Archive for October 14th, 2007

While in London, I picked up two bottles from the Left Hand brewing company in Colorado, a new aquaintance for me. According to their brilliant web site, they have nine regular beers available, and I selected two stouts from opposite ends of the spectrum – their Milk Stout and their Imperial Stout. The Milk stout is a little over 5%, the Imperial Stout is 10% ABV.

The Milk Stout is smooth, with charcoal and a little chocolate. It is very dark red, the head is like milk chocolate. Long lingering, rather sweet and, yes, milky, aftertaste. I enjoyed this. It stands out among other session stouts, and I imagine this would be fine with food.

The bigger sibling, almost twice as strong, shares some of the same flavours, but there is a vinous edge and a warming from the alcohol which show that this is a totally different brew.

It is interesting to see how two beers both can be labelled stout and be at opposite ends of the spectrum. If you want a sixpack of something on a sunny afternoon, avoid anything labeled imperial. But if you want a warming glass for when the leaves are falling, the Left Hand Imperial Stout is the thing. Lovely liquorice in the finish, too!

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A half-hearted festival

There was a beer festival here in Oslo yesterday, and I met up with my old friend Per Christian to see what was on offer. This event was organised by the Student’s Society, and the advance information was rather meagre, apart from the plan to offer “more than 100 beers”. The festival was supposed to slide into a Bavarian style Octoberfest in the evening, so we went there right after opening time in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and the glories of Norwegian youth not being able to carry their booze.

The positive aspects first: There was probably not a range of a hundred beers on offer, but to be fair, most of the import beers generally available on the market were present. That means a good range of Belgian, German, British and Danish beers. The measures were very generous, I had the equivalent of a bottle of Midtfyen Ale for about a fifth of the price I would have paid in the government monopoly shop. And, because of the low prices, I got to sample some of the more odd brews, like a low carb beer being brewed in Germany for the Norwegian market.

There were a few hundred beer lovers in small groups, with a good age mix. There was even a decent brass band on stage.

On the other hand, this venue is the total opposite of the coziness I blogged about the other day. It is a large basement room more akin to places where German dictators end their lives than to anything you would associate with Gemütlichkeit.

A few of the Norwegian macro breweries were there, but with nothing new. One would have thought that the local arm of Carlsberg could have imported some of the rarer brews form Copenhagen, but they hadn’t bothered. The staff at the Foster’s stand had the highest cleavage factor, which was in danger of overshadowing the fact that they also had a few Samuel Adams beers. Not the most exciting of the range, it must be said, another pale lager was perhaps not what we were praying for.

The biggest draw was the stand of the importer Strag, which offered the range of beers mentioned above, including some nice stuff form Samuel Smith, Orval, Belhaven etc.

The Norwegian micro breweries were totally absent. I don’t know if this was due to high rents, lack of promotion from the organisers or other factors. But you cannot rally call it a beer festival in 2007 without having some of the new and exciting domestic brewers present. If they do that next year, it would be a nice improvement. And maybe the concrete in the bunker could be painted over and the lights could be replaced with something less garish?  

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