Sunday, July 31, 2011

Danish stout

Danish craft brewers are making several interesting beers at the moment. One of the interesting breweries in Denmark right now is Nørrebro Bryghus, and in their line-up of beers you can find La Granja Stout.

La Granja Stout is a black beer. It is a black, fizzy beer with nearly no head. In the nose I feel cold coffee and some limonade. The stout tastes of coffee and some licorice. This is a nice stout, but I would prefer to see it with less carbonation and a larger head. La Granja Stout has 7.5% alcohol.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pilsner Urquell light

Among the international beer brands available in Sweden, you can find Pilsner Urquell. If you go to Systembolaget it is possible to buy the original pilsner beer in bottles or cans. But Pilsner Urquell is also available in another version in Sweden. It is brewed by the Pilsner Urquell brewery itself on the original site in Plzeň, Czech Republic unlike the licenced beers brewed in Poland and Russia. This Pilsner Urquell version is sold in Swedish supermarkets and shops and has 3.5% alcohol. The original Pilsner Urquell has 4.4% alcohol. The Russian and Polish licence products probably have the same alcohol content.

The beer is a golden lager with some carbonation and a small head. In the nose there is grass and hops. The taste is very alike the ordinary Pilsner Urquell, but it is not that fruity nor bitter. I feel it is a watered down version of the original, but it is still a very good and refreshing beer. In fact it is the best 3.5% lager beer I have found in Swedish supermarkets.

I am very fond of the real Pilsner Urquell. I also like this 3.5% version, but I do not like that the brewery misuses its name. Pilsner Urquell is German and means original source of Plzeň. This is not the beer Josef Groll made in Plzeň in 1842 that later become the prototype of all beers in the pilsner style. It has the same hops and the same malting, but it is not the same beer. I feel that is a shame. The brand name gives a promise, but this beer is not delivering what the name offers. The same goes for the licence production of Pilsner Urquell outside the Czech Republic. Those beers are made from other water sources and not the original wells of Plzeň and should therefore be called something else than Pilsner Urquell.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Special ales for Sweden

There are not only 3.5% lagers that are available in Swedish supermarket shelves. Also various ales can be found, and these exist in special lower alcohol versions only available in Sweden. The ordinary beers are found at the state owned Systembolaget outlets.

Wychwood's Hobgoblin is an English ale. In Swedish supermarkets it is found as a beer with 3.5% alcohol. There is nearly no carbonation, and the brownish beer builds a large head. In the nose there is sweetness and caramel, while the beer itself tastes sweet with fruity tones and a touch of toffee. The finish is unfortunately a bit sweeter than what I hoped, but in all Hobgoblin 3.5% is a fine ale.

Brakspear is another English brewery. In a Swedish supermarket I found Brakspear Double Dropped Bitter. This is an amber beer with as good as no head nor carbonation. In the nose there is hops and some fruit. The beer tastes apple, sweetness and some hops before a bitter finish. This is another fine ale, and it has 3.4% alcohol.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lager versions from Sweden

Swedish alcohol legislation prohibits the sale of beer with more than 3.5% alcohol in shops and supermarkets. Instead these beers are sold at the state owned alcohol monopoly, Systembolaget. This means that there is a market in Sweden for beers with 3.5% alcohol and slightly lesss. Most breweries selling beers in Sweden want to have a market share in this segment. From what I hear from Swedes, most of these beers are stronger beers that have been watered down to the right alcohol strength. Here I will take a look at some pale lagers available at 3.5% alcohol or less.

Risingsbo is a Swedish brewery. The Risingsbo 1856 Premium 3.5 is a fizzy pale lager with nearly no head. In the nose there is malt and sweetness. The beer tastes sweet with some apples and grass. The finish is watery. This is an average lower alcohol beer that does its job when you are thirst in the sun, on the beach, or after a work-out. In all it is an average lager beer.

Perlenbacher is one of the Lidl supermarket chain's beer brands. It was called Bergadler earlier. The Perlenbacher Premium 3.5 is another pale lager. It has some carbonation and a small head. There are hardly any aromas from the beer, but in the mouth I feel a touch of grass and apples. The beer is watery, and it has some hops and yeast in the finish. A boring beer.

