No Messy Pipes!

No Messy Pipes!

Say hi to Oslo’s brand new craft beer temple!

 

Paul McCartney once released an album called ‘Press to play’. The name annoyed me a lot… How could I press play? It’s a vinyl album!

So what is in a name? In the middle of down-town Oslo there are a lot to entice a thirsty local or a vary traveler. Now there’s even more… Lots more.

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Welcome to RØØR.

The place I want to tell you about is called ‘RØØR’. And yes, those are those “pesky” ‘Scandivigian’ letters everyone, apart from the Germans and perhaps French, get wrong. The letter that sounds like the U in ‘butter’ and yet, don’t. But wait, there are two Ø’s after each other, what is that?!? I dont know, but it looks cool.

What does this word mean then? Well, getting back to mr. McCartney, it sort of means the same as a song released by Wings once, namely, The Mess. Mess? An odd name for a brand new establishment you might say? Well, in Norwegian ears, it sounds charming. But wait, it means one more thing. In Norwegian rør also means ‘pipe’.

And now we get to the heart, or maybe arteries, of this brand new bar, all the pipes that lead wonderful craft beer from all over the world, from one end of the place to the long and beautiful, bar sporting… (Pause for effect) 60 taps!

Yes, you read correct, Røør offer you a whopping 60 taps to choose your drink from. Actually, that is not even quite true, there is an upstairs bar, and it holds another 10 taps,
so… do the math!

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60 taplines of beery goodness. Look how pretty!

Røør is located near to most places in down-town Oslo. Just one short walk up from Karl Johans gate, near the parliament, national theater and the royal palace. You get 3 tramlines almost on the doorstep, and even a slightly legless person will make it up to the nearby metro station with energy to spare.

This is the brainchild of Andrè Sveløkken Lloyd. A man with a passion for not just serving and drinking great beer, wine and drinks, but finding it as well. It bodes well for this new bar considering how a new breed of drinking people have emerged over the past decade or so. The beer geek.

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My very first beer at RØØR. Bootsy IIPA from Stigberget.

I am a beer geek. I’m not a hipster (I’m too fat and I can’t grow a beard), not a lager head, and therefore not a lager lout. I am not even a casual foodie. No, I am a beer geek, and for me, and a growing number of my kind, the big draw in going to a beer place like this, is the bars ability to get in new beers on a regular basis. Just like the best craft brewers spend a considerable time coming up with new beers to brew, the good beer bar owner will spend an equal amount of time hunting these down.

This is what I am sure we will get from André. He is dedicated to his craft. Running a bar where people get what they want, up to a point, and he gets to have a place that he wants.

So maybe you won’t get to order a shot of “something disgusting to get the evening started” or ask for a sample of the beer. Instead you can order some really wonderful beer and talk to the people who work behind the bar. People who are really passionate about what they do. And in no time at all, if you have a beer geek

 

like me around, you will find someone new to talk to as well.

Røør will not leave you hungry. On the wall underneath the stairs, you will see one of those old wall vending machines. From here you can choose between french style country food or chili con-carne in little bowls. The food will be delivered by the kitchen at Grand Café and Hot Hot Harmonica at Vippetangen.

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A fine collection of beer in bottles and cans, as well as what to me looks like an impressive selection of wines. I love the way it is displayed in the room.

The upstairs I did not see during my first visit, it will open a bit later. In addition to the 10 taps and small bar there, you will be able to play games (shuffleboard).

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I love beer and I love vinyl records. My kind of place.

I think you can tell that I am a fan of this place. The owner was kind enough to sit down with me for a chat during my first visit. We have talked before, he ran another place I sometimes go to drink beer, and I am really excited about his love for this new bar, beer, food and not least vinyl. It says a lot about the commitment of a man who brings his record collection to his bar.

After talking a bit longer than planned, he excuses himself, and leaves with his kids. I get into my beer and in no time at all, I am talking to people I know and strangers, and I feel right at home!

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The awesome list of beers!

 

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Lots of seating. I love the lighting and the posters of old adds. And of course, exposed brick walls.

Churchy Beer

Churchy Beer

Welcome to Håndverksølfestivalen, Oslo’s brand new Beer festival.

 

Oslo, June the 9th and 10th, on the left bank of Akerselva, a defunct church called Jakob Kirke, is being cordoned off to allow a lot of thirsty men, and quite a few equally thirsty women, spend some time and money on a lot of different craft beer.

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Jakob Kirke.

A former parish church built in 1875, it lost its flock and was “demoted” in 1984. The Bishop of Oslo wanted it torn down, but it became a listed building instead, now living its life as a venue for music and other cultural activities, like drinking beer. I have actually been to beer tastings here before (A Christmas beer event), but still people reacted a little “old fashioned” when I told them where the festival was held.

