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Archive for the ‘Norway’ Category

As well as blogging, I also hang around various other beer sites. In Scandinavia, we tend to go for RateBeer rather than Beer Advocate, and I am approaching Norwegian beer rating number 1000 on RB. I am not much of a ticker any more, but I enjoy following the Norwegian scene.

There are new beers every week now, and I do not pay good money for beers from breweries that tend to let me down. So I could have reached this milestone before.

But which one to pick for the big number?

It could have been a beer from one of the forerunners of the Norwegian craft scene. Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet, Ægir, Kinn or Lervig. One of the stars rapidly building a name like Austmann, Voss or Lindheim. A beer from one of my favourite brewpubs, Trondhjems Mikrobryggeri, Crowbar or Schouskjelleren.

But I picked Fjellbryggeriet Lun, a brown ale from a newcomer. They have made things even more difficult by going for the supermarket segment, staying below 4.7% ABV.

Lovely notes of roasted grain. Nuts, malt, coffee and chocolate. Clean and elegant. A most impressive beer from a new kid on the block. Well, they are new as commercial brewers. But their home page tells the story – 13 years as home brewers. So this is probably more than just beginner’s luck…

And located in the middle of the moutnains of Southern Norway, they also  fill in one of the blanks of the Norwegian beer map.

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Someone stole my beer photo.

There have been some weird sites that has taken whole blog posts and republished them, but there have been many years since I have discovered unauthorized use of my photos.

When I look back, there is a strong possibility that I have a general crappy level of photo quality, meaning there are far better sources for nicking beer pictures than this site.

But one of my readers is a brewer at Trondhjem Mikrobryggeri. And he must have a very good memory of photos. Photographic memory?  Because he spotted a photo of his beers. That had appeared in my blog post from last year. But he found it on the web site of the Hopvine Brewery in Aurora, Illinois.

 

Your beers?

Your beers?

 

This is my original photo:

 

 

Trondhjemsamples

 What’s wrong with their own beers? Don’t they look good enough?

I think someone in Aurora, Il. owes me a beer. Either the Hopvine guys. or the ones in IPC, who set up their website.

 You will find our friendly, no-nonsense method of doing business quite refreshing, says IPC.

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There are (far too) many books, museum exhibitions, concerts and performances connected to the bicentenary of the Norwegian constitution this year, a process that led to our total independence – if there is such a thing – in 1905.

The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History has a temporary exhibition in cooperation with Frederiksborg Slot in Denmark, compact enough to walk through in an hour or two, focusing on how Denmark and Norway was interwoven until the Napoleonic wars split the union.  The exhibition will also be shown in Copenhagen in the autumn, it is very much recommended, even if the web page in English tell next to nothing about it. Try a google translation of the Norwegian text  instead.

A traditional item at all Norwegian farms around 1800 was the beer bowl, passed around from man to man as they sat by the table. This one was painted by one of the members of the constitutional assembly, Eivind Lande, who represented Råbygdelaget in Aust-Agder, not far away from the present location of Nøgne Ø.

 

beer bowl

Cheers for the constitution!

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Håndverkerstuene has gone through some changes of management, but the kitchen is still very good – and the beer range is better than ever. Some of the imports, particularly the Belgians and Americans, are gone, what you find is an outstanding range of Norwegian and Nordic beers. 12 craft beers on tap a few days ago, 10 of them Norwegian, the other two also Scandinavian.

Handverkerstuene taps

This year they are challenging Norwegian breweries to come up with the best beer matches for various menus. Eight breweries are taking part in the quarter finals, Austmann vs Aass, Ringnes vs Nøgne Ø, Lervig vs Haandbryggeriet and Ægir vs Kinn. 

 

The two best meet in the final 22 September. The juries are the paying guests on the evening of each round. The loser of the final will brew a special brew for the winner.

Details about the challenge, the menus and tickets at the Bryggeribråk web site.

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And who is Ivar Aasen, you may wonder. There might be the occasional linguist outside the borders of Norway that will recognize the name, but otherwise, this is strictly a national figure. But hang on, this has some significance.

This is a new beer from Kinn bryggeri, located in a small town on the west coast of Norway. The beer is a barley wine or  byggvin in Norwegian, the first brew of this marked batch # 500 from the brewery.

The beer was brewed for the 200th anniversary of Ivar Aasens birth in 2013. Just a few decades ago, there would have been a wave of protests against using his name for anything associated with alcohol.

This year we are looking back at 200 years of Norway as a modern nation-state. In a union with Sweden at first, but with a parliament of our own and a constitution inspired by the revolutions in America and in France.

