Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bryggerikaia Blues

My favourite place in Bodø is Bryggerikaia. Bryggerikaia used to be a brewpub, but that has changed. Nowadays beers from Mack in Tromsø are sold at the restaurant together with some bottled beers.

At my latest visit to Bryggerikaia, I was happy to find two new taps. As usual Bryggerikaia offers Mack's Pilsner, Arctic Beer, Bayer and Haakon, but now there is also a choice of Bryggerimesterens Spesial (the brewmaster's special). This is a series of draught beers brewed by Mack's own microbrewery. The beers in the Bryggerimesterens Spesial series are supposed to change now and then, and there will be both experimental beers and Mack's various takes on different beer styles.

There was no doubt which taps I was going to have my beer from. I asked the friendly and cute waitress what was on the Bryggerimesterens Spesial taps. She did not know, but she offered me to sample one of the beers. Great, I thought, and listened to the sound of the last drops of liquid coming out of the tap. There is always the other one, I thought just before she told me that both kegs were empty.

I decided to go for Haakon instead. This is one of Mack's many lager beers, and I liked it when I have tried it earlier. This brownish, but still somewhat golden beer had a lot of carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose I felt malts and caramel. The malts were assertive in the mouth with some toffee. The finish was typical Mack with a lot of grains. I was disappointed, as I remembered Haakon with a fuller and more advanced taste pattern than this.

After a meal and another glass of Haakon I left Bryggerikaia to find a taxi to the airport. Bryggerikaia is a fine place to enjoy a meal, but I hope to find beers from Bryggerimesterens Spesial when I return. The other Mack draught beers available at Bryggerikaia are nice, but they are not that impressive. And what about brewing your own beers again? The equipment is still there in the building.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Piccadilly revisited

In the windy town of Bodø, I ended up spending an entire Autumn evening at Piccadilly. Piccadilly is one of those English pubs you find outside Britain with the distinct English touch, but unfortunately lacking British draught beers. Sure, it is nice with a Guinness or another Irish stout or ale now and then, but I feel that a British bitter or pale ale from tap should be a must for an English pub.

At Piccadilly there are several draught beers, and Nordlandspils pale lager is the one preferred by the locals. I was not in the mood for a pale lager, so I chose Frydenlund Bayer. This is a very fine beer in the Bavarian style, and in my opinion it is the best of its style from Norwegian macro breweries.

I was given a beer with a small head and some carbonation. This copper coloured beer had aromas of cold coffee and toffee. In the mouth there was burnt malts, toffee and cold coffee. The finish was with a bitter touch. I really like Frydenlund Bayer, and in these Christmas beer times it is worth mentioning that it is much better than most Norwegian Juleøl beers sold in supermarkets.

Piccadilly is a nice pub. I would like a bigger beer offer, and it would be nice if the pub also could offer Norwegian craft beers from tap. But I must confess that Frydenlund Bayer did its trick as a a session beer this evening.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A surprise from Waldemars

After trying some of this season's Norwegian Christmas beers, I wanted to find out if there were more seasonal beers from Bergen. Hansa's various Christmas beers were not among my favourites this year, but perhaps Hansa's microbrewery Waldemars had something interesting on offer?

I went to Jacobs to see if a Christmas beer from Waldemars was available. I was happy to see it was, so I ordered a glass of this seasonal special. The price was 92 NOK for 0.4 litres of beer. In the glass Waldemars Juleøl had a nearly black colour, a medium sized head and nearly no carbonation. I felt malts and cherries in the nose. The beer tasted of cherries and some yeast before a delicious finish with a touch of cold coffee. I would not call this a typical Norwegian Christmas beer, but it was an very good beer. I do not know the alcohol strength of Waldemars Juleøl, but I believe it to be stronger than 5% due to the price.

Waldemars Juleøl was a really good experience, and it is one of the better Norwegian Christmas beers I have tasted this season. It is probably only available as a draught beer just like the microbrewery's very good wheat beer. If that is the case, it is a shame. This is is a beer I would really like to enjoy at home as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Dane and a Christmas beer

Back in Norway it was time to try out some of the local watering holes. One afternoon I was walking the streets of Bergen, I ended up once again at Kontoret. As mentioned in an earlier post, Kontoret now offers six draught beer taps. I chose a Christmas beer from Nøgne Ø.

