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Archive for the ‘brewing’ Category

A convicted cocaine smuggler who runs London Fields Brewery has been arrested on suspicion of tax evasion after a dawn raid at his home. Jules de Vere Whiteway-Wilkinson was detained after officers from HM Revenue and Customs arrived at his house in Stoke Newington to question him about allegations that he has been failing to pay VAT at the London Fields Brewery. This is according to the Propel Newsletter. Whiteway-Wilkinson has run the brewery since his release from a 12-year prison sentence imposed in 2004 for his role as the leader of a cocaine-smuggling gang that supplied drugs to celebrities and music industry figures.

I have to admit that when I was in London a year ago, the tap room at London Fields was one of the highlights of the weekend. Oh, well.

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One of the legends of the European craft beer scene is Mike Murphy. He is an American with a home brewing background, and with an impeccable resume from Italy and Denmark he arrived in Stavanger five years ago. Lervig was established in 2003, and started brewing in 2005. They were stumbling a bit the first few years, and Mike had some serious quality issues to tackle when he took over in 2010. You can read more about Mike’s career at the Die by the BEER blog.

I had not met Mike before, so when Cafe Sara had a Lervig tasting this week, I was very happy to attend. The place was not as packed as the last time I was there, meaning there was more interaction between the public and the stage.

Mike took along James Goulding, who also works at Lervig, particularly with their beer festival.

P1010392

James and Mike

 
Lervig was built with a capacity to brew lagers on a scale to compete with Carlsberg in the regional market, and with the current production of 1.5 million liters they can still grow for a long time. Two thirds of the 1.5 million liters is craft beer, the rest lager beers.

We had a sample of several of their beers, including a pleasant Sorachi Ace Lager, showing that single hop beers does not need to be limited to IPAs.

Given Mike’s background and good network, they collaborate with a number of breweries. My own favourite is one they have made with Magic Rock – Rustique. An IPA with Brett, aged in Chardonnay barrels.

During his days in Denmark, Mike brewed some beers from Mikkeller, and when Nøgne Ø needed all their capacity for their own beers, Lervig has taken over the brewing of the Beer Geek series of beers.

The aim for next year is to get a better national distribution in Norway, but they are also working on markets like the UK, Italy and Spain. Emerging markets like Estonia and Poland are also interesting, and if you’re lucky, you might even find Lervig beers in Thailand.

Lervig beers to look out for next year? A Lindheim/Mikkeller/Lervig Kriek with sour cherries from the Lindheim orchards. And a Lervig/ Evil Twin collaboration brewed with two very Norwegian ingredients. Frozen pizza and money. I kid you not. I think the brewery tap they are planning in Stavanger will be a place for pilgrimages in the years to come.

I have met the head brewers of the other top-tier Norwegian craft breweries before – nice to finally have a chat with Mike Murphy as well.

Next week it’s Anders Kissmeyer and Nøgne Ø at Cafe Sara/Verkstedet. Definitely the place to be in Oslo.

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I have looked into the crystal ball. I see 50 new Norwegian breweries in 2015.

There are around 120 active breweries in Norway today, I guess about 20 of them established during 2014. But things are not slowing down. My guess there will be 50 new breweries with a public licence to sell their beers in 2015.

 

I have gone through public records, newspaper clipping, Facebook pages etc. Here are 38 new breweries who are likely to start brewing in 2015, listed by county. As usual, they are scattered around the country, most of them starting up as very small scale brewpub ventures. I welcome all corrections to the list, and hope there is a fair number of omissions, too..

 

Some of these have a local licence to sell beer in-house only, others have a national permit and may sell their beers through shops, bars and restaurants. Note that there are a few destilleries starting up, too, they are not included, neither are cider makers. Nedre Foss Gård in Oslo will , as far as I know, have both a brewery and a distillery.

 

Daglighallen Mikrobryggeri in Trondheim. Already open!

Akershus

Ale by Alex, Fet

Wettre Bryggeri, Asker

 

Buskerud

Aja Bryggeri, Tranby

Eiker Ølfabrikk, Mjøndalen

Skjenkestua pub Drammen

Svensefjøset, Lier

Nøsterud Gård, Svelvik

Låven Mikrobryggeri, Sylling

 

Hedmark

Ølkjillarn, Folldal

 

Hordaland

Inside Voss Rock Cafe, Voss

Bergen Mikrobryggeri/Fribryggerlogen

Nøsteboden, Bergen

Modalen Ølbryggjarlag anno 2014, Modalen

 

Møre og Romsdal

Korn Bryggeri, Eresfjord, Nesset kommune

Bjørkavåg Brygg, Fiskarstrand,

Smøla Mikrobryggeri, Smøla

 

Nordland

Mormors Hus, Bøstad, Vestvågøy

 

Nord-Trøndelag

Eldhuset, Haugum Gård, Overhalla

Berg Gård, Inderøy kommune

Winkelmann Bryggeri, Hegra

 

Oppland

Villtotningen, Kolbu

Sve Gard, Vågå kommune

Kolonihagen, Hamar

 