Tuborg Pure Gold 3.5 is also a pale lager. In the glass there is some carbonation and barely a head. In the nose I feel sweetness and a tiny touch of citrus. The taste in this watery beer is of malts and some grass, but there is also a metallic touch. Hopefully it is from the can, which has a cool design.

BrewDog is the (in)famous Scottish brewery. On their website they call themselves a brewery that "makes innovative, progressive and exciting full flavour beers". The special Swedish 3.4% alcohol version of '77 Lager is not neccessarily such a beer. In the glass this is a pale beer with a lot of carbonation and a small head. In the nose there is some fruit cocktail and yeast. I feel biscuit, grass and some grapefruit in the mouth together with a watery feeling. The finish is bitter with some yeast. It is the best of all these beers, but it is a shadow compared to the ordinary '77 Lager.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three dark ales

I fancy a porter or a stout now and then. There are many good dark beers out there, and here is a round-up of three dark ales.

First out is Fuller's London Porter. The beer is black, and it has nearly no carbonation. It has a small head, and in the nose I feel cold coffee and some dark chocolate. In the nose the dark chocolate takes the lead with a touch of coffee. This is a fine porter.

Carnegie Porter is Swedish, and it is available in several versions. The 3.5% version is a black beer with some carbonation and hardly a head. I feel some chocolate in the nose. In the mouth there is some dark chocolate before a watery finish. This is an average beer.

Young's Double Chocolate Stout is also a black beer. There is some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose I feel coffee and chocolate and some burnt notes. In the mouth I feel chocolate and some sweetness before a partly bitter finish. This was a nice stout, but it is not among the better ones I have tried.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Convent beers and more

The Swedish island of Gotland is east of the mainland. It has a brewery, Gotland bryggeri, which has several beers on the market. One of them is Wisby klosteröl, a monastery beer.

In the glass this is a nearly amber beer with some carbonation and a medium sized head. I feel aromas of grapefruit, and in the mouth there is some very bitter grapefruit and a touch of apples. The finish is very disappointing, as the tastes more or less disappear.

Franziskaner is one of the better known German wheat beers. The Franziskaner weizen is a cloudy beer with some carbonation. In the nose there is sweetness and banana, while in the mouth there is banana, grass, chewing gum and a touch of bread. This is a lovely wheat beer, and it is one of the best I have tasted.

Nils Oscar is also a Swedish brewery. They have a Kalasöl, which is an interpretation of a German Märzen or Festbier. The beer is brownish with some carbonation and a small head. I feel some caramel and citrus in the nose. In the mouth I feel toffee and malts before a finish with some coffee.

Zlatý Bažant is a brewery owned by Heineken. The name means Golden Pheasant. It is based in Slovakia, and I have found their lagers also in supermarkets in the Czech Republic. This looks like a typical Czech pale lager with some carbonation. In the glass it builds a small head. I feel grass and malts in the nose, while the beer tastes of grass and some caramel before a hoppy finish. This is a nice lager, but the better Czech lagers are more interesting than Zlatý Bažant.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Two Summer beers

I have yet to find Brooklyn Summer Ale in a Norway, but at 4.5% alcohol it is a beer that could be sold at ordinary shops and supermarkets.

The beer has a pale colour. There is a lot of carbonation and it builds a medium sized head. In the nose I feel lemon and oranges. In the mouth I feel malts and lemon before a watery finish with a touch of biscuits and lemon. This was a nice thirst quencher in the sun.

Sigtuna Summer IPA hails from Sweden. This a a dark and cloudy beer with nearly no carbonation nor head. Grapefruit dominates both in the nose and in the mouth. I also feel some lemon, grass and toffee before a semi bitter finish. This was a lovely beer with an alcohol content of 7%.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A taste of Dalarna

Oppigårds is a Swedish brewery based in the province of Dalarna. The brewery has several interesting beers, and in this post I will take a look at two of their ales.

Oppigårds Single Hop Ale is a pale beer with some carbonation and a small head. In the nose I feel citric aromas. In the mouth there is sweet oranges with some bitterness. The finish has a lot of grapefruit. This was a beer I liked a lot.