Nøgne Ø Julesnadder has 4.5% alcohol. In the glass this was a brownish beer with a small head and nearly no carbonation. I felt some caramel and yeast in the nose. The beer tasted of dates, variuos spices, yeast and some coffee in a watery finish. I liked this beer, and it is one of the better Norwegian Christmas beers with less than 4.7% alcohol.

From Kontoret I went to the nearby Henrik pub. As usual the beer selection is great for a Norwegian pub in both draught beers and bottled beers. This time around I found a new beer available on tap from the Danish brewery Beer Here.

Beer Here Executioner IPA was a somewhat cloudy beer with a nearly golden colour. The beer had nearly no head nor carbonation. In the nose I felt grapefruit and some grass. The beer was lovely. It tasted of grapefruit and blood orange before a bitter finish with some grains. I really liked this IPA, and I hope to find it when I visit Denmark next Autumn.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Back at U Prince Miroslava and U Medvídků

U Prince Miroslava used to be the pub with most draught beers in Prague. I visited the pub for the first time two years ago, and I have returned to it at several occations enjoying various beer. These days you will find 19 draught beers at U Prince Miroslava.

At my last visit I was somewhat disappointed. I tried to order beer after reading the labels on the taps.

A lot of the beers mentioned were not available, and the waiter pointed to a poster on a wall. Sure, all draught beers were listed, but I did not find Primátor Stout on the list. This excellent stout used to be a mainstay at U Prince Miroslava, but now it was gone.

I had a few beers. None of them memorable, as I have lost my tasting notes.

Later on the same day I went to U Medvídků in the city centre. I sat down at the ground floor bar to have a taste of Budvar. There had been changes in what used to be the Budweiser bar with all Budvar beers on tap. These days U Medvídků's own beers are also sold as draught beers in the pub. From Budvar you can only find a golden lager. That is an interesting move as the U Medvídků beers were only sold as bottled beers in the bar. You had to go upstairs to the U Medvídků brewery pub to drink them as draught beers. I had a glass of Oldgott and enjoyed it before it was time to find my hotel.

On my way I picked up a bottle of beer. Which one?

Yes, you were right! The excellent Primátor Stout was my night cap.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Glimpses of Prague

There are so many bars and pubs to visit in Prague, and some of them are worth taking a look at. In this post I will share a couple of places I recommend.

Not far from the Jiřího z Poděbrad metro station you can find Hrom do Police. This cellar restaurant is special as it sells beer from the Policka brewery. Right now the dark Eliška beer is available. This is a wonderful seasonal beer that it is worth checking out.

I usually spend some time at U Sadu while in Prague. This excellent hospoda offers several good draught beers. Tanková Pilsner Urquell is a treat that usually can be found here. This is an unpasteurized version of the excellent golden lager from Plzen. At my last visit U Sadu offered the unfiltered version that is even better. That beer was only available as a Pilsner Urquell marketing campaign for a short period of time.

Also in Žižkov, at Tachovské náměstí, you will find U Slovanské Lípy. This great hospoda sells the magnificent beers from the Kout na Šumavě brewery.

These beers are not available in bottles, so my tip is to bring along a water bottle so they can fill it up for you with draught beer. The 10° and 12° lagers are worth drinking in your hotel room as well. Or any Kout na Šumavě beer, for that matter!

My friend Pivní Filosof released his great book on pub crawls in Prague earlier this year. If you go to Prague, it is a must! One of the pubs not mentioned in the book is called U Vodoucha. It opened after the book was published. The pub in Jagellonská street is in walking distance from U Slovanské Lípy. The beer philosopher brought me to the pub, and it was a treat. Here there was great beers and fine Czech food. I was lucky to find beers from the Berounský Medvěd brewery, and I fell in love with the fabulous 11° Zlatý Kůn beer. This golden lager had a fantastic taste of fresh hops, and I really blame myself for not visiting this pub again during my stay in Prague. I should have bought some PET bottles to take home from the pub.

A few minutes from U Vodoucha you will find Vinohradská street. There you can jump on tram number 11 going towards Spořilov. In Čestmírova street near the Náměstí Bratří Synků tram stop the fantastic Zlý Časy pub can be found. With 24 draught beers available, there is always an interesting beer to find.

