Archive for August, 2013

Back when I visited Italy several times a year, I had a couple of very pleasant visits to Birrificio Lambrate in Milan. There were plans at the time to expand internationally, but nothing much seemed to come of the ambitions.

It was therefore nice to see four of their beers on tap in front of the Trattoria Popolare, which is part of the same complex as Schouskjelleren here in Oslo.

Available on Thursday were Su De Doss, Saint Ambroeus, Gaina and Ghisa. I suppose you should run along if you want a taste.

Read Full Post »

I told you yesterday about the self cooling beer barrels in Franconia. I just discovered that there are other options, too.

Morten at the Schouskjelleren brewpub here in Oslo showed me a new gadget that they have bought to lend out to people who buy their key kegs. This machine is a beer pump and cooler in one.

In Norway, of course, you have to get a temporary liquor licence from the local authorities to buy directly from a brewer. I don´t know if this is cumbersome or expensive to get. But if you want to have real good draught beer at your garden party, you are not limited to what´s already been put into an aluminium keg.

Ask you local brewpub or wholesaler. I suppose I can get details about where this stuff can be bought, too.

Read Full Post »

The problem with technological innovation in the brewing industry is that it usually means better logistics for the boring industrial beers, while the quality brews are stuck with the old solutions. There are exceptions, of course. Disposable kegs have done wonders for the distribution of craft beer around the globe.

And in a Getränkemarkt on the outskirts of Augsburg i found these. Self cooling kegs for your anniversary, office party or whatever. With Ayinger Helles. I could think of other beers that I’d like in units like this.

Fuller’s London Pride or Nøgne Ø Saison are my candidates.

Roll out the barrels!

Read Full Post »

Regional belonging is a concept I struggle with as a Norwegian. The main reason is probably that we are just too small as a nation to develop much of a regional identity in the modern age, apart from speaking our own dialects. In some ways we are more of a Norwegian region in a Nordic context.

I spent a few weeks in Munich this summer as a participant observer, taking part in a work atmosphere  – in an actual office, not an international conference. This also gave me the opportunity to seek out a fair number of licensed establishments in my spare time. This made me realize that there are strong similarities among Bavaria and Italy when it comes to pride in their region and its produce.  It does not stop at the regional, but keeps going further – you also have a loyalty to your sub-region, etc down to your tiny village.

If you can source it locally, you don’t need to get anything from the next town.

Obviously this does not encompass capital goods, shoes, clothes and so on. But it is deeply felt in food and beer.

I get echoes from  my old anthropology lessons here. There seem to be different spheres. There is the hi-tech Germany. The Germany of BMW, Siemens and what have you. This is the economic tugboat that tries to make the rest of Europe move along, grow and prosper.

At the same time you have this fascination for the local. For the village where you grew up. Where the traditional values are honored. Where they raise the maypole outside the inn as they used to do.


I looked up Heimat, which is a term that is at the core of this. Heimat has no English equivalent. It has to do with ancestry, community and tradition. It has to do with nostalgia for a life that has been lost – torn apart by war and dictatorship and later slowly eroded by economic forces or a government somewhere on the Rhine, or, more lately, the Spree.

We don’t have the word in Norwegian,, either. but it is a real factor for us, too, just beneath the surface. Our two referendums on membership in the European Union shows that Heimat  and the contrast it offers to those who rule you or want to rule you trumps all other arguments when you really mobilize.

But back to the Bavarians and their regional cuisine. The menus are spelling it out. Bavarian asparagus. Bavarian beef and pork. Bavarian trout. Even vegetarian dishes turn up to be focused on Bavarian spuds and leaves. The Hofbräuhaus in Munich has a podcast that manages to find new angles every month. They often focus on where their vegetables, beef, cheese and lettuce come from, interviewing the farmers, who are not only Bavarian, but preferably live in Upper Bavaria.

Why is there a brewpub in Munich airport and not anywhere else? Look closer. Sure, they brew beer. But they also boast that 85 per cent of their supplies come from regional produce.  Just what you need. It is the last and first stop of your trip to foreign lands, Prussia, or even further away.

There is a tragedy at the core of this. The attempts to build a national identity in the 19th and first half of the 20th were not successful. Even cheering for your national football team is a fairly recent event here. German patriotism has been deeply stained. So one has to look inwards, closer to home, to find identity. Living in a federal state with lots of decentralized power in regions larger than many European nations strengthens this trend, it actively encourages it. If you cannot fly your national banner, you can be proud of the Bavarian white and blue.  And, in a land of agricultural plenty, let’s be proud of what we can produce. Which is a lot.

In a European market overflowing with cut-price meat and vegetables, butter and beer, the regional authorities and trade associations play on this sense of region and Heimat. Be sure to ask for Bavarian quality. Accept no substitutes. Other countries celebrate their days of liberty, of liberation or victories at land or sea. The Bavarians celebrate the Reinheitsgebot of 1516.

Sure, there are plenty of Italian restaurants. There are kebab shops on the corners, sushi conveyor belts and cheese counters in the big supermarkets where you can find Italian and French specialities.  But the beer is most likely from the local area, even Getränkemarkt bottle shops will have a very limited range of beers. I managed to track down two beer shops in Munich with a broad range of beers.

