Archive for September, 2010

Still wrapped up

I have told you before about the plans for a new brewpub in Oslo, and it is now getting close to opening time. September 24 if everything goes according to plan. 

A few of us got a sneak peek last Saturday. 

The brewpub is located in the vaulted cellars of the old Schous brewery, dating back to the 1820s. Lots of gleaming copper ready to be used, still a lot of bits and pieces to be done before letting the drinkers in. 

The brewpub is phase one of a new restaurant complex. Above ground there will be three floors with an Italian restaurant, a wine bar and a beer/deli shop due to open next year. The rent is fairly low in this part of Grünerløkka, reflecting the rather rough neighbourhood with a brisk trade in alternative intoxicating substances. 

It will be interesting to see how this takes shape. Meanwhile, I really look forward to try the new brews on offer next weekend. 

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Revolution in action

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Beer drinkers old and young, from across the country, were gathered in Oslo for the first Norwegian cask ale festival. Rare beers from BrewDog, Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet and Ægir were on offer, from the Bamberg-like Røyk uten ild (Smoke without fire) from Haandbryggeriet, via the increadibly smooth and chocolaty Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, BrewDogs’s Dogma (formerly known as Speedball) to the very highlight – Ægir’s new Natt Imperial Porter, both in a velvety bottled version and an edition aged in Jack Daniels barrels.

This was also a great opportunity to talk to the brewers about their beers or simply enjoy the camaraderie of the event. Splendid food at the Saturday evening dinner, too, with about 80 guests if I remember correctly.

So, a toast to Amund and his crew at Håndverkerstuene for taking the chance of hosting this event. This is the proper way to run a beer festival, not a pale lager in sight. The success of this is yet another piece of evidence of the Norwegian beer scene having grown up in just a few years. Let’s hope this will be something to mark off in our calendars every year. And yes, this is worth buying a cheap plane ticket for if you live elsewhere in Europe.

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Sometimes I read something, usually in an ad or a press release, that makes me wonder if I’m really on the same planet as those guys. Like this, an ad from the newsletter of the British trade paper the Morning Advertiser:

Excitement is mounting throughout the drinks trade as the thrilling climax of the 2010 Stella Artois UK Draught Master approaches. Twenty of the UK’s best bar staff will be displaying their dispense skills using the iconic chalice branded glass when the Draught Master is staged in London on October 13. The eagerly-awaited event – the ultimate test of bar dispense and presentation skills – underlines the renowned brewing heritage and unrivalled product quality of Stella Artois.

Actually, it is hard to know if it is intended as an ad or an article. Either way, it is useful to know where I won’t be on October 13. And remeber, as all crap, it is 100% compostable.

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I know it’s the cask ale festival at Håndverkerstuene this weekend, but if you still have some time to spare, the terrace at Olympen is the best place to drink craft beer outdoors in Oslo. 

A fine selection of Norwegian and Danish micro brews some of them special imports, and food as well. 

I don’t know how long they intend to stay open this season – probably depending on weather and temperature. 

Al fresco at Olympen

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Enjoying the Aquavit Porter

Grünerløkka Brygghus will open early next month, if everything goes to plan. This will mean a welcome addition to the Grünerløkka scene, a lively area in Oslo where there are quite a few watering holes, but few really dedicated to beer.

The name implies that they will be brewing themselves, but that is still a year or two away. For the time being, there will be contract brewed beers from Haandbryggeriet and Nøgne Ø as well as other domestic and imported craft beers.

Beery food, too, like home made Scotch eggs, sausages and Cornish pasties.

They held an outdoor festival the other week, giving a taste of things to come. If this is an indication of their beer and food range, we have something to look forward to. Superb beers from Haandbryggeriet – their Hesjeøl on tap and a new batch of Aquavit Porter. An excellent Altbier and a hoppy Harvest Ale from Ægir. Home cooked, upmarket pub grub, by far the best Scotch egg I’ve tasted, and the fennel sausages with real sauerkraut were also worth a detour.

Evan from Ægir promoting his beers

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Beery gift

Having a reputation as a beer geek sometimes leads to pleasant surprises. While in Rome, we met up with ours friends Kari and Rolf, who had rented a car in Bologna and were driving the length of Italy. They had spent a week in Tuscany on their way down, and there they found two bottles of beer they brought along for me, both from the same local brewery.

La Petrognola is a sweet, malty beer, packing in a lot of flavour. It feels like a Belgian abbey style beer, despite an alcohol level of only 5.5% – it is more like an 8% beverage. Birra artiginale al Farro, according to the label. I had to check the farro bit on Google, and it turns out it is brewed with spelt. A wheat beer, then.

Some prunes and raisins, a little sourness, but low on hops. A dessert beer, I’d say. Sugary tail, not too balanced.

The other bottle is a chestnut beer – alle Castagne.

Chestnut flour aroma, clear golden beer with thin head. Sweet nuts, chocolate ice cream. Fairly strong chestnut flavour, some mint, even a hint of smoke. I’m sorry, but this did not appeal very much to me.

Italian beer gift

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