Oppigårds Golden Ale also has a small head and some carbonation. In this beer grapefruit takes the lead in the nose. The beer is very hoppy with tastes of grapefruit and some pepper. This was another lovely beer from Oppigårds. To be recommended!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Swedish delight

Last year I wrote about beer in Sweden. This year I have tried more Swedish beers, and I have tried to stay away from the more well known brands like Pripps, Falcon, Spendrups and Åbro.

St. Eriks is an interesting brewery according to its beers. I have tried two of them and was very pleased. St. Eriks IPA has 5.3% alcohol. It had a brownish colour. There was nearly no carbonation nor head. In the nose I felt grapefruit. The taste was very fruity with grapefruit and apple taking the lead with a touch of pepper. The finish was bitter and lovely. A great IPA!

St. Eriks Pale Ale had a tobacco aroma. There was nearly no carbonation, but the beer had a medium sized head. In the mouth there was rhubarb and cherries. I liked the beer a lot. It was pleasant and tasty, but the IPA was the better beer. Still, both these two beers from St. Erik are worth checking out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beer notes update

Sometimes I get a large backlog of beer notes. This is one of the times, and here I will present my thoughts on five beers. Four of them are Norwegian, and the last one is from the United States.

Aass pale ale is a copper coloured beer with some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose there is caramel, yeast and some sweetness. In the mouth I feel some fruit salad, toffee and a touch of yeast before a semi bitter finish. This was a nice beer that I liked.

Aass bayer is a more interesting beer. It is made in the Bavarian style, and it has not much carbonation nor a large head. In the nose there is caramel, and I feel the beer tastes of caramel and some coffee. The finish is watery but with coffee and spices still making the beer worth checking out.

Arendalspilsner is a pale lager from Arendal. It is from the same district as the Norwegian cult brewery Nøgne Ø. In the nose I feel that Arendalspilsner has some malts, grass and sweetness. This is a partly sweet beer with some maltiness and a touch of apples. The finish has a touch of bitterness. This is a decent pale lager, but there are many beers I prefer drinking compared to it.

Seidel pale lager is one of those Norwegian generic brand beers where the brewery name is disclosed on the can. In the glass the Seidel beer is fizzy with a large head. I feel malts and sweetness in the nose, and in the mouth there is some malts before a partly bitter and watery finish. This is a boring lager that it is easy to avoid.

Duck-Rabbit Märzen is an American beer. This is a copper coloured beer with some carbonation and a small head. There is some burnt malts and caramel in the nose, and the beer has the same taste except for an extra touch of honey. This beer was a little bit too sweet for me, and I felt it was boring before I had emptied my glass.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A devil and a wheat beer

Mack Hveteøl is a new wheat beer from the brewery who claims to be the most northern brewery in the world. In Norway it is only available at selected Vinmonopolet outlets. The beer is cloudy with some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose there is banana, and I feel banana in the mouth before a fruit cocktail with a touch of vodka leads on to a watery finish. This was a nice effort from Mack, but I felt it had a much too fruity taste than what I expected from a wheat beer.

Kinn Bøvelen is the micro brewery's take on a Belgian triple. Bøvelen means the devil in the local West-Norwegian dialect. The beer has a cloudy, coppery colour. There is some carbonation, but the beer builds a large head. In the nose I feel yeast and fruit. The taste is very fruity with plums and prunes taking the lead with some yeast in the background. The feels nice for a while, but in the end it becomes too sweet for me. Kinn has better beers, and if you can find the Vestkyst IPA it is well worth to be tasted.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Two beers at Oslo airport

I had left the city centre of Oslo to catch a plane at Oslo's Gardermoen airport. This time I was early at the airport, so I sat down at the Christiania bar to have some beer.

As always the draught beer selection at the airport leaves something to be desired. At Christiania you can have Ringnes, Carlsberg or Stella Artois pale lagers. Are you ready for some ales, there is Kilkenny and Guinness from tap.

I would not have any of these beers, so I checked out the beer bottle selection. There I found some beers I had not tried earlier. The Ringnes brewery distributes some of the Brooklyn beers in Norway, and I wanted to check out Brooklyn East India Pale Ale.

In the Ringnes branded glass the Brooklyn East India Pale Ale had some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose I felt grapefruit. I found grapefruit, sour oranges and some spices in the mouth before a semi bitter finish with some passionfruit. This was a lovely beer!

