Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A number of universities and research institutes in Norway has an annual event to promote research. It’s a challenge to find new ways to present what’s going on. This year the University of Oslo has the food and drinking habits of the Vikings as one of the topics.

Botanist Anneleen Kool at the Museum of Natural History has studied the plants and herbs found in the preserved Viking ships. She is also a home brewer, and in cooperation with Kjetil Johnsen at Grünerløkka Brygghus, just a stone’s throw from the museum, she has recreated a Viking beer. The beer is brewed with smoked malt, juniper twigs and yarrow. There is also hops in the beer – archeological finds dating back to AD 800 shows that hops were in use – presumably in beer.


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Last week I was at a low. No photos were coming in, I really doubted if I was able to follow the schedule. Now the dropbox icon on my computer is living its own life, telling me about documents popping in.

And then there are all the great beer people getting back to me, explaining why they are busy. Most do brewing as a second job. One of the brewers is having a full-time job, running for mayor in her municipality and still finds time to brew and distribute beer. She sends e-mails at five in the morning. One is a sheep farmer, and explained that he had to get through the lambing first. Those who have hotels, catering or restaurants have one of their busiest seasons during May and June.

So my next challenge is to process all the material, to get back to those who have given their input and make sure I got things right.

But the second half of this week, I’ll be doing something completely different.

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The German broadcaster ARD has an interesting web article – audio, too, if your German is up to it. The story is about the growing Craft beer scene in Vienna, well worth reading.

What I particularly liked is how the Austrian newcomers to the scene establish their own terminology. There have been discussions in English and other languages on how to describe beer producers like Mikkeller and Evil Twin, who don’t have their own equipment, but rents capacity from others.

Gypsy brewers is one suggestion.

In the radio spot from Vienna, they use the term Wanderbrauer. I like that. It echoes from earlier times, when craftsmen travelled and set up shop.  It echoes Patrick Leigh Fermor.

But it does not translate well into English. Not really into Norwegian, either.

On the other hand,  they also use the expression Fernsehbiere about the dull industrial beers. TV beers. We could use that.

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Fancy an Austmann beer?

It’s beer festival time. I try not to envy people flying off to Bergen, Borefts, Stavanger – or planning for a week of drinking at the 2015 Copenhagen Beer Celebration.

I limited myself to the Grünerløkka Brygghus festival last weekend, and I made a point of being there early on Saturday afternoon. Lots of friendly brewers represented, particularly nice to have a chat with the guys from out of town – Austmann, Lindheim, Voss, and Halden. The festival took place in the brewery itself, giving a nice, rustic, down-to-earth atmosphere. They have chosen to keep this a small event, year after year, and as a drinker, I applaud this.

Voss and Lindheim. The plums were as good as the brews!

Sensible sampler sizes, and lots of interesting beers. A very pleasant raspberry gose from Lindheim, a spicy 13% imperial stout on cask from Nøgne Ø, two wild yeast beers from Halden. But the star of the show was the traditional ale from Voss, brewed with an old yeast strain that’s been used in home brewing in the area and was saved in the nick of time. The beer is rather sweet and malty, as they have used a very low amount of hops to let the yeast be the star.I’ll have to get back to this one to make better tasting notes.

Several of the breweries report good sales of takeaway beers, filling up growlers at their brewery shop.



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On the sunny side

When your expectations are low, the potential is better for nice surprises. Great beaches, a lovely house, good food.

And the supermarket up the road has more than just pale Portugese lagers.

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Just in time to get an overview on the Belgian beer scene before my trip next week, here is the new edition of the Good Beer Guide Belgium. The seventh edition. Author Tim Webb is joined by another well known beer writer this time around, Joe Stange.

I have plenty of beer books. Even a few half-read beer books. So it’s not that i grasp every opportunity to buy new ones. But this one really deserves its place on the shelf – and in your suitcase. It is too big to fit in a standard jacket pocket, but there is nothing in here that I would have removed.

There are chapters on Belgian history, on getting around, on food, and on brewing. But the bulk of the book is of course given to the breweries, their beers and where to buy them or drink them. There is even a section on where to drink Belgian beer outside Belgium.

There is not much space available for each brewery, but there is enough to point you in the directions you want to go.

But this is not only a useful book. It is also a good read. When the authors point to the weird tradition in cafes around Liège of adding honey to beer, they dryly comment: You must try this, for the same reason that children must burn themselves at least once on hot metal.

And I love this description: …. a high-carbonation, pungent blond barley wine that pours like sticky Champagne, with elements of marzipan and aftershave.

So, go ahead, buy it. For armchair travellers, newbies and those of us who already have lost most of our enamel to the wonders of the lambics.

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There have been some newspaper reports lately about the beer prices at Oslo airport, which are the highest in the land. This should not coame as a surprise to anyone. The beer prices at the airport is always more expensive than in town. A plass of Pilsener Urquell at Prague airport is astronomical if you compare it to a baskstreet cafe in town.

The Director General of the Norwegian Competition Authority is interviewed in the major business daily Dagens Næringsliv. She, unsurprisingly, wants more competition.  

I wrote a letter to the editor in Dagens Næringsliv, quoting Evan Lewis, forunder and head brewer at Ægir brewery. He sais a few days ago that there is one term in the Norwegian language he strongly dislikes. It is en halvliter, literally half a liter. (The English equivalent  obviously a pint. In Sweden they call it en stor stark, a big strong)

It is the generic term for a beer. If you walk into a pub, you traditionally ask for en halvliter. What you get is the standard pale lager available on tap in the establishment. (If it is noisy, you just signal with your fingers how many halvlitere you want, so no conversation need to take place.

Evan asked the question: Would you go into a restaurant and ask for one food?

His point is that things are changing. Many consumers go for quality, not for quantity.

When the Director General of the Competiton Authority raises the question of  how to increase competiton to get lower beer prices, what she discusses is wether we sould pay niney or one hundred kroner for a halvliter of Carlsberg. Real competiton would mean that we could choose between a broad range of beers, domestic and imported.

And if the beer is good, we don’t mind paying premium prices.

You know what? They printed it yesterday.



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