Like all other Norwegian town of some size, the local beer market in Bergen has been dominated by one brewery, in this case Hansa. They have generally moved with the crowd, sticking to the usual range of lagers with the pils as the dominating beer. They have in more recent years merged with Borg brewery in another part of the country, but they are still brewing outside Bergen. They have a slogan similar to Brains of Cardiff – Brewed in the rain.
Before they grew to their present size, Hansa was located at Kalfaret, at walking distance from the centre of town. While moving out, they kept some of the old buildings, and last year they opened a micro brewery in one of them, Kalfaret Bryghus.
The brewpub is stylish, if not very original, it is the same post industrial chic as most brewpubs with tiled floor, copper brewing vessels and brass beer engines. They have a small Hansa museum on the premises, showing some of the highlights of the brewing history. A nice touch.
A very friendly barman pours me samples of the five beers on offer, and tells me right away that they are not too pleased with their wheat beer. They have just ordered yeast from Weienstephan, and hope this will improve it. There is nothing particularly wrong with the beer, but it is rather boring, with no characteristic wheat beer aroma – neither citrus nor banana.
Their pils is a bit bland, too. Soft and round, with a little nice bitterness in the finish.
The pale ale has aromatic hops, flowers and a little dust. Some bitterness and an almost oaky finish-
The bayer has a decent body, caramel sweetness, but it is a bit too watery, with a short finish. Almost there.
Finally, the Bock is a bit stronger than the other beers, lifting it to another level. It is true to type, sweet and sour, malty, not too heavy. Lovely dark ruby, too.
The bar has a decent selection of bottled beers, including some good stuff from Nøgne ø and Haandbryggeriet. Their list even includes the Dark Horizon from Nøgne ø at 1000 kroner for a bottle, (that’s $200) but that was sold out a few days ago. The best sellers among the bottled beers are Rochefour and Samuel Smith’s Porter.
The general public tend to prefer the pils. This is brewed with Hansa yeast, giving the locals a familiar taste profile.
The verdict? An inviting brewpub with a good range of beers fro Norway, with a friendly manager who knows his stuff. The beer was too much on the safe side for me – I know that the market will generally go for the lager range, but one experimental beer would be a nice addition to the range. If you are in Bergen, it is definitely worth a visit. The 15 minute walk will do you good, too.
The pic on the bottom is from a film contiously shown in the museum.