When the event opens at 3 in the afternoon, I wander across the street, from a local bar, and I am greeted almost right away by people I know. Local beer nerds like myself, or bar owners, brewers and others who love beer have made their way to down town Oslo. I feel at home rght away, not least because I live in the same street.A brainchild of a couple local craft beer enthusiasts and Cafe Sara (a great place just across the street from this venue, where we local beer geeks go to constantly fill up on Norwegian and international craft beer), it is the first year  it is held, and hopefully it will gather enough momentum to go on for years to come. Not that I don’t enjoy going to Drammen or the backyard of Grunerløkka Brygghus, but it is nice to have a big beer festival in Oslo as well.

Thanks to good contacts, these guys were able to invite a large group of breweries, as well as importers, making the total of breweries, one way or another, reach some 50 in total, give or take.

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A familiar sight to anyone at an outdoor festival in Scandinavia, the tent keeping you dry!

The festival itself got on to a great start, in part because of a lot of rain. So, not so great start perhaps to the promotors, but to me, as it gave me a chance to wander around and talk to various brewers and importers I know, without feeling stressed for time.

There were two big outdoor tents, as well as the stands inside the church itself. A healthy mix of local and breweries from further afield in Norway gave a very broad taste (pun intended) of what Norwegian craft brewers are up to these days.

Ølfestival2Foreign breweries were represented by some foreign guests, from the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Italy, but more often by representatives of their Scandinavian importers. A real nice treat was having Dennis Vansant from Mikkeller’s sour beer bar in Copenhagen behind the Warpigs/Mikkeller stall. Always a great guy to meet over a glass of beer.

I think they managed to get the most out of the venue and the number of breweries and beers on hand. 25 Norwegian kroner for a chip, pretty much equals what you would pay for one taster, and is really the normality we have come to expect at a Norwegian beer festival, the prices being what they are in this country. Some of the stronger beers wrestled more chips out of you, or so I’m told.

The festival has been open a couple of hours. I keep losing track of my friend, we both know quite a lot of people here. I recently started drawing for some Australian boys and their bottle shop, and I might get one of my drawings on a beer bottle this fall. I try to be a bit of a “salesman” and show some of my drawings to people, hey, you never know, there might be someone who thinks its good, right? My feet are a bit wet now, it is quite muddy around the tents, and the rain won’t let up, and I am also starting to get hungry. All beer and no food as they say. I head over to the foodtruck. It smells of lovely meats, beans and salsa. Yeah, I’m sold!

Very pleased with the food on offer. Cafe Sara had a stall where they cooked BBQ (Burgers and hot-dogs etc.) and at least one of the food trucks in the city was on hand with some splendid Mexican style food. I say I am very pleased because I often find that beer festivals overcomplicate the food being served by insisting on having artisanal, gourmet junk food that costs too much and just doesn’t gel all that well with the whole process of drinking a lot of different beers.

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I mentioned a church was involed, right?

Feeling quite stuffed now, the burrito was huge, I need something sour to cut through all the fat I just had. I head into the church where I know Dennis is serving sour beers from Mikkeller. Before I get that far the guys from Little Brother see me and offer me some of their lovely saison. I am asked to quickly draw one of my characters on the board above their self-styled stall. This is one they have built themselves, (it can be rented by people for private functions). We talk, and I grab some beers from next door Bostonian brewery Harpoon, say hi to the prettiest baby I think I have ever seen, and time flies again. I still haven’t gotten any sour beer from Dennis. I notice they are having problems hooking up the kegs over the the Mikkeller stall. I take a look after all, it’s only the Warpigs kegs that are being difficult, I get some lovely sour beers from Dennis, it is aaaall good!

Oslo is well represented at this festival. Schouskjelleren is here, as well as Little Brother, St. Halvard, Cervisiam and some smaller players as well as those brought by their distributors. It is a great time to be a beerlover from Oslo Town.

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Cool guys wear cool jackets.

I leave the church again, so much beer! There’s supposed to be a Polish brewery here, but where is he? Or they… I keep asking around, no one is sure. Never mind, I have some great British beer… Mmmm… Human Cannonball from Magic Rock brewing, so good! I want more, no, I need to try other beers as well. Almost regret it right away, something from someone I have forgotten doesn’t sit well, one of the few beers poured in the grass today. It is getting crowded, but I move over the “Mjøderiet”. These guys are the first the brew mead in an organized way in Norway for centuries apparently. I am enjoying this sweet nectar of the gods when I spot a poster with a cute hedgehog. Browar Artezan I read, thinking “hey, sounds Polish?” I have found the Polish brewery! I quickly finish my mead and ask for their IPA. “One double Darek please!” It is a double IPA.

I have found the best beer of the festival.

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Best beer of the festival.

