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Posts Tagged ‘Nøgne Ø’

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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I am very happy to report that the Haandbryggeriet festival last weekend was a success – and it looked to me that this applied to everyone involved.

Some parts of the concept seemed to work particularly well:

  • Getting to meet the brewers. For most of the dozen breweries attending, there were you actually got to meet several people actually  involved in the brewing process and in developing the brands. We are talking small-scale enterprises here,  meaning you get intelligent conversations, getting to sample various editions of the same brew etc. I think there were the precisely right people to guide the visitors to try beers that were challenging, but not necessarily extreme while also having something for the hardcore geeks.
  • Having the event in the brewery was also a good choice. While it is 15 or 20 minutes by foot from downtown Drammen, they were still able to draw a crowd from near and far. Having the festival within an operating brewery environment added a dimension that would have been absent in a congress centre or in a hotel function room.
  • Diversity – geographically and by style. Breweries from England, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Norway plus bottled stuff from across the pond. Cask session ales. Festival one offs like the Nøgne Ø Oaked Sunturnbrew. Flemish red ales. Barrel aged imperial stouts. Most important: Breweries with splendid beers.
  • Having the breweries present their beers meant you got a proper pour and presentation. Preferable to both enthusiastic CAMRA lads (no offense intended!) and blondes with dirdls (did I really mean that?)
  • Good no-nonsense food – the artisanal sausages I had were splendid value for money.

What do I want next year? More seating and some nice t-shirts, nothing more than that, really.

I’ll get back to you about some of the beers I enjoyed.

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Way before I started ticking tasting beers, I collected comic books. Beatles records. Science Fiction books.

But first of all, stamps. My younger readers probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Buy me a beer, and I’ll explain.

Anyway.

I never had much money, so all the rare misprints eluded me. I always hoped they would turn up. In my grandparent’s attic. On a Christmas card.

But they never did.

But what did I spot today?

A Nøgne Ø label misprint. Same batch number, two label variations.

See you on eBay when I find out which one is the regular and which is the rarity.

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A new proper blog post sooon. For now:

Samples of a Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout aged in Cognac barrels are reported. I don’t know anything about a release date.

A new cranberry IPA, Zombie IPA on tap at Schouskjelleren in Oslo tonight. Their import list is as strong as ever. Lots of good stuff at their sister establishment Olympen Restaurant as well.

There will be a micro competitor in Drammen, the home town of Haandbryggeriet. The industrial Aass brewery is setting up a brewpub in the old Drammen public bath, they are currently inviting tender for the brewing equipment.

Larvik Mikrobryggeri is currently offering beer from Lillehammer Bryggeri, but they plan to start brewing in a few months’ time.

Twh new nanobreweries in Trondheim, both only selling their beers in one restaurant.

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Frank and his Christmas brew

It was one of those December days when dawn is just the dark night sliding into grey – gray clouds and steel gray ice. Lucky then that some of us had decided to brighten up the evening through an excursion to the newest brew pub in the Oslo area, Sundbytunet.

Sundbytunet is located in Jessheim, a town forty minutes by commuter train from central Oslo. It is part of a restaurant complex which includes several drinking and dining options as well as rooms for rent and even a distillery (yet to start production). A few years ago, this concept would have been totally alien in a place like this.

The decor is more or less what you would expect – an old cellar that has gone through a complete makeover – lots of exposed wooden beams and shining copper kettles.

Frank the brewer does not usually work as a bartender, but he was there waiting for us to present his beers.

The staple brew is a well hopped pils, and we were lucky to try both the last drops of the first batch and some fresh stuff from the tank.

The seasonal beer is a red ale related to a brown ale, fruity and refreshing and aimed to complement the Christmas fare in the restaurant on the floor above.

Most interesting was the special beer made for the opening, an eleven per cent ABV barley wine. A liberal use of hops makes sure that this does not feel too sweet, and it was the perfect companion to the cheese platter you can order at the bar.

With new copper kettles, even hidden bloggers are revealed.

Frank is a skilled brewer, and his last employer was Nøgne Ø, which is a recommendation it itself. It is therefore not a surprise that this was the first new brewpub I’ve visited that did not have teething problems with its first brews – these were spot on.

Coming beers include a porter, that will be available from the coming weekend, and an IPA. And some of the barley wine will be matured in oak barrels. There will be experiments with used sherry casks as well as new oak.

A detour from Oslo is highly recommended. And if you have a few hours layover at Gardermoen airport, you can hop on a local bus to Jessheim and try the beers without going down town.

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The pioneers of the Norwegian craft beer movement have cooperated with home brewers for a long time, and the tickets for their next meetup at the brewery sold out fast. That includes not only a visit to the brewery, you get to take some prime ingredients home to make your own version of one of their beers. They also make a batch based on the winner of the annual home brewing competition, meaning this beer is available across the country (and beyond).

But now they have been innovative again, making a product for people like me, who have never taken the step into home brewing.

A starter brew kit for home brewers.  And a beer kit based on one of their beers, the first one being their Pale Ale.

It is not cheap. But I don’t think I can resist this.

Available only in Norway for the time being as far as I know. But I feel sure they will roll this out globally. From the end of the world to your town.

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There are more beery pleasures next year than the Mikkeller event in Copenhagen. I have complained about the quality of some festivals here in Norway recently, but I am happy to tell you there are others more concerned about quality.

Haandbryggeriet have just finished moving to new and bigger premises in Drammen, half an hour west of Oslo by train.This means more capacity and more elbow room than the old facility was able to offer.

This calls for a celebration, but they have decided to wait some months for this. 4-5 May are the dates to note in your calendar.

They have invited some of their friends, and they have promised to bring along a few beers. Confirmed so far:

  • Närke
  • Nøgne Ø
  • Kinn
  • De Molen
  • Struise
  • Emelisse
  • Alvinne
  • LoverBeer

No details about tickets and other practicalities yet, but I’ll keep you informed.

Ready for new brews

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