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Archive for December, 2010

Happy New Year!

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There is BrewDog everywhere now.  Their beers can be found across Europe – not only in specialist shops, but in well stocked supermarkets from Norway to Portugal.

This means that their main focus is to market their more accessible beers and to produce them in large quantities.

But they are still pushing boundaries, still collaborating with the most innovative of craft breweries around the globe.

The Basha is a collaboration with Stone Brewing, and a few months ago they released two special versions of this, both barrel aged with Scottish berries added.

My favourite of the two has black raspberries added to the beer before aging in a Highland Park cask. It has a lively carbonation. It has a solid head the color of caffe latte. The aroma is powerful, with raspberries intervowen with smoke. Lovely fruit flavour, too, clean fresh raspberries shining through the smokey whisky. A little vinegar. Dry finish.

The other version is aged with tayberries. This is more sweet and sour, the berry character is more playful. It does not have the same carbonation, meaning a heavier beer. Very pleasant sipping, but not quite the same world class as the other one.

Both are limited editions, of course. Grab them if you can.

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New horizons

Nøgne Ø has come a long way. Their beers have won awards around the globe, they try hard to keep up with demand. Their design has matured, too, their rather basic Ø is being used in new and inventive ways.

So, some of their more sophisticated beers are now being sold with more elaborate packaging, and, probably in more appropriate bottles, too. Here are three of them, all clearly related to the first two Dark Horizon beers, which were instant sell outs.

The Sweet Horizon presents itself as a dessert beer. As dessert, not with dessert, perhaps. Pitch black, low carbonation, vinous aroma with some balsamic vinegar. The nose promises cocoa and cherries, too.

I get blown away a bit from the sweetness. There is dry cocoa powder, sure, but there sure is a lot of sugar in this, I’d almost say overwhelming. Then the subtle nuances creep in, and I am seduced. Velvety chocolate. Madeira and marsala wine. Soot, liquorice and coffee. But very sugary coffee, if that is your thing.

The Dark Horizon 3 is very similar – it is essentiality the same beer with an extra bit of fermentation. A bit more chocolate and cocoa, perhaps, but there is a load of sweetness here, too. Not as balanced as the previous versions, the sugar overtakes it all. Should have had more aggressive yeast to eat some of this, IMHO.

The Red Horizon is something quite different. A very complex ber, brewed with sake yeast. Loads of sweetness, spices, slightly salty, yeast.Vermouth-like, hints of vintage port. This would be interesting to try as an aperitif. I think this is a very interesting direction to explore, let’s hope we’ll see more like this.

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Christmas scenery

I’m getting a bit tired of the cold spell now, but it is very photogenic. Here is a photo taken here in Oslo on Christmas Day.

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Just up the street from the hotel was an off-licence with the peculiar name inxs kicked. (Don’t ask me why, and don’t bother to visit their web site for anything but directions.) There seemed to be a lot of beers inside, so I decided to have a look.)

It turned out to be an Aladdin’s cave of beer. I guess there must be about 50 German beers, most of them really obscure stuff from small independent breweries. A good range of Scottish beers, too, including some of the more exclusive BrewDog stuff.

My first visit was on the Saturday evening, but then I had enough problems fitting the beers I already had into my suitcase. After our return to base on Sunday evening when our flight was cancelled, I had the opportunity to sample a few.

Proper winter beers and other lagers from breweries named Kitzmann, Kessmann and Meister. And a Devine Rebel from BrewDog/Mikkeller.

Perfect for sipping while watching A-team on dvd.

The shop is on Rodney Street if you are in the area. You even get a deposit back on the German bottles.

German beers

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On British pubs

The obituary editor of the Economist has written an elegy for the British pub. It is in their Christmas issue, and it is also available online. I’d say it is better on style than content. But it’s a good read.

There is a new book out in a few days - The Local: A History of the English Pub by Paul Jennings. I’ve ordered a copy, I’ll let you know what I think.

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As you know, we managed to get a flight home on Norwegian airlines the next evening. But it meant an extra day in Edinburgh, much of it spent in the Castle. Magnificent views – crisp air and fresh snow on the mountains and rooftops.

But there are good reasons of getting to the airport ahead of time. There are two Wetherspoon’s pubs at the airport. One before security, one airside. Both with seasonal Scottish ales and food at a better price/quality ratio than you’ll usually find at airports. The one after security even has its own house beer you won’t find anywhere else.

And if you have had enough heavy Scottish food, there is a Yo!Sushi, too.

And then we are boarding.

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

The Sir Walter Scott

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