A broad range means hundreds of different beers. Did I find any imports? About a dozen. BrewDog, Corona, Guinness and Pilsner Urquell. No Belgian, no English, no Italian beer.

If you look closely, you will find a few IPAs and imperial stouts, but they will be from Bavarian breweries. The innovation in the beer field is coming from small breweries in the region, which pose no danger to the big players. Speciality beers still basically mean beers from tiny family breweries, the most daring of them  using smoke malt or having the rebellious streak of offering a Dobbelbock out of season. There is some hope in reports that the big supplier of malt in the region, Weyermann, actively encourages upstart breweries to look beyond the standard range and brew pale ales or other varieties. But you’re not likely to find a trace of these beers when you look at the statistics of annual consumption.

So, the important question: Will this change over time?

My guess is that the changes will come very gradually. There is some distribution of innovative bottled beers, but I don’t think they will rock the boat.  What is needed is someone with financial muscle to establish something that could have an impact in Munich and create a buzz.

A Munich brewpub with a beer garden with ample seating for all seasons offering a broad range of beers with inspiration from Belgium and the US could do the trick. But someone with more knowledge about real estate in Munich than me should do the math.

I could be greatly mistaken. Things happen fast in the beer world. Maybe there will be a BrewDog bar and a Mikkeller Biergarten challenging the culinary conservatism in a year or two. But I think the odds are better for changes from within.

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

There is plenty more, of course.

And if you cannot be bothered to look it up, there are a few touristic options:

  • Beer and breweries guided tour that starts in front of the Tourist information office at Marieplatz.
  • Beer and Oktoberfest Museum in a little alley close to the Schneider Weissbräu.
  • Walk around the Viktalienmarkt, while not up there with the most amazing markets in Barcelona, London or Barcelona, it has special stalls for mustard, poultry, cheese, sausages, game and what have you. They have a beer garden where the big six rotate to have their beers on. The signs say Helles, Weisse etc, so it’s more or less the same. Have a look at the organic stalls, they have a few beers that are not too common.

As for me, the next time I’m in Munich, you’ll find me on a stool at the Red Hot Bar.

Read Full Post »

It is hard to distinguish between the six big players on the Munich beer market. As you can see, they even have a marketing cooperation. Identical Maß, identical contents.

I find it more interesting to blog about the small breweries. The ones who don’t have global distribution or have their own tents during the Oktoberfest.

But don’t get me wrong.

I may be snobbish. But I absolutely see the point in drinking a mass of Hofbräu, Augustiner or Löwenbräu in good company in one of the beer gardens of central Munich.

But the marketing departments of the city of Munich and the breweries themselves makes sure that this information is easy to come by.

So relax. Have a Bretzel. Have a beer. It’s not as if it’s hard to find.

Read Full Post »

You see the same trend everywhere. The Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen. Ringnes, Schous and Frydenlund in Oslo. Young’s in London.

The old breweries might be nice, but for the stockholders they are far more valuable as real estate. Beer can be brewed everywhere. But sizeable areas in the inner cities are getting scarce.

This applies to Munich as well, and as the global giants of the beer industry has gobbled up the breweries of the city, there are sizeable areas with potential for development. Right now, the architects are sketching new housing areas at the site of the Paulaner brewery.

Paulaner as well as Hacker-Pschorr belongs to  Brau Holding International, partly owned by Heineken.

More on the plans in Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Read Full Post »


The city where I was born and grew up, Trondheim, has lagged behind when it comes to beer. The scene is dominated by Carlsberg subsidiary E.C. Dahls bryggeri, and they have not shown any signs of innovation for decades (if ever?). I am happy to report that things are rapidly changing.

There is an annual food festival in Trondheim at the beginning of August, showcasing regional produce, including fish and game, fruit and vegetables, cheeses and preserves. I have blogged briefly about this before, suggesting that beer should be included as a part of the festival. A few of the micro breweries in the region are brewed on farms, so they fit very well in, and they are finding their way into some of the stalls, both Inderøy and Klostergården beers are to be found in the main festival area.

New this year is a separate beer festival, Trondheim Bryggerifestival. In a separate tent and with a 100 kroner entrance fee, you get to sample a fine range of beers, most of them Norwegian. Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet, Ægir and Kinn are there, so you get the best of the established national craft breweries. But there are two others that merit special attention.

I blogged about Klostergården Håndbryggeri after my visit there in May. They have brought along a splendid range of brews for the festival, from a highly refreshing summer beer at 4.5% ABV to a barley wine aged in bourbon barrels at 12.5%. My current favourite among Norwegian breweries.

There is also a brand new micro in Trondheim, who will have national distribution from the very start. Austmann Bryggeri go for sessionable beers with a moderate alcohol level. They had two different saisons and a brown ale on tap yesterday, all very respectable.

The festival is staffed by volunteers, but several of the breweries are presnt, giving talks and hanging out to talk to the drinkers.

Some minor details could be adjusted. I’d like a souvernir glass instead of plastic samples, and a full beer list with descriptions would also be welcome. But the important thing is that the festival is there to promote craft beer in the region, I hope they draw enogh people to make this an annual event.



Read Full Post »