When I was invited to do a few promotional events for my book in Bergen, I welcomed the opportunity. This meant some hours in a shopping mall signing books, but also taking part in a beer tasting with an additional opportunity for book sales.
Arriving at Bergen airport, I was picked up by Sammy, who kindly drove me to my first stop, the Gulating beer shop, located in a shopping mall some distance from the city center. But we made a short detour, allowing me a brief visit to 7 Fjell, one of the craft breweries being successful, also on a national scale. No price for the scenery, they are located on a no nonsense industrial estate, but the beer they brew is impeccable. They are taking over a larger slice of the building than they are using today, so there will be a tasting room and other facilities in the future.
Helge gave me the ten minute tour. 7 Fjell is doing very well, right now the fermentation tanks are the bottlenecks of the brewing.
Onwards to Gulating, where I spent three hours signing books. Not a huge success, but a trickle of customers. The shop, however, sold a respectable amount of beer while I was there. The emergence of at first good beer shelves in Norwegian supermarkets and then specialist beer shops selling beers below the legal limit of 4.7% is way beyond what I had expected a few years ago. The Gulating shops buy their beers directly from the breweries, meaning they can offer lower prices to the customer than supermarkets. They also have a great range of beers from the smallest breweries, which are hard to find without extensive travelling.
A quick check in at my hotel before arrival at UNA bar and restaurant, where I was invited to present my book at a tasting of vintage Christmas beers. This was hosted by Stefan, who has a good routine of doing events like this, I tried to add my bit to the proceedings.
UNA is the place with the most impressive tap list in Bergen, of particular interest when I visited was that they had a home brew on tap. They have their own brewing permit, but so far they just have a tiny setup in the basement. Their first beer is a Light Stout – as opposed to a Dark Stout. Highly drinkable with some coffee and cocoa notes, slightly sweet. Brewed to have a broad appeal, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Across the street to the next brewpub, Bryggeriet, a part of the huge bar/restaurant complex Zachariasbryggen. I was visiting briefly this summer, with a serious case of bad timing, it was a week before the first beers were due to be released, and none of them were ready. I had better luck this time, even finding brewer Gareth behind the bar and ready for a chat.
The original idea was to have a range of four fairly standard regular beers, this has evolved into six of their own beers on tap most of the time, and a wish to be more playful. I sampled Snøwit, a fairly strong wit, which I enjoyed, particularly since it was low on the coriander scale. Their Juleøl is a spiced porter. My favourite was the Flagship IPA -a great allrounder that would work well both with food and as refreshment. Grass, citrus and discreet maltiness.
My last stop was the third brewpub, Baran Café, where I had a nice chat with Ali. Well, technically it is not a brewpub, since the brewing is done elsewhere, but he brews his own beer and sells it in his café. I had a beer, but I’m afraid there are no notes from its consumption. It is a quiet place to hang out, make sure you visit if you are in town.
These rambling notes do not do justice to the Bergen beer scene, but I hope it might inspire tickers and drinkers to make a visit. Bergen has established itself firmly on the Norwegian beer map.
Note: The trip was paid by my publisher, and I did not receive any compensation from the establishments mentioned apart from some beer samples.