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Archive for July, 2009

Sardinia 476

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The BrewDog guys are back again, this time promoting their black lager, Zeitgeist. They have set up a blog with contributions from their customers.

Another gimmick to promote their online trade? Perhaps. But it’s a good deal in it for you as well. If you order beers and give the promotional code SHEEP, you’ll get a 70% discount. A good price for a good beer.

Tell them I sent you.

The sheep? You’ll have to go over to their site to read more about that.

Zeitgeist takes an age old classic, a forgotten masterpiece and gives it relevance and an avant-garde edge, according to their web site. But right now I don’t feel up to German philosophy. 

Vacation time. Gimme a beer!

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Mikkeller interview

Even if I am too lazy to write much at the moment, there are others who seem to be more awake. Check out an interview with Mikkeller brewer Mikkel Bjergsø at the Hoosier Beer Geek blog.

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-What’s the best beer, then?

That’s the usual response I get when I tell people I’m a beer blogger.

-It depends, I answer. -There are beers for various occasions.

An alternative approach is to say that all beers above the average pilsener are fantastic. Which is almost what Norwegian daily Dagbladet has done today.

They have tested a number of beers available in Norway, domestic and imported, and I find that they have been a bit generous with their superlatives. I also question the low scores for Nøgne ø IPA and a few other beers, while I understand that the Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast might be a bit too much for some.

But, even if I might have objections to some of the scores, this test takes beer seriously, and is so much better than what we usually find in Norwegian newspapers, where the celebrities of yesteryear have strong views on pale lagers. In the present test, each beer style is considered on its own merits, and it is actually something the consumer can take along to his nearest Vinmonopolet store and use as a shopping list.

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Back from the beach

Just returned from two weeks in Sardinia. Some crap lagers, some interesting micros, wonderful food, good local wine. I’ll give you the highlights as soon as I get around to it.

The blog seems to be doing all right, publishing itself even with me away. Do you enjoy the series of Oslo beer places?

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Bilde 034When summer hits Oslo, we behave like lemmings, aggressively aiming for the waterfront. Most of us end up at places like Aker Brygge, an old shipyard turned into yuppieland in the Eighties. It is a mad fight for a table in the sun, the beer is Ringnes at outrageous prices.

The alternative is just across the inner harbour, where the sun is not blocked by high buildings. Among other vintage ships and boats, just beneath the old walls of Akserhus fortress, we find Tjeldsundfergen III, which used to do its duty as a ferry in Northern Norway.

The menu is simple – hot dogs or peel-your-own shrimps. They used to have interesting draught beers, but now it’s Ringnes pils and bayer on tap. But there is good stuff in the fridge.

A dozen German beers from small breweries. St. George, Krauss, Weltenburger. Even two smoked Bamberg beers from the Aecht Schlenkerla range.

No credit cards, a good symbol of the contrast to Aker Brygge. Reasonable prices. The clientele? Quite a few smokers. Adults, families, groups of friends. Some serious drinkers. Low life? No, but people who have lived their lives.

You can join the Friends of Tjeldsundfergen III for a small fee. You contribute to the upkeep of the ferry – and you get a litte discount on your beers…

Opening hours? Dependent on the weather.

Bilde 032

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Time to mention one of the shops selling premium beers as well. While there are a few supermarket chains now selling Haandbryggeriet and Nøgne ø bottles, it is much tougher for other micros to get on the shelves.

We are, however, lucky in Oslo. We have a food shop dedicated to the best Norwegian food available. This means game, cured meat, cheese, oils and vinegars, flatbread and sausages, butter and sour cream, it is a great place to stock up.

And there are some hand picked artisan beers, too. Breweries include Valdres, Ægir, Ølve and Inderøy Gårdsbryggeri.

The shop is Fenaknoken in Tordenskjolds gate, very close to the harbour and City Hall. Eirik Bræk is running the shop, and if he is not too busy, he enjoys a chat about beer and food. He does catering, too.

Bilde 029

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Parkteatret is located in a prime spot at Grünerløkka, an area of Oslo that has moved steadily upmarket for the last two decades or so. Young and quite affluent population, spending lots of their time hanging out with friends in bars and cafes.

Parkteatret was a movie theatre in a previous incarnation, now it houses a concert venue that is also used for the taping of some TV shows. The old lobby area is a bar open daily, and they have a decent range of Norwegian micros. They have the full list of Haandbryggeriet beers, including their Weizen on tap, and there are some Nøgne ø beers available, too. Decent prices for here, all beers well below the 100 kroner mark. No food, but there are good options nearby.

Parkteatret

Parkteatret

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Sake at Nodee

Sake at Nodee

What is a beer? Well, it’s fermented grain, isn’t it? Usually barley, usually hops, but if you’re not too obsessed with the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot, it’s the cereal that’s at the core. From grapes you get wine, from grain you get beer.

One avenue to explore is then to look at the varieties that don’t use malted barley as their starting point. Some go for historical recreations, studying Middle Age manuscripts or stone tablets in the Middle East. There are brews with millet, sorghum and all the old types of wheat you can imagine.

But then there is a major type of beverage that is, technically, a beer, even if you have to be a beer nerd to consider it.

Sake.

To have a range of sake in Oslo, you’ll have to find one of the upmarket Japanese restaurants. Alex Sushi has lots of Chablis, but only two brands of sake.

I went with my family to Nodee recently. They have some special imports, covering a range of styles, flavours (and prices).

The food is divine, but if you order sushi a la carte, it is expensive. Try one of the pan-Asian set menus, starting off with sushi and sashimi. Splendid value.

I don’t have the knowledge to suggest any sake for you, but I am sure the polite and observant staff can help you out.

Table reservation recommended. And it’s right across the street from the Frognerbadet public pool if you want to work up an appetite.

Thats just for starters

That's just for starters

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Litteraturhuset – House of Literature- occupies a prime spot next door to the Royal Palace and its leafy park. Quite a few tables outside for sunny weather, cozy atmosphere inside, too.

The House of Literature opened its doors in Oslo’s former teacher training college in Wergelandsveien 29, in the autumn of 2007, and is a popular venue hosting a broad range of events. Readings, meet the author, seminars, stand up comedy. It seems to be fully booked most days.

Right inside the front door, Cafe Oslo has shared a room with a bookshop which was having a closing down sale when I last visited.

 I’ve heard mixed reports about the food, so you might wish to dine elsewhere. It is, however, a perfect place to stop for a glass of beer on your way into or out of town or just for an idle afternoon. Three bottled beers from Nøgne ø, 2 Westmalle beers and Staropramen are available. The Nøgne ø IPA was great.

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