Towards the end of the festival I am mostly talking to people I know, my friend left, I don’t know when. I feel really good, and I am having a splendid time when one of my brewery friends slaps a crew wrist-band on my arm, and I am told I can stay for the after party. I feel honored, and even happier. Later I am having a really good conversation with a really cool girl who draws for Aja, and I have no idea what time it is. One of the bouncers comes over and says “festival is closing” and I flash my new crew wristband and he promptly says “Oh, sorry”. Wow, this is what I must be like to be Sam Calgione or Mikkel Borg Bjergsø I think, before remembering where I am and not least WHO I am. Still, it felt really good!

I hung around for a while after, had some good beers and excellent conversations. All in all, this is perhaps my best beer festival experience. Helped in no small part by the fact that I live across the street.

It was a well planned and executed festival. I think they can be proud by the fact that they got this level of success on their first try. I really hope this festival is here to stay, and in that case, I can’t wait for next year!

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As happy as a kid on a keg!

(Drawing by me M. Aastad)

 

 

 

 

HAAND ØLFESTIVAL 2017

HAAND ØLFESTIVAL 2017

A quick review of Drammen’s beer pride.

 

   Well, it came and it went again, Haandbryggeriet in Drammen’s yearly beer festival. This, the 6th edition, was bigger than ever. Over 30 breweries attending, importers as well, and with a lot more room than before.

I wasn’t going to attend this year, not for any particular reason, but a friend of mine wanted to go, and that “somehow” sold me on the idea.

I attended the festival 2 years ago, the first at their new location, and wasn’t that happy with the experience. They erected a big event tent, quite spacious, but with the terrible weather and bad drainage, I got damp, the food got damp and my feet looked like they had been in the trenches for days after.

This year the Sun was out, but even better, they moved most of the drinking into a big factory building with high ceilings, hard flat floors and lots of room, which mean it never really got cramped in front of the stalls.

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Lots of room this year. And the floor was dry!
The breweries this year were a good mix of well-known Norwegian breweries, a couple of newbies, one or two of the usual from further afield, and some from countries we haven’t seen at a festival here before (far as I know).

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Irish Craftbeer.
I was so pleased to see the Irish in attendance, that I made that my first stop. The Púca Dry Hopped Leon Sour by the White Hag Brewing Company was a light, not too sour or tart thirst quencher, with a dry finish which left you wanting more.

From there on, I had Italian (Canediguerra), Belgian (Brasserie de la Senne), Norwegian (Hanndbryggeriet), English (Northern Monk), Polish (Browar Pinta) and Estonian (Sori Brewing). There was even a brewery from Russia, although only one beer was offered.

I also went across the yard where they had a section in a different building commited to sour beers. Some wonderful treats to be had there as well. Alvine and Norwegian Eik & Tid among those offering some lovely tart treats.

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A sour Pole.
Another fun first was seeing Hanndbryggeriets own pub. A good sized room in the brewery building. I wouldn’t mind having that as a refuge after a day of brewing!

All in all a really well organized, fun event, with a broad range of beers and breweries. There was even Mead (Norwegian Mjøderiet) something I think is overdue. Very pleased to see Norwegians get into our old traditions, Mjød (Mead) that is. You can check out the guys talking about their craft at the Real Ale Craft Beer channel on YouTube.

 

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Italians at the festival.
If I have one wish, request, for next year’s festival, it is more variety in food. The food was nice, don’t get me wrong, but a bit fidely and very pricey. 100 NOK for a hot dog, no matter how fancy it is, should be augmented by something cheaper and perhaps less artisanal. Yes, I said it, I wanted something slightly more “junk food” inspired at a craft beer festival! A quick burger or something Mexican would have been aces. Hey, you start dreaming of food when you write about beer!

I really hope the festival continues in this great shape in the years to come.

Skål!

Beers enjoyed by me at the festival:

