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Mosaic Single Hop IPA

Single hop IPA from Kolonihagen

 

There are several companies who claim to be the first organic (økologisk) brewery in Norway. Reins Kloster in Rissa, an hour’s drive from Trondheim is probably the winner. Their beers have a growing distribution in restaurants, bars and shops in the region, check their web site for a list. Close behind is Kolonihagen in Oslo. They have sold beers in their cafes/restaurants since last summer, and they have now signed an agreement for supermarket sales. Kolonihagen is opening a new restaurant in Hamar in a few days, which will also feature a micro brewery. Their brewery is not set up yet, but they aim to have their own pilsener on tap.

There are two more making their first brews right now – Eiker ølfabrikk in Mjøndalen, near Drammen and Grim & Gryt in Hareid on the western coast.

This has not been a major trend in Norway so far. Our farming is small scale compared to the rest of Europe, and most consumers (myself included) feel that the food generally available in the shops is healthy enough.

But this is a niche market, and I think there is a potential here. And, if you insist on buying organic food, it makes more sense that it is produced regionally, or, at least, nationally and not sent halfway around the globe.

Barley field

The Godfather of beer blogging, Alan in Canada, has asked the question:

What beer book which has yet to be written would you like to see published?

And the question is a good one. This is a part of The Session. The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry.

So the host of Session 95 is Alan, go to his blog to see a round up of all contributions this month.

He also wants to know what books we’d like to write. Well, there might be something happening over here, but it’s early days yet. I’ll let you know if and when things get moving.

So I need more beer books? Well. There are beer books silently staring at med from the shelves. Some have been gifts or review copies, some seemed more promising at amazon or in the bookshop than they turned out to be. So I tend to limit my beer book purchases, and I find it very convenient when I can buy an e-book from Evan Rail, ready to digest in one sitting.

But I digress.  There are many beer books waiting to be written. And I have at least three books I’d like to see published.

First of all, my friend the beer scholar Lars Marius Garshol has done some really impressive writing about farmhouse beers in Norway and in Lithuania. He should be given a scholarship to write about the history of small-scale brewing in The Nordic countries and the Baltic countries, including Finland and Russian Karelia. That’s probably too ambitious. But a book on Norwegian traditional beers would be most welcome. too!

 

On an even broader scale, I’d like a book on European beer brewing history. Starting with historical and archeological sources, painting the broad strokes of the major players.

  • How empires, was and legislation have given the background for clever entrepreneurs.
  • The contribution of Weihenstephan and other centers of brewery education.
  • The emergence of a science of brewing.
  • Family brewers growing into multinationals. Dreher, Carnegie, Jacobsen, Guinness, Heineken.
  • Did the Russian court really drink stout? If so, where was the beer brewed?
  • European beer in other corners of the world.
  • Intra-European beer trade. How much stout did the czars really drink?

There could be lots of tables and figures in such a book, but I’d prefer the good stories, the anecdotes and how beer history fits into the broader history. And I would like lots of maps, old ads and photos.

But there is another book waiting to be written, too. About the emergence of a company that defied all established wisdom within the industry. A company that has used social media, reached out to bloggers, provoked regulating authorities and getting plenty of press coverage without buying ads.

If I was given some months’ salary and freedom to write a book on a beer related theme, I would write the story of BrewDog. And I’d focus on the beer. Unlike the book by the founders of Brooklyn Brewery. That book is not about beer at all, it could have been a chronicling a chewing gum factory.

The Beer Book for Punks could be sold in pubs and bars, bottle shops – and the bookshops of business schools around the globe. Not to mention airports.

I was very happy to receive a book in the mail just a few days before Christmas, a bit too late for a review to help the holiday sales.

The Berlin beer scene has seen much the same as in London, an explosion in the number of micro breweries, beer bars with an interesting range of brews and beer shops.

HeidenpetersI have tried to document some of this on my blog over the last decade, but a comprehensive guide was really needed. And that is what we’ve got.

Markus Raupach and Bastian Böttner has written a bilingual guide to breweries, beer gardens, brew pubs and beer culture in Berlin. The German text is longer, but the information in English is likely to be what you need to navigate.

There are 24 breweries in Berlin (including Potsdam) now, so a weekend is not enough to cover them all. At least you have a tool to do your planning.

Lots of nice color photos. Published by GuideMedia Verlag Bamberg. Be sure to get one before you go!

You can order from their web site.

Meierei, Potsdam

Meieri im Neuen Garten, Potsdam

I got an invite to a beer launch in Oslo a few weeks ago, but I could not fit it in my schedule. I answered back that I’d be happy to try the beers anyway, and a week before Christmas I had two cans delivered at home.

The idea is simply to combine two Scandinavian brand names to get extra coverage for both. One of them has many decades of changing fortunes, the other a relative newcomer. Scandinavian Airlines used to be the pinnacle of sophistication ca 1963, while Mikkeller is a big worldwide hit ca 2015.

The airline asked the brewer to make two beers for the business class of their long distance flights. The result: Sky High Wit and Sky High Red Lager.

The beers are supposed to compensate for changes in how we experience food and drink on a plane. I cannot comment on that aspect, but I took the two cans along to our cabin in the mountains, 950 meters above sea level.

The wit is true to type, hazy yellow with a fluffy head. A refreshing beer with tones of citrus and flowers. Light body, easy to drink, should have a broad appeal.

The lager is more robust. It has a lovely deep red color and a beige head. A rich aroma with malt and spices. Full bodied, lots of flavor, including caramel, red currants and burned sugar. EVen if the flavor is a bit diminished in the air, there should be plenty left.

Very decent beers, I am not convinced that they should be reserved for the business class segment.

And if SAS were truly bold, they would throw out Carlsberg and ask Mikkeller to brew a house beer for all their flights.

There might be some minor adjustments to the Norwegian ban on ads for alcoholic beverages. This means  that breweries and cider makers may give some very basic information about their products. There will be now advertising as such, in printed or online media. It is really tough for a new brewery to promote their products to establish a brand name on the regional or national level.

But we are, to the dismay of some regulators, not totally North Korea. We are allowed to watch some sports on television. And these sporting events have sponsors.

Some of these sports events are unsignificant outside the Nordic countries. (Come to think of it, I don’t think the Danes care, either). We’re taking variations over cross-country skiing here.

Funny that  the Veltins brewery is a major sponsor of skiing. Their beers are not for sale in Norway.

I’d say the chances are good for finding Veltins in Norwegian shops during 2015.

A convicted cocaine smuggler who runs London Fields Brewery has been arrested on suspicion of tax evasion after a dawn raid at his home. Jules de Vere Whiteway-Wilkinson was detained after officers from HM Revenue and Customs arrived at his house in Stoke Newington to question him about allegations that he has been failing to pay VAT at the London Fields Brewery. This is according to the Propel Newsletter. Whiteway-Wilkinson has run the brewery since his release from a 12-year prison sentence imposed in 2004 for his role as the leader of a cocaine-smuggling gang that supplied drugs to celebrities and music industry figures.

I have to admit that when I was in London a year ago, the tap room at London Fields was one of the highlights of the weekend. Oh, well.

A well deserved award

Congratulations to Boak & Bailey, who were named the Beer Writers of the Year by the British Guild of Beer Writers. If you haven’t bought their Brew Britannia book already, it’s time to do it. And follow their blog – lots of good beer writing, including good links to others.

 

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