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Posts Tagged ‘Nøgne ø’

New horizons

Nøgne Ø has come a long way. Their beers have won awards around the globe, they try hard to keep up with demand. Their design has matured, too, their rather basic Ø is being used in new and inventive ways.

So, some of their more sophisticated beers are now being sold with more elaborate packaging, and, probably in more appropriate bottles, too. Here are three of them, all clearly related to the first two Dark Horizon beers, which were instant sell outs.

The Sweet Horizon presents itself as a dessert beer. As dessert, not with dessert, perhaps. Pitch black, low carbonation, vinous aroma with some balsamic vinegar. The nose promises cocoa and cherries, too.

I get blown away a bit from the sweetness. There is dry cocoa powder, sure, but there sure is a lot of sugar in this, I’d almost say overwhelming. Then the subtle nuances creep in, and I am seduced. Velvety chocolate. Madeira and marsala wine. Soot, liquorice and coffee. But very sugary coffee, if that is your thing.

The Dark Horizon 3 is very similar – it is essentiality the same beer with an extra bit of fermentation. A bit more chocolate and cocoa, perhaps, but there is a load of sweetness here, too. Not as balanced as the previous versions, the sugar overtakes it all. Should have had more aggressive yeast to eat some of this, IMHO.

The Red Horizon is something quite different. A very complex ber, brewed with sake yeast. Loads of sweetness, spices, slightly salty, yeast.Vermouth-like, hints of vintage port. This would be interesting to try as an aperitif. I think this is a very interesting direction to explore, let’s hope we’ll see more like this.

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Nøgne Ø keeps growing

Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv has a nice spread about Nøgne Ø today. They have a fantastic growth. Last year they produced 280.000 liters, this year over 400.000 liters, a growth of nearly 50 per cent.

They envisage continued growth, if not at the same rate. Head brewer Kjetil Jikiun would prefer 20 per cent.

They don’t reveal much about their future plans. But the last paragraph mentions quality beer in cans, a trend that has started in the US and will eventually reach Norway.

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These are two of the new beers launched over the year from Nøgne Ø – Two Captains and #500. Two Captains is described as a Double IPA, and is brewed to a recipe from a homebrewing competition. A cloudy ruby beer, loads of aromatic hops, like a breeze from the forest. Sweet and dry, pines, eucalyptus. It is strong, full bodied – and very drinkable. A bit too much spearmint toothpaste in the tail to declare pure genius here, but a damn good beer!

#500 is even more intense, an Imperial India Pale Ale, no less. Low carbonation, pines and spruce. Sweet seducing malty body, a bit oily. Sweet and dry, intense, for slow contemplation while you slowly work your way towards the bottom. Nothing easy drinking here, you need to focus and concentrate. Like a beer elixir. Very hoppy, and, I assume, this will mellow into something quite different over time. I can’t wait for #1000!

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Beer drinkers old and young, from across the country, were gathered in Oslo for the first Norwegian cask ale festival. Rare beers from BrewDog, Nøgne Ø, Haandbryggeriet and Ægir were on offer, from the Bamberg-like Røyk uten ild (Smoke without fire) from Haandbryggeriet, via the increadibly smooth and chocolaty Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, BrewDogs’s Dogma (formerly known as Speedball) to the very highlight – Ægir’s new Natt Imperial Porter, both in a velvety bottled version and an edition aged in Jack Daniels barrels.

This was also a great opportunity to talk to the brewers about their beers or simply enjoy the camaraderie of the event. Splendid food at the Saturday evening dinner, too, with about 80 guests if I remember correctly.

So, a toast to Amund and his crew at Håndverkerstuene for taking the chance of hosting this event. This is the proper way to run a beer festival, not a pale lager in sight. The success of this is yet another piece of evidence of the Norwegian beer scene having grown up in just a few years. Let’s hope this will be something to mark off in our calendars every year. And yes, this is worth buying a cheap plane ticket for if you live elsewhere in Europe.

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I had other plans last Saturday. The morning was spent trying to tidy the apartment recently well, as there will be a photographer coming in today. I had planned an overnight trip with my eldest from Saturday to Sunday. But then I suddenly had something else to squeeze in.

I opened my e-mail to see if there was anything urgent, and there was an invite from Amund at Håndverkerstuene. It was their last day before closing for the summer, and they had not one, but two special treats.

Nøgne Ø Pilsener and Nøgne Ø # 500. Both on tap.

So, when I opened the door at about six, the bar stools were filled with friends and acquaintances. Sebastian behind the bar gave me compliments for my Dugges t-shirt and Amund immediately poured a glass of each of the two specials.

Nøgne Ø runs a summer restaurant in a harbour on the Southern coast of Norway, not far from the brewery.  Correction (thanks Erik): They deliver beer to a summer restaurant not far from the brewery. Pils is the tipple most of the customers want, so they decided to brew their own, competing with the also local Arendals Pils. A few kegs are turning up elsewhere, luckily one of them in Oslo.