The Púca Dry Hopped Lemon Sour by The White Hag Irish Brewing Company
Vienna Lager by CANEDIGUERRA
Jambe-de-Bois by Brasserie de la Senne
Raspberry Punch by Sori Brewing
Double Heathen by Northern Monk
La Prima by Matthias Muller Il Mastro Birraio
Murar by Kinn Bryggeri
Bryggerhuset – Tropical Red Ale by Aass
Nødingen by Nøgne Ø
Kongsberg Pale Ale by Kongsberg Bryggeri
Stone Go To IPA by Stone Brewing
Dama Bianca by Birrificio Hibu
Chain Reaction by Brouwerij Alvinne
Kriek Van Mortagne by Brouwerij Alvinne
Tindbic Vintage 2016 by HaandBryggeriet
Sitron IPA by HaandBryggeriet
Båtripa by HaandBryggeriet
Barrel Aged Brett Pale Ale by The White Hag Irish Brewing Company
Salty Dog by Bakunin Brewing Co
Mimer Alus by Närke Kulturbryggeri
Embuscade by La Nébuleuse
“Oink Oink” Thats the Sound of the Stig by Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri
Anniversary #01 by Brouwerij Kees
Ratatosk by Ægir Bryggeri
Lærdøl Sour Cherry Rye by Ægir Bryggeri
American IPA by CANEDIGUERRA
Foxie by Birrificio Hibu
Viva la wita! by Browar Pinta
Awanagana by Piccolo Birrificio
Oto Mata IPA by Browar Pinta
Kwas Jota by Browar Pinta
Black Boar by The White Hag Irish Brewing Company
HaandWit by HaandBryggeriet
Humlesus by HaandBryggeriet
Zinnebir by Brasserie de la Senne
Passionfruit Gose by Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri
Lacuna by Sori Brewing
Stirling by La Nébuleuse
Summer In Siam by Grünerløkka Brygghus
Beann Gulban Irish Heather Sour Ale by The White Hag Irish Brewing Company
Silver Branch by The White Hag Irish Brewing Company
Leaping Lena by Sori Brewing
Natt Imperial Porter by Ægir Bryggeri
Hylleblomst by Eiker Ølfabrikk

 

 

Aarhus Beer Safari

Aarhus Beer Safari

The time has come to catch up with the Danish Beer Revolution, in Denmark’s second city.

This March I decided to take a mini break, not to my home in Skagen, but instead head on south to Aarhus. Armed with an updated Aarhus Beer Safari on Foursquare, and the knowledge that quite a lot has happened since my last proper visit in 4 years ago, I stepped off the ferry from Oslo and headed for the train station in Frederikshavn.

It must be said, I have “tried” this a couple of times since 2013, and each time the lure of some great beer at the Wharf and good bottle shops have made me step off the train halfway, in Aalborg, but this time I was determined to go see Aarhus again!

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A familiar sight, Aarhus station.

As I have written before, I am a Norwegian Dane of sorts, and I have spent many years in Denmark, not least in my “hometown” Skagen, but also quite a bit elsewhere. 20 years ago I was a student at the European Film College in Ebeltoft, west of Aarhus, so we used to go into town quite often back then, but since then I have only briefly visited, Aarhus falling a bit between the two chairs of my home in Vendsyssel and the lure of Copenhagen.

My first destination in Aarhus would be the Aarhus Central Food Market at Skt Knuds Torv. One of many new features in this town since I was here last, it sports great food in a compact venue, and as a beer geek its major draw is the tiny, but well stocked Mikkeller Bottle Shop Aarhus. Size isn’t all as we know, and stepping back you get a great view of the entire stock, which consists of an impressive list of “Danish” Mikkeller beers as well as several beers from the new Mikkeller San Diego brewery. This was only my second exposure to these beers (After CBC in May 2016) so I spent most of my money on those. A friendly beer geek then informed me of other places I should go, and since my time in town was brief, I headed on to my next destination.

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A photo from the Central Food Market, I forgot to take one from the Mikkeller Bottle Shop.

 

Well, maybe not right away. It was still early, so I walked around parts of town I haven’t seen in years, and I must say, Aarhus, you are looking good! Could it be because you are European Capital of Culture this year? No, I know, you are a very young and vibrant city in any case, not least with your massive amount of students.

After checking out one of my favorite record shops (Badstue Rock) I went straight to the bar where I would have my first beers of the day.

Aarhus6Mig & Ølsnedkeren is located in Mejlgade, a short walk down from the Aarhus Cathedral. I didn’t know much about the place, I had done a general internet and Untappd sweep to see what was being drunk and where before my trip. Turns out the owner is also brewer and partner in a sort of a joint venture, where he runs the brewery Gamma Brewing which he sells alongside beer from Ølsnedkereren, a pub which also has a brewery in Copenhagen. He is the “Mig” or the “me” in the title.

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Mig og Ølsnedkeren. Cool and cozy at the same time!

Had some really nice beers from both breweries, both of which are new to me, and a great talk with the owner as well as other patrons who happened to come by while I was there. I learned new things about the beer scene here, and maybe they learned some things about Craft Beer in Norway as well.

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A cough and a beer at Risras.

My next stop is nearby, almost next door. Cafe Risras. I have been here before, quite a few times, when I went to school in Ebeltoft. It is a lovely place, they nearly always have beer from Ebeltoft these days, and it has lost none of its charm. However, a rare feature is the fact that you are allowed to smoke in here, and this is something I have lost my patience for. The Smoking Ban has changed a lot of our common mentalities, and I must say it is a bit of a shock really, when you open a door and walk into a wall of smoke! Don’t let this put you off though, as I said, great place, and they have Belgian beer on tap here, something I think is worth a bit of coughing. Briefly.

