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Archive for September, 2010

Here and there

A wee bit of travelling the rest of the year. Gothenburg. Paris. Lisbon. Düsseldorf.

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On my bike to work this morning I noticed that they are rigging down the open air watering holes of Central Oslo for the season. Sure, there are tents of various shapes and sizes outside bars and restaurants catering to the smokers, but the true al fresco drinking is over until April.

Which makes this a sensible time to launch a place that is truly indoors, with an open fireplace and vaulted brick ceilings.

Yes, it is the Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri, where the kettles are polished, the walls and floors have been dusted down and where the first beers are now flowing through the taps.

Actually, the opening is the coming weekend, but some of us have been invited to try it out during a few closed sessions.

Firs of all, the vaulted cellar, dating back to the 1820s, is a lovely place. An open fireplace, glowing copper tanks, leather furniture and warm lightning from chandeliers (not very suitable for photos) – it all works very well. It is a place to meet up with friends and having conversations over a pint or two. There won’t be much food on offer, but there will probably be sausages or similar snacks to keep the worst hunger at bay.

John the brewer has been very busy trying out equipment and brewing test batches amid all the construction work, and he had six beers on tap last Saturday. Two stouts – one of which was a Java coffee stout, an ESB, a Blond, an Amarillo single hop IPA and a beer loaded with fruit and spices. A double IPA is also on its way.

Some of the beers need a bit more tweaking, some of them just a little more conditioning. I went back for seconds of the ESB and the coffee stout, both of them lovely beers which should be a part of the regular beer list. I’ll come back to the rest of them when everything is up and running, but this is very promising.

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I do this blog as a hobby. It gets a bit too time consuming at times, perhaps, but I have a job, a family and a life, too.

I get the occasional bottle of beer from breweries near and far, but, on the whole, I pay my way in the beer shops and bars I visit.

Would I do this for money, given the chance? Sure. But based in a country where alcohol ads are banned, it is not likely to happen.

One beer site I admire is beerticker.dk, where Peter Myrup Olesen has been running a comprehensive coverage of the Danish beer scene, featuring news from the industry, media clippings and other sources. This has been updated several times a day, and is probably far better than the in-house monitoring being done by Carlsberg and the other big players. The site also has had a constantly updated list of new Danish beers.

Peter has been doing this full-time, but he has now announced that he most likely will close down his site. He has not been able to raise enough money to keep on doing this, so he is looking for other things to do.

I will miss beerticker.dk, it is a service that has been very useful for the beer community across Scandinavia.

There are other types of blogs which generate a lot of revenue, particularly those with teenage girls as their target audience. I assume that beer blogs in, say, Sweden or the UK may also generate some income. The question would probably be how much time you would need to sell ads – at the expense of writing.

As a whole, the beer blogsphere will continue to be dominated by those who do this for fun. This means  less comprehensive coverage like Peter has done in Denmark and more like this blog, where bolts of inspiration and time constraints set the schedule.

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Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri

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Beer guide to Latvia

A very welcome addition to the beer travel literature is the Beer Guide to Latvia, written by Atis Rektins. In English. Every country should have one.

Thanks to Joe for the tip.

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Life imitating art. Or something. Here is a costume sketch:

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I got the chance to try a drop of The End of History on Saturday. Lovely malty flavour mixed with an edge of turpentine. I doubt this is the future of beer.

On the other hand, there will be two Christmas beers from BrewDog available in Norway this year. One, I don’t believe in Santa, will be of supermarket strength, the other will be in Vinmonopolet stores and bars/restaurants. I doubt that any of them will be packaged in small furry animals, but you never know.

40% of BrewDog sales are now in Norway and Sweden. Seems like their importers are doing a good job!

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Still wrapped up

I have told you before about the plans for a new brewpub in Oslo, and it is now getting close to opening time. September 24 if everything goes according to plan. 

A few of us got a sneak peek last Saturday. 

The brewpub is located in the vaulted cellars of the old Schous brewery, dating back to the 1820s. Lots of gleaming copper ready to be used, still a lot of bits and pieces to be done before letting the drinkers in. 

The brewpub is phase one of a new restaurant complex. Above ground there will be three floors with an Italian restaurant, a wine bar and a beer/deli shop due to open next year. The rent is fairly low in this part of Grünerløkka, reflecting the rather rough neighbourhood with a brisk trade in alternative intoxicating substances. 

It will be interesting to see how this takes shape. Meanwhile, I really look forward to try the new brews on offer next weekend. 

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Revolution in action

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Beer drinkers old and young, from across the country, were gathered in Oslo for the first Norwegian cask ale festival. Rare beers from BrewDog, Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet and Ægir were on offer, from the Bamberg-like Røyk uten ild (Smoke without fire) from Haandbryggeriet, via the increadibly smooth and chocolaty Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, BrewDogs’s Dogma (formerly known as Speedball) to the very highlight – Ægir’s new Natt Imperial Porter, both in a velvety bottled version and an edition aged in Jack Daniels barrels.

This was also a great opportunity to talk to the brewers about their beers or simply enjoy the camaraderie of the event. Splendid food at the Saturday evening dinner, too, with about 80 guests if I remember correctly.

So, a toast to Amund and his crew at Håndverkerstuene for taking the chance of hosting this event. This is the proper way to run a beer festival, not a pale lager in sight. The success of this is yet another piece of evidence of the Norwegian beer scene having grown up in just a few years. Let’s hope this will be something to mark off in our calendars every year. And yes, this is worth buying a cheap plane ticket for if you live elsewhere in Europe.

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