Take the trip to Zlý Časy and enjoy some of the beers available. You will not regret it.

By the way: Since my visit to Prague this Spring, the herna bar at the Dejvická metro has been closed down. That is a pity, as I liked having a half litre of Rychtář golden lager on my way to or from Prague airport. The pub was a dive, but the beers were good.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Back at Klášterní Pivnice

I usually step inside Klášterní Pivnice when I am in Prague. This neighbourhood pub near Letenske náměstí is a great place to visit. The beers are good, the service is good and the pivnice feels like anything but a tourist pub.

Klášter 11° světlý ležák is the house beer. This golden lager is an excellent beer served with a large, thick head and barely any carbonation. There are nearly no aromas from the beer, but some hops shine through. In the mouth there is grass and grains before a fine finish with more hops. This is a lovely lager that I really enjoy.

Klášterní Pivnice is a pub with a rotating tap. Therefore you will find more draught beers than Klášter available. The pub also has a decent selection of bottled beers from many Czech breweries. At this visit Podkováň světlý ležák was available from tap, so I chose that lager beer. In the glass Podkováň 12° golden lager had nearly no carbonation and a large head. I felt malts and grass in the nose. In the mouth there was malts before a malty and partly hoppy finish. Another fine beer!

I really like going to Klášterní Pivnice. The pub is excellent, and the beers are great. Unfortunately this is a very smoky pub, so I have not been able to stay inside for long. Except for that, this is a recommended taproom in Prague.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time for Staropramen Kvasničák

I have not been that fond of Staropramen's beers. The Prague based brewery's pale lagers are quite average, but Granát is a fine, Märzen styled beer. I also liked Staropramen's dark lager, but there are other Czech breweries making better examples of that beer style.

Staropramen brewery. Please note that this picture is from 2008.

Walking past the Staropramen brewery near the Anděl metro station, I decided it was time to do some on-site beer drinking at the Na Verandách restaurant. I ordered Staropramen's take on a yeast beer, Staropramen Kvasničák.

Staropramen Kvasničák was an unclear, brownish beer with nearly no carbonation but with a medium sized head. The nose had some yeast, but otherwise there were no aromas. In the mouth there was some fruit, some bread and a fruity finish with some strawberry taking the lead.

This beer was a pleasant experience, and I feel that the Kvasničák is Staropramen's best beer. But the Pilsner Urquell Nefiltrované is miles ahead!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unfiltered Urquell time

Pilsner Urquell is the original pilsner beer. This bottom fermented beer has been brewed since 1842 in Plzeň. In addition to the ordinary golden lager, Pilsner Urquell also produces an unfiltered version of the beer. It is usually only available at the Šenk Na Parkánu restaurant in Plzeň. I was therefore happy to see during my recent Prague visit that Pilsner Urquell had a campaign offering Pilsner Urquell nefiltrované at selected pubs all over the Czech Republic.

I had several opportunities trying the unfiltered Pilsner Urquell, and every time I thoroughly enjoyed it. The ordinary Pilsner Urquell is one of my favourite lager beers, and it was even better in the unfiltered version. At my visit to the U Bansethů pub I was given a somewhat cloudy beer with a large head and nearly no carbonation. In the nose I felt a solid dose of Saaz hops. The hoppy taste is also there in the mouth with a flowery touch and some strawberry in the finish. This is no less than a stellar lager beer, and together with the 12° Kout na Šumavě golden lager it is the best lager beer I have ever tried. If you can find it, drink it!

On my next visit to the Czech Republic I will have a day trip to Plzeň. Of course Šenk Na Parkánu needs to be visited to have more of Pilsner Urquell nefiltrované, but there are also other places to enjoy excellent beers in the Bohemian city.

PS: Pivní Filosof has an interesting post today about the legends around the birth of Pilsner Urquell. It is a recommended read!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Krušovice experience

Back in Prague, I ended up at the Zličín metro station. Near the entrance the little Bar Zličín can be found. It is a small, smoky taproom that will never win any awards. But it has a friendly barman and loads of draught beer from the Krušovice brewery.

I started out with Krušovice's 10° pale lager. It is still a pretty average beer with nearly no aromas. In the mouth there was some malts and grass before a partly bitter finish with a touch of hops.