Oslo

Nedre Foss gård, . ”Bellonahuset”

St. Hallvard

 

Sogn og Fjordane

Tya Bryggeri, Øvre Årdal

 

Sør-Trøndelag

Moe Nedre, Leinstrand, Trondheim

Kystbryggeriet Frøya, Dyrvik

 

Troms

Senja Handbryggeri

Stangnes bryggeri Tranøy

 

Vest-Agder

Hunsfos Bryggeri, Vennesla kommune

Farsund Brewing Company, Farsund

Bryggerhuset (Bekkereinan), Kvinesdal

 

Østfold

MikroMeyer, Spydeberg

Mølla Brygghus, Fredrikstad

Taraldrud gård, Marker kommune

 

Svalbard

Svalbard Bryggeri, Longyearbyen

Trappers Brewhouse, Longyearbyen

 

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Those of you who have followed this blog from the early days know that I have been a friend of Haandbryggeriet from their very early days. Established in 2005, four home brewing friends started up in a few tiny rooms in what used to be a stocking factory. They moved to larger premises in 2011, but they have already outgrown them, so they have set up a spanking new brewery, but they still stay in their home town Drammen. This is an area with a rich industrial heritage, so there is no big surprise that they once again occupy a building with a history of other activity.

Room for a few pints

They have come quite a long way in less than ten years!

There was an opening party for the new brewery this week, they are ready to take on the huge domestic demand, particularly from the supermarkets. It’s good to see that the first generation of Norwegian micro breweries have managed to expand and thrive. Everything looks sunny now, but there have been lean years as well.

The investment in the new brewery is about 14 million kroner, while their turnover in 2013 was 22 million.

More room for barrel aging, too.

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Ego brygghus is one of the many new breweries established in Norway this year, and they have established themselves with high quality beers from the very start. I visited some months ago, and head brewer Christer was very clear that he would not compromise on quality – they will only sell beers they can really stand behind.

 

Halvor Lindrupsen and Christer Edvartsen at Ego Brygghus

Ego is located in Fredrikstad, Østfold, the southeastern corner of Norway.

 

Their first batches showed the scope, two IPAs, a rye IPA, a pale ale, a stout and a wheat ale. They brew 500-700 liter batches.

The production in 2014, with only six months of actual brewing, will end up at around 20000 liters, while the aim for 2015 is at least to double that. The best sellers so far have been A Damn Fine Coffee IPA and Reign in Citra – a single hop pale ale. The number of beers is approaching 20, so it is a challenge to follow this as long as they have a limited distribution.

 

The plan was to aim for the pub restaurant market with both kegs and bottles, but Ego is now ready to move into both supermarkets and Vinmonopolet – the state monopoly stores. The first supermarket beer is a saison. They had plans for an unfiltered pilsener as well, but they were not happy with the first batch, so we’ll probably have to wait until the new year for that one. They have a new distribution deal with Strag, which has a number of solid brand names in their portfolio, including the Erdinger beers. I think both sides can profit from a partnership with a Norwegian craft brewery.

 

The Ego beers do not aim for the extreme, they are drinkable and accessible. This does not mean bland beers, there is plenty of flavor and bitterness, My current favourite is their Black Chocolate IPA. Dark brown, with very inviting aroma, berries and a hint of cocoa. Bittersweet flavor, roasted grain and herbal hops. The chocolate or cocoa is there, but not in an intrusive way.

A spotless brewery

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I’ve lost count. We all have. There are new Norwegian breweries popping up every week or so, in the most unlikely places. The beers? The good, the bad and the bland. Don’t get me wrong, there is room for both the good and the bland.

I rarely write about the truly bad breweries. There are a few, usually there are people who wanted a novelty for their pub without any interest, let alone passion, for the styles, the nuances and the flavors of beer. This is a place where your are likely to find someone behind the bar who do not actually like beer, but they would happily down a Kopparberg alcopop or two.

Then you have breweries who aim for a local market, and who don’t want to alienate their public. But that is no excuse for being lazy. You can still aim for flavourful and balanced beers with more character than the industrials, who taste of summer meadows and amber grain. Beers that leave refreshment at the bottom of your half liter glass, yet leaves enough bitterness on your tongue to make you consider another round.

And I have respect for those who have ambitions. Who dare to take up a second mortgage on their house to expand production, who dare to quit their day job to follow their dream. There are a few in the second tier of the Norwegian craft breweries. Not up to the volume and experience of Nøgne Ø and Haandbryggeriet, Ægir, Kinn or Lervig. But some of them will soon be snapping at their heels.

Austmann, Lindheim, Nøisom, Ego, Balder, Voss, 7 Fjell and Veholt are the names I want to mention. Scattered around the coast, each with their own profile, which I hope they will continue to develop. Right now the supermarkets are eager for local beers, I also hope there will be enough outlets in pubs, bars and restaurants for these quality brews. It would probably make sense for some of them to cooperate on distribution,

Then we have another category where I find it hard to have much enthusiasm. These are beers that claim to have local or national identity, but where, like the industrial giants, the marketing is more important than the beer and the brewing. I have no membership in any nostalgic organisations condemning giant corporations, and I have no ill feelings towards those who drink their Stellas (as long as they don’t beat their wives). But I have some resentment towards those who take me for a fool.

