I’m going through a period when the blog posts are more infrequent, but that does not mean that the Norwegian micro breweries are slowing down.
There are newcomers every month, my current estimate is 80 active breweries before Easter. Some are doing very well, their main headache is how to expand their capacity. Others are more a paid hobby, but they are cheered on by their local communities and newspapers. Even the supermarket chains allow more local products on their shelves in places where there were no outlets.
I am not terribly impressed by all the new ones. I think we will reach a saturation point for pale ales at 4.7% ABV at 50 kroner per bottle very soon. Yes, there is a segment in the market willing to pay a premium price for premium beer. But, frankly, everything out there is not of premium quality. Some have serious quality problems. Others are bland. And even the industrial brewers are waking up, launching top fermented ales.
But there are some rising stars, too. I would particularly point to Lindheim, a farmhouse brewery located in rural Telemark. So far I have only seen their beers on tap, but I assume they go for a broader distribution. They have already made collaboration brews with big names like Port Brewing and Lost Abbey, som they are definitely aiming for the big league.
Speaking of collaborations, they are happening everywhere. Haand/Närke, Lervig/Magic Rock, Austmann/Amundsen, Amundsen/Crowbar….
But the most important trend now is going back to the roots of Norwegian brewing. The key word is local malt, particularly from the Stjørdal region. There are already a few beers out, expect more to come during the year. These will cover a broad range from mild ales with just a hint of smoked malt added to robust ales filled with smoke and tar. Beers to look out for are Alstadberger, brewed in cooperation with Klostergården, Bøkerøkt form Larvik, Ørderøl from To Tårn and beers to be launched this week by Stjørdalsbryggeriet.
We are talking about beers with a pedigree going back through the centuries, when farmers grew their own barley and processed this into beer for Christmas, for funerals, weddings and baptisms. We have been lucky that a handful of farmers have kept this tradition alive.