Archive for April, 2010

Drunk by noon

Great title. Great cover. Check out her web site (though I cannot see any beer there!)

Book cover

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James Watt

Spreading the BrewDog word

I first saw James Watt just a few months after they had started BrewDog. They brought along some unlabeled bottles to a ratebeer gathering in Glasgow, and, thanks to their present London sales rep Tom, they had some of their beers on cask at the Blackfriars for the event. 

The rest is, of course, history. Cunning marketing,  strong salesmanship, supernatural ability to make newspaper headlines – and a long line of great beers. 

Which leads to sell out houses at beer tastings, a phenomenon we’ve never seen around here before. 

James visited Håndverkerstuene earlier this week, which was only one of the stops on a tour of Norway.  And James delivers. He has developed his presentation to an hour of excellent entertainment. A representative range of their beers with tasting notes, a number of anecdotes and jokes, ending up with samples of Sink the Bismarck!, their latest freeze distilled super strength beer, which was the world’s strongest the last time I checked. 

The last time he was in Oslo, the audience was mostly people from the restaurant industry, some of which seemed fairly bored. Now it’s getting to be more like a religious revival, or, perhaps a better cliché, a rock star on tour. 

I think there are more Meet the Brewer events to come here in Norway. Another sign that the market has mutated into something bigger and more sophisticated. 

And how was the Bismarck!? I think you should find out for yourself. Rumour is there will be a few bottles for sale at Vinmonopolet. At 600 kroner or so. 

Thanks to Lars Marius for the photos. 

Sink the Bismarck!

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Beer or chocolate?

Or both?

Duvel chocolate bottles

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Arriving in Norway next week:

Southern Tier   IPA, Gemini
Captain Lawrence  Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA
Jolly Pumpkin  Bam Biere, Bam Noire, La Roja, Oro de Calabaza
The Bruery  Saison de Lente
Lost Abbey  Angels’ Share
Ale Smith  Horney Devil, Yule Smith

Shortly arriving from Italy:

Birrificio Italiano Bik Bok, Amber shok, Cassissona, Vudu

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During the week of the Copenhagen Beer Festival, which is also the opening week of the Mikkeller beer bar, Mikkel will release 25 new beers.

I hope some of them will be in small bottles suitable for suitcases!

Line up the other 24...

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According to beerticker.dk, there will be seven new beers from Hornbeer at the Copenhagen Beer Festival.

I am particularly looking forward to their Biting Horse, a Flemish Red Ale.

I should have planned for three days at the festival instead of two…

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Den Gode Nabo

A nice spot for a pub

Unfortunate events led to a visit to Trondheim earlier this week, which meant a 1000 kilometer drive. I managed, however, to find a little time to pop in at Den Gode Nabo, by far the best beer pub in that part of the country. Located in one of the old riverside warehouses, it seems to be doing a brisk business while taking pride in its broad range of national craft beers and imports from around the globe. I won’t estimate the number of beers available, but there should be something for everyone. There will be a change of management in the near future, let’s hope they will keep up the good work.

So. Haandbryggeriet Norse Porter is draft beer of the month, there is a long range of Nøgne Ø bottles, De Molen, BrewDog, even a few of the Japanese beers Nøgne Ø imported in limited quantities earlier this year.

The reason I had fitted in a visit was that the brewer of the new Kinn brewery on the West coast had planned an appearance to launch his new Vestland IPA. Well, due to the volcanic ashes swirling around, neither the brewer nor the beer were present. But there were compensations. Two of them to be exact.

Two Kinn beers were available on hand pump, a stout and a brown ale.

The stout, Svart Hav, has a fine aroma of ashes and soot, with a little sourness. Easy drinking, fairly light. Very decent stout, but not really outstanding.

Sjelefred, the brown ale, was probably my most pleasant beer surprise this year. A hint of smoke, prunes, sweet malt, a little yeast, some pleasant sourness. Fruity, grassy hops, a fine bitterness in the finish.

I believe the Kinn beers will be available in bottles soon, they are well worth seeking out. With beer of this quality, I would expect Kinn brews to be available in the better bars in Oslo as soon as they have the capacity.


Beer worth a detour

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New dog in town

Who would have thought, just a year or two ago, that we would have a BrewDog beer on Norwegian supermarket shelves? Specially brewed for Norway?

And I’m not talking about any exclusive shop with deli and manned fish and cheese departments, but you basic no frills discount chain. I think their Scandinavian importer has done some serious salesmanship here.

They are not on the shelves of every REMA 1000 shop yet. If it’s not in your local shop, ask them to add it to their range.

It’s a red and fruity ale, packed with citrus hops. Quite a contrast to the bland lagers they usually carry.

Alpha Dog

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It is very encouraging to see that the same spirit of cooperation and community I have observed amoung the beer geeks also to a large extent applies to the craft brewers. I don’t follow the North American scene enough to give any intelligent observations, but here in Northern Europe there are new projects all the time.

The best example of this is probably Mikkeller. Mikkel does not have a brewery of his own, so he is totally dependent of finding like-minded breweries where he can brew his beers. Hitting the market right now are variations of the Beer Geek beers aged in Islay and Bourbon barrels. These have been brewed at Nøgne Ø in Norway, while I believe BrewDog have helped them find whisky barrels for the purpose.

Mikkel has also brewed quite a few beers at De Molen in the Netherlands. Menno from De Molen, on the other hand, has visited Haandbryggeriet in Norway, and the first collaboration brew is called Menno and Jens. It was pre-released on cask at Håndverkerstuene in Oslo last week.

This is a historical recreation of beers before hops were widespread, using various herbs instead. An interesting experiment, which I encourage you to try when it turns up in bottes – but on the other hand I think I prefer hoppy beers..

Haandbryggeriet has an impressive list of beers being launched this winter and spring including a Smoked beer, a crowberry beer and two beers brewed on lingonberries and currants fermented with lambic and wild yeasts. And they have started importing rare stuff, too – we can look forward to more De Molen beers, for example.

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Lunch, Bruges style

Halve Maan menu

And a beer, please!

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