Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

As 2012 is becoming history, I present my favourites from 2012. It has been a good beer year for me, but there have been fewer updates on this blog compared to 2011. I have been drinking beer during 2012 in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Czech Republic. As always my best of 2012 list is highly subjective, and I have only included beers I have been drinking this year.

Best pale lager
Úněticke 12° golden lager

I was lucky to check out Úněticke 12° golden lager for the first time on a warm Summer day. It was a really lovely beer. This year I have not tasted the unfiltered Pilsner Urquell, so my number 2 lager this year is the Kout na Šumave 12° golden lager. Also worth to be mentioned are Brooklyn Lager, Kout na Šumave 10° golden lager and the 11° Zlatý Kun svetlý ležák from the Berounský Medved brewery.

Best dark lager
Budvar Černý

This dark lager from Budvar in the Czech Republic is a fantastic beer, and it is my winner this year as well. Runners up in 2011 are Kout na Šumave's dark lager and Märkischer Landmann.

Best wheat beer
Primátor Weizen

Primátor Weizen is defending its winner spot this year as well. Runners up are Paulaner Hefeweizen, Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen and Velen from the Czech Cerná Hora brewery.

Best ale
Kinn Vestkyst IPA

The little Norwegian craft brewery Kinn produces the Vestkyst IPA, and it is my favourite ale also in 2012. Other favourites from 2012 are Lervig Rye IPA, Nøgne Ø's 100, Ægir IPA and Haandbryggeriet's Pale Ale.

Best Norwegian bar
Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri (Oslo)

This was a winner this year as well. Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri brewpub is the best beer place in Norway with a combination of beers brewed on-site and a good selection of other draught beers. Runners-up in 2012 are Grünerløkka Brygghus in Oslo, Henrik and Naboen in Bergen and Den gode nabo in Trondheim.

Best beer blog
Shut Up About Barclay Perkins

It is the fourth time that I give Ronald Pattinson's blog the honour of being the best that I read. His blog is more or less an encyclopedia of beer knowledge. Other good reads are Pivní Filosof, Fuggled, The Beer Nut and Boak & Bailey. Evan Rail is back on track with his great Beer Culture blog, but unfortunately it is not updated that often. 

Best Norwegian beer blog
Det står en-og-førti øl

Also this year Anders Christensen's blog is a good read in Norwegian. Other favourites are Kjempetorskens ølblogg and Det gyldne øls kommandørskap.

Best beer experience in 2012
A lovely evening in Prague visiting the Strahov monastery during an international conference. We had great food and fabulous beers brewed on-site, and after several formal days the whole dinner experience made people social and we all had a great time until closing time. And then some of us had night caps at a herna bar - just to keep up the social fun.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

I want to wish all of you readers a very Merry Christmas!

Unfortunately 2012 has been a year with fewer updates for Beer Sagas. I have not had the time to maintain this blog the way I have done earlier years. For 2013 I can promise that the blog will be continued, but I can not say if it will be updated more than a few times a month. The focus of Beer Sagas will be the same as today, but with less time to do updates there will be a higher percentage of posts about travels than about Norwegian beers.

If you are interested in the Norwegian beer scene, you might be interested in checking out the new webpage Ølportalen. As of 1 January 2013 some Norwegian beer bloggers will use that website to publish news about Norwegian beers, breweries and bars. They aim to have the best coverage of beers in Norway. I wish them the best of luck!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Beware of airport prices

When visiting the Czech Republic you will find out that beer prices vary from the higher prices paid at cafes and restaurants in the tourist areas in the city centre of Prague compared to for instance hospodas in the Žižkov area. A good rule these days is that pubs selling pints of beer at 40 CZK or lower are worth visiting. Are the prices higher, the restaurant is probably either a rip-off or a place catering for the gastronimical elite.

If you get to Prague airport, you normally pay nearly 150 CZK for a half litre of beer at the restaurants and pubs. Compared to the Scandinavian countries, these are affordable prices. But it feels strange that the restaurants at Prague airport charge so much more for beers compared to ordinary pubs and taprooms in the city.

As I was waiting for my flight home, I decided to have some beer. At an earlier visit to the airport, the Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant was out of Master as a draught beer. This time the beer was available from tap. I decided to check it out.

