Thursday, October 29, 2009

Christmas in October

As Christmas is getting closer, I will taste some of the Norwegian Christmas beers, juleøl. First out is a tasting of three Christmas beers with less than 4.7% alcohol, which are beers that can be sold in Norwegian supermarkets.

Ringnes is the largest brewery in Norway, and their Ringnes Juleøl is brewed at 4.5% alcohol. Poured into the glass, the beer is coppercoloured and has a medium sized head that dissolves rather quickly. There is little carbonation, and in the nose I can feel some burntness and hints of caramel. In the mouth there is some sweetness, hints of malts, a semibitter finish and a watery feeling. This is a nice beer that easily could be sold in Norway as a Bayer, a beer brewed in the Bavarian style. I would anyway have preferred it to be a more filling beer. By the way: Ringnes Juleøl is also available in 0.33 litre bottles.

Grans is one of Norway's traditional breweries, and it was founded in 1899. The Sandefjord brewery has a distribution deal with the largest supermarket chain, Rema 1000, and thus their beers are available all over the country. Grans' beers are among the cheaper ones in Norway, and there are some of them that I do not like.

Grans Bare Jul is at the stronger mark for its style at 4.7% alcohol. It is much paler than the Ringnes beer in colour, and it could be mistaken for a golden lager at the first glance. The head is more compact, but it disappears nearly as fast as the Ringnes Juleøl. There is very little carbonation, and the same can be said about the nose. I can feel more or less nothing. In the mouth I feel this is a boring beer. It is dominated by a metallic aftertaste, which could be the can's fault. Actually there is nothing that can keep up with the comments on the can that promises a beer full of taste. If so, it was not commenting on the beer in my can!

Hansa Juleøl is one of several Christmas offerings from the Hansa brewery this year. It is an amber beer with little carbonation and a little head. The nose has some caramel, but it is less exciting than the Ringnes Juleøl. Just like Ringnes there is a watery feeling, but there is also some maltyness and toffee. A metallic presence is also found here, but it is not as dominating as in the Grans Bare Jul. This is an OK effort from Hansa, but I prefer for instance the Hansa Bayer to this beer. Like Ringnes Juleøl, Hansa Juleøl is also available in 0.33 litre bottles.

The best of these three Christmas beers is Ringnes Juleøl. It will fall through compared to the stronger beers that will debut at Vinmonopolet next week, but so far it will probably be one of the better offers in the Norwegian supermarkets. But of course: There are more Christmas beers available in Norway than these ones. And here at Beer Sagas we will take the challenge and try more of them.

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