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Wonderful view at Lindheim

 

It’s been quite a year!
I’m hardly blogging, but that does not mean I’m not busy doing beer things. 2017 has been very rewarding.
I have attended a number of festivals, done tastings and speeches, visited breweries – and written a lot.

My beer travelling has mostly been in Norway, with a few exceptions. I was once again invited by Visit Flanders to Belgium for a beer tour. We had some very busy days, meeting brewers and visiting cafes and restaurants. The highlight of the tour was a visit to Westmalle, attending mass with the monks followed by a tour behind the walls, ending up at the brewery. I have since published an article on beer tourism in Belgium, but I hope to go deeper into this material.

Westmalle

The walls of Westmalle

A Tripel with cheese,
in Café Trppisten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This autumn I was travelling for work to Helsinki, and used the opportunity to catch up on the beer scene there. Helsinki is a very convenient two hour ferry ride from Tallinn, which I have to admit I had not visited before. I made a day trip to get a glimpse of the beer scene, and it is a town I definitely will get back to. A weekend in Stockholm included a splendid meal at Akkurat, which still stands out among the very best places for beer and food in the known universe.

I have not visited as many new Norwegian breweries as earlier years, but at least I can tick off Skumbag in Oslo, Gøtt in Nesbyen, Yeastside in Stavanger and Lilland Bryggerihotell in Tau on the list. But a real highlight vas getting an invitation to join beer people from around the world for a weekend at Lindheim Ølkompani this summer. I have met Ingeborg and Eivin many times over the years, but I was very happy to finally get to visit their brewery, set among the orchards of Telemark.

There are new bars opening up in Oslo, some of them take beer very seriously. Instant favorites of mine are BRUS Oslo, Occulus (Cervisiam brewery tap) and Røør, but Brygg Oslo and Håndslag also look very promising.

I have been doing beer tastings and book promos across the country this year as well, starting with an event at Gulating Trondheim. I cooperate with Håndverkerstuene on beer and food tastings, the first event for 2018 has already sold out! I did a very successful beer quiz for the annual meeting of the The Norwegian Beer and Soft Drinks Producers.

A number of Norwegian beer festivals, of which I really want to point to Ølfestivalen at Nærbø, south of Stavanger. Well organized, very laid back and friendly. They have been doing this every other year since 2009, and they keep it down to earth and local – earning money for the local sports club.

Not just one book this year, but two! A new edition of the Norwegian Beer Guide, which keeps selling well, both in book and magazine formats. Fun and interesting to do a collaboration, as I did a Beer Quiz book with Sammy Myklebust. Phone, Dropbox and one weekend of sitting down together over a few beers. A thousand beer questions, plus some about other beverages with and without alcohol. And we are still open for engagements, solo perfomances or as a duo!

The Norwegian Beer Guide is also published in magazine format in cooperation with the newspaper VG, with print run of 40.000. I also had several pieces printed in the food magazine Godt from the same publisher.

Sorry to see two good breweries give up, Grim & Gryt and To Tårn. Good beer and good people, too bad that is not enough in today’s fiercely competitive market.

Too bad To Tårn had to close

2018?

I plan to do a hardcover book presenting all Norwegian breweries again. I’d love to make more out of the quiz material, too. This could be reused in other countries, and I also hope to do more live quizzes. And the ambition is to cover the Norwegian beer scene in English a bit more again. Not much, but a bit more.

A visit to Berlin in early January. And I definitely need to visit the UK. Not to speak of Belgium. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all beer people out there.

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quizcoverWith the huge range of beer books available, I was surprised there were no beer quiz books around.

 

Last year I was in Stavanger, promoting my book with the publisher – including a beer tasting for people in the local book trade. There was also a short literary quiz, and I got the idea there and then – why not a beer quiz book?

I reached out to follow beer blogger Sammy Myklebust , who jumped right in, and the publisher Vega Forlag was positive.

The bulk of the work was done during the first four months of this year, with e-mail and dropbox as collaboration tools. We met twice, once for a working weekend at my mountain cottage, then for a few hours in Bergen to lay the last pieces of the puzzle.

We decided to divide the book into chapters, with 18 questions in each chapter, divided into three categories according to difficulty. There are 1000 beer questions with a few chapters on other alcohol and drinks without alcohol at the end.

There are chapters on major beer countries, on traditional brewing, on hops, beer festivals, fiction and non-fiction books, beer personalities, “national” beers of various countries, pubs and bars.

I’m quite pleased with the range of questions. We touch upon history, religion, travel, food, home brewing, literature, music, TV series, ethnography, biochemistry, mycology, mythology, linguistics and many other fields.

There was a CAMRA quiz books some years ago, and a Swedish board game. Maybe the market is ripe for versions of this in other countries and languages? If anyone’s interested, get in touch.

