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Fancy an Austmann beer?

It’s beer festival time. I try not to envy people flying off to Bergen, Borefts, Stavanger – or planning for a week of drinking at the 2015 Copenhagen Beer Celebration.

I limited myself to the Grünerløkka Brygghus festival last weekend, and I made a point of being there early on Saturday afternoon. Lots of friendly brewers represented, particularly nice to have a chat with the guys from out of town – Austmann, Lindheim, Voss, and Halden. The festival took place in the brewery itself, giving a nice, rustic, down-to-earth atmosphere. They have chosen to keep this a small event, year after year, and as a drinker, I applaud this.

Voss and Lindheim. The plums were as good as the brews!

Sensible sampler sizes, and lots of interesting beers. A very pleasant raspberry gose from Lindheim, a spicy 13% imperial stout on cask from Nøgne Ø, two wild yeast beers from Halden. But the star of the show was the traditional ale from Voss, brewed with an old yeast strain that’s been used in home brewing in the area and was saved in the nick of time. The beer is rather sweet and malty, as they have used a very low amount of hops to let the yeast be the star.I’ll have to get back to this one to make better tasting notes.

Several of the breweries report good sales of takeaway beers, filling up growlers at their brewery shop.

 

 

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On the sunny side

When your expectations are low, the potential is better for nice surprises. Great beaches, a lovely house, good food.

And the supermarket up the road has more than just pale Portugese lagers.

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Just in time to get an overview on the Belgian beer scene before my trip next week, here is the new edition of the Good Beer Guide Belgium. The seventh edition. Author Tim Webb is joined by another well known beer writer this time around, Joe Stange.

I have plenty of beer books. Even a few half-read beer books. So it’s not that i grasp every opportunity to buy new ones. But this one really deserves its place on the shelf – and in your suitcase. It is too big to fit in a standard jacket pocket, but there is nothing in here that I would have removed.

There are chapters on Belgian history, on getting around, on food, and on brewing. But the bulk of the book is of course given to the breweries, their beers and where to buy them or drink them. There is even a section on where to drink Belgian beer outside Belgium.

There is not much space available for each brewery, but there is enough to point you in the directions you want to go.

But this is not only a useful book. It is also a good read. When the authors point to the weird tradition in cafes around Liège of adding honey to beer, they dryly comment: You must try this, for the same reason that children must burn themselves at least once on hot metal.

And I love this description: …. a high-carbonation, pungent blond barley wine that pours like sticky Champagne, with elements of marzipan and aftershave.

So, go ahead, buy it. For armchair travellers, newbies and those of us who already have lost most of our enamel to the wonders of the lambics.

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There have been some newspaper reports lately about the beer prices at Oslo airport, which are the highest in the land. This should not coame as a surprise to anyone. The beer prices at the airport is always more expensive than in town. A plass of Pilsener Urquell at Prague airport is astronomical if you compare it to a baskstreet cafe in town.

The Director General of the Norwegian Competition Authority is interviewed in the major business daily Dagens Næringsliv. She, unsurprisingly, wants more competition.  

I wrote a letter to the editor in Dagens Næringsliv, quoting Evan Lewis, forunder and head brewer at Ægir brewery. He sais a few days ago that there is one term in the Norwegian language he strongly dislikes. It is en halvliter, literally half a liter. (The English equivalent  obviously a pint. In Sweden they call it en stor stark, a big strong)

It is the generic term for a beer. If you walk into a pub, you traditionally ask for en halvliter. What you get is the standard pale lager available on tap in the establishment. (If it is noisy, you just signal with your fingers how many halvlitere you want, so no conversation need to take place.

Evan asked the question: Would you go into a restaurant and ask for one food?

His point is that things are changing. Many consumers go for quality, not for quantity.

When the Director General of the Competiton Authority raises the question of  how to increase competiton to get lower beer prices, what she discusses is wether we sould pay niney or one hundred kroner for a halvliter of Carlsberg. Real competiton would mean that we could choose between a broad range of beers, domestic and imported.

And if the beer is good, we don’t mind paying premium prices.

You know what? They printed it yesterday.

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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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The city where I was born and grew up, Trondheim, has lagged behind when it comes to beer. The scene is dominated by Carlsberg subsidiary E.C. Dahls bryggeri, and they have not shown any signs of innovation for decades (if ever?). I am happy to report that things are rapidly changing.

There is an annual food festival in Trondheim at the beginning of August, showcasing regional produce, including fish and game, fruit and vegetables, cheeses and preserves. I have blogged briefly about this before, suggesting that beer should be included as a part of the festival. A few of the micro breweries in the region are brewed on farms, so they fit very well in, and they are finding their way into some of the stalls, both Inderøy and Klostergården beers are to be found in the main festival area.

New this year is a separate beer festival, Trondheim Bryggerifestival. In a separate tent and with a 100 kroner entrance fee, you get to sample a fine range of beers, most of them Norwegian. Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet, Ægir and Kinn are there, so you get the best of the established national craft breweries. But there are two others that merit special attention.

I blogged about Klostergården Håndbryggeri after my visit there in May. They have brought along a splendid range of brews for the festival, from a highly refreshing summer beer at 4.5% ABV to a barley wine aged in bourbon barrels at 12.5%. My current favourite among Norwegian breweries.

There is also a brand new micro in Trondheim, who will have national distribution from the very start. Austmann Bryggeri go for sessionable beers with a moderate alcohol level. They had two different saisons and a brown ale on tap yesterday, all very respectable.

The festival is staffed by volunteers, but several of the breweries are presnt, giving talks and hanging out to talk to the drinkers.

Some minor details could be adjusted. I’d like a souvernir glass instead of plastic samples, and a full beer list with descriptions would also be welcome. But the important thing is that the festival is there to promote craft beer in the region, I hope they draw enogh people to make this an annual event.

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 Leiberheim portal

I have to admit I found this is a guidebook covering the best beer gardens of the region. It was (rather) conveniently placed, and it does not offer beers from the big players in Münich, but rather the smaller Erharting brewery, a brewery owned by the same family from the start in 1872.

Leiberheim is located in the Southeastern suburb Neubiberg, I advise you to print a map before you start your expedition. The less techically challenged can probably find their way using their mobile phone.

The sprawling Biergarten is in the middle of a residential area. No table service, at least not in the main garden, you place your order and pay at the counter.

One peculiarity of the Bavarian beer garden law (yes, there is one, but it is far younger than the Reinheitwsgebot, is that people are permitted to bring their own food in the beer gardens. What you typically see is one area with tablecloths and cutlery, one with just plain wooden benches and tables. This means that families bring their own baskets, with the ladies arranging impressive displays of Tupperware boxes of homemade food.

I go for two small glasses, wanting to sample two beers instead of just one Mass. I felt like a sissy, obviously, this is a place where the full liter glass is the custom.

Ther Erharting Helles is nice and crisp. I’d call it a pilsener, but don’t tell anyone, they might have to take out the hops. Liquid bread, to use a cliché.

The Erharting Dunkelweisse is sweet, malty, full bodied and earthy. But malty beers can be boring, the hoppiness would have been as welcome in this beer.

Ten or fifteen minutes to the S-bahn station. Low Dirndl  factor.

If there were other foreigners around, they were not noticeable. No signs or menus in English or Japanese. Well worth the walk and the time. Bring along a book and spend the afternoon.

Leiberheim customer

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