Thursday, March 31, 2011

Prague airport beer

I like travelling to the Czech Republic, and I have had many visits to Prague. Every time I have arrived at Prague's airport, Prague Ruzyně International Airport. There are some bars and restaurants in Terminal 2, which is used for flights inside the Schengen area. I have been to some of them while leaving the Czech Republic, and it is nice enjoying a half litre of Pilsner Urquell before heading back home.

Prices at Ruzyně airport are high compared to the city centre and suburbs of Prague. That includes beer, which cost nearly 150 CZK (5 GBP) for a half litre at the bars and restaurants. That is nearly five times more than buying a half litre of Pilsner Urquell at beer halls in Prague outside the tourist areas. Perhaps it is wiser having a beer at the airport before going into Prague than having it before leaving the country? You can also buy cans of Pilsner Urquell, Budvar, Gambrinus and Radegast for nearly 50 CZK at the newsagents on the airport.

On my last visit to Prague airport I ended up at Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant to have a beer. I saw that there was a Master tap, and I ordered a glass of the Urquell brewery's dark beer. They only sold it in bottles, so I changed my mind and ordered a glass of Pilsner Urquell instead. I paid with a 500 CZK note, but the bartender gave me change as if he had been given a 200 CZK note. I told him he made a mistake, so finally I received the correct change. I hope it was an honest mistake and that he did not try to trick me.

Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant is a nice place enjoying a beer. The bar is charming, and I like the brown wooden chairs and tables. It is also nice having a view to the airplanes.

The beer is of course of high quality. Pilsner Urquell is one of my favourite beers, and it tastes better in the Czech Republic. I have been told that the Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant at Ruzyně airport sells tankova beer, which is the best version of the beer. It tastes really good, and this time I chose not to do any tasting notes. Instead I enjoyed my time at the restaurant thinking about going into Prague one more time. Which beers to taste and where to taste them were some of my questions.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Best beer in Norway?

The marketing department at Ringnes are waxing lyrically on a beer can. According to a survey, Ringnes new pale lager Ringnes Platinum was the best beer. On the beer can this is repeated in a logo: Ringnes Platinum is the "best tasting lager in Norway". No less. And in English text as well.

I really had to taste Ringnes Platinum. In the glass this beer has a nice golden colour, but it is a fizzy lager with nearly no head. In the nose there is some malts, sweetness and a touch of grass. In the mouth this is a sweet, malty beer with a medium body. The finish is malty with a hoppy touch. It is by no means Norway's best beer nor Norway's best lager. I would call it an average lager and a beer I will not buy frequently.

I will not be buying Pinkus Hefe Weizen that much either. This German wheat beer is a cloudy and fizzy beer in the glass, but there are nearly no aromas. I feel some sweetness, and in the mouth it is boring as well. There is that typical bready weizen taste and a touch of yeast, but otherwise this beer is very watery. I prefer Paulaner's hefeweizen, and I will continue buying it. Pinkus Hefe Weizen is a lesser product, the way I see it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another round of beers

It is a good time being a beer drinker in Norway these days. There is always a new beer to try out at Vinmonopolet, and the same goes for the shops and supermarkets. It is a pity paying Norwegian prices, though. Some beers at Vinmonopolet cost more than 100 NOK, and buying them at a bar is no cheap experience. My bottle of Kinn's Dampen mentioned below had a price tag of 150 NOK. That is nearly 17 GBP.

Nøgne Ø Sunturnbrew is a beer that has received a lot of praise from beer bloggers. I was excited about the beer when I saw it in the glass with a tempting brownish colour. The beer had some carbonation and a small head. In the nose I felt coffee, cocoa and some smoke. The smoke dominated in the mouth with a touch of malt. I have been drinking some smoke beers that I have enjoyed. Nøgne Ø Sunturnbrew was unfortunately no winner for me. Actually, I felt it was boring and onedimensional. The beer is strong with 11% alcohol.

Ægir Brime is a red lager, according to the label. It is a copper coloured beer with a large head and some carbonation. In the nose there is yeast and cold coffee. In the mouth I felt malts and a touch of dark chocolate, The beer is somewhat watery, and it has a semibitter finish. I liked it, and just like the label told me it was refreshing. I would prefer it with a fuller body.

I had a bottle of St. Austell Proper Job IPA right after I had finished a glass of Ægir IPA. That told me that the Ægir IPA was the better beer, but Proper Job is also a very good IPA. It has a golden colour, and there is some carbonation. The head is medium sized, but it dissolves quickly. In the nose there are hops and citrus, while the beer has a dominant feeling of lemon with a touch of apples. The finish is partly bitter with a hint of grapes.

Kinn Dampen is a steam beer from the tiny Norwegian brewery. I have unfortunately lost my tasting notes, but I liked nearly everything with this beer except for the finish. I felt the sour finish with some pines was not to my liking, but I will try it again at a later point in time.