Master Černý was a nearly black beer with a large head and nearly no carbonation. It had aromas of dark chocolate and a bit of sweetness. In the mouth I felt dark chocolate and some coffee before a partly sweet finish. I liked it, and felt that it might be a good Winter beer.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bliss at Nota Bene

If you are interested in beer, then a sign telling you that a restaurant is a beerpoint should be a good thing. I had time for a beer while being close to the I. P. Pavlova metro in Prague. I knew a new restaurant called Nota Bene was nearby in Micovcova street and decided to stop by for a short visit.

Inside, the restaurant was bright with a welcoming choice of furniture, but it was a bit crowded with a lot of guests. I therefore decided to stand at the bar trying out a pale lager from the Úněticke brewery.

This is one of the times that I absolutely should have kept my tasting notes. This was an extremely good lager, and I enjoyed every drop of it.

There was no time to check out the other beer offers at Nota Bene. They had draught beers from six small and interesting Czech breweries including Kocour and Strahov monastery. I just have to go back some time. I liked it there!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Budvar's best

I usually drink my share of Budvar's kvasnicove while visiting the Budvarka restaurant near the Dejvicka metro in Prague. This is one of the few places in Prague selling this special beer. At this visit, I found the Budvar Kroužkovaný Ležák at the Pod Slavínem restaurant near the Albertov tram stop.

I chose to sit down outdoors and ordered a half litre of this golden beer. As usual I was in for a treat. This fabulous hoppy beer with tones of grass was lovely. And guess what? There had to be another. And also another one! There was no food this time around, but there will be at a later visit. Pod Slavínem serves according to expats good food at great prices.

Budvar Kroužkovaný Ležák is not available in bottles, and you can only drink it as a draught beer at selected bars and restaurants in the Czech Republic. If you find it, check it out!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A special visit

It was a warm day in Prague. I was walking around the Žižkov neighbourhood and thought that it was time for a beer. I chose to sit down outside a waterhole I had not visited for years, U Pižďucha in Blahnikova street.

U Pižďucha is first of all a little taproom. It is mentioned in both Evan Rail's and Pivní Filosof's beer guides to Prague. I took out the books to see where I wanted to go next, and while doing it I took this picture for fun:

As you readers can see, both the prices and the beer selection have changed at U Pižďucha since Evan Rail released his "Good Beer Guide: Prague and the Czech Republic" in 2007. But the book is still a great resource on both breweries and pubs in the Czech lands.

While enjoying an excellent Svijany Maz, I showed the barman Pivní Filosof's informative and enjoyable book, "Prague: A Pisshead's Pub Guide". He leafed through it and stoppet at the pages where U Pižďucha was mentioned. He then had a laugh and took the book into the taproom. Less than a minute later a man was presented to me as a U Pižďucha stamgast. He pointed at a picture in the book and then at himself. Sure thing, he was made immortal by Pivní Filosof!

Suddenly there were free rounds of Fernet Stock for me and the other guests. I also bought a round, and it was an enjoyable moment where we tried to communicate in bad Czenglish. But body language worked, and also the occacional use of Czech words and phrases like "pivo", "dobrý" and "ještě jedno". It is strange, but often the best times in our lives involves chance meetings. And sometimes beer as well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two good beer places

I do not write beer notes every time I am going somewhere. That is always good, because some times it takes away something from both the beer and the restaurant experience.

In this post I will write about two places in Prague that I have visited several times, but where I have never bothered to do any beer notes. Záležitost is a nice restaurant near the Biskupcova tram stop. It is based in the cellar, and it also has a lovely beer garden. Outside, this looks like just another Staropramen place, but if you go inside you see that the owners have an interesting beer selection.

Záležitost offers draught beers from several Czech breweries. Pilsner Urquell is of course available, but you can also drink beers from Chotěboř, Rychtář and Lobkowicz breweries from tap. The non-alcoholic beer from Lobkowicz is a treat, by the way, and is worth checking out.

The menu at Záležitost mostly consists of good, Czech courses at good prices. I have been very satisfied with both food and drinks at this restaurant.

