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Archive for October, 2016

I’ve been seeking out small scale breweries across Northern Europe for a dozen years. Most of them are happy to open their doors, give me samples from their tanks and send me home with a bag of goodies. Sometimes we don’t find the time to meet, but we have a Messenger chat, exchange e-mails or have phone conversations.

I use the opportunities I have when I travel for business or leisure, and with close to 200 Norwegian breweries, there is a long list of microbreweries I want to visit in all parts of the country.

This summer I was able to seek out a few of them, and found eager brewers happy to tell me about their beers and how they fit in with food and other ways of making money.

But there is always a first. In Sømna, the gateway to Northern Norway, father and son Trond and Bård have started Nordgården Gårdsbryggeri. I get in touch with Bård, and he tells me his father is at the brewery the day we are driving by.

It’s a beautiful summer day, the brewery is located on an idyllic farm a few kilometers away from the main road, there is a nice beer garden in front of the house.

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I get a rather lukewarm greeting. I explain what I am doing, show a copy of my book, and tell him I try to keep a total overview of all Norwegian breweries, and I’d like to have photos and descriptions of his beers in my book.

  • I’d don’t want to be a part of your book, Trond tells me.
  • -But you have a license to brew, you sell your beers here and elsewhere, and even have a pub in your garden?
  • Sure. But the beers are not where I want them to be yet. If you print descriptions, they will be out of date too soon.
  • But this is an opportunity for publicity and I’m not charging you for this?

Trond makes it perfectly clear that he is in no way ready to present his beers in any book project in the foreseeable future. There is no point in stretching out my visit, he makes no gesture of putting the kettle on. He is in no way comfortable about my visit. But he allows me to take a few photos for web use. And I persuade him to trade a few bottles for a copy of last year’s book.

I’ve later tasted the beers, and I have to admit he has a point. The beers taste like home brew. Perfectly drinkable home brew, but nothing outstanding compared to other beers you find in Norwegian supermarkets. Maybe it’s right to wait a few years before I get back to him. Or at least until next summer…

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The big events you plan for might turn out splendid. But it’s the beer bars you stumble upon that are some of the real gems. Here is one in Milan.

 

The day before had been very eventful. I had been up bright and early, caught a flight to Milan and attending the opening of the new Baladin brewery. The next day involved transport back to Milan before we went home, but some of us had time to spare.

We started off with lunch at an offshoot of the Birrificio Lambrate, their Golgi restaurant. It is similar to their brewpub I visited some years ago, for lunch there are good rustic dishes, and they have a good selection of tasty beers on tap as well as some bottles. With me for this session were two proper beer writers, Adrian Tierney-Jones and Martyn Cornell, as well as fellow Norwegian beer writer Ove Haugland Jakobsen, who has a day job as I do. We had a merry time sampling some of the beers available, including a very tasty bock and their Quarantot Double IPA.

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The merry beer writers enjoying a liquid lunch at Lambrate.

By 2:30, the restaurant was closing for the afternoon and Adrian and Martyn were off to the airport. Ove had the sense to ask the waiter if there was another bar in the neighborhood that might be open.

  • Sure, just continue down the main street, and there is one on your right.

Six hundred meters or so along the boulevard we found the place, Au Vieux Strasbourg. What looked like a pleasant beer bar when we looked at the beers on tap turned into an excellent beer bar when we looked through the bottle list. An well curated range of Belgian beers is the theme here, they could have named the place after a Belgian city instead. From the beer mats and glasses, there seems to be a wholesaler/importer involved here, meaning there could be similar places across Italy.

Never mind.  We got through quite a few in a few hours’ time, and while the barman had limited knowledge of English, a lady who seemed to be a regular helped with the translation.  A highlight for me was a bottle of Biere de Beloeil from Dupont. Fruity and funky, it had the splendid Belgian blend of fruit and stable, with tones of oranges and apricots.

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We were way behind schedule when we arrived at the airport for the check in. After all, we couldn’t possibly turn down the offer of a final glass of beer on the house. Sometimes, very rarely for me, you’re lucky your plane is delayed. This was one of those times.

If you are in the area and feels the urge to imbimbe, you are lucky. Au Vieux Strasbourg is open 07-02, which is more user friendly than most Italian places. More user friendly than most places in the known universe, come to think of it.

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