Archive for July, 2008

There are breweries who churn out one or two beers in large quantities, year after year. Others have a steady, but broad range.

Newcomers Inderøy Gårdsbryggeri, who have been praised both by me and by the Beer Nut, are not content with that. Just a few months after their launch, they have three new beers on offer.

Kvitweiss, a lovely pun if you understand Norwegian, is, obviously, a wheat beer. Cloudy yellow, fine head. Fresh citrus combined with soft wheat malt. Kölsch-like fruitiness, peaches and orange. Very refreshing, and a nice summer beer.

Their Hommeløl, inspired by English Special Bitter, is hazy brown with low carbonation. A round malty body, a little thin, perhaps. Some more strength would have lifted this, but that’s Norwegian legislation for you. Splendid use of hops giving an aroma of dusty roadside summer flowers.

The Farmannsøl is an oatmeal stout. It is fairly light, a bit sweet, with a flavour of soot and burned toast. Long aftertaste of roasted malt. Well suited after a journey, for a party or for a cozy evening, the label says, and who am I to argue?

These beers are hard to find, your best bet is directly from the brewery or from a few hand picked pubs in thea area, including Naboens in Trondheim. But as the word spread, I hope they will be given national distribution, at the very least in some speciality shops.

Three more from Inderøy

Three more from Inderøy

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A short conversation

At Trondhjems Mikrobryggeri:

-Is your summer beer the same recipe as last year?

The barman, scratching his head slightly:

-Well, yes, to be honest, it tastes even less than the pilsener.

-Probably not the beer for me, then.

-Well, lots of our customers like it!

-Give me an IPA, then…

Trodhjems sommerøl

Trondhjems sommerøl

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Migårds øl

Midgårds øl

I did not go far enough to see the midnight sun, but even blow the Arctic Circle the nights are brighter than a December day. If you sit outside, you can easily read a newpaper even at midnight.

And, if there is no interesting beer to be had locally, you’ll have to bring your own. This bottle of Midgårds Øl, brewed by the Ørbæk brewery, was bought on my recent trip to Denmark, and it possibly more suited for other seasons. It is flavoured with mead, and has a fine honey and flower aroma. It is sweet and warming, with a quite soft palate. Some spices, a little pepper. It has a high alcohol content, 9,4%, and is best before it heats up, so this bottle was definitely for sharing – the sweetness can probably be a bit too much if you have a second glass. A hazy peach color.

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While I write rather short and uninformed blog posts on things beery, often with blurry photos as the main attraction, others really put some effort into their writing. Some of them even have in-depth knowledge on the topics they cover.

The Zythophile has a very interesting post about Irish and Scottish heather ales, showing connections to a Viking past.

Alan writes in defence of corn, pointing out that it can be something more than a cheap industrial ingredient.

And, veteran writer David Bell, who is Stonch‘s father, writes about rural English pubs so seductively it has you reaching for your hiking boots.

The Bologna beer scene

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There is an article in the English section of Aftenposten online which covers the Norwegian beer prices and gives some figures on consumption as well.

Since 1996, wine sales in Norway have nearly doubled, while beer sales have increased around 10 percent.

No crisis here as yet, and there is no reason for Carlsberg to cry, either, this must be one of the core markets where they can fleece the consumers to get the money to conquer Russia.

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Check the prices!

The 10 Euro lager

The 10 Euro lager

The Norwegian summer is short and hectic, and people tend to congregate at the prime watering holes whenever the sun pokes through. The locals come armed with their credit cards, prepared to pay what it costs. For foreign visitors, though, be prepared to pay 10 Euro for a 0.5 liter glass on the waterfront. If you seek out a more quiet place, the prices are more humane. There is an online list of places to avoid here.

People tend to blame the taxes, but the profit margins are high. The alcohol duty on a 80 kroner beer is about 8,50, and the brewery takes 17,50. You should be able to save up a bit for a rainy day on the difference.

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Eider houses

Eider houses

Or almost.