BrewDog Nanny State is called an insanely hopped imperial mild on the label. In the glass the beer is copper coloured with a medium sized head. There is very little carbonation, and the beer has aromas of grapefruit. In the mouth Nanny State is watery. I feel some grapefruit and a touch of pepper before a bitter finish. This is not the best beer I have had from BrewDog, but I know I will drink it now and then. It has 0.5% alcohol and is thus considered alcohol free. Therefore I know which non-alcoholic beer to drink the next time. It will be Nanny State!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Henrik and Nøgne Ø

Henrik is one of my favourite pubs in Bergen. One of the reasons is that there is always a draught beer there that I want to try out. Usually this is one of the beers from one of the three Nøgne Ø taps. Most of the times this is one of Nøgne Ø's own beers, but now and then this could be a beer from a brewery Nøgne Ø considers as a friend brewery like Mikkeler or BrewDog.

During the last month I have had two visits to Henrik. On one of the visits Nøgne Ø's porter was on tap. I have tried it before, and I remembered it as a nice beer. In the glass this was a black beer with nearly no carbonation and a small head. There was some coffee in the nose, while the beer had flavours of cold coffee and dark chocolate before a bitter finish. I liked it a lot, and I consider Nøgne Ø's porter a very good beer.

On another visit I had Nøgne Ø's IPA. This is a beer I drink now and then from bottles at home, and I consider it a much better beer now than when I reviewed it on this blog. Over two years have passed, and IPAs are no longer extreme beers to my palate. The draught version of Nøgne Ø's IPA was somewhat unclear in the glass. It had a copper colour and there was a medium sized head. In the nose I felt grapefruit, and the grapefruit took the lead in the mouth with some pepper and a hint of herbs. The finish is bitter with a touch of orange. These days I like this beer, but I prefer IPAs with a less bitter bite to it.

Henrik is a great pub. If you are in Bergen, it is worth checking out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dark Norwegians

Visiting restaurants and supermarkets, it is easy to believe that Norwegian beers are more or less pale lagers. Lager beers in the pilsner category is what most Norwegians consider as beer, and if you order "øl" in a Norwegian bar you will get pale lager.

Norway has a long tradition brewing other beer styles than pale lagers, and at one point in time the Bavarian style was the best selling. These beers, which are called bayer in Norway, are still found in supermarkets and shops, and most of the industrial breweries in Norway sell decent bayers.

Frydenlund used to be one of largest breweries in Norway. These days the Frydenlund name is used by Ringnes as a label, and you can find various Frydenlund beers in shops and supermarkets. One of them is Frydenlund bayer, which in the glass is a coppercoloured beer with some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose I find cold coffee, toffee and earth, while the beer taste of burnt malts, toffee and a touch of coffee before a partly bitter finish. Lovely!

Ægir brewery has grown from being a tiny craft brewery to a brewery with a presence in both Norwegian shops and Vinmonopolet. The demand for Ægir's products these days is so big that the brewery now brews their bottled beers in Belgium. The draught beers are still being produced in Flåm.

Tors Hammer is a barleywine, and the name is striking. Being a barleywine, as this is a really strong beer, being named after the thundergod's hammer is suitable. Tors Hammer is coppercoloured with a small head and nearly no carbonation. The nose is fruity with a sweet punch. The beer is fullbodied with a sweet taste where apricots and prunes dominate with a touch of tobacco before a semibitter finish. The barleywine is nice, but a half litre is too much. This is a beer that is made for sharing. The price is 112 NOK at Vinmonopolet, which is nearly 12 GBP.

Grans brewery uses Lade Gaard as an extra brand name. The Lade Gaard beers have one of the finest labels in Norway, and the beer bottles look very attractive. I did not like Lade Gaards pale lager or the Christmas beer, but I am willing to give the dark lager, Lade Gaards Mørk Lager, a chance.

In the glass this is a copper coloured beer with little carbonation and a medium sized head. There are aromas of malts and some caramel in the nose. In the mouth I feel some caramel, malts and a watery feeling. The finish is very alike a malzbier. Lade Gaard Mørk Lager is an average beer, but it is the best I have tried from Lade Gaard.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hands on Haandbryggeriet

In all praises on various beer blogs for Norwegian craft brewers like Nøgne Ø, Ægir and Kinn, we must not forget Haandbryggeriet. The Drammen based brewery has several interesting beers on the market, and some of them are very innovative.

As I read the label, Southern Cross India Pale Ale looked like a winner to me. After tasting it I am not that sure. The beer is cloudy and nearly golden in the glass. Although it has been in the fridge for a week, it has an extreme amount of carbonation. As you can see from the photograph, there is not room for all the beer in a half litre wheat beer glass.