Building a national identity was a challenge for a poor country on the periphery of Europe. There were, basically two schools of thought. One wanted to develop things step by step, keeping Danish as a written language. Our most important contributor to modern world literature, Henrik Ibsen, wrote his plays in Danish, many decades later.

The alternative was to search for something uniquely Norwegian. This included painting, handicrafts, traditional music, national costumes, fairy tales and all that.

Ivar Aasen travelled through the country , collecting words and grammar from local dialects which made the basis for what is presently one of the two official written languages of Norway, nynorsk.

Nynorsk is traditionally connected with a broader movement of counter-culture in Norway. This also included religious associations and, particularly, the temperance movement.

This meant that social events in the areas dominated by this broad counterculture meant that nothing stronger than coffee would be served. The local communities traditionally dominated by these ideas were traditionally dry, some went to extreme measures allowing hotels to serve alcohol to tourists, but not to the local population.

Gradually, this has eroded. And even if nynorsk still has a stronghold in Sogn og Fjordane, the county where Kinn is brewing, they now expect the same worldly luxuries as the rest of us. Including alcohol. Which means that, 200 years later, Ivar Aasen gets his own beer.  There is even an oil field named after him.

So, how about the beer?

I got a taste of it from the brewer a year ago, but he did not feel that it was ready for release at the time. It is now available in the Vinmonopolet stores in the trade mark 0,7 liter bottles. This is a clear amber brew with a pearly carbonation, though I have heard rumours that the carbonation is a bit lower in one of the batches.

The beer is malty sweet, and it packs quite a punch at 10.5% ABV. It is a very complex beverage, with grass, nuts, basil and nutmeg. I even find notes of chocolate and strawberry jam. IT is lovely now, and will probably keep for many years in a good cellar.

Tis is a perfect match for a really mature cheese. Some Stilton or unpasteurized brie, perhaps. Or, here in Norway, Kraftkar.

 

Ivar Aasen bottle and glass

Skål for Ivar!

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Back in my old home town again, a few hours to spare. Two new beers at Trondhjem Mikrobryggeri, both of them keeping the high standard that they have those days, hoppy and well crafted. Later, I will have a chat with the guys running the pub and micro brewery at Studentersamfundet.

But I have heard rumours about beers from a new brewery available in a pub I’ve never visited. Though the place is very familiar. This building used to house a temperance hotel and cafeteria on one of the busiest street corners in town, Prinsenkrysset. Those days are gone, and it makes perfect sense to have a pub here, a very convenient place to meet.

Irish theme pubs is not an endangered species, and at first sight Cafe Dublin is no different. Pub grub, which seemed a bit pricey, beer engines with the usual suspects.

But when I talk to the man behind the bar, I recognise that he sim more committed than most. He has some bottles from the Rein brewery in the fridge, he has the O’haras Leann Follain from Carlow, an excellent Irish stout I’ve never spotted anywhere in Norway before. Austmann beers in bottles and on tap, too. The temperatures in the fridges have even been turend up for the more interesting beers.

It is not my favourite beer bar in Trondheim. But it is certainly worth looking in if you are passing by. Live music in the evening.

I haven’t learned to use my new camera yet, so no decent photos of the facilities.

The Reins beer? Not quite there. Going organic is not enough.

Reins Ale No 23

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I’m going through a period when the blog posts are more infrequent, but that does not mean that the Norwegian micro breweries are slowing down.

There are newcomers every month, my current estimate is 80 active breweries before Easter. Some are doing very well, their main headache is how to expand their capacity. Others are more a paid hobby, but they are cheered on by their local communities and newspapers. Even the supermarket chains allow more local products on their shelves in places where there were no outlets.

I am not terribly impressed by all the new ones. I think we will reach a saturation point for pale ales at 4.7% ABV at 50 kroner per bottle very soon. Yes, there is a segment in the market willing to pay a premium price for premium beer. But, frankly, everything out there is not of premium quality. Some have serious quality problems. Others are bland. And even the industrial brewers are waking up, launching top fermented ales.

But there are some rising stars, too. I would particularly point to Lindheim, a farmhouse brewery located in rural Telemark. So far I have only seen their beers on tap, but I assume they go for a broader distribution. They have already made collaboration brews with big names like Port Brewing and Lost Abbey, som they are definitely aiming for the big league.

Speaking of collaborations, they are happening everywhere. Haand/Närke, Lervig/Magic Rock, Austmann/Amundsen, Amundsen/Crowbar….

