Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Near the city square in Bodø, you can find Paviljongen. In Summer it is possible to sit outside enjoying the North-Norwegian weather. In Winter it is better sitting inside keeping oneself warm.

If you want something to eat, hamburgers, lasagne, chicken, salads or fish soup are among the courses on the menu. But I wanted something to drink, and on offer there were draught beers from Mack brewery. The choices were Arctic Beer or Bayer, a beer in the Bavarian style. In short, this was a very boring selection. At least a place like this should have a draught beer available from a brewery like Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet or Ægir. But this is typical of Bodø. Pale lagers rule the taps in pubs and bars.

Mack's Arctic Beer is one the brewery's many pale lagers. It has usually a grainy taste, but for some reason I felt the beer tasted different at Paviljongen. There were no aromas, and the taste was typical for a eurolager but without the grainy touch. Perhaps there was something wrong with the lines, or perhaps the beer was subpar? In addition to this, the atmosphere at Paviljongen was not very good. The waiter seemed under pressure by stress, and a customer did not make his day better by yelling to him after something that had happened earlier.

I went into the city square thinking that Paviljongen perhaps is a better place in Summer. I did not fancy being there this time around.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bodø once again

It is beautiful in Northern Norway. The nature is stunning, and there is a certain charm being north of the Arctic circle in Winter. The days are short, and it is strange walking around in the early afternoon feeling it is in the middle of the night.

Bodø is the second largest city in Northern Norway. Every time I visit Bodø I end up on the quayside visiting the Bryggerikaia pub. Once it was a brewpub, but nowadays it is selling draught beers from Mack brewery of Tromsø.

I have always enjoyed being at Bryggerikaia. The waiters are both service minded and friendly, and they seem to like having conversations with visitors.

At this visit I wanted to try another Mack beer for the first time. I ended up with Mack's Haakon. Haakon is a golden beer with some carbonation and a small head. In the nose there is some caramel, while toffee and burnt notes are typical of the taste. I liked the beer, and felt it was superior to the Mack Arctic beer, which has been my usual beer at Bryggerikaia.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Back at Oslo airport

After a few days in Oslo, it is time to move on. I take the train from Oslo Central Station to Oslo Airport Gardermoen. If you are in a hurry, you take Flytoget (Airport Express Train) and spend about 20 minutes on the train. For nearly half the price, it is possible to take the local train to Eidsvoll and get off at the airport. It takes slightly more than 40 minutes, but paying 110 NOK instead of 190 NOK is worth it.

There are many bars and restaurants at the airport, but I prefer the sports bar O'Learys. This is a Swedish chain with many sister bars on train stations and airport in Sweden.

The drinks menu at O'Learys at Oslo Airport.

O'Learys at Gardermoen are not to be recommended for their beers. There are way too few beers to choose from. From tap there are Ringnes and Tuborg pale lager together with Guinness stout and Kilkenny. In bottles you can find Carlsberg, Tuborg Lime Cut, Budweiser and two beers from the Brooklyn brewery.

I like Brooklyn lager, but Brooklyn Brown Ale is a new beer for me. There is no doubt, so I order the ale. In the glass, Brooklyn Brown Ale is a nearly black beer with nearly no carbonation and a large head. There are aromas of hops and dark chocolate. In the mouth I feel chocolate and some cold coffee, before a finish where very dark chocolate take the lead. This is a very good beer, and I will try it again.

As I leave the bar to get to my flight, my thoughts are again with Norwegian breweries. Why can they not have a presence in the bars on Norway's largest airport? This should be a showcase for beers from Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet, Ægir and/or Kinn to name a few.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oslo's new brewpub

In October Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri opened its doors, making itself the second brewpub in Oslo. Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri is on historic brewery ground in the Grünerløkka neighbourhood. The area around the brewpub used to be Schous brewery, which was founded in 1821. Schous brewery was later bought by Frydenlund brewery, which again was bought by Ringnes in 1978. In 1981 the brewery business came to a close for Schous.

Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri is based in a cellar. The brewpub is like a big cavernous beer hall with bricks on the walls and ceiling. On my visit last week, the brewpub was full of people, and it was difficult finding a table. I felt the pub was noisy, but perhaps it would feel different if I was part of a group there?

The two bartenders did a good job, and the female bartender took time talking about the pub and the beers available. Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri has a good selection in bottled beers, and on tap there were five beers. Two of the beers were brewed on the premises, but Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri also offered Nøgne Ø's Wit and Imperial Stout while Haandbryggeriet's Pale Ale also was available.

I started with one of the brewpub's own beer. This was the phonetically incorrectly named beer [aj pi ej], which of course is an IPA. In the glass this was an unclear beer with a copper colour. I felt some orange and bitterness in the nose. In the mouth there was grapefruit and lemon before a partly bitter finish with a touch of grains. This was a lovely beer, and I felt it was one of the better Norwegian IPAs I have tried.

The other draught beer from Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri on my visit was called Batch #10, with Vinterøl (Winter beer) as an extra description. In the glass this was an unclear, dark brown beer with some carbonation. In the nose I felt dry roasted nuts and dried coffee. The taste was of cocoa, cold coffee and a touch of spruce shoots. This was a nice beer, but the [aj pi ej] is the better beer of these two.

