I’ve been seeking out small scale breweries across Northern Europe for a dozen years. Most of them are happy to open their doors, give me samples from their tanks and send me home with a bag of goodies. Sometimes we don’t find the time to meet, but we have a Messenger chat, exchange e-mails or have phone conversations.
I use the opportunities I have when I travel for business or leisure, and with close to 200 Norwegian breweries, there is a long list of microbreweries I want to visit in all parts of the country.
This summer I was able to seek out a few of them, and found eager brewers happy to tell me about their beers and how they fit in with food and other ways of making money.
But there is always a first. In Sømna, the gateway to Northern Norway, father and son Trond and Bård have started Nordgården Gårdsbryggeri. I get in touch with Bård, and he tells me his father is at the brewery the day we are driving by.
It’s a beautiful summer day, the brewery is located on an idyllic farm a few kilometers away from the main road, there is a nice beer garden in front of the house.
I get a rather lukewarm greeting. I explain what I am doing, show a copy of my book, and tell him I try to keep a total overview of all Norwegian breweries, and I’d like to have photos and descriptions of his beers in my book.
- I’d don’t want to be a part of your book, Trond tells me.
- -But you have a license to brew, you sell your beers here and elsewhere, and even have a pub in your garden?
- Sure. But the beers are not where I want them to be yet. If you print descriptions, they will be out of date too soon.
- But this is an opportunity for publicity and I’m not charging you for this?
Trond makes it perfectly clear that he is in no way ready to present his beers in any book project in the foreseeable future. There is no point in stretching out my visit, he makes no gesture of putting the kettle on. He is in no way comfortable about my visit. But he allows me to take a few photos for web use. And I persuade him to trade a few bottles for a copy of last year’s book.
I’ve later tasted the beers, and I have to admit he has a point. The beers taste like home brew. Perfectly drinkable home brew, but nothing outstanding compared to other beers you find in Norwegian supermarkets. Maybe it’s right to wait a few years before I get back to him. Or at least until next summer…