But the most important trend now is going back to the roots of Norwegian brewing. The key word is local malt, particularly from the Stjørdal region. There are already a few beers out, expect more to come during the year. These will cover a broad range from mild ales with just a hint of smoked malt added to robust ales filled with smoke and tar. Beers to look out for are Alstadberger, brewed in cooperation with Klostergården, Bøkerøkt form Larvik, Ørderøl from To Tårn and beers to be launched this week by Stjørdalsbryggeriet.

We are talking about beers with a pedigree going back through the centuries, when farmers grew their own barley and processed this into beer for Christmas, for funerals, weddings and baptisms. We have been lucky that a handful of farmers have kept this tradition alive.

Larvik To Taarn bottles

As smoky as it gets

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The booze taxi

I have often wondered about the logistics of the smuggling to Norway. Hard liquor is one thing, it does not take a brain surgeon to fill empty vodka bottles in bars and restaurants with bootleg substitutes. Beer, however, is more complicated.

Because it seems the smuggled beer is mostly Polish. No Norwegian labels, and the alcohol content is a bit above 5%, which is above the limit of the beers allowed to be sold in supermarkets.

But the market will find a way. The solution is the sprittaxi - the booze taxi. Among the teenagers, there are phone numbers circulating. Call them and place your order. Beer or harder stuff. And they have serious advantages over the competition:

  • No questions about ID showing your age
  • No restricted opening hours
  • Far cheaper than the legal alternatives

A six-pack of Tyskie will set you back 100 kroner. The cheapest six-pack of beer in a shop is about 150.

There are some run down kiosks  on the eastern side of town offering the same range of goods, too, according to my informant.

I am in no way encouraging this. There has been incidents of methanol poisoning in Norway fairly recently, just mention the health aspect. But one should not be too surprised  that when the price gap between countries with open borders gets too big, there are obvious opportunities for bootleggers. Something for the legislators to consider.

Tyskie

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(English summary at the end)

Nu klinger igjennem den gamle stad på nye en studentersang

Og alle man alle i rekke og rad stemmer opp under begerets klang

foto.samfundet.no

Jeg vet ikke om Smørekoppens visebok fremdeles er i hevd i det runde hus på Elgeseter i Trondheim. Det som er sikkert er at man fremdeles har et stort hus som rommer mange aktiviteter, basert på ildsjeler som gjerne ofrer et semester eller to på det som skjer i Studentersamfundet.

Dette var en viktig del av min ungdom, og omfattet både polariserte politiske debatter, konserter med de beste navnene man klarte å få lokket så langt unna allfarvei (Edgar Broughton Band, anyone?) og rett og slett rangling. Stort sett med EC Dahls pils.

Det rangles nok fremdeles, men i dag har man enda flere skjenkesteder, og med et ølutvalg man virkelig kan være stolt av. I forbindelse med UKA pusser man opp ulike deler av huset, og denne gang var tiden kommet til puben i Daglighallen, som nå fremstår i lekker engelsk pubstil med en øltavle som rommer det meste av det interessante som er å skaffe på det norske markedet.

UKA er over, og det er eksamenstid, men bryggmester Ulrik Bjerkeli har likevel tatt seg tid til en prat, og ikke minst å fortelle om høstens tilvekst, Daglighallens eget mikrobryggeri.

Og her snakker vi om et virkelig mikrobryggeri, det er snakk om et oppskalert hjemmebryggeri. Det brygges 120 liter av gangen, og de første seks batchene solgte ut på tre uker, men det var i forbindelse med UKA. Man har nå kommet til batch 14, og har hatt en APA, en Black IPA, en English Brown, en Ordinary Bitter og en Saison på programmet. En liten smak på det som befinner seg i tankene viser at her har man kommet godt i gang.

Ulrik kan fortelle at han også tenker på å brygge lagerøl. Samfundet har åpent noen måneder hvert semester, men er stengt både rundt nyttår og på sommeren. Da har man jo gode muligheter til å prøve seg på lagerøl som kan være klart tils ervering når aktivitetene tar seg opp igjen. Det er tradisjonelt solgt mye bayer i huset, og man kunne jo prøve å ha et hjemmebrygget alternativ til det som leveres fra Ringnes.

Samfundet er i stor grad basert på frivillig innsats, og det gjør jo at det ølet som brygges i huset også kommer svært gunstig ut økonomisk i forhold til øl som kjøpes inn.

I tillegg til egne øl, har Daglighallen også en imponerende tavle med mye fristende fra både inn- og utland.

The Student Society in Trondheim is owned and run by ilts members, currently almost 9000 of them. They own a house close to the biggest university campus, which is host to a broad specter of cultural activities. There is also a number of cafes and bars in the building, and one of these, Daglighallen, has evolved into a beer pub with an impressive list. This autumn they have even started a micro brewery.

