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Archive for August, 2009

Mean machines

Mean machines

The most established music venue in Oslo is Rockefeller, an old public bath which has been staging concerts and other events for a few decades. It comfortably fits in about a thousand, and, if the guy next to you can keep his mouth shut, the sound and light is superb.

The question is always where to meet up for a beer before the concert. Sure, there are dozens of pubs and bars in the area, but the beer range has not been very impressive.

Problem solved. Just around the corner from the Rockefeller entrance, in what I’m told used to be the shower rooms of the bath, there is a new bar. It is so new they don’t have a sign outside, no web site, hardly a phone number.

In addition to the liquids on offer, they have a game arcade in one of their two rooms. Not fruit machines or other forms of gambling. No, about twenty classic pinball machines as well as a vintage jukebox. All of them were not operative when I popped in, there were a few mechanics still making the last of them ready, doing their magic to produce the classic sounds and colors.

But there is beer, too, lots of it. Draft beer from Haandbryggeriet and Danish micro Svaneke, as well as taps with Old Speckled Hen, Erdinger and Paulaner.

The bottled range has a mix of lagers from faraway places and really good stuff. Smoked beer from Bamberg, Anchor Stream, Duvel, BrewDog. More Danish micros, too. If they top up this with the best of the Norwegian micros, they will have at leas one loyal customer!

The guys behind the counter know their stuff  and have their background from Parkteatret and other places with serious beer selections.

A had a glass of Haandbryggeriets new Blondie, a Belgian style ale that is only available on draft in selected bars. Layers of fruit and malt, a hint of yeast. A bit short finish, perhaps, but compared to the industrial lagers that is standard fare in Norway this is great stuff!

Tilt 007

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My little black book of beer notes covering the summer months has disappeared, meaning that my last post about Sardinia is a bit shorter than planned.

I went to the historical centre of Alghero on my own one evening, looking for pubs and beer bars. There are a few nice places in the small streets and alleys, some more pretentious, some probably springing into life around midnight. The prices fluctuate quite a bit, but some of the bars with more expensive German beers on tap tend to serve quite substantial bar snacks, almost like tapas, at least early in the evening.

I had been in touch with the most renown micro brewer of the island, Nicola Perra, who runs the Barley brewery. He recommended that I’d visit Al Refettorio, a restaurant int he heart of the old town. Sure, they had one of the Barley beers on offer, as well as a mystery beer.

MenHir

MenHir

The mystery beer first – Men Hir. This must be brewed with a wild yeast strain, with associations to lambic and cider. Pale yellow, low carbonation, crisp citrus dryness without ending up as vinegar. The label proclaims that this is a Birra Artiginale, the back label informs me that it is brewed on malted barley, hops and water.

And that’s it. No info about the brewery at all.

The other beer on the menu was Friska, which proudly states that is brewed by Barley. This is a wheat beer. This also has  some citrus, peaches. Fine balance between the fruity and the sour. Lemon sorbet finish. Well balanced, not falling into the banana trap some other wheat beers tend to do.

Sardinia 811And there was splendid food on offer, too. I had an outstanding tuna carpaccio with herbs and strawberries, followed by a pasta dish with ragù of lamb with peas and basil. It was so good I brought my family the next evening to try out more of the inventive menu, including paella and local fish.

The restaurant is not too hard to find, but a word of advice. If you sit outside, the benches are hard and uncomfortable – much better to go inside and be seated properly.

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The prize for most beer bloggers per capita must go to Sweden. 15  28 Swedish beer blogs is pretty impressive. There is still room for a Swede to beer blog in English, though!

Good beers to blog about

Good beers to blog about

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A beer blogger in Gothenburg, Sweden, has come up with a great idea.

He has hidden a beer somewhere in town. Every day or so he blogs about a new clue to where it can be found. Photos, text, whatever.

The first person to find the beer is free to enjoy it.

But there is a catch. If you find the beer, you’ll be given the password to the blog. Then you’ll have to hide a new beer.

This is not for super rare beers – but they should be a bit hard to find, not your everyday Systembolaget stuff.

Thanks to Karlstöms Malt and Ofiltrerat for pointing to this.

Not in plain view

Not in plain view

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My blog post about marketing beer books in this day and age has turned into a symposium. Thanks to every one taking part in the discussion, particularly Pete!

sea horse

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The micro revolution

If I am in danger of running out of new beers to try in Europe (not very likely!), there are alternatives. According to the US Brewer’s Association, the number of breweries is higher than it’s been for a century. 1500 breweries, ladies and gentlemen.

It would be interesting to know how many of these are brewing beers available outside their local or regional markets. 10%?

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One of the first micros I wrote about when I started beer blogging was Nørrebro Bryghus in Copenhagen. They have expanded step by step with a brewery outside town taking care of the bottled beers, and quite a few of their beers are widely distributed in Denmark and beyond. While their regular list of beers might not have quite the wow factor it had five years ago, they have a staggering number of inventive beers at festivals, and there are lots of events at the brewery pairing beer and food, meetings with guest brewers etc which I’d love to attend.

While their ad for a new accountant is not the most exciting news in itself, it also sheds some light on their plans. They are currently running Fanø Bryghus, and they state that they are looking into establishing more brewery restaurants in Denmark and abroad.

For anyone in Scandinavia considering setting up a brewpub, a cooperation with Nørrbro should be seriously considered. Their experience both form the brewing end and the business end of things could come in very useful.

Thanks for beerticker.dk for pointing to the ad. He also mentionsthat Nørrebro Bryghus have planned for some time to open an establishment in Århus.

A pity that their bar at Kastrup airport closed down – a very welcome contrast to an ocean of Carlsberg.

 

Nørrebro festival offers

Nørrebro festival offers

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