There are several companies who are riding the crest of the beer boom right now who claim to be breweries, but are not. Local journalists write, starry-eyed, about local lads make good without asking where the beers actually come from. One of these companies was launched in the summer of 2012. The uncompromised nature of Norway in a bottle is their slogan. The problem? The beers are brewed in England.

Then there is a newcomer claiming allegiance to a gentrified but traditional industrial area of Oslo, launching industrial lagers in supermarkets and aiming for a slice of Carlsberg’s market. At last, Oslo gets its own beer, they boast. Christmas beer brewed with local ingredients, says one of the local newspapers.

Two problems. One: There are several breweries in Oslo, two of them have bottling lines and already distribute a range of beers. Two: They beers are, for the time being, not brewed in Oslo, but in Arendal, on the southern coast. Sure, they are building a brewery. But if they are half as successful as they hope to, they will not have the capacity to brew on a large-scale on the premises. So the local connection is dubious.

Carlsberg has a half-hearted attempt to cash in on the local card as well. They bought up a number of breweries around the country decades ago and closed them down, while keeping some of the brand names. They have the nerve to market beers like Nordlandspils or Tou as ”local beers”, overlooking the fact that they are all brewed in Oslo.

I don’t mind contract brewing. I don’t mind gypsy brewers. But when I buy food and drink I want honesty about where it is produced. Particularly when geography is a major part of the marketing campaign.

Bu maybe I’m old fashioned.

The real thing (at Austmann)

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(English text at the end)

20 minutter med buss på gode veier bringer deg til Follebu i Gausdal kommune, et sted jeg må innrømme jeg ikke hadde noe forhold til fra før. Jeg prøver imidlertid å følge med på alle etableringer av mikrobryggerier i Norge, så jeg visste det var aktivitet på stedet. Saloon 7null4 er navnet, og da jeg tok kontakt på e-post ble jeg ønsket velkommen. Jeg fikk til og med tilbud om å bli hentet på bussholdeplassen, noe som kom godt med på en sur oktoberettermiddag.

Jeg blir tatt imot av Amund Heggen og Vidar Kalløkken, som entusiastisk forteller om puben og bryggeriet.

Amund har kontroll i baren

Dette er en hobbyaktivitet for de tre involverte, men det betyr ikke at det ikke er lagt ned mange arbeidstimer i prosjektet. Bryggeri og pub er innredet i et uthus, der både låve og fjøs er tatt i bruk. Man kan bare gjette hvor mange timer som er brukt til nedvasking, snekring, isolering, maling og innredning. Her er det plass til opp til 400 gjester, og det er travelt fra nå og frem til nyttår med julebord og andre arrangementer. Det serveres Ringnes pils også, på en typisk kveld går det 250 liter eget øl og litt mer Ringnes.

Det er av og til åpne pubkvelder, men det lokale markedet er begrenset, så det aller meste av omsetningen er lukkede selskaper.

Fra melk til øl – Vidar har hovedansvar for bryggingen

Bryggeri og lagringstanker er også preget av ombruk, men det er bestilt nytt utstyr fra Kina som vil gi bedre kapasitet.

Vidar er den som driver mest med brygging, og han kan tilby smaksprøver på et stort spekter av øl. Her er det lyse lagerøl, men også pale ale, IPA, en red ale og en brown ale. Dette er ikke ekstremøl, men varianter som skal treffe et bredt publikum – og det har de lyktes med. Det er spesielt imponerende at nivået er så godt når Vidar forteller at ingen av dem har drevet med hjemmebrygging før de satte i gang!

Ølene ble tatt godt imot på en ølfestival på Tretten i sommer, et av dem ble faktisk kåret til publikumsfavoritt.

Så langt er ølene bare å få kjøpt på deres egen pub. Men det ligger en søknad om løyve hos Helsedirektoratet, og da satser man på å levere på flaske til utesteder på Lillehammer. Et sted å spørre er Nikkers.

En spesialitet de serverer i tillegg til ølet er meskebrød – et velsmakende flatbrød bakt med mesk fra bryggingen. En idé for andre bryggerier?

Det begynner å bli en del bryggerier i dette området nå, man kunne kanskje vurdere litt organisert ølturisme?

Mye arbeid når fjøs skal bli til pub

20 minutes by bus from Lillehammer brings you to the small community Follebu and Saloon 7null4. Three enthusiasts have started a brewpub in an old barn. It is a small scale operation, they have all kept their day jobs, but with new equipment coming in, they hope to expand a bit. There is a licence pending to sell beer to others, and they have a few places in Lillehammer ready to sell their beers.

They brew a wide range of beers, lager, pale ale, IPA, porter etc. This is not the place to come for extreme beers, but what you get is fresh, tasty and with more flavour than the industrial brewers usually offer.

They brew 250 liter batches, mostly with an ABV of about 4.5%. Well worth a visit, but get in touch with them first, as they do not have regular opening hours.

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