Sunday, January 30, 2011

Four Norwegians

The craft beer scene in Norway has been getting more and more exciting during the last few years. These days it is easy to find craft beers in well stocked supermarkets and of course at the state owned Vinonopolet outlets.

The leading breweries are Nøgne Ø and Haandbryggeriet, and both breweries also have a big name abroad. Due to the heavy Norwegian taxation on alcohol their beers are usually cheaper outside Norway.

Ægir is in my opinion the number 3 brewery on the craft beer scene in Norway at the moment. The brewery, which is based in Flåm in the midst of the West Norwegian fjords, has an onsite pub that has been recommended by many beer experts. If things go well, I will do a beer trek there later this year. I am very fond of Ægir's IPA, but these days several of Ægir's beers are found at both Vinmonopolet and in some shops.

If you find Ægir beers at a Norwegian supermarket, it is probably Bøyla and/or Sumbel. Sumbel is a porter with an alcohol content of 4.7%. This is a black beer with little carbobation, but with a large head. The nose is dominated by dark chocolate, while the beer tastes with an even more touch of the chocolate. The finish has some cold coffee. I liked this porter, but I prefer other beers in the same style to it.

Ægir Harvest Ale was a new beer at Vinmonopolet last Autumn. This is a beer with a deep golden colour that built a large head in the glass. In the mouth there was grapefruit, yeast and some malts. In the mouth I felt grapefruit and orange peels before a semibitter and hoppy finish. I liked this beer, but it is not better than Ægir's IPA or their Easter beer, Påskesol.

Haandbryggeriet has released some beers based on classical Norwegian brewing recipes lately. One of these beers is Farewell Ale, based on the Norwegian gravøl tradition. After a funeral, the nearest family and friends met to mourn, and part of the meeting was drinking funeral beer to light up the mourners. Haandbryggeriet's Farewell Ale is a dark beer with a large head. In the nose coffee is present, while in the mouth the coffee is blended with a sugary sweetness before a bitter finish. I felt this beer was much too sweet for me, and it will never become a favourite.

Nøgne Ø's batch number 500 is an Imperial IPA. The beer is called #500, and it is a strong beer with 10% alcohol. In the glass this is an unclear coppery beer with some carbonation and a little head. The aromas of the beer are very hoppy with a touch of grapefruit. In the mouth there is grapefruit, toffee and a touch of cyrup. This is a lovely full bodied beer, and it is the best of these four Norwegian beers. Try it if you find it!

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