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.