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Posts Tagged ‘Lervig’

One of the legends of the European craft beer scene is Mike Murphy. He is an American with a home brewing background, and with an impeccable resume from Italy and Denmark he arrived in Stavanger five years ago. Lervig was established in 2003, and started brewing in 2005. They were stumbling a bit the first few years, and Mike had some serious quality issues to tackle when he took over in 2010. You can read more about Mike’s career at the Die by the BEER blog.

I had not met Mike before, so when Cafe Sara had a Lervig tasting this week, I was very happy to attend. The place was not as packed as the last time I was there, meaning there was more interaction between the public and the stage.

Mike took along James Goulding, who also works at Lervig, particularly with their beer festival.

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James and Mike

 
Lervig was built with a capacity to brew lagers on a scale to compete with Carlsberg in the regional market, and with the current production of 1.5 million liters they can still grow for a long time. Two thirds of the 1.5 million liters is craft beer, the rest lager beers.

We had a sample of several of their beers, including a pleasant Sorachi Ace Lager, showing that single hop beers does not need to be limited to IPAs.

Given Mike’s background and good network, they collaborate with a number of breweries. My own favourite is one they have made with Magic Rock – Rustique. An IPA with Brett, aged in Chardonnay barrels.

During his days in Denmark, Mike brewed some beers from Mikkeller, and when Nøgne Ø needed all their capacity for their own beers, Lervig has taken over the brewing of the Beer Geek series of beers.

The aim for next year is to get a better national distribution in Norway, but they are also working on markets like the UK, Italy and Spain. Emerging markets like Estonia and Poland are also interesting, and if you’re lucky, you might even find Lervig beers in Thailand.

Lervig beers to look out for next year? A Lindheim/Mikkeller/Lervig Kriek with sour cherries from the Lindheim orchards. And a Lervig/ Evil Twin collaboration brewed with two very Norwegian ingredients. Frozen pizza and money. I kid you not. I think the brewery tap they are planning in Stavanger will be a place for pilgrimages in the years to come.

I have met the head brewers of the other top-tier Norwegian craft breweries before – nice to finally have a chat with Mike Murphy as well.

Next week it’s Anders Kissmeyer and Nøgne Ø at Cafe Sara/Verkstedet. Definitely the place to be in Oslo.

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The West Coast means the Norwegian West Coast today.

While I have given a fair amount of coverage to the established craft breweries in Norway, I have not written much about Lervig from Stavanger. This is a brewery that is making its mark,

Lervig was established in 2003, when Ringnes/Carlsberg decided to close down the Tou brewery, which had supplied the Stavanger region with their pale lagers for many years. And to begin with, they mainly produced pale lagers. Nor very impressive lagers, I have to say.

Fast forward to 2010. The arrival of Mike Murphy. An american brewer with the most impressive CV. Ha had brewed in the US, in Italy and in Denmark, with a reputation both for quality and for innovation. Just what Lervig needed. For an interview with Mike Murphy, check out the Die by the Beer blog.

Since the, there has been a wide spectrum of beers released on the Norwegian market. Some of them have been strong and serious beers aimed at the more discerning beer drinker. Others have been aimed at the supermarkets, giving us fresh and hoppy everyday beers which have really filled a domestic niche.

They have some new beers out, among them two in their new Art Collection series, where they let artist design labels for limited edition runs of beers. I asked them to send me some, and here is my verdict:

The Scull and Cross Blades Belgian Black Ale pours a very dark brown with a lovely beige head.

Chocolate, prunes and liquorice. The beer is velvety smooth. They could have called this a foreign stout if they wanted, but there is a Belgian funky element in the background that adds a dimension and lift this above the ordinary.

The Funky Moi Rye Saison has a hazy brass color with a lively carbonation. I tried this on tap, too, and seem to recall that it was slightly lighter in color, but never mind. A saison with a deeper flavour spectrum than most. Oranges, cherries, some funk and a distinct rye sourness. A great beer.

But the beer that will make its mark is a more humble one, Johnny Low.  This is a grassy, well hopped beer at only 2.5% ABV, meaning there is something decent to drink even if you have to drive or have other reasons to avoid the alcohol. The low alcohol beers in Norway have barely been drinkable, this is like a fresh breeze giving hopes for the summer season. It is also being launched in cans, which I think will give a boost in the market.