Then it was time for Krušovice 11° pale lager. This was a better and tastier beer. The taste profile was very alike the 10° beer, but this beer had a more bitter feeling.

Krušovice is not among the more interesting breweries in the Czech Republic, but the 11° pale lager is a decent beer. I would rather have other Czech beers, but if you want a beer at Zličín a visit to Bar Zličín for a half litre of Krušovice is a nice move. There are worse ways of spending waiting time before taking the metro into the city centre of Prague or the bus to Prague airport.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Back at Schiphol

I think stopovers are nice. I like better being a traveller than a tourist, and spending some hours at an airport gives me a great time watching people, sampling local food and getting a glimpse into the area's culture.

Schiphol airport outside Amsterdam is one of the airports I have visited the most. Being a hub for KLM airlines, Schiphol sees a lot of passengers changing planes on their way to a new destination. There are always somebody to meet and talk to, and having a drink or four at one of the bars or restaurants guarantees an interesting conversation.

This time I had nearly two hours to spend at Schiphol. As usual I ended up at the Het Paleis bar, which is also a fine place for snacks and small courses. While wine drinkers have a lot to choose from, there are only three draught beers at Het Paleis at the moment. I chose to leave the Heineken pale lager alone, and I started up with an ale from the Belgian Palm brewery.

Palm Ale is a beer that I was very fond of two years ago. This time I was a little bit disappointed. In the glass this was a nearly coppercoloured beer with some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose I felt some caramel and sweetness. The caramel was assertive in the mouth with some sweetness and a watery feeling. Unfortunately there was also a metallic taste in the beer, so I was not satisfied with this half litre of Palm.

The third draught beer available was from the Dutch Brand brewery. I visited the southern part of The Netherlands some years ago, so I have had my share of pale lagers from Brand as it was the local brewery. The Brand lagers are not exciting lagers, but they do their trick in warm weather when you are thirsty. At Het Paleis thet could offer Brand Dubbelbock, which was a new beer to me. In the glass this copper coloured beer had nearly no carbonation and a fine, large head. The beer had aromas of plums, while there was caramel and grapes in the mouth with a tiny touch of vodka. I liked this strong beer, and I hope to find it again elsewhere. Brand Dubbelbock is to be recommended!

Friday, November 11, 2011


During my visit to the city centre of Bergen this week, I ended up at Kontoret. There has been some changes in the draught beer department. Now you can find two new taps there in addition to the ones dedicated to Hansa, Old Speckeled Hen and Ægir. One of the new taps is for Erdinger wheat beer. I would say that is a boring choice. There are better wheat beers around, and I would have liked the bar to have chosen for instance Paulaner or Weihenstephaner weizen instead. The other new one is a rotating tap, and the coming week it will be used for Nøgne Ø's Julesnadder. This is one of the Norwegian brewery's Christmas beers.

I chose to try out Ægir's Rye India Pale Ale on this visit. This was a copper coloured beer with nearly no carbonation and a medium sized head. I felt grapefruit and caramel in the nose. In the mouth there was toffee and some grapefruit before a grainy finish. I liked this beer, but the ordinary Ægir IPA is a better beer - especially as a draught beer brewed in Norway. The bottled Ægir IPA brewed on licence in Belgium is a fine beer, but the Norwegian draught version is a nicer drinking experience.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Haandbryggeriet Duo

At a local supermarket I found two beers from Haandbryggeriet that I had never tried from bottles. This is a nice time for Norwegians. The beer selection is slowly getting larger, and several supermarkets are offering more than pale lager beers from the big, national breweries and the ordinary import beers.

I started out with Haandbryggeriet Pale Ale, which is an old favourite from tap. In the glass this 4.5% beer was a copper coloured cloudy brew with some carbonation and a medium sized head. I felt aromas of grapefruit and grass together with a touch of apples. In the mouth there was grapefruit, spices and more apples before a partly bitter and hoppy finish. This was a lovely beer!

Haandbryggeriet London Porter was a new aquaintance. The beer was black with some carbonation and a medium sized head. I felt dark chocolate in the nose. The beer tasted of more dark chocolate and some cold coffee. This was another fine beer that I really enjoyed. Haandbryggeriet is still one of Norway's most interesting breweries!