Aarhus15So, I kept on walking, and my next stop was yet another new destination since my last visit, the bottle shop FLASK. A tiny but well stocked shop, near to everything on the north side of Aarhus City, it keeps a good eye on Danish, Norwegian and Swedish beers, as well as a good selection of American and British. Well worth a visit and again, I had a good talk with a real beer enthusiast.

Aarhus8Just a few steps further down the same street lies the place I HAD to go to. Aarhus now has its very own FERMENTOREN bar. Yes, the near legendary bar in Vesterbro, Copenhagen, now has spawned a “twin” in Jutland. But this is quite a different twin. Not a basement bar like its namesake, it is a step up from street level, and a long and narrow bar. At the far end is a sizeable bar with 20 taps.

Rustic and cool, a real student place, it is beer heaven! When I was here they had quite a few beers from Ebeltoft, something I appreciate. Spent quite a bit of my precious time here, and I can tell you, this place tops all the other reasons you should go to Aarhus on a beer safari. Once again, great staff, friendly locals, easy to get talking about beer from here and there and just a good atmosphere all around.

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Lovely beers and a splendid time at Fermentoren Aarhus.

Not a lot of time left before I had to catch my train up north to Skagen, I walked briskly across town and through the train station and a somewhat confusing mall, until I found Jægergårdsgade and my final destination, Mikkeller Bar Aarhus.

I have now been to a few of these, Viktoriagade, Nørrebro, the closed Stockholm bar, as well as their “cousin” bars, Brus in Nørrebro and Oslo, and I know what to expect. Great Danish interior design, amazing Mikkeller, To Øl and other beers as well, and always, a great staff. The place is quite small, but less of a maze than the one in Viktoriagade, so it actually feels quite roomy. I was a bit unlucky, had I come the day after, i would have been there for a Warpigs tap-takeover with one of the brewers, but you know, you can’t have it all. Anyhow, it can be good to see places like this during their “normal” day-to-day operations as well, not least in order to reach the bar!

Once again, had some splendid beers, and I could have stayed a long time, but the train was leaving and I wanted to get back home at a relatively sobering time.

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As always, great beer, quality and staff at a Mikkeller bar!

One or two places I had to give a miss this time, but I think it is safe to say that Aarhus has taken a HUGE leap up the ladder, as a city to visit for any beer geek out there. The city is of course much smaller than Copenhagen, so you don’t really have to give parts of it a miss. In Copenhagen you might spend one day in Vesterbro and end up visiting more beer haunts than in all of Aarhus, but the day after you have as many if not more places you HAVE to check out in Nørrebro, and further afield as well. In Aarhus you get a good sized city, with all that you need, and you will not feel cheated.

Hope to see you again soon Aarhus!

Beers I enjoyed on my trip:

Gose: Brøggeren
Karl Smart IPA: Ølsnedkeren
Hop Sweat IPA: Gamma Brewing
Corsendonk Bruin: Brouwerij Corsendonk
Lust For Life: Ebeltoft Gårdbryggeri
01|27 – Saison – Beetroot & Fennel: Brew By Numbers
Deez Nuts: Fermentoren
Amanita: Gamma Brewing
Apassionada: Edge Brewing
Jægerbrown: Mikkeller
Overlord’s Revenge: 18th street brewery
Lizard of Koz: Founders Brewing
Dork Squad: Bagby Beer Company

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Enjoying a Hop Sweat IPA from Gamma at my home in Skagen on a growler from Norwegian bottle-shop Growleriet.

Nordic Brew Festival

Nordic Brew Festival

I thought I would write a piece about a beer festival, but having been to a few, and allready having done the Copenhagen Beer Celebration, I wanted to tell you about a lesser known festival, one you may call, “differently exotic”.

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The town of Frederikshavn.

In the north of Denmark, where I am sort of from, lies the somewhat grey harbour town of Frederikshavn. To me, it has always been that one last place before heading north to “my” hometown of Skagen. To many Norwegians and Swedes of my generation or older, it is where you took the ferry in order to buy very cheap tax-free alcohol and then get legless on the ferry and even more so in the pubs on land.

But in the years following Swedish membership of the EU and the Norwegian ferry cutting its time in the harbour drastically, the town have found other more somber ways to attract visitors.

One of the new attractions is the Nordic Brew Festival. Held on its own the first year, it has since been held twice alongside the Nordic Ink Festival, and the combined attraction of Beer and Tattoo’s seem to have made both a success

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Arena Nord, where the festival is held.

The ‘Nordic’ element of the festival is a bit of a mouthful. I have been there twice now, and apart from one Norwegian brewpub in 2015, the only non-Danish contribution of Nordic origin are some scattered bottles brought not by brewers but by importers. Some cracking Lervig though, so I am not complaining.

