Archive for May, 2010

If you want to combine your beer interest with some exercise, the Danish Beer Enthusiasts might have the solution. They have put together a 10 day bike tour, covering 550 kilometers and 20 breweries in 10 days.  The show starts on 3 July, and there are still places available.

This is a low-budget affair, using camping sites and private homes for accommodation. The tour covers Jutland and Zealand (including a ferry). There will be a car following the group with luggage, tents etc.

Don’t worry about your physical abilities. I think the participants come in various ages, sizes and levels of fitness.

More info at ale.dk.

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One place I had picked out before leaving for Iceland, with good help from Haukur, was Íslenski barinn or Icelandic Bar.

Though this opened last year, the theme is unashamed nostalgia. This is your grandparents home, ca. 1950. Assorted furniture, old photos and memorabilia. Souvenirs from the sailors of the family. If you’ve been to plan b in Copenhagen, you get the drift.

But, more inventive, is the menu. They may sell this as nostalgia as well, and some items, like plukkfiskur or fish stew, are recognizable from my own childhood. More interesting, however, are modern twists on what in Iceland are traditional ingredients, but what most of us feel are very exotic. Grilles mink whale,  smoked wild goose, cured puffin, horse meat in various forms.

Fish and lamb dishes, too, of course, but I’d save them for a return visit.

Combination plates gives you the opportunity to try various delicacies. There is also (not online) a comprehensive list of small dishes with proposals for food and beer pairings.

Everything at very decent prices, at least as long as the Icelandic kronur stay at their present low level.

Because beer is very important here. They are proud to offer all Icelandic beers, which adds up to about a dozen micro brews plus slightly more from the macros. Light and dark lagers, sure, but also ales, stouts, even imperial stouts. I had Lava, an imperial stout from Ölvisholt, plus Mori, a red ale from the same brewery. Both were very good. Would I have minded staying on for a few more?  The rest of the family, however, wanted to call it a day.

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 Yes, I’ll get back to my visit to Iceland, but I had to share this with you.

I was told by the organiser, who did not want too much publicity until the details are finalized. But I am leaking like a sieve.

So. A mini cask ale festival in Oslo.10-11 September. A grand dinner on Saturday night with beer and food pairings and opportunities to meet the brewers.

Three Norwegian breweries, one Scot. Details later.

No one would have believed this five years ago. Now it seems like a logical step.

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The alcohol retail system in Iceland is quite similar to what you find in Sweden, Finland and Norway, with a state monopoly running the shops. Iceland and Sweden are the strictest, where what you would call everyday beers also have to be sold through these shops.

This is obviously a hassle for the Icelandic beer drinkers, though a casual observation of the Reykjavik street scene on a Saturday evening shows that the teenagers get enough of the cheapest canned drinks there as everywhere else.

For a foreigner on a whistle-stop tour, however, it means that there is one shop within one shopping mall that carries all Icelandic beers.

A bright and airy shop, very similar to Systembolaget stores. Maybe 25 Icelandic beers, half of them from micros,  plus imports from Denmark, Germany,, the Netherlands, Belgium.. – the usual suspects. The only exotic among the imports were six beers from the Faroe Islands.

A decent selection for a one time visitor, pretty thin if the alternatives are a few hours away by plane. Inexpensive as long as the Icelandic currency stays at its present level.

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The terrace at Lillehammer Bryggeri will open tomorrow at 17.00 for refreshments, a sure sign that the winter is finally over. Until proven otherwise, they have the best pilsner in the country. Check their web site for opening hours this summer.

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According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Norwegian micro (they call it boutique brewery down under) Nøgne Ø was awarded the
Champion Exhibitor trophy, as well as the Champion Small Brewery award at a dinner in Melbourne on Thursday.


No details about which beers they entered in the competition.

Nice to conquer new continents.

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There are many ways of finding rare beers when you travel. You can brows the shops, you can do a pub crawl, you can visit a brewery.

Or you can trade with a local beer hound.

Haukur is active on ratebeer as well as a beer blogger, so, naturally, I got in touch with him for a trade when I knew I was going to Iceland. It turned out he lives only a few minutes away from my hotel, so he came by to say hello.

He gave me four hard to find bottles of beer from the Ölvisholt brewery, which I managed to transport home without incidents. I look forward to enjoy them soon!

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Or your beer, your DVD, your book or some other more or less beer related product?

If you want a review, at least send me a sample.

If not, please go away. And don’t be surprised if you don’t get a personal reply.

But, if you are patient, there might be a blog post during the summer: 10 ways you should not use the social media if you don’t want to appear stupid.

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Arrival in Iceland

A short family vacation in Iceland was planned long before the volcano started messing up European air space, and our tickets were booked at a time when planes tended to leave on schedule.

Our tickets were for Friday afternoon, but early in the morning I received a text message saying the flight was cancelled. To make a long story short, we were rescheduled the next day. Arriving at the gate we were informed that we did not have confirmed seats, but luckily this meant an upgrade to business class, meaning that we arrived in style and comfort.

The best way to transfer from the airport to Reykjavik is to stop for an hour or two at the Blue Lagoon, swimming in the leftover water from a geothermal power station. The air was chilly, but the water warm and comforting.

Our hotel room was waiting, with about 60 square meters for a family of four we were very comfortable. One word of advice, though. If you want undisturbed sleep, you should consider accommodation outside the city centre at weekends. The party scene is very lively, and they don’t go to bed until very late!

We were hungry, and my research led us to an upmarket fish and chips shop. The cod and plaice were perfectly cooked to order and the onion rings were crisp. The oven baked potatoes had been in the oven a bit too long, but it was a nice meal without any fuzz when we were all tired. No beer today, that would have to wait.

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I did not know this before I went.  But the most interesting place in Europe to go for truly exotic food, prepared and presented professionally and with a smile must be Reykjavik.

I’m serious.

And there are pale lagers aplenty and mock Oirish pubs, but there are truly fine beers, too. If you know where to go.

And, with the current state of the country’s finances, it is cheap for Norwegians and moderately expensive for others.

More to follow. Much more to follow.

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