In the nose there are hops and scents of pepper. It has a bitter taste with a touch of pepper, but it lacks the fruity notes as mentioned on the beer label. The finish is hoppy and bitter. It is a nice IPA, but give me a pint of for instance Ægir IPA from bottle any day. It is better and much more fruity than this effort from Haandbryggeriet.

Haandbryggeriet's Dark Force is marketed as a wheat stout. In the glass this is a nearly black beer with as good as no carbonation nor head. In the nose I feel dark chocolate and some sweetness. The taste is more interesting, as I feel both dark chocolate, some coffee and a touch of mints. The finish is semi bitter with cold coffee taking the lead. Dark Force is a great beer, and it is one of the best I have tried from Haandbryggeriet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jacob and Waldemar

Jacobs Bar & Kjøkken calls itself Bergen's only gastro pub. This combined restaurant and bar is situated in the Kong Oscars Gate street, and is known to have an excellent kitchen. The bar looks nice, and it is placed in a room with good space and nice, high bar stools.

There are many bottled beers available at Jacobs, but as always I was looking for draught beer. Jacobs Bar & Kjøkken offers three beers on tap: Hansa pale lager, Waldemar brown ale and Waldemar wheat beer.

Waldemar is Hansa's micro brewery based in the old brewery at Kalfaret near Bergen's city gate. Hansa also produces some Waldemar beers to be sold in cans in Norwegian supermarkets. These beers are brewed in Hansa's new brewery at Kokstad south of the city centre.

I started with trying Waldemar brown ale. I have tried the canned version earlier and I was not impressed. The draught beer version was better, but it looked more like a Czech golden lager than a brown ale in the glass. There was some carbonation and a medium sized head. The nose was sweet with caramel, while the taste was fruity with some lemon and toffee before a bitter and watery finish with a touch of grapes. I liked it. It is an average brown ale, and it was much better than what I feared.

Then it was time for the wheat beer, Waldemar hveteøl. This was another cloudy weizen with banana aromas. In the mouth the bananas took the lead with some bread and a hint of mint. This was a lovely wheat beer, and it is one I would love to try head to head with a Paulaner or Weihenstephaner weissbier. It is much better than Erdinger's efforts and worth while checking out.

I will be back at Jacobs Bar & Kjøkken. The Waldemar beers are not that easy to find on tap, and this wheat beer is a gem. I hope Hansa will market it in bottles soon. In the meantime it can be found at Jacobs at 74 NOK for 0.4 litres of beer. That is nearly 8 GBP.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Back to Baran and Cacti

After my first visit to Baran Cafe earlier this year, the cafe has become one of my favourite beer temples in Bergen. Friendly bartenders, a nice atmosphere and an excellent selection in draught beers with 16 taps. That some of them are dedicated to craft breweries like Haandbryggeriet, Nøgne Ø and Ægir make Baran a must for visitors to Bergen. In addition to this Naboen and Henrik are nearby, so the Engen area of Bergen has become a mecca for beer lovers.

On my recent visit to Baran Cafe I wanted something simple and ordered a lager. Not just any lager, actually, as I decided to have a Pilsner Urquell. Sure, it is better on tap in the Czech Republic, but it is probably the best lager beer you can get on tap in Norway.

From the visitor statistics I see that many visitors these days look at my post about Cacti Art Cafe in Bergen. A new visit was therefore neccessary to see if the cafe had changed during the last months. Cacti Art Cafe has a reputation of having many beers available, but this month I only found three draught beers. Just like in August these were Bitburger, Mack Arctic Beer and Erdinger wheat beer.

Of course the bottled beer menu is large at Cacti Art Cafe, but I am interested in draught beer. I can drink bottled beers at home. Therefore I ended up with Mack Arctic Beer from tap. This is a nice Norwegian pale lager with a distinct nose and body with a grainy character. It was as expected at Cacti Art Cafe, but I should have chosen the Bitburger. It is a better beer.

Cacti Art Cafe has a better draught beer selection than most pubs in Bergen that normally only sell Hansa or Ringnes pale lagers. But to have exciting draught beer, I prefer other places than Cacti Art Cafe. Baran Cafe is one of them, but it is on the other side of Bergen's city centre. But if you want bottled beers in that neighbourhood, why not try Bar Barista at Stølegaten street? It has an exciting and cozy atmosphere that Cacti Art Cafe lacks.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Irish in Bergen

I sometimes get e-mails about my blog posts. One of my readers told me recently that I should visit his favourite pub in Bergen, Scruffy Murphy's. He told me that it is a pub with a great atmosphere, a fine draught beer selection and good live music now and then.

