Archive for January, 2009

Stick to beer

I assume that most of my readers, belonging to the more educated part of the global village, follow the leading academic journals in most fields. Some of you might, however, have overseen an article indicating that the intake of caffeine may cause hallucinations. Yes, that is right. Large amounts of coffee, tea, chocolate or energy drinks increases the risk of hearing voices, seeing ghosts and whatever.

So, if you are being abducted by aliens or otherwise experience things your rational side cannot explain, you should cut down your coffee intake.
Yet another reason to advocate moderate beer consumption instead of other beverages…..

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Death of a pub

Old memories by the cubic metre

Old memories by the cubic metre

There is hardly a thing such as Norwegian pub culture. We would not dream of having a pint for lunch, and the local would usual be a cafeteria connected to the local coop supermarket, where coffee is the main drink.

Sure, there are bars here, too, of various shapes and sizes. Some of them are replicas of English or Irish pubs, shipped over from companies specializing in this sort of thing.

The Churchill was such a pub. Not a part of any chain, but with filled with dusty bric-a-brac more or less connected with Winston Churchill and his times. Newspaper clippings, statuettes from India, model airplanes from WW II, you get the idea.

It was very centrally located, between the National Theatre and City Hall, which meant that business was good for many years. After office hours or shopping, on your way to the cinema, a useful spot for meeting friends.

Their beer range was never very sophisticated – your usual lagers plus Guinness. The most interesting beer was the canned Bombardier, and every time I suggested a broader selection, they argued that it didn’t sell. Their coffee was vile, the only food on offer was toasted ham and cheese sandwiches.

But people came in, had their beers or other drinks, and they obviously offered an atmosphere that lots of customers enjoyed.

Well, after more of twenty years, the show is over. The bust of Queen Victoria is put in a box, the rest of the memorabilia is going into storage, and everything else is being ripped out. The owners of the building wanted three times the previous rent, so it was not viable to continue.

I was only in there a few times a year lately, but I will miss it anyway. It was, after all, where I met my wife.

Last orders for Victoria

Last orders for Victoria

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Around here

Sure, the air here is heavily polluted on cold winter days. The air stands still, and it is filled with dust and emissions from cars and antiquated ovens and heaters. But it nice to look at…

Oslo, January 2009

Oslo, January 2009 - no photoshopping!

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bilde056A downside to trying out the increasing range of beers available in Oslo is that we occasionally have problems finding out what we are actually drinking. Sometimes there are supermarket brands where they don’t tell who the brewery is, sometimes we suspect that there are tank loads of Danish beers being passed off as Norwegian, though we are usually talking about the discount end of the market then. There are pubs which have beers being brewed especially for them – or are they just the regular stuff with another name on the dispenser? I recently found out that the Belfry pub here in Oslo, which has had its own Belfry Ale for many years, gets it from Hansa/Borg.

But, usually, with the help of ratebeer and the rest of the online beer community, we find out what is being served. Except for this one. Du Monde Blanc. A wheat beer being sold at Beer Palace. The bartender said it is a Belgian beer, but I would not be 100% sure about that, either. We only have the name and the logo.

The beer? A cloudy wheat with lots of foam, banana and a hint of liquid detergent.

Can anybody help?

Sorry about the picture quality, it’s my mobile phone. Next time I’ll go for a better camera and less music…

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Pub grub indeed

If you wondered why they smiled when you ordered the scampi in a basket for around £10 in the pub next door to the museum, I can tell you why. Premade English pub meals can now be bought wholesale for £ 1.22, which allows for a hefty markup.

It is the Morning Advertiser that cheerfully tells us that food and drink wholesaler Booker has slashed the price of five different meals. Pubs can sell meals for two punds fifty and still have a 100% markup – which can compete with Wetherspoons pices.

The Wiktionary informs me that the slang use of grub for food, first recorded 1659, has been linked with birds eating grubs. No wonder. I’d assume you won’t get much beyond starch and saturated fat at that price.

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Barrel aged beers

The current header of my blog is a photo from the island of Syros. Something to dream about when the temperature fluctuated between minus 10 and 15 Centigrade here in Oslo…

I wnat to draw your attention to an article in the New York Times about barrel aged beers. Not the best of articles, perhaps, there is too much focus on the price IMHO. Still, it is another sign that beers that were considered extreme even in committed beer circles are now being covered in the mainstream media.  And they are not only being covered, but with almost the same respect that would apply to wine.

Now, if we could hope for the same level of seriousity in the European mainstream media. The online version of one of the major dailies here in Oslo nicked one of the beer articles in the New York times last year. Which one? Where to find the cheapest pints in NYC.

Never mind. Here is another summer photo to cheer you up:

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Look at the number of new beers in Denmark over the years:

  • 1999:      17
  • 2000:      15
  • 2001:      21
  • 2002:      30
  • 2003:      54
  • 2004:      82
  • 2005:    234
  • 2006:    506
  • 2007:    556
  • 2008:    647

According to Peter Myrup Olesen, who has compiled the numbers, the rise is not likely to continue, so 2008 is probably the top.

If your read Danish, he has just started a blog that has ambitions to be truly comprehensive when covering the Danish beer scene. Try Babelfish if you are really curious!

One of the things I love about the online beer community is that many have found their own niches. Sure, we want informed writings about particular beers or pubs and rants about taxes and the stupidity of the big players in the business. But we are also lucky to have people willing to devote their time to document, either the present or, as in blogs like Ron’s and the Zythophile’s, the past.

Cheers to those who actually do some work here, while some of us is only in it for, well, the beer!

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