It has a full malty body, moderate carbonation. Well hopped, but not excessively so. Herbs, grass and flowers. Lots of flavour. Personally I would prefer a cleaner, crisper beer, but this could really appeal to the broader market they are aiming for.

# 500 is an Imperial IPA, no less. Glowing brown. This is raw hop juice, mint, herbs, white pepper. A solid malty body underneath giving a kind of balance. Lovely when it is fresh, I wonder how this will develop if you give ti a few years in the cellar? There is lots of malty sweetness underneath which might come more to the front when the hops mellow a bit.

I had to make my excuses, even if I’d love a second round. Wishing everyone a lovely summer I went back out in sunny Oslo.

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If you are under the impression that I buy a lot of beer, you are seriously mistaken. This guy, however, has done some serious shopping.

I was told an anecdote on one of my visits to Øbutikken about a Swiss customer who got up at 2 in the morning, drove all the way to copenhagen and filled up his care with more or less the whole inventory. His total bill was even higher. But 6780 Danish kroner is real money. Almost 600 Euros.

Thanks to beerticker.dk for the tip.

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The municipal water supplier in Oslo has asked all households to boil their water, as, for reasons unknown to me, they have failed to disinfect the water for a day or so. Luckily I have a few bottles of alternative liquid refreshments in the basement. I mean, there are limits to how much coffee I can drink..

The online edtition of Norwegian daily Dagbladet reminds us that lots of good beer is at half price across the border in Sweden.

Test batches are being brewed at Olympen, Oslo, as they are preparing for their brewpub due to open approximately June.

Japanese micros are on their way to a handful of beer bars in Norway.

Sweet Horizon, Red Horizon and Dark Horizon No 3 are being bottled. The new Sunturnbrew, too. All from Nøgne Ø, of course.

Where is this pub?

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While January is a tough month in many ways, the Norwegian Vinmonopolet makes the days a little brighter for beer lovers.

25 new beers are in the list of beverages on sale this Saturday. Some of them are being relaunched, some are pale lagers, but the overall quality of this is very impressive.

Belgian Geuze, Italian micros, new beers from Haandbryggeriet and Nøgne ø, Rip Tide and Punk IPA from BrewDog at reasonable prices (for Norway, that is!) as well as decent stuff from England and the US.

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The BrewDog guys have been messing up the beer scene again – this time not even on their own turf. They sent a few used whisky barrels across the North Sea to their colleagues in Grimstad, Norway. And it looks like they inspired them to be a bit bold and boasting on their label, too.

The beers used for the first batches of beer from the wood from Nøgne Ø were the Imperial Stout and their Christmas beer God Jul.

God jul is a rich, dark beer at 8.5% alcohol. Coffee, raisins, vanilla, a dry, almost oaky finish. Well balanced, a dark beer for cold evenings.

The God Jul Islay edition is just as black, but with less carbonation. A warning on the label says that this is not for kids:

Please be aware that this is not a subtle beer. If you are unable to appreciate Islay Scotch whiskey (that’s their spelling,, not mine!),  then this beer is certainly not for you. 3 months of aging in fresh Islay whiskey barrels did this. Certainly great for whiskey lovers, not necessarily so for those in search of moderation and balance. We love it though.

There is a strong whisky aroma, lots of peat and smoke. Quite similar to the BrewDog Smokehead or the new Mikkeller whisky aged Beer Geek Brunch. And that’s just the nose.

The peaty character is very strong. Some sour smoke too. Almost overwhelming, but not quite. The smoke plays with the beer base, like a layer of paint where the wood is shining through in places and you can feel its structure. It is true that this is not subtle – the finer aspects of the flavour are run over.

A new personal favourite? Hardly. But a very welcome addition to the Nøgne Ø range. It will be very interesting to follow this concept in the years to come, as far as I know there will be new barrels next year. I’ll keep a few bottles to compare. Or, at least, that is my intention.

For some lucky readers there might be a few drops to had at the Pig’s Ear festival in two weeks.

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As I’ve mentioned before, the good people at Nøgne Ø have been busy this year, lining up seasonal goodies for their fans at home and abroad.

One beer is a collaboration project between Nøgne Ø, Stone and Jolly Pumpkin, I assume they are the three camel riding kings on the label.

The idea behind this beer is to use the same recipe three years in a row, brewing the beers at one brewery in turn. Stone released their beer last year, it’s even ben on tap here in Oslo, though I missed it.  I assume the Jolly Pumpkin version will be ready for Christmas next year, barrel aged if I remember correctly.

Brewed with ingredients from the area around the breweries, including sage, chestnuts and juniper berries.

The result is a delicate Belgian style ale with a solid malty body and a complex palate. The sage is perhaps dominating, but you have the juniper berries clearly present in the finish. Layer upon layer of goodness here. Lots of fruit, oranges and clementines, sweet with a little bitter edge – more from the juniper than the hops, perhaps.  Some caramel, burned sugar, cocoa, the nuances are endless.

Pours a hazy brown with a milk chocolate head.

Anything negative? I could do without the yeast sediment in beers like this. They don’t have to filter it, but I question the routine of adding yeast to every bottle regardless of the beer in question.

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