Sunday, June 27, 2010

A question of credibility

When the biggest newspaper in Western Norway praised Kafé Spesial for its beers, I knew I had to check out the little restaurant in Bergen. The newspaper article in Bergens Tidende claimed that Kafé Spesial was the best beer place in Bergen.

Kafé Spesial feels a little bit shabby at first sight. The furniture looks old and well used, and the floor could need some paint. The guests are mostly in the early twenties, and it looks like Kafé Spesial is popular among the local students.

But then there was the beer. Kafé Spesial has a very good selection in bottled beers. They are not the best in town, as places like Naboen, Henrik and Kontoret also have a wide range of beer in bottles.

Perhaps the draught beer is what made Bergens Tidende call Kafé Spesial the best beer place in Bergen? Absolutely not! There are only three different beers available on tap at Kafé Spesial: Hansa and Heineken pale lager together with Erdinger weissbier. That is not impressive, as a lot of pubs in Bergen have both more taps and more interesting draught beers to offer.

I decided to have a half litre of Erdinger at Kafé Spesial. It was served in a branded glass with some carbonation and a little head. It is not among my favourite wheat beers, but it took care of my thirst very well.

Kafé Spesial is not the best beer place in Bergen, and the journalists from Bergens Tidende should know that. But perhaps they do not know beers?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Harvest in June

Naboen is one of my regulars in Bergen. The beer bar downstairs is unusual in Norway, supporting several minor breweries and selling their products as draught beers. At the moment Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet, Kinn and Ægir are represented with at least one tap each. The beers rotate, so it is not given that the draught beer you drank last time around is available. Fortunately Naboen also has a wide range of bottled beers, so there is a great possibility that you will find the beer you wanted.

A few days ago I was back at Naboen. I had time for a beer, and I thought that I would have another go at Kinn's stout, Svart hav. On the Haandbryggeriet tap, Hesjeøl was available. This is a newer offer from the Drammen based brewery, and I had not tried it as a draught beer. Therefore it was the right beer to choose this time around.

In the glass Hesjeøl (harvest beer) was a brownish beer with a small head and nearly no carbonation. In the nose there was pear and dried grains, and the pears had a visit from a hint of sweetness in the mouth. The finish was a combination of nicely balanced bitterness and grains. Hesjeøl was a fine beer, but I felt it was boring after a few sips. The price at Naboen is 98 NOK, which is about 11 GBP or EUR.

Hesjeøl is not among my favourite beers from Haandbryggeriet. Next time around, I hope Naboen will have another Haandbryggeriet beer on tap. Or perhaps I should go for one of the Kinn beers?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Czech farm beers

Right outside Prague, you can find Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně. This is a combined restaurant and brewpub with beers that have been praised in beer blogs and newspaper stories. So far I have not taken the bus to the village of Chýně, but it has been on my to do-list for a long time.

Instead I have visited Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně's restaurant in Prague. You can find it in Victor Hotel in Husitska street. The location is unique for beer lovers, as the restaurant is next to Merenda and less than two hundred metres from the reopened U Slovanské Lípy. Three great pubs with excellent and not easily found beers on the same street!

Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně's restaurant has a nice and rustic interior. The main room looks great with excellent wall decorations. My favourite was the brewery wall painting. As I sat down, a smiling female waiter was there at once. I was not hungry, so I ordered a half litre of the pale lager.

It arrived very quickly, and the beer was cloudy with a large head and nearly no carbonation. The beer had a nice aroma with scents of fruit and yeast. In the mouth the fruit lead on to a nice finish without feeling too sweet. This was a very enjoyable beer!

I also tried Chýně's half dark beer, polotmave. This was another enjoyable beer with lovely caramel notes. Lovely!

Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně will be revisited on my next trip to Prague, but I will also check out the proper brew pub outside the Czech capital. The beers are worth it!