I did try to coax some Norwegian breweries to attend in 2016, but no cigar. I’ll try again this year, as I think it would be good for Oslo brewers to meet Danish brewers from outside Copenhagen. Perhaps make some contacts, brew some fine beers!

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Eddie Szweda

So, as I said, the profile is very Danish throughout. And I think that ought to be one of the calling cards of the festival. You get some very small brewpubs and even one or two nomad brewers from “up the street” so to speak, to more established regionals like Skagen Bryghus, Vendia and Fur. None of the bigtime Sjælland breweries were in attendance, but seeing Eddie Szweda from Midtfyns Bryghus, two years in a row is always a treat.

The beer types, or quality may perhaps seem a little bit “bland” for anyone who have been to the massive American style festivals with their hipster keychain, lumberjack shirts and beard types. This is northern Denmark, where until recently, anything with the words ‘Mikkeller’ or ‘Amager’ might almost be met with a hostile look or frown. By that I mean that there are a lot, a LOT more beers that follow the lager or pilsner route. And I know, isn’t the fact that we are all so damned tired of lagers the reason we started drinking craftbeers in the first place?

Well, look at it like this, if you went to a beer festival in the Czech-republic, you wouldn’t be surprised that most of the craft beers were lagers, so keep an open mind.

 

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One of my favorite beers at the 2015 festival

Another typical beer at this festival are all the Danish Christmas style beers. Now, I could write a long blog on the difference between Christmas beers in Norway and Denmark and then even more so compared to the rest of the World. The reason they showcase all these are of course due to the timing of the festival, the last weekend of October. And even though the Danes love their amber, malty, somewhat watery types with their ‘flæskesteg’ they are now more and more diverse, with lovely Winter Warmer styles or even spiced up IPA or  Barleywines with some added ‘jingle bells’ to them.
Some breweries tend to draw a bigger crowd than the others, here as elsewhere. I found that the lines were oddly spaced, so even though I HAD to stand in line for the barrel aged Limfjordsporter, I feel that everything flows really quite fast most of the time.

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Well worth waiting for!

 

Last year’s festival sported some good artisanal foods as well as some amazing mjød or mead from Mjødladen. This was perhaps the most special treat of the entire festival, it made me feel like a valued member of the Viking community.

Held in the quite spacious Sport Nord Arenda, there’s plenty of room to walk around, take a hike over to the next hall and look at tattoos or just roam around the café. The arena is at the back-end of the town, so it takes a while to walk there, in case you want to go elsewhere for food or other drink.

Frederikshavn is no Aalborg or even Skagen when it comes to beer. The only locally brewed beer is from the burger bar Jerry’s, so don’t feel bad if you fill up on beers only at the festival.

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The entrance fee covers admission, a small sample glass and a few tokens. More tokens can be bought at a very reasonable price (for a Norwegian).

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Some of the beers brought by Thisted Bryghus.

One annoyance was the very limited seating arrangement. They put up chairs and tables, but chase you away unless you have pre-ordered food, and even then it is not allowed to sit there for too long (something I thought worked better in 2015 than 2016).

I think it is a nice beer festival, not only because I can get on the train and be home in Skagen in 40 minutes, but because it is down to earth, local and good value for your money. There’s music, beer talks and a fun voting for best beer in various classes. I don’t quite know what a “over the fence” or “girl/boyfriend” beer is, but maybe I’ll learn that the next time I go!

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Løkken Bryghus brought this along.

Some of the breweries attending or featured in 2015 and 2016 were:

Skagen Bryghus
Løkken Bryghus
Mjødladen
Midtfyns Bryghus
Randers Bryghus
Thisted Bryghus
Bryggeriet Refsvindinge
Ugly Duck Brewing Co
Viborg Bryghus
Nordenfjords Håndbryg
Ålbæk Håndbryggeri
Grauballe Bryghus
Coisbo Beer (2015)
Albani Bryggerierne

 

Brus Bar Oslo

Brus Bar Oslo

The craft beer revolution continues in Norway.

brus-2

Since I last wrote in my blog, about the craft beer scene in Stockholm, new breweries, bottleshops, growler refilling and bars have opened all over Oslo (and more are in the works).

The latest branch on the tree here in Oslo is the new Brus Bar Oslo. The reason it mentions Oslo in the title, is the fact that this is an offshoot of the Brus Bar in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. This venture by the brewers of To Øl (Tobias and Tore) and Norwegian beer guru Linda Merete Skogholt, may not sport the large square footage, brewing capability, shop or restaurant of its Danish namesake, but it is a very welcome addition to the beer scene in Oslo.

