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Archive for July, 2009

Parkteatret is located in a prime spot at Grünerløkka, an area of Oslo that has moved steadily upmarket for the last two decades or so. Young and quite affluent population, spending lots of their time hanging out with friends in bars and cafes.

Parkteatret was a movie theatre in a previous incarnation, now it houses a concert venue that is also used for the taping of some TV shows. The old lobby area is a bar open daily, and they have a decent range of Norwegian micros. They have the full list of Haandbryggeriet beers, including their Weizen on tap, and there are some Nøgne ø beers available, too. Decent prices for here, all beers well below the 100 kroner mark. No food, but there are good options nearby.

Parkteatret

Parkteatret

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Sake at Nodee

Sake at Nodee

What is a beer? Well, it’s fermented grain, isn’t it? Usually barley, usually hops, but if you’re not too obsessed with the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot, it’s the cereal that’s at the core. From grapes you get wine, from grain you get beer.

One avenue to explore is then to look at the varieties that don’t use malted barley as their starting point. Some go for historical recreations, studying Middle Age manuscripts or stone tablets in the Middle East. There are brews with millet, sorghum and all the old types of wheat you can imagine.

But then there is a major type of beverage that is, technically, a beer, even if you have to be a beer nerd to consider it.

Sake.

To have a range of sake in Oslo, you’ll have to find one of the upmarket Japanese restaurants. Alex Sushi has lots of Chablis, but only two brands of sake.

I went with my family to Nodee recently. They have some special imports, covering a range of styles, flavours (and prices).

The food is divine, but if you order sushi a la carte, it is expensive. Try one of the pan-Asian set menus, starting off with sushi and sashimi. Splendid value.

I don’t have the knowledge to suggest any sake for you, but I am sure the polite and observant staff can help you out.

Table reservation recommended. And it’s right across the street from the Frognerbadet public pool if you want to work up an appetite.

Thats just for starters

That's just for starters

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Litteraturhuset – House of Literature– occupies a prime spot next door to the Royal Palace and its leafy park. Quite a few tables outside for sunny weather, cozy atmosphere inside, too.

The House of Literature opened its doors in Oslo’s former teacher training college in Wergelandsveien 29, in the autumn of 2007, and is a popular venue hosting a broad range of events. Readings, meet the author, seminars, stand up comedy. It seems to be fully booked most days.

Right inside the front door, Cafe Oslo has shared a room with a bookshop which was having a closing down sale when I last visited.

 I’ve heard mixed reports about the food, so you might wish to dine elsewhere. It is, however, a perfect place to stop for a glass of beer on your way into or out of town or just for an idle afternoon. Three bottled beers from Nøgne ø, 2 Westmalle beers and Staropramen are available. The Nøgne ø IPA was great.

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A Bristol pub has been banned from serving any drinks in glass and running drinks promotions, according to the Morning Advertiser.

The Enterprise Inns owned Wayfarer in Pen Park Road, Southmead has been told it must use polycarbonate glasses after a licensing review.

PC Hen Staveley-Brown was hit in the face with a pint glass in February and nearly lost her sight after trying to intercept a drug deal in the toilets. The pub has been closed since 6 June when the licensee left.

Another man, Chris Anderson has a false eye after he was punched in the face at the venue.

The article goes on to list the conditions for the pub to keep its licence, including  a rule that all drinks are to be served in plastic or other non-breakable materials.

I have sympathies with the campaigners who try to keep good pubs open in various parts of Britain. But places like this should be shut down for good without any remorse.

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Oslo Mikrobryggeri is the only brew pub in town, so it is on every beer travellers list. It’s been around for a while, and I would think all investments are written off now – the place has not changed for decades. The guests seem to be locals, there aren’t that many pubs in the area, really.

What do you get? A range of house beers on keg, depending on the season. Usually there is a pils, a bitter, a stout, a steamer, a porter and an amber plus a seasonal, this summer a weissen.

The beers have been quite boring, but there is a new brewer, and on my last visit the beers were in top form. Sampler glasses available for tickers.

And there’s a tram stop just outside the door. Or you can walk down to our next destination.

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The history of beer

Well, looking at the rest of the site where this is published, I wouldn’t be too surprised if there are a few inaccuracies here. But on the whole a very useful time line of the history of beer. This would come in handy if I’m asked to a speech about beer.

You’ll find the whole image on Manolith, thanks to Kristine for twittering the tip.

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I’ve been carefully skimming some of the other beer blogs recently, as I’ve tried not to read other reviews of this book before finishing my own. Well, I’m through, and, to jump to the conclusion, I can recommend this as an addition to your beer book shelf.

I think you know the plot already: English journalist/writer/beer blogger resurrects an original IPA in Burton, then takes it by canal and sea all the way to India in a rout similar to the one they used in the golden days of India Pale Ale.

Aesthetics first: A very nice book to receive. An old fashioned hard cover with thick creamy paper and a font that pleases the eye. It’s Macmillan that makes books the way books should be made. Much better to spend the money on high quality paper than on grainy sections of photographs.

And what kind of book is this? It appeals to a number of audiences, I’d think middle aged men like me dominate several of them:

  • It’s a beer book
  • It’s a travel book
  • It’s a humour book
  • It’s a history book

Does it succeed in all of these? Well, the travelogue would not stand on its own, but it’s the vehicle that drives the story forward. And it’s the travel that brings the anecdotes that makes you chuckle over and over again. Because parts of this is great fun. You’ll recognize Pete’s style from his previous books, he is good at describing encounters with everyone he meets – Brazilian prostitutes, Filipino crew, brewers and drinkers.

There is a dark backdrop to the fun in the story, a sadness at both ends of the journey. The brewing in Burton is just a shadow of its former self, and the future of British beer lies elsewhere.

But it’s the history of British rule in India, with an emphasis on beer and other alcoholic drinks, which is the really bleak stuff. There is no attempt to paint this in a rosy hue, and the story shows that the IPA so loved by British expats never was a drink available to the Indians. Small wonder, then, that it was forgotten there.

Hops and Glory is a personal book. While the documentation for the factual bits seem to be in proper order, there is a personal voice here that dares to speak up against cruelty and injustice. Not preaching, but it adds an extra quality to the book – the voice of Pete Brown is not just the one telling jokes and tall tales, but it is also one that shows that the British rule in India is not a pretty picture.

This is not the most important book of the year, but it never intended to be that, either. But it’s a good read. This is just the thing to pack with your sunglasses, your sandals and your iPod. It’s just the thing for holiday reading. Just make sure you have some good beer in your glass before you sit down.

And if you’re interesed in a signed copy, follow Pete’s blogwith updates of promotional activities. If you see him, say thanks for mentioning the beer bloggers in the book. We appreciate it.

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