Not far from Wenceslas Square you will find Jama The Hollow in the V Jámě street. This looks like a place for expats and tourists, and it also has a party feel over it. Some times that is what you want during a pub crawl, and then Jama The Hollow is a place to check out.

At the same time it might be the only place you visit during that pub crawl. With 12 various beers on tap, there is always something interesting to drink. Beers are mostly from smaller Czech breweries like Lobkowicz, Rychtář, Černá Hora, Ježek, Kocour and Klášter. I have not tried the food at Jama, but it has been recommended to me by locals.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Prague again

I have spent some time in Prague this year, and there are of course still great beers to be had in the Czech capital. Among others, I have several times been to Potrefená Husa at the main railway station, Hlavní Nádraží. This is a restaurant chain owned by the Staropramen brewery, and the place at the railway station is a nice place to sit down for a while. There is free wifi at the restaurant, and there is a screen showing departure times for trains.

Most of the Staropramen line-up is available, but at my visits to Potrefena Husa I preferred drinking the Staropramen Nefiltrovaný. This was a cloudy beer with a large head and barely carbonation. In the nose I felt yeast and sweetness, while the beer tasted of hops, apples and strawberries. This was an enjoyable beer, and it is one of the best from this Prague based brewery.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Back at Arlanda

Having another stopover at Stockholm's airport Arlanda, I this time visited Terminal 5. This is a newer and better looking building than Terminal 2, that I visited last year.

For some beer, I sat down at Andersson Food & Aquavit. From draught, Andersson could offer Staropramen Dark Lager and three pale lagers: Carlsberg Hof, Staropramen and Pripps Blå Expert. I have had my share of boring Swedish lagers, so the local Pripps was a no-go. Instead I went for the the dark beer from the Czech Republic.

The beer was as black as a Coca Cola. There was no carbonation, and there was barely a head- In the nose I felt coffee and and sweet malts. The beer was mainly sweet with some caramel, malts and a bit of coffee before a sweet finish. I felt the beer was average, and I know I have been drinking much better dark lagers than this one.

My flight was late, but I did not see it until I was nearly at the gate. I decided it was time for another beer, and I had it at the place called Bar in Terminal 5. The draught beers on offer were Carlsberg Hof, Kronenbourg 1664 and Brooklyn Lager. It was not difficult to choose. I had the American lager, and as usual it was a satisfying experience with aromas of grapefruit and a fine taste combining grapefruit and caramel. It was really enjoyable.

It was time to leave, and next time I am at Terminal 5 I will go straightly to Bar. The best draught beer I have found at Arlanda, is still Brooklyn lager.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A winning combination

Once it was a one of Norway's better record store with a terrific vinyl selection. Now Apollon is also a pub. With several draught beers on tap, it is an interesting addition to the beer scene of Bergen.

Most beers available are pale lagers, but Apollon also offers other beers including selections from Haandbryggeriet. At my recent visit Norwegian Wood was available, and I chose to check out this copper coloured smoked beer.

Norwegian Wood had a medium sized head and no carbonation. In the nose I felt burnt bacon and malts. The beer tasted of smoke, wood and some smoked mackerel with a touch of sweetness. It was nice, but I felt that one glass was enough.

Apollon is a fine attraction. It is an great place for music lovers and a good place for beer lovers. If you like beer and music, Apollon should be close to heaven.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A little beer roundup

There has not been that much updates on this blog lately, and I have many tasting notes laying around. Here is a collection of three of these tasting notes, and this post one consists of my thoughts on various draught beers.

Beer Here Ammestout is of course from the Danish brewery Beer Here. It is supposed to be a traditional milk stout, and it had a lot of coffee in the nose. The beer tasted of cold coffee with a touch of milky cappuccino. It was really an enjoyable beer as served at Henrik in Bergen, Norway.

Also in Bergen I tried out Waldemar Dark Ale at Biskopen. This beer was nearly black and had barely any head, nor carbonation. In the nose I felt sweetness and some raspberry. I felt fruit cocktail and some raspberry in the mouth, but the finish was a bit watery. I liked this beer, which is one of the better ones from Hansa's little craft brewery.