It is a very small scale operation, brewing 120 liter batches, covering a number of ale types. There are also plans to brew lagers, and the ambitions are there to brew stronger beers and letting them age before serving them.

The head brewer, Ulrik Bjerkeli, has a background as a home brewer, but he has also worked a bit for Austmann Bryggeri, getting a feeling of how things are done on a larger scale.

The brewery is run by volunteers, meaning that the profit margin for their home brews is much nicer than for the beers they buy from the outside. Something to consider for voluntary organsiations elsewhere?

I sampled a few of the beers, and I particularly liked their Saison. I hope to be back in the new year to try a full glass of each of the beers in their range.

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(English text at the end)

Vest for Trondheim sentrum går Bynesveien langs fjorden forbi gamle oljetankanlegg og andre industribygg. Dette har nok vært et naturskjønt område, men nå er det preget av mange tiår med nyttefunksjoner som ikke setter et så vakkert stempel på omgivelsene.

Skal du besøke Austmann bryggeri, er det lurt å ha gjort en avtale på forhånd. En litt dårlig merket avkjørsel ned mot fjorden ender i to stengte porter.

Jeg blir tatt godt imot av Anders Cooper og  Vinko Lien Sindelar.

Ved inngangen er det lager for flasker og fat, ved mitt besøk er det et svært begrenset utvalg. I begynnelsen av desember er det meningen at ølet skal være ute i hyller, kjøleskap og på kraner.

I neste rom står ølet og godgjør seg på 900-liters tanker, og innerst finner vi de tre åpne gjæringskarene. Utstyret er kjøpt fra Kinn, men er tilpasset en del. Gjæren høstes og brukes på nytt, og blir i stadig bedre form. Det blir naturligvis et overskudd av gjær, så her har trønderske hjemmebryggere gode muligheter.

Selv om Austmann bare har vært i drift siden i sommer, er det brygget et titall øl, og de fleste av dem er allerede å finne på polets bestillingsliste. Det er ikke sikkert at alle øltypene blir videreført, samtidig mangler det ikke på planer for neste år. Det finnes en kjelleretasje der det står noen kegs med imperial stout, og der vil det komme trefat av ulike slag for å lage surøl og annet spennende.  

De meste populære øltypene så langt har vært en belgisk ale, Tre gamle damer og Northumberland, en brown ale. For egen del vil jeg vel trekke frem Bastogne (saison) og Blåbærstout.

Så langt har salget gått bra, og med et etterlengtet flaskeanlegg (installert etter mitt besøk) vil det bli mindre slitsomt å dekke etterspørselen. Det er selvfølgelig vanskelig å beregne markedet før man setter i gang, og man er jo i stor grad låst til det utstyret man investerer i, i alle fall på kort sikt. Dagens lokaler har en del å gå på når det gjelder lagerplass, og utstyret gir mulighet for kontinuerlig brygging, eventuelt ved å dele uken i to skift.

Jeg skrev innledningsvis om at industriområdet ikke nødvendigvis er det mest idylliske. Samtidig er det et potensiale for å sette opp bord og benker og ha servering nede på kaien. Og derfra er det en praktfull utsikt mot Munkholmen og byen. Hvem vet, kanskje det kan gjøre som på the Kernel i London, der man møtes på mandag formiddag for å ta en øl og spise frokost?

Selv om du ikke har veien innom Trondheim, er det vel verdt å prøve øl fra Austmann. De fleste ølene deres er å få på polet, og det er bare å be din favorittpub om å ta inn fatøl fra dem også. Jeg tror dette er en av nykommerne som vil klare seg i et stadig tøffere marked.

Many of the new breweries in Norway start on a very small scale, peddling their beers to local shops or bars. Austmann bryggeri in Trondheim, established this summer, have bigger ambitions. With loans from family and friends and a distribution deal with Beer Enthusiast, they managed to get a number of their beers listed with the state Vinmonopolet,  meaning that they have a full national distribution.

The brewery is located in an industrial area not far from Central Trondheim with a nice view of the Trondheim fjord.

The beer range includes Belgian ales, a saison, a blueberry stout, two IPAs, an amber ale, a wheat ale and three Christmas beers. The best sellers will stay on, others will be replaced with new beers.

The bottled beers are vital for distribution in the Vinmonopolet shops, but key kegs are important for the pub market.

The beers are brewed in open vessels bought from Kinn brewery, and they are well worth trying out. As Beer Enthisiast are now establishing themselves in several other coutnries, that might mean that some of their beers could turn up, at least in Sweden.

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