There was also time for a Jacobsen dark lager. Jacobsen is Carlsberg's mini brewery, and I have enjoyed some of the other Jacobsen beers earlier. The dark lager was not a favourite. It was a dark beer with nearly no carbonation and a small head. Except for a tiny hint of coffee and caramel, there was no aroma. In the mouth the beer felt watery with some caramel. I felt it was boring.

As I went to my flight, I had once again the same feeling: Why is it not possible for Oslo airport to sell some Norwegian craft beers? And why not as draught beers? The airport is the largest in Norway, and many tourists travel through it. This could be a nice place to show the better beers of Norway to visitors.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nøgne Ø's pils at Grünerløkka Brygghus

Last year Grünerløkka Brygghus started up in Oslo. It was planned to be a brewpub, but for the first months it only sold beers brewed elsewhere. The house beer, Kjell Pop Single Hop, is made for the pub by Nøgne Ø.

These days the situation is the same. On my recent visit, there were no in-house brewed beers available. Still, the pub is a great place with a more than decent menu of bottled beer and 11 draught beers.

I was looking forward to another glass of Kjell Pop Single Hop, but the draught beer list made me choose another beer. Nøgne Ø has been making a pils for the last year or so, but I had never been in a pub having it available before now. Of course, I had to try the pils.

What is a pils? Sure, most of you blog readers know about Josef Groll and his efforts to make a new beer for the citizen's brewery in Plzeň (also known as Pilsen) in 1842. Well, Nøgne Ø's pils is not a typical emulation of that beer. It has another taste profile, and I did not feel any Saaz hops. Sure, a lot of beers are called pilsners, but only beers brewed in Plzeň or with the same recipe should have the name.

After this little preach, I must confess that I really liked Nøgne Ø's "pils". It was a cloudy beer with a nearly golden colour. There was nearly no carbonation and a small head. In the nose I felt some citrus, while grapefruit took the lead in the mouth with a touch of apple. The finish was bitter and lovely. I liked the beer a lot. It should have been called Nøgne Ø lager, though, but I understand why Nøgne Ø uses the name. Nearly all breweries call their pale lagers pilsners, but a brewery that is so good at making their own versions of various beer styles like Nøgne Ø should be careful calling their pale lager a pilsner the way I see it. This is not an emulation of Pilsner Urquell, but it is still a very good beer.

Grünerløkka Brygghus is a great pub in Oslo. Do not miss out on it if you walk the streets of the Norwegian capital or somehow get on Oslo tram number 11. It is easy to find the pub at Thorvald Meyers Gate street near the Olaf Ryes plass tram stop.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Finally Olympen

Oslo is an interesting destination for beer travellers. The last few years more and more bars and pubs have started selling craft beers, and Norwegian craft breweries like Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet, Kinn and Ægir have made a name for themselves brewing excellent beers. There are many restaurants in Oslo selling craft beers on tap, and nowadays it is easy to make several pub crawls in the Norwegian capital testing out new draught beers on every crawl. One of the better places for a beer visit is Olympen.

Olympen is a traditional beer hall. Some years ago it had a reputation as a local smoke filled boozer, but nowadays this is a large and spacious restaurant with a solid and much better public image. Olympen is called Lompa by locals, and it has a nice atmosphere. After hearing many recommendations about the beer hall, I finally could enter it at its location in Grønlandsleiret street in the Grønland neighbourhood.

In addition to bottled beers, there are several draught beers available at Olympen. The house beer is Hansa pale lager, and it is by far the least interesting draught beer available. In addition there were five other beers on tap the evening I visited Olympen. Two of the beers were from Oslo's Schoukjelleren Mikrobryggeri, and I decided to check out one of the local brews. My choice was Schouskjelleren's Thunderbear Stout.

Thunderbear Stout was served in an original Schoukjelleren Mikrobryggeri glass. It was a black beer with a medium sized head and nearly no carbonation. In the nose I felt some coffee and burnt malts. The taste was of cold coffee and some chocolate cake. I liked this stout a lot.

It was unfortunately time to move on. I had things to do the next day, so I needed to call it a night. But I know I will be back at Olympen.