My tasting notes do not tell where I tried Ægir Alt. This Norwegian brewery has many interesting beers in their line-up, but this one felt a bit boring. In the glass this was a copper coloured beer with nearly no carbonation. It had aromas of sourness and leather. In the mouth I felt peaches and caramel before a finish with toffee and cardboard. This was not to my liking, and Ægir has more interesting beer than this.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

In-flight beers

When I am a airplane passenger, I usually prefer some wine with the in-flight meals as the beer selection normally consists of one kind of pale lager.

Lufthansa offers complimentary drinks, and beerwise the offer is from the German Warsteiner brewery. Warsteiner Premium Verum is a pale lager with 4.6% alcohol. In the glass it has some carbonation and a medium sized head. The beer has aromas of malts and sweetness, and it tastes of malts and a touch of hops before a partly bitter finish. This is an average pale lager that functions as a nice thirst quencher.

At Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) you need to pay for your drinks unless you are seated in Business Class. The beer on offer is Carlsberg pale lager with an alcohol content of 5%. In the nose I felt some malts, and tastewise there was nothing much to report about. I felt some apples and some yeast in the finish. This Carlsberg beer was another average lager, but the Warsteiner beer was to be preferred by me.

I have read reports saying that foods and drinks have less taste when consumed onboard an airplane. Perhaps airline companies should use that information to offer beers with more taste. I guess a hoppy pale lager like Pilsner Urquell or '77 Lager from BrewDog would be better alternatives to these two pale lagers.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A taste of ram

One of the lagers you often find in Czech pubs and bars is Velkopopovický Kozel Světlý Výčepní. This pale beer is a 10° lager with an alcohol content of 4%.

I have tried this beer as a draught beer many times in the Czech Republic. This time I had it from can, and in the glass the pale Kozel beer had a medium sized head and some carbonation. In the nose I felt grass and flowers, while the beer tasted of malts, some caramel, butter and some hops before a watery finish. This was another good Czech pale lager, but I prefer other beers to it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another pale lager

Frydenlund used to be one of Norway's leading beer brands. These days the brewery name is owned by Ringnes, and the brewery group sells several Frydenlund beers in the Norwegian market. One of my favourites is Frydenlund Bayer, which is a fine beer in the Bavarian style.

Frydenlund Fatøl is one of the many pale lagers from the Ringnes group. In the glass it has a medium sized head and some carbonation. I feel grass and flowers in the nose, while the beer tastes of malt and some sweetness before a finish with cardboard. The lager beer is nice, although I will call it average. It is not worth searching for, but it is quite all right as a thirst quencher.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Double Mack

Mack is the most Northern brewery in the world, if the propaganda is to be believed. The Tromsø based brewery has several beers on the market, and in Summer the seasonal special is called Mack Sommerøl.

Mack Sommerøl is another of those Norwegian pale lagers sold in the warmer season. In the glass it has some carbonation and a medium sized head. I feel aromas of grains and sweetness. In the mouth this is a beer with some sweetness but otherwise not much taste before a touch of bitterness in the finish. It is a boring beer.

Mack 1877 is a more interesting beer. This is supposed to be brewed from Czech lager traditions. In the glass it has some carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose I feel flowers, grains and some hops. The beer is a bit sweet and tastes grass and some hops. The finish has grains, butter and a touch of bitterness. This was a nice lager beer, and it is one to be recommended.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Scottish Viking

Ægir is one of Norway's most interesting breweries at the moment. One of the newest beers in their line-up is a Scottish Ale called Ægir Lindisfarne.

In the glass, Ægir Lindisfarne has a dark copper colour. It has a medium sized head and some carbonation. I feel sweetness and some smoke in the nose. In the mouth there is some sweetness and smoke. The finish is sweet with a touch of smoke. The beer is OK, but it is no favourite.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Northern beer with Southern hops

The Swedish brewery Sigtuna has a presence in Norway these days. One of the available beers is Sigtuna South Pacific Pale Ale with hops from New Zealand.

The beer is nearlly copper coloured in the glass. It has barely any carbonation and hardly a head. In the nose there is grapefruit and green tea. In the mouth I feel some citrus and green tea before a partly bitter finish with some grapefruit. I liked this beer!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Average Alt

Altbier is a beer style that is not very common in Norway. Pinkus Münstersch Alt is one of the exceptions, and I was really excited to try it out.