I did mention it is a small bar, but it features a great lineup of beers by To Øl. The “regular” beers and those brewed in Nørrebro under the Brus moniker, the Norwegian owner really knows what is what and the interior is that simple but cool Danish style we all need more of in our lives.

brus-5

Being a part time Dane, this is something I have wanted in Oslo for a long time. I hope it does really well, well enough that “big brother” Mikkeller sees the potential and finally opens a place in Oslo as well.
So, get on down to Osterhausgate!

brus-4
A wonderful tastebomb to start it all, Das Fruit by Brus!

 

Stockholm Beer Guide

Stockholm Beer Guide

A journey as old as any story told by man, is the journey for beer.

Maybe not, but it sure sounded good in my head.

How else to start this blog or article about Stockholm and its beer scene, as experienced by me?

I really started getting interested in beer, beyond just drinking it, many years ago. As a bonus to my travels to various countries around the World, it felt like a stamp in a virtual passport. Back then I didn’t write them down, or go for any style in particular, I was content having seen the artwork, tasted the difference to beers I had at home, and I was a lager drinker who once in a while enjoyed a stout, because my dad loved them, or a dark amber malty beer, because my dad advised me to drink those to certain meals.

Gradually, 5 or 6 years ago I started being drawn to words like microbrewery, brewpub,  and craft beer’. I caught the bug and added new beer flavours to my memory and pounds to my belly.

One thing I like doing, apart from talking to brewers, bartenders, other beer geeks and adding beers to “Untappd” is making lists, not least on Foursquare where I create “beer safaris”. My first was “Oslo Beer Safari”, because I live there, but more were to follow, including Stockholm.

I have now been to Stockholm quite a few times in the past years, so I thought it was time for a Stockholm Beer Guide.

WaxholmBeer
A fine english style India Pale Ale obtained at Vaxholms Hembygdgårds Café.

The Swedish beer scene:

Swebrew
Author says tap into Sweden!
A few years back Denmark was the undisputed great Scandinavian power of the new Craft Beer Revolution. There were new breweries opening up at all the time, at least until 2008.. However, not that many would survive for very long, and if you ask Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (Mikkeller) about the Danish beer scene now, I think you might be surprised. Even though there are many Craft Beer Breweries in Denmark, a lot are quite forgetable, and Danske Ølentusiaster said in one of their publications last year, “Norway and Sweden are now like Denmark was before 2008, full of new enthusiastic young brewers brimming with ideas and moxy”.

Just like most other countries embracing this new craftbeer revolution, the Swedes are inspired by US trends. They brew hoppy beers in all shades, and some of them are amazing (Omnipollo has an Imperial IPA called Nebuchadnezzar so good your toes will curl). Personally I feel they excel at brewing Imperial Stouts. It just feels right somehow, the country being on the Baltic Sea and everything. If you can get your hands on one of Närke’s ‘Stormaktsporter‘ variants, I highly recommend it. They have also been quite quick to embrace sour beers, but also with a style of their own.

Among the breweries I have grown fond of these past years are Närke, Brekeriet, Oppigårds, Nynäshamns, Dugges, All In Brewing, Brewski, Södra Maltfabriken, Sigtuna and of course Omnipollo, as well as others, I could keep listing them, but I would still end up leaving out some good breweries.

My favorite Stockholm Craft Beer Pubs:

Akkurat

AkkuratThe Grandfather of all good beer pubs in Sweden. The place is run by people with a real passion for beer and it shows. Everyone working here are very enthusiastic and they seem to be able to “feel out” the beer geeks and treat them like honored guests. The place is near legendary to those who are die-hard fans of lambic, gueze and other types of Belgian sour beer, with an extensive cellar that holds decades worth of exclusive beers.

In addition to this they have a long constantly updated tapline, they hold fun tap-takeovers, they have ceveral casks online and the upstairs fridges are brimming with craftbeer from all over Sweden and lots of other places around the World. The barfood is good, really top-notch chickenwings, and there’s live music here as well.

Hornsgatan 18.

Oliver Twist

OliverAt first look perhaps not unlike Akkurat. There are lots of taps with many fine Swedish and foreign craft beers, as well as a big selection of beers in their fridges. Good burgers, good crowd, very busy at most times, it might be an idea to go here a bit earlier in your beer hunting not least because so many other good pubs are very near.

Repslagargatan 6.

Man in the Moon

ManInTheMoonMuch further north in the city, Man in the Moon is located in a silent part of Norrmalm not far from Sveavägen. A place with a very heavy old style atmosphere, it has a great number of good beers, not least on tap, many of them are brewed specially for the bar, as they are loved by many breweries. When they celebrated their anniversary two years ago a long line of well known breweries from Scandinavia and outside brewed beers specially for them. The food is good and the bar itself is a real gem.

Tegnérgatan 2 C.