I took the challenge and entered Scruffy Murphy's. Scruffy Murphy's is an Irish themed pub, and it looks like hundreds of other Irish pubs all over the world. The pub is stretched out over two floors, and I decided to sit down upstairs enjoying a great view over Bergen's harbour and fish market.

There was no live music the Saturday I visited, but there was English Premier League soccer on the TV screens. The dozen or so visitors on the first floor seemed to have a nice afternoon. I had fun watching a typical rainy day in Bergen.

To go with the pub visit, I decided to have a draught beer. Scruffy Murphy's offers Hansa pale lager, Kilkenny, Newcastle Brown Ale and two Irish stouts on tap - both Guinness and Murphy's. I decided to take a stout and chose Murphy's. The waiter served it to me in a Guinness glass. I wonder what an Irishman would say about that in his local pub in Dublin. Anyway, Murphy's is a good stout, and I was served a beer with very little carbonation but with a solid, creamy head. The beer had nice tones from coffee, and I enjoyed it. The price was 91 NOK for a pint. That is nearly 10 GBP.

Scruffy Murphy's is a good example of an Irish pub outside Ireland. The draught beer selection is half decent, but an extra tap tower with a Norwegian craft beer or a rotating keg would be an asset for this pub.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Six import beers

Once upon a time more or less only Norwegian beers were available in shops and supermarkets in Norway. Nowadays it is very different. A lot of brands and beers are sold both at Vinmonopolet and supermarkets, and it is easy finding new beers if you just visit several outlets.

Anchor Steam Beer is sold at Vinmonopolet. It is a beer that has been praised by beer bloggers, but I was very disappointed when I tried the beer for the first time. It looked delicious in the glass with its brownish colour, nice head and some carbonation. In the nose I felt more or less nothing, and the beer was nearly tasteless until a semi bitter hoppy finish. I will try it again in Summer and see if it feels better then. What I had here, was a boring beer.

Coors Light is another boring American beer. Budweiser and Miller have been available in Norway for years, so this year it is Coors' turn in some supermarkets. Coors Light is a fizzy pale lager with a malty nose. It the mouth it feels watery, but it has an interesting touch of pines. It is not bad, but I can think of many pale lagers available in Norway that are more satisfying than Coors Light. I will not buy it again.

Brakspear Oxford Gold is one of the British ales sold in some Norwegian supermarkets. It is an organic beer, and in the glass it looks lovely with a golden colour, some carbonation and a medium sized and lasting head. In the nose there is sweetness and some malt. This beer also feels watery, but it also has a touch of toffee before a finish with hops and grapes. This is a nice beer, but again there are better alternatives available.

From Germany comes the Weihenstephaner brewery. I like its ordinary wheat beer, but Vinmonopolet also offers Weihenstephaner Vitus at some outlets. Vitus is a weizenbock with 7.7% alcohol. It seems unclear in the glass. In the nose there are bananas, and bananas are also leading the beer taste before a finish with a touch of vodka. It is an average beer, but I prefer Weihenstephaner's normal weizen to it.

BrewDog's Trashy Blonde is sold in better stocked Norwegian supermarkets. It is a beer with a tiny head and some carbonation. There are some aromas of grapefruit in the nose. In the mouth a bitter, hoppy touch is dominating together with a touch of grapefruit. Trashy Blonde is not a favourite for me. It is another beer I will not seek out, but I will drink it if somebody offers me a glass.

The Samuel Smith brewery is known for having several interesting beers. Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale is sold at Vinmonopolet in Norway, and it is a copper coloured beer with nearly no carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose there is yeast and caramel. Toffee dominates in the mouth before a yeasty finish with a touch of caramel. This is a very nice brown ale, and it is one that I will buy now and then. This is a great beer for a cold Spring day in front of the fireplace.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Outside a large U is hanging as a sign post. What kind of place is this? As I get closer, I see that this is one of the newer bars in Bergen. But why a U? I find out later. The bar is called Ujevnt, and it uses the first letter to advertise for itself.

Inside Ujevnt is a cozy place with nice bar stools. But I feel very little ambience. There are some people in the pub, but they keep to themselves. Some interesting beers are available from bottle, but I want to check out the draught beers. I find the local Hansa pale lager and bayer together with Heineken lager and Murphy's stout. The selection is not impressing, unfortunately.

The Hansa and Heineken beers are usually boring, so I end up ordering the stout. It is brought to my table in a non-branded glass. As usual, this is a black beer with a thick and lasting head. There is nearly no carbonation, and there is nearly no aroma from the beer. There is not that much taste either. I find some coffee and chocolate with a hint of bitterness. An average beer, but still one of the better stouts available on tap in Norway.

I will not be a frequent visitor to Ujevnt. The pub felt sterile, and the draught beer menu was both boring and uninteresting. A tap or two with Norwegian craft beers is my piece of advice for the management at Ujevnt.