Archive for March 11th, 2011

A guest post from the Ulster-Scot again:

Travelling back through Scotland the tippler stopped off at Morrison’s supermarket in Girvan, an Ayrshire coastal town.  With a little while to spare there was time to peruse the beer shelves and the selection of Scottish bottled beers. 

So the other Saturday night while doing a bit of cooking a friend and I started to taste the selection. More Scottish notes later, but the first tried was Innis & Gunn oak aged beer.  Now an oaked Chardonnay or Shiraz, or the occasional whisky would be common, but I haven’t come across before and the Company believes it is fairly unique. In the Company’s own words:
Using oak to age beer is unheard of. But, the flavours imparted by the oak barrels (previously used to mature bourbon) lend an incredible depth of taste. Think vanilla, toffee and orange aromas, with a malty, lightly oaked palate; soothing and warm in the finish.
That is about right. A delightful full flavour with a little bitter kick, smooth and a bit too easy to drink.  Great little website to check out, too.

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OK, so I finally got around to visiting the new brewpub in town, Amundsen Bryggeri og Spiseri, meaning Brewery and Eatery. The Amundsen in the name is of course the polar explorer, but this is not a place with seal fur and the remains of polar bears, it’s just named after the street outside, which is named after Amundsen. So there is no need to stay away, even if you are in the Scott camp in this centennial year.

I was there on the opening night, too, but they did not have any of their own beers on as yet, and it was too hot and noisy to get a real feel of the place.

I came back on an early afternoon while the World Skiing Championships was still on, and the place was fairly dominated by screens large and small. So, if sports bars are not your thing, one of the identities of this place is precisely that. I had a quick look at the lunchtime menu, which was a bit pricey, edging up towards the 200 kroner mark.

The pub/restaurant is split into several areas, giving a quite intimate feel. You may sit at a table or find a stool at the bar.

Their two first beers were on, though the VM Ale was almost finished. This was their first brew, and I got the feeling that they had rushed it a bit too much. To much unfermented mash here, some yeast and hops, too, but not properly balanced. I got the feeling that given some more time fermenting and conditioning this would have made a decent pint of bitter.

Their pale ale was just released, and that was much better. Not an extreme American variety, but a fine and dry hoppiness made this very moreish.

There is a comprehensive printed beer list, which does not include the bottles they have stocked their beer cellar with. Through a glass wall you see the cellar, which includes some interesting Belgians and Danes, various vintages of Thomas Hardy, Fullers Vintage etc. The beer list is a bit more mundane, but it covers the Norwegian micros more comprehensively, and has  a strong list of German beers. Keg beers from Handbryggeriet, Ægir and Nøgne Ø, lagers from Hansa, even a few beers from Hansa’s brewpub in Bergen.

Amundsen has a prime location, close to the National Theatre, City Hall and the rest of downtown Oslo.

A new brewpub is always welcome, though I doubt that this will be a regular hangout for me. They will probably aim for several markets at once. It is convenient to meet there for a beer after work and there will be lots of tourists passing by. I’d be surprised if some of the TV screens won’t be showing soccer, it remains to be seen if they will dominate it all.

Verdict: Definitely worth checking out, even if it’s not my first choice.

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