If the postings here seem a bit erratic, it is because it is vacation time, and I have spent two weeks on the coast of Northern Norway. Not a beery destination at all, Nordland county is one of the few without any micro breweries at present, but there are other things to do.

Like an excursion to Lånan, a group of tiny islands where they are keeping the heritage alive, harvesting eggs and down from eider ducks. Lånan is not inhabited during the winter, but when spring arrives, the eider keepers are there to prepare houses where the ducks can make their nests safe from predators of various kinds.

Eider down

Eider down

A lovely place on a sunny day in July, but imagine spending the winters there with nothing to protect you from the storm and rain sweeping in from the Atlantic. The highest point is just a few feet above sea level, and there is no vegetation to give shelter. Yes, there is fish in the ocean, but you can hardly blame people leaving for the mainland some decades ago.

A few families keep the tradition alive, taking care of the birds, cleaning the down and making the most exclusive duvets you can think of. There are about 500 birds nesting in man-made shelters, which gives a yield of a dozen duvets per year. Cleaning the down by hand takes about a week per duvet, and to buy one you’ll have to pay about 5000 Euros.

There are excursions from the main island Vega to Lånan every week during the summer, and the locals guide you around tell you about the traditions and serve you a nice meal.

Yes, there are eider eggs in the waffles!

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All aboard!

The Golden Lion Inn, Llangynhafal

The Golden Lion Inn, Llangynhafal

Six pubs in Denbighshire, Wales, organized a joint beer festival last weekend and, as they are spread along the vale of Clwyd , they wereoffering a bus service between the pubs. An all day bus ticket cost the same as a pint of beer.

Cunningly, there was a list of the beers on offer during the festival, but they did not tell you which beers  to be found in each pub.

A good concept, and I presume a good way of checking out if they’ve had one pint too many is to ask them to pronounce Llangynhafal.

This story is nicked from the BBC. The photo is nicked from the web site of the pub.

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One more Prague pub

Zlaty RozenI’m strolling along Ceskoslovenske armady, the Czechoslovakian army street,  in northern Prague when I notice a sign promising beer from the Cerna Hora brewery. Since 1530, it claims. I had a few of their beers in Dublin recently, and that was really good stuff, so it is tempting to try them on their own turf. And, for once, there is a beer place that is not on ratebeer or in Evan’s book.

I decide to look inside the Zlaty Rozen, and it turns out to be a cellar restaurant. Five beers from the Cerna Hora on tap plus eight in bottles. And one of the beers on tap is the unpasteurized yeast beer.

There are families having a meal here, a few bureaucrats or businessmen. There is a sinister building on the other side of the street that looks like it belongs to the Ministry of Defense, so perhaps they work there.

Rather loud music. The decor is partly old brewery photos, partly seventies COMECON style.

The sklepni, the unfiltered beer, has a head like whipped cream. It is soft and smooth, then the hops creep up on you. Subtle, rather than an explosion of taste. Long lingering bitterness in the finish.

One more? The Granatis a pitch dark beer with a beige head. Roasted malt, bread crust, like when you left the bread in the oven ten minutes too long. A sooty sourness that plays along with the sweet malt. Truly great.

I must be on my way. I google the place, and see it has won several pub awards and has an excellent English web site. Not so obscure after all, eh? And no awards for the photos today, I did not have any intentions about focusing on the Chivas bottle!

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BrewDog Anniversary ParadoxThe good people over at BrewDog have outdone themselves. The left some of the beer from their first batch to age for 12 months in a single Bowmore 1968 cask. They bottled this in April, but you don’t have much hope to get your hands on this one, as only 200 bottles were made. Thie Anniversary Paradox comes with a specially designed label and a certificate of authenticity.

Your best bet would be to try to get a bottle from the Swedish Systembolaget, where the beer is released in Mid-July, probably a few bottles each in their flagship stores in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. They charge 480 kroner for this – about 60 Euros.

As for me, I got a package from the brewery. The customs declaration said Yeast sample for analysis, which is stretching it a bit, but not totally untrue.

I’ll keep this in the cellar for some weeks, and I’ll let you know how it tastes.

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