MAi 09 093

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I’ve been challenged. By Magnus. Three beer memories from before I drank beer myself. This is a Scandinavian concept, so this post will be in Norwegian. I’m not sure if Google translate will be very helpful.

Jeg begynner å bli gammel. 55. Og jeg drakk min første øl da jeg var 15. Så mine minner må da handle om perioden rundt 1970.

Det var et annet Norge. Et Norge uten oljerikdom, som fremdeles var preget av gjenreisning etter krigen. Og øl var ikke på noe hverdagsbord.

– Mine foreldre drakk lite. Men på juleaften drakk de en pilsner og en akevitt eller to. Lysholm Linie. Ølet var E.C. Dahls Pils, av den enkle grunn at det var det eneste som var i salg i Trondheim. Privateiede bryggerier hadde delt landet i regioner der de hadde monopol.

– Det ble også brygget øl til jul. Men ikke ordentlig øl. Tomtebrygg var et malt- og sukkerbasert kit som ga et musserende, alkoholsvakt og søtt brygg som kunne drikkes av hele familien. Så kunne man sikkert tilsette annet gjær og få omdannet mer av sukkeret. Men det gjorde ikke vi.

– Men det mest spennende ølet har jeg bare hørt om i etterkant. Min fars familie kom fra Skatval, som fremdeles er kjerneområdet for gårdsbrygging i Norge. Da hans mormor og morfar kjøpte gård og flyttet tre-fire mil vestover til Strinda, til det som i dag ligger innenfor grensen til Trondheim kommune, tok de ikke bryggetradisjonene med seg. Det er her mine minner skulle ha vært. Om brygging til bryllup og slåttonn, jul og barnedåp. Om bingen med røykmalt på låven som var klar om det skulle være behov for å brygge til en begravelse – gravøl.

 

Stafetten går videre til et annet medlem av Skandinaviska Ölskribenters Förening- Stefan. Han skal skrive om Den perfekte ølpub.

#ölbloggstafett2015

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I had a lunchtime meeting with my publisher today. I like that. My publisher.

So, I have a signed contract in my hands. For a book. Estimate: 500 pages. Working title: Guide to Norwegian breweries and beers.

First printing: 3000 copies.

Deadline: Mid-July.

 

Wish me luck!

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I did a public beer tasting last night here in an Oslo bar. The plan was initially to have a brewer come and present his beers, while I was asking questions to keep the words flowing. Well, the brewer couldn’t make it, so I had to run the show on my own, with a little assistance from Kenneth, the host of the event.

I was allowed to pick the beers, all from Little Brother Brewery, probably the smallest brewery in town to have a licence to sell their beers. They have a fine range of  beers, not being confined to the standard range of styles. Most of the audience had not tried any of their beers before, and I doubt if any had tried them all.

There was an audience of 40-50, the crowd was well-behaved – and I felt things went very well. Quite a few in the audience with more brewing knowledge than I have, but I was able to share some of the knowledge I have about the large number of new Norwegian breweries.

The beers were good, and my reflections were well received.

I do some talks for various audiences at work, but this is the first time I do this type of event. The feedback was very positive, so I could easily be convinced to do similar things in the future.

And the experience will also come in handy for a project I’ll tell you more about in the near future.

I was fairly busy, so I didn’t take any photos.

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I got an email a few weeks ago from a guy I know, offering me a position as a beer blogger for one of the major Norwegian online news providers. The wording was flattering, and there was even money involved, meaning a certain amount per click.

An opportunity to write in Norwegian for a broad audience on a subject that (still) fascinates me!

But I had to decline. In addition to the featured bloggers, which are given exposure within the editorial environment, they also offer a general blogging platform, where everyone may publish everything. There is a code of conduct that you have to agree with, and they have staff in charge of this service.

As you might know, I have a day job in the health sector. In this capacity I learned, quite a while ago,  that someone had created a blog dedicated to a smear campaign against an employee of the company where I work. He was accused  of malpractice and the page  made similarities between him and war criminals.

I tried to have these writings removed, quoting the code of conduct. This was declined, both while the blogger was anonymous and when I, without much effort, told them her identity.

My reputation is not worth very much. But I am in a position to decline a co-operation with a company that has an elastic relationship with their stated ethical standards.

So, no thanks.

But there are other windows of opportunity – more about that soon.

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The blog posts have been quite irregular here lately. As the focus has changed towards Norwegian breweries, I have also established a spin off on Facebook, which covers news updates from other sources, mostly in Norwegian. This has been very successful, much more so than my activity on twitter. So, if you’re not following my Facebook page, give it a try.

But I have had a few offers to migrate my beer writing to other platforms, too. More about that soon.

 

 

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