If you go to Oslo, you must not miss out on Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri. This is a great brewpub with promising beers. I would love to see [aj pi ej] as a bottled beer and taste it head to head at home with IPAs from Kinn, Ægir, Nøgne Ø and Haandbryggeriet. That could be a fabulous night of beer tasting! In the meantime I promise to be back at Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri later this year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brewpub without brewery

Beerwise, Oslo has been getting more interesting during recent years. Some exciting pubs and bars have opened, and craft beers are easier to find both in bottles and on tap. These days there are three brewpubs in Oslo. Grünerløkka Brygghus is one of them, and it started up last Autumn. The pub is situated in the hip and trendy Grünerløkka area, where you can find many bars and restaurants.

It is easy to get to Grünerløkka. Tram number 11 from the city centre takes you to the Olaf Ryes plass tram stop two blocks away from the brewpub. But there is a catch about Grünerløkka Brygghus. The brewpub has not started brewing so far, so the beer menu consists of beer brewed elsewhere including a good selection of bottled beers. There is also a food menu with sandwiches and solid pub grub. On Fridays the pub has a special offer on oysters.

Grünerløkka Brygghus has nine draught beers. On my visit last week, you could drink Samuel Adams Boston lager or pale lager and bayer from Aass brewery. Ale drinkers could enjoy Old Speckeled Hen or be more bold trying out BrewDog's Punk IPA or Nøgne Ø's Imperial IPA #500.

The real deal at Grünerløkka Brygghus are two beers brewed especially for this pub. Haandbryggeriet's Løkka Steamer was not available on my visit, but I had a chance to try Nøgne Ø's Kjell Pop Single Hop. Served in a red wine glass, Kjell Pop Single Hop was an unclear copper coloured beer with some carbonation and a little head. I felt a touch of hops and citric acid in the nose. The taste was dominated by grapefruit, but the beer also had a watery feeling. This IPA was a very good beer, and I felt it was much more sessionable than Nøgne Ø's other IPAs.

Grünerløkka Brygghus is a must for visitors to Oslo. The pub has a great atmosphere, and I enjoyed being there. On the evening I was at Grünerløkka Brygghus, the place was packed and it was difficult to find a table. It looks like the pub is very popular in the neighbourhood, and the draught beer menu is good and varied. I recommend this brewpub, and I hope to be back in the future trying Grünerløkka Brygghus' own beers.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A nice waiting room in Oslo

Oslo Central Station (Oslo S) is the main railway station in the Norwegian capital. It is centrally placed in Oslo with tram, metro and bus connections nearby. The railway station is also the terminus for the Airport Express Train, Flytoget.

Oslo S has several cafes and restaurants. In the oldest part of the station, Østbanehallen, you can find two pubs. The most interesting of them is Kristiania. Named after Oslo's former name, Kristiania used to be the large waiting room at the railway station. These days it is a combined restaurant and pub.

Kristiania is based in a big and spacy room. The ceiling is high above, and the interior seems classy and beautiful. Some of the feeling of being at an old railway station is kept, and it is interesting sitting at the bar enjoying the architecture.

Like most pubs in Norway, pale lagers are kings at Kristiania. Draughted Hansa beer from Bergen and Heineken made on licence in Norway seem to be the biggest sellers based on the evening I was there earlier this month. From tap there is also Murphy's stout and Erdinger wheat beer together with a beer of the month.

On my visit the monthly beer was Samuel Adams' Boston lager. I like this beer a lot, and it was the best draught beer offer at Kristiania that day. In the glass this was a golden lager with some carbonation and a nice head. I felt grapefruit in the nose, while the taste of toffee, grapefruit and a touch of lemon dominated in the mouth before a bitter finish. This was a lovely lager, and I hope to find it soon elsewhere in Norway.

Kristiania is the best place to drink beer at Oslo Central Station. The pub has a nice atmosphere, and the beer offers are better than what many other pubs and bars in Norway have on the menu.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another airport beer

Are you travelling to Oslo by airplane, you will in most cases travel to Oslo airport at Gardermoen. The airport, which opened in 1998, is situated about 50 kilometres north of Oslo. The airport is the biggest airport in Norway and it is built with a single terminal.

Oslo has several times been called the world's most expensive city, like in this newspaper story. If you feel the Norwegian capital is expensive, prices at Gardermoen are even higher. The restaurants and bars at the airport have prices that the national tourist agency should be ashamed of. It is no fun for a foreigner visiting Norway being quoted a price of about 160 NOK for a hamburger with fries or 100 NOK for a roll with prawns and Norwegian caviar, for instance.

Beerwise the airport is a boring place. The Monolitten restaurant is a good example. Only two draught beers are available, and you can choose between Carlsberg or the local Ringnes pale lager. The Carlsberg beer is probably brewed on licence by Ringnes, but the waiter did not know for sure.

I had a 0.4 litre of Carlsberg at Monolitten. It was priced at 66 NOK or nearly 7 GBP. The pale lager had a small head and some carbonation. I felt malts and grains in the nose, while it had a malty taste before a bitter finish. This beer was first of all a thirst quencher. I prefer other lager beers to it.

If I were a tourist to Norway sitting down at Monolitten, I would wonder why this restaurant at Norway's national airport only serves pale lagers. A place like this could be a great showcase of Norwegian craft beers. The restaurant has its name from one of Norway's most known statues, the Monolith by Gustav Vigeland. It should also show some of the better aspects of Norwegian drinking cultures. This piece of advice is for free: How about a little viking hut with draught beers from Ægir, for instance?