beer should check out Naboen. The combined restaurant and bar with Swedish dishes has made a special effort in their beer menu. Beers from many Norwegian micro breweries are available in bottles, and Naboen also offers several draught beers. And of course you can find a bottle menu with different international beers.

The "usual" pale lager is from Aass brewery of Drammen. Aass is also represented with a Classic lager, while Naboen also sells its own Bayer. The Norwegian craft breweries are well represented. Both Nøgne Ø and Haandbryggeriet always have one tap each. At the moment you can find Nøgne Ø's bitter. You can also find beers from the smaller Ægir and Kinn breweries. From Ægir you can drink Altbier from tap, while Kinn has two draught beers at the moment. One of them is the stout called Svart hav.

This week I was back at Naboen to have a quick beer. I decided to postpone a test of Ægir's Altbier. Instead I was ready for Kinn's IPA called Vestkyst India Øl (Westcoast India Beer).

Naboen has two handpumps, and both Kinn beers are served from the pumps. In the glass the India Øl had an unclear copper colour, a medium sized head and very little carbonation. The nose was fruity, and the beer had a creamy texture in the mouth. It had a taste of apples and pears before a more bitter finish. In my opinion this was an excellent IPA that I really liked.

Naboen is giving the little brewery a great support by selling Kinn beers this way. The first beers I tasted from Kinn were average, but the current lineup at Naboen is very good. The IPA and the stout are both very good beers, but do not forget the beers from Ægir, Nøgne Ø and Haandbryggeriet.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Captains, Henrik and Nøgne Ø

Henrik is one of the bars in Bergen that I always look forward to be visiting. The beer menu is solid, and Henrik has also several good draught beers.

I am not running to the city centre of Bergen to drink draughted Carlsberg or Frydenlund pale lager. Nor is Guinness or Kilkenny on tap a reason to visit Henrik. Instead you can always find beer from Nøgne Ø on tap.

I have not been to Henrik for a few months, so I was very happy to see that they now have three Nøgne Ø taps. This week you could choose between Nøgne Ø's Blonde, Porter and Two Captains Double IPA.

The Double IPA is a new beer for me. It is supposed to be available at the Norwegian Vinmonopolet outlets next month, but some bars have been selling it in bottles for the last few weeks. In the glass Two Captains Double IPA is a copper coloured beer with little carbonation and a medium sized head. It the nose there is grapefruit, flowers and a hint of sweetness. In the mouth the grapefruit take the lead dancing with some plums. The finish is very bitter but still feels balanced. I liked this beer a lot. It is strong, and at 8.5% alcohol it is not a session beer. The price at Henrik is 78 NOK for 0.35 litre. That is about 8 GBP or slightly more than 8.50 EUR.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beers and cacti

Not far from the harbour in Bergen you can find Cacti Art Cafe. It is located in Øvregaten street, and it is a great place for tea connoiseurs. The cafe brags about having the biggest selection of tea in Bergen.

I visited Cacti Art Cafe earlier this week, and I was not there to drink tea. Instead I wanted to check out the beers sold at the cafe. On a street sign Cacti Art Cafe advertises that more than 80 different beers are available. That was a reason to visit the cafe.

Any bar or restaurant can build a good selection in bottled beers. That can also be said of Cacti Art Cafe. In addition to beer in bottles, Cacti Art Cafe had three kinds of draught beer: Mack Arctic pale lager, Bitburger pale lager and Erdinger weissbier.

The Arctic beer is the cheapest one, and a half litre of the North-Norwegian beer costs 50 NOK. For a half litre of Bitburger you must pay 65 NOK, while a half litre of Erdinger costs 75 NOK.

I chose Bitburger, as it is the first time I have seen it available as a draught beer in Bergen. It had a lot of carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose there was little aroma, but some malt and grains could be found. In the nose the grains were more present and it was blended with sweetness and a nice, bitter finish.

Bitburger is supposed to be the best selling beer in Germany, according to the friendly and service minded bartender. That does not mean that it is the best beer in Germany. In my opinion Bitburger is an average pale lager, but it is a better alternative than many Norwegian lagers.

Cacti Art Cafe looks like a place for local students. The atmosphere is nice, and the cafe also hosts a small exhibition of pictures. For beer tourists it is not a must in Bergen, but a place to find something else than Hansa or Ringnes on tap. But perhaps the three available draught beers can become five or six on my next visit?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back at Trondhjem Mikrobryggeri

When I visited Trondheim this Summer, it was neccessary to revisit the only brewpub in town. I was at Trondhjem Mikrobryggeri in January, and my revisit in Summer did not feel any different except for the possibility to drink beer outside.

Last time around I liked Trondhjem Mikrobryggeri's IPA the best, so I started out with a pint of the very good ale. It was still an excellent IPA with nearly no nose, but with a solid punch with hops and a taste of pears in the mouth. A really good beer!

I asked the bartender to bring along a sampler tray with all beers available except for the IPA. In the following I will comment on the beers not available in January and write something about the beers I felt tasted different this Summer.

The first beer I tried, was the seasonal special, Sommerøl (Summer beer). This was a very pale beer with nearly nothing in the nose. There was little taste in the beer before it had a grainy finish. In all this was a boring beer. Nearly as boring is the brewpub's standard lager, Tromdhjemspils. It has more taste from malt, hops and grain, but that is all. More interesting is the bitter. It had more caramel and felt more bitter than last time around. A very nice beer that was much better than in January.

I did not try the pale ale at my first visit to Trondhjem Mikrobryggeri. It had a light copper colour in the glass and had little carbonation. There was little aroma, but in the mouth it had a fruity feeling while still being somewhat watery. I liked the beer, but still the IPA is the best offer at this brewpub.

The best place in Trondheim for beer tourists, is Den gode nabo. Trondhjem Mikrobryggeri is not a must, but it is a nice place to visit if you want to try a local brewpub.