Posts Tagged ‘Grünerløkka Brygghus’

Vespa & Humla front

A quiet alternative

I’m not usually pushing news about the big global players in the alcohol industry. But when they reach out to small individual producers to do a collaboration with no strings attached, I don’t mind.

Jameson Whisky, which belongs to the Pernod Richard group, has been doing a series of collaborations with craft breweries with the same concept – beer aged in used whiskey casks. This time around, Grünerløkka Brygghus in Oslo was invited to join in, and head brewer Kjetil Johnsen has made a limited edition Irish Rock Porter.

This is a Baltic Porter (brewed with lager yeast, if that is of importance to you), which has spent some weeks in casks which were just emptied of whisky. It’s a one off, so don’t expect this to find this outside Norway or for promotional purposes for the destillery.

There was a launch last night in Oslo, and I am happy to report about a very drinkable beer. The whiskey character comes through in a subtle way – it has a lighter touch than scotch whisky barrels with all their smoke or bourbon barrels with a lot of vanilla. Sure, you feel the booze, and the oak plays its part. But it an easy drinking and elegant beer. Grab it if you can.

The tasting was held at Vespa & Humla, the new brewery tap of Grünerløkka Brygghus. They still have their main pub, but the new one is tucked away next door to the brewery.Expect to find a full list of their own brews and a relaxed atmosphere – and good home cooking.

Kjetil with beer glass. Kjetil has every reason to be pleased with his whiskey barrel beer.



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I have written about this concept earlier – the long term plan is to start brewing, but there are some logistics meaning this is not happening for a year or two. This establishment is just a few minutes walk from Schouskjelleren, and it is more or less next door to some of the other parts of the Jan Vardøen restaurant empire.

It’s a nice place with a central seating area as well as a few tables and stools on a mezzanine where the bar is. The beer list is at a blackboard at the far end of the room, while close tot he bar there are no signs of what is on offer. The selection is not that inventive. A specially brewed steamer from Haandbryggeriet, a single hop IPA from Nøgne Ø. The rest are mostly boring macros, nothing daring in this range at all. There is no list of bottles available, but I expect one fairly soon.

As I arrive, there are problems with the beer engines. The valves in their fake hand pumps are giving them trouble, and there are several brewery representatives working to sort this out.

Five on a Friday afternoon it is almost full, I can only envisage how it must look at midnight.

This is also a place for eating. It’s not fine dining, but you can have oysters, fish and chips, sausges, home cooked crisps or Scotch eggs.

With the beer pumps not being very helpful and a slightly chaotic system for ordering food, there are lines of people trying to order drinks.

Sure, this is a welcome addition to the Oslo beer scene, and is seems quite successful already. On the other hand, I think they might have slightly wrong ambitions.

I’d reconsider the offering of fried food. If the waiters have to fight their way through the crowd to serve the food before it gets too cold, it is perhaps not the way to do it. Perhaps serving cold plates of cured meat, a selection of cheese or salads could be alternatives?

They should, however, be more ambitious about the beers. More Scandinavian micros instead of the global names, one rotating beer that could be more challenging, be it a Belgian sour ale, a monster from Mikkeller or a German smoked beer.

But the more the merrier, and I fully understand that there is a need for beer places that appeal to other market segments than grumpy old men like me.

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Still wrapped up

I have told you before about the plans for a new brewpub in Oslo, and it is now getting close to opening time. September 24 if everything goes according to plan. 

A few of us got a sneak peek last Saturday. 

The brewpub is located in the vaulted cellars of the old Schous brewery, dating back to the 1820s. Lots of gleaming copper ready to be used, still a lot of bits and pieces to be done before letting the drinkers in. 

The brewpub is phase one of a new restaurant complex. Above ground there will be three floors with an Italian restaurant, a wine bar and a beer/deli shop due to open next year. The rent is fairly low in this part of Grünerløkka, reflecting the rather rough neighbourhood with a brisk trade in alternative intoxicating substances. 

It will be interesting to see how this takes shape. Meanwhile, I really look forward to try the new brews on offer next weekend. 

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I’ve been claiming for a long time that there is a market for at least two more brewpubs in Oslo. The current Oslo Mikrobryggeri is west of the city centre, I’d say it is more of a community pub for people who work or live in the area. It seems to be quite full every evening, the beer is not too inventive or exiting,

The other two ought to be in the city centre and a bit further east, the rapidly-gentrifying-but-still-fighting-drug-pushers Grünerløkka, where all the bright young things go to play, perhaps the most interesting.

The rent in the most popular streets in central Oslo is possibly the main factor for nothing happening here, spending your precious square meters on brewing vessels and tanks when you could have squeezed in more alcopop-drinking customers instead is perhaps not interesting.

Well, it seems the time is ripe at Grünerløkka. There is not just one brewpub opening this autumn, but two. One is Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri, which I have covered before. They have not announced any opening date as yet, but October has been mentioned. They probably thought they had enough time to test the equipment before letting the punters in. As far as I know, they will feature a steady range of house beers as well as a succession of one-offs to keep the tickers coming back often.

But then I saw an announcement at Facebook telling me that Evan Lewis, the brewer at Ægir, will attend an event at Grünerløkka Brygghus. Well, some bars call themselves breweries without actually doing any beer production, and the event in question is a sort of mini beer and food festival, featuring craft beers from Norway and abroad. One further click, though, reveals that there will actually be a brewpub, opening in Thorvald Meyers gate, 500 meters or so from Schouskjelleren.

Their Facebook pages tells us the following: We will serve beers from our own production, our own imports, Norwegian and imported micro brews, beers from traditional countries like England and Belgium as well as the new exciting ones like the USA and Italy. The diversity of beer is the key word, from simple lagers to more complex ales.

They will open 1 October, I don’t know if they will have any of their own beers ready by then.


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