Lots of non-beery things going on in the run up to the holidays, there are trees to be bought, cards to be sent, dinners to be planned, end of term events at school and at work. And it is pitch dark, just above freezing with a drizzle of rain, meaning it hardly gets light even at midday. Time to pick up the latest Rankin book and a decent beer when the day is done.
There are some nice side effects of being a blogger, too. (No, there are still too few breweries sending me beer!) I was contacted aboutattending a beer event in Romania, aiming at educating the country’s journalists about beer styles, beer tasting and beer history. Too bad I don’t have time for activities like that – I have a day job and a family. I was very happy to help out when one of the mid sized US craft breweries asked me to point them in the right direction to find a Norwegian importer recently. I hope this can lead to something, as soon as there are concrete results I will let you know.
As I told you recently, the beer scene here in Norway is generally improving. I popped into Bar & Cigar last night, and it is very nice to see the Nøgne ø industrial chic beer engine on the counter and their porter available on tap. In addition they have the Haandbryggeriet Ardenne Blond on cask, which is a rare treat hereabouts. It’s been on for quite some time and it is probably past its prime, but it still has a wonderful hoppy aroma and the flavour is far better than any alternatives on tap around town.
Ole Gunnar, who is running the bar, is very pleased with the new beer range. He is rotating keg beers from Nøgne ø, one 40 litre keg sold out in two days.
Nøgen ø is now distributing keg beer to a number of bars in Oslo and the rest of the country, so this is really promising. They are switching to disposable 20 litre containers, which makes the logistics much easier and ensures that there will be a new beer on very often.
I talked briefly to a man who has been involved with Vinmonopolets beer range. He was proud that they increased the range from about a dozen in 2002 to 60 in 2006, buthe is not optimistic aboutthe future developments. There is no knowledge or passion for beer in the system, and the corporate leadership all have their background from general retail chains now, with no specialist knowledge about the products they are selling.
There are some new Nøgne ø beers that have yet to find their way into the Vinmonopolet lists, luckily they are now turning up in bars around the country. Recent reports say that Olympen is the best bet of finding those gems in Oslo. The best beer bar in Norway is Cardinal in Stavanger, which I am yet to visit. Both those bars have the new Dugges/Nøgne ø collaboration, which is a beer inspired by the obscure Finnish sahti style. I’ll have to find time to visit Olympen soon!