Posts Tagged ‘Ægir bryggeri’

In a nation in a bubble outside most effects of the crisis in Europe, the Norwegian micro breweries also enjoy the general affluence. Articles in several newspapers shows good figures for most of the professional micro breweries.

Nøgne Ø is, of course, the most important, with a significant part of their turnover from exports. They sold 700 000 liters of beer last year, and expect a 40% increase in 2012.
Their success does not make them go just for the safe and profitable, Nøgne Ø keeps on experimenting and collaborating around the globe. Some of the projects, like brewing a range of sake, show that there still is passion and innovation.

Haandbryggeriet and Ægir are not quite as big, but they are also doing fine, according to the accounts for 2011. Ægir expects a deficit in 2012 due to their building a new brewery and distillery, on the other hand it gives them a capacity of brewing 2 million liters per year. Haandbryggeriet moved and expanded earlier this year, and expect to brew 400 000 liters this year. They both have a broad range of beers, and Haandbryggeriet exports a significant part of their output.

Kinn is a relative newcomer that also is doing well. Their distribution is growing steadily, and they expect to double their turnover in 2012.

Lervig is also growing, but they have been losing money every year since they were established eight years ago. They started as a lager brewery, challenging Carlsberg who closed down their  local brewery in Stavanger. With star brewer Mike Murphy in residence, they deliver both more challenging beers as well as session beers in supermarket strength that hopefully can find their niche in the market.

Another brewery to watch out for is Union. They reestablished themselves a few years ago in Skien, offering a few boring pale lagers. There are good reasons to hope that this will change for the better, as they have recruited Anders Kissmeyer, one of the real innovators behind the Danish beer revolution, as their head brewer.

All of the above mainly bottle their beers, and have something resembling a national distribution. The same, obviously, goes for the industrial players. Carlsberg, Hansa/Borg, Aass and Mack. They share the main bulk of the market, but I won’t bother you with any analysis of their products.

But there is also an undergrowth of smaller micro breweries that is below any radar showing market shares. I’ll try to cover them all over the coming months. I just have to figure out how to do that.

Beer barrels

Barrel aging at Haandbryggeriet

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If I were to dream up a perfect location for a brew pub, it would probably be where the Ægir brewery is already located. At the end of one of the most picturesque fjords in Norway. The last stop an a narrow gauge railway packed with tourists during the saison season. At the end of scenic walks and a mountain-to-fjord cycle route that gets more popular every year. At the core of the Norway in a nutshell concept, where you get what you came for crammed into a day or two. To have a brewpub, a restaurant and a hotel in such a spot sounds sensible.

They are now an integrated part of the marketing towards active tourism. If you have walked through the mountains for some days, the thought of high quality session beers on tap at the end of the trail is highly motivating. Visitrallarvegen, which, despite it’s name is in Norwegian only, shows how they are an integrated part. And they get a nice writeup in the last issue of Fjell og Vidde (not online), the magazine of the Norwegian Trekking Association, which has hundreds of thousands of members in Norway and abroad.

Sales of the Ægir beers were up 115% in 2010 compared to the previous year, which was far beyond their capacity. Most of the bottled beers are currently produced in Belgium. This is soon to change, a new brewery is under construction, meaning that they will brew all their beers in Flåm from January 2012. The present equipment will be used for one offs and special beers like today. The new facilities will even include a distillery, so a Ægir whiskey is probably being planned.

If you pass through Flåm, make sure you quench your thirst with a Rallar Amber Aleor one of the other session beers first. Then try a glass of the superb IPA. For the grand finale, you could do worse than the Natt Imperial Porter. Ask if they have any left of their limited edition that has been aged in bourbon barrels. You won’t regret it!

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Lots of new stuff from the Norwegian micros now, particularly from Ægir. Seems like the contract brewing of some of their bottled beers has freed the capacity for a broader range of beers on keg and cask, which was just the intention of brewer Evan Lewis.

 Currently doing the rounds is the Ægir Saison, which used to be available only at the brewpub. There is also an Ægir Wit.

On the mini festival this Saturday at Grünerløkka Brygghus, Oslo, there are opportunities to sample Harvest ale and Altbier.

Finally, during the cask festival in Oslo, there will be cask versions of the  IPA, Blonde, Rakøl ( a new one) and Saison. Plus bottles of the new Natt Imperial Porter. 

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New Norwegian beers

In addition to the new beers announced from Nøgne ø, there are other interesting developements.

Those who have tried the beers from Ægir Brewery in scenic Flåm may wonder why their beers are not more widely avaialble. Well, there is a simple reason – during the tourist season they have problems keeping up with demand. Their brewpub is in a prime location for lots of travellers by bike, boat, train or car.

Well, they are setting up beer engines in some of the best beer bars around the country now, starting at Cardinal in Stavanger. Olympen in Oslo is next in line, and I look forward to trying their beer on tap. In bottled form they are launching Tors Hammer, a Barleywine. For the tickers, good luck in finding a bottle of the Cinnamon beer they have brewed for Hønsehagen Vinkjeller in Stongfjorden. (No, I’m not making this up!)

Next year there will be an Imperial Stout…

Have a look at their web site!

A bock is available on tap at Lillehammer Bryggeri, for reasons unknown to me it is called Vinterøl. Expect bottled beers from them soon, but I think they will focus on regional distribution.

What else?

Some of  us beer geeks are driving  3 hours or so to Ruten Fjellstue on Friday. They set up a micro brewery, so far for their guests only, last year. Four varieties on tap, including a very peculiar one. Stay tuned!

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