As I filled my glass, I was a bit disappointed. The beer was pale with a medium sized head and aromas of yeast and sourness. In the mouth I felt gooseberries, yeast and some cherries. The finish had caramel and mint. I found the beer OK, but it is not something I will buy frequently.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back at Frankfurt airport

Another stopover at Frankfurt airport took me back to the Beyond bar in Terminal 1. As I promised myself during my last visit, I would now try the Paulaner Kristallweizen as a draught beer. I ordered the beer, but I must have misunderstood. The wheat beer was only available in bottles, but it was to late to stop the order as the waiter had already started pouring the beer into a glass.

The beer was pale in colour and had a medium sized head. There was nearly no carbonation in the beer, that had aromas of banana and sweetness. In the mouth there was some assertive banana followed by spices and a touch of bread. It was a fine wheat beer, and I really enjoyed it.

On tap there was also the local Licher Premium Pils. This was a pale lager with a medium sized head and some carbination. The nose was unfortunately metallic, but there were still scents of malts. In the mouth grass and flowers dominated before a partly bitter finish. I would have liked this lager beer a lot, but there was also a metallic taste that I did not enjoy. Perhaps Beyond had a problem with this beer pipe?

It was time for me to find my plane, so I drank up the lager beer and went to the gate. Another short visit to Germany was about to end.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Klášterní Pivnice revisited

Going to Prague means that I usually have at least one visit at Klášterní Pivnice. This little pub near Letenske náměstí is best to visit before noon, as it gets really smoky in the afternoon.

The house beer is the 11° Klášter světlý ležák, but there are always other draught beers to try out as well. This time I found Pernštejn Granát among the available beers and decided to check it out. Pernštejn Granát is brewed by the Pernštejn brewery in Pardubice. This is the same brewery that makes the lovely Pardubice Porter. If you find that porter in bottles or on tap, you should taste it. It is extremely good!

Pernštejn Granát is in a way Pardubice Porter's little brother. It is a dark lager with a large head and barely any carbonation. In the nose I felt coffee and malts. The beer tasted of burnt malts, coffee and a bit of sweetness. I liked it, but the porter is a better beer.

There was also a Poutnik 12° pale lager on draught during my visit. I tasted that beer as wekk, and was given a beer in a Rohozek glass without carbonation. I felt malts, grass and some sweetness in the nose. The taste was malty with some mints. I liked this beer as well, but the Klášter house beer at this pub is better.

Once again I left Klášterní Pivnice in a good mood. This is a nice pub that it is worth while visiting while in Prague. The prices are more than affordable. I paid for instance 25 CZK for the Pernštejn beer. The service is also good, and if you are hungry they have several light courses that are excellent with beers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lovely Eliška

I have not been there so often during my last visits to Prague, but one late evening I was walking Vinohradska street I found out it was time to revisit Hrom Do Police. The nice cellar restaurant on Moravska street offers draught beers from the Polička brewery, and they are all of high quality.

The fun thing about Hrom Do Police is that some of the beers are available in both filtered and unfiltered versions. That is great for somebody wanting to taste how different one beer can be. Myself, I decided to go for a seasonal beer. The wonderful Eliška was on tap, and I ordered a half litre of it.

This batch of Eliška was darker than cola but still not black. It had a large head, and there was barely any cabonation. In the nose I felt coffee, and the coffee lead on in the mouth with some nuts and a touch of bitterness. This was a delicious beer.

I had time for another beer as well, and decided to go for the 12° golden lager Zavis in the unfiltered version. I have had this beer before, and has been really fond of it. It did not let me down this time either. Zavis kvasnicove was a golden lager without carbonation, but with a medium sized head. In the nose I felt yeast and malts. There was strawberry, some sweetness and and malts in the mouth. It was just another lovely beer from the Polička brewery.

There are so many interesting pubs and bars in Prague these days, but what I really like about Hrom Do Police is that they specialize in beers from one brewery. It is for me more interesting to drink myself through the whole beer line from one brewery than to try to taste many beers from many breweries during one session.