 

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As well as blogging, I also hang around various other beer sites. In Scandinavia, we tend to go for RateBeer rather than Beer Advocate, and I am approaching Norwegian beer rating number 1000 on RB. I am not much of a ticker any more, but I enjoy following the Norwegian scene.

There are new beers every week now, and I do not pay good money for beers from breweries that tend to let me down. So I could have reached this milestone before.

But which one to pick for the big number?

It could have been a beer from one of the forerunners of the Norwegian craft scene. Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet, Ægir, Kinn or Lervig. One of the stars rapidly building a name like Austmann, Voss or Lindheim. A beer from one of my favourite brewpubs, Trondhjems Mikrobryggeri, Crowbar or Schouskjelleren.

But I picked Fjellbryggeriet Lun, a brown ale from a newcomer. They have made things even more difficult by going for the supermarket segment, staying below 4.7% ABV.

Lovely notes of roasted grain. Nuts, malt, coffee and chocolate. Clean and elegant. A most impressive beer from a new kid on the block. Well, they are new as commercial brewers. But their home page tells the story – 13 years as home brewers. So this is probably more than just beginner’s luck…

And located in the middle of the moutnains of Southern Norway, they also  fill in one of the blanks of the Norwegian beer map.

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Håndverkerstuene has gone through some changes of management, but the kitchen is still very good – and the beer range is better than ever. Some of the imports, particularly the Belgians and Americans, are gone, what you find is an outstanding range of Norwegian and Nordic beers. 12 craft beers on tap a few days ago, 10 of them Norwegian, the other two also Scandinavian.

Handverkerstuene taps

This year they are challenging Norwegian breweries to come up with the best beer matches for various menus. Eight breweries are taking part in the quarter finals, Austmann vs Aass, Ringnes vs Nøgne Ø, Lervig vs Haandbryggeriet and Ægir vs Kinn. 

 

The two best meet in the final 22 September. The juries are the paying guests on the evening of each round. The loser of the final will brew a special brew for the winner.

Details about the challenge, the menus and tickets at the Bryggeribråk web site.

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Boxes of beer from breweries are always welcome, and when they are domestic, it means I don’t have to fork out any money for duties and VAT. The package I got the other day was from Lervig Aktiebryggeri in Stavanger.

When Ringnes/Carlsberg closed down their brewery in Stavanger in 2003, this led to lots of local protests – and a new brewery. Initially they focused on varieties of pale lagers, but they have gradually evolved into a more interesting brewery. The four beers I received for review are good examples.

White Dog is their wheat beer, easily recognised bu the bubble gum and lemon in the nose and the hazy yellow color. Not totally a true to type German Hefewisse, it is a bit Belgian, too, a hint of soapy coriander. Very refreshing, a good and honest wheat beer. I hope this will be a regular.

Betty Brown is a brand new beer, a brown ale. The lady on the label is clad in a sou’wester hat, and the beer is, according to the label, the beer to go for in typical wet Norwegian summer weather. It is a deep dark red rather than brown color with a dry cocoa aroma. IT has caramel, burned sugar and dark fruit, a lovely bittersweet flavour. Lots of flavour for its 4.7% ABV, I would not mind being stuck somewhere with Betty Brown while the summer rain pours down. But I think a slightly stronger version could have been even better.

Lucky Dog is an American Pale ale, and the room is filled with lovely hop aroma as you open it. The flavour has a full hoppy character as well. Flowers, some pine, fresh herbal finish. Not extreme in any way, a fine step upwards for a lager drinker. The question is more how to market this to a local public when ads are banned.

The last one is a more serious beer than the others, Konrads’s Stout is an Imperial Stout, a part of their Brewmaster’s Reserve series, which also includes their Winter Ale. The beer is pitch black, with low carbonation. Lovely flavour of tar and old ropes. Smoke, liquorice, coffee, bitter chocolate. A perfect late night tipple, and a serious competitor to similar beers from Nøgne Ø and Ægir.

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