Monks American Bar

MonksItalian
Italian Trapist Beer at Monks American Bar.
The Monks bars are part of a chain of pubs, some are brewpubs, some go for the Belgian style, some for Porters and this one tend mainly to American style beers. Located a short walk from Man in the Moon and Rådmannsgatan Metro station, this one is a favorite of mine, not far from where I stay in Stockholm. A good place for some of those rare Americans beers I only dream of in Oslo, I have had more beers from Dogfish Head here than any other place in Europe. Even when I’ve been gone for a year, I’m treated like a regular, and the guys working here keep up with what is what. A treat the last time I was here, American trapist beer!

Sveavägen 39.

Monks Cafe & Brewery

Monks

Sort of the “mothership” of the Monks around Stockholm. This bar also brews the Monks beers sold around town. A very nice bar in a lovely quiet street.

Wallingatan 38.

Monks Porter House

Stockholm7

A great place for the beer, a wondeful place for the bar. Located underground in what must seem like catacombs or even tombs underneath Gamla Stand (old town), this is a gem of a place. You can not afford yourself not to visit this lovely bar.

Here you can sample imports from the US, Belgium, the Netherlands as well as Swedish beers and the beers brewed by Monks (not here, elsewhere in town).

Dim lit it may be, but there is nothing dim about having a few glasses downstairs at Monks Porterhouse, that’s for sure!

Munkbron 11.

Omnipollos Hatt

Omnipollo

Omnipollo is one heck of a brewery. They make some astonishing tastebombs! I think most beer geeks will want to sample their beers, so it is only natural that they opened their own bar, in Hökens gate on the way up to Mosebacke. Omnipollos Hat is unfortunatly weighed down by its own success, in that the place is TINY! Part of its space is taken up by a pizza bakery who, I am told, make some great pizza, but, whenever I have been there I have to “fight my way” to the bar, I try and drink and enjoy their beers, but I am constantly pushed around by everyone else in the cramped place, so I end up leaving much faster than I would want, considering the wonderful beer they have here.

Hökens gata 3.

Mosebacke Ölkiosken

Sometimes the drinking experience is enhanced by the view. At Mosebacke you can look out on the city of Stockholm from upon high. You’ll see Gamla Stand, Wasa, Djurgården and Kungsholmen while enjoying a good craft beer from Ölkiosken. It is nearest the entrance. The other places selling beer up here have only Swedish industrial lagers.

A wonderful treat, even on a slightly grey and cold day, provided they didn’t bother to open that day (so you might want to check the weatherforecast).

Mosebacka
Nothing wrong with the selection at Mosebacka.

Brewdog Stockholm (Kungsholmen/Södermalm)

BrewdogKung
I’m very fond of the BrewDog Stockholm bar, it was my very first one.
You can now find 2 BrewDog pubs in Stockholm. The older and slightly bigger is on the north side of Kungsholmen, just before the bridge to the mainland. It has a really good vibe, lots of good stuff on bottle, a constant selection of BrewDog beers on tap and a good guestline. I was at awe when it opened 3 years ago, and even though I have become slightly “jaded” with visits to Camden, Shoreditch, Cardiff, Gothenburg and Oslo, I still think this one is a real gem of a bar!

Sankt Eriksgatan 56.

The bar on Söder opened in 2015 and I had my first visit now. Smaller than the other bars I have seen so far, they still sported a good tapline, a well stocked fridge and very nice food.

Ringvägen 149.

BrewDog1
I really loved the tables at the Södermalm bar.

Soldaten Švejk

Sometimes even the most hardened Craft Beer fanatic might stop and think, “man, I could murder a pilsner right now!” Well, this Czech inspired wateringhole sports unfiltered Pilsner Urquel, several other brands and real Prague style food. But it gets really crowded so keep your options open. Named after the books about The Good Soldier Švejk and his exploits during World War 1, it is a bar sure to silence your hunger and thirst for something Czech!

Östgötagatan 35.

Nya Carnegie Bryggeriet

A joint venture between Swedish Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery, the money comes from the former and the expertise from the latter. A very nice place, slightly out of the way (in Hammarby Sjöstad), it brews its very own beers, which are now available in bottle all across Sweden. I haven’t really had a beer from their brewery where I went “wow”, still, it is good craft and the place itself looks and feels comfortable. Drinking beer and watching joggers get attacked by geese isn’t the worst entertainment around!

Ljusslingan 15.

Stockholm4
I was playing around with my phonecamera when I took this…

Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri

Fjaderholmarna3Out in the inner part of the Stockholm archipelago lies the picturesque Fjäderholmarna. You can take the ferry from various places, I took mine from Gamla Stan. Arriving at the island, just step off the boat and walk straight ahead to the door infront of you, and presto, you are at the brewpub. They serve some excellent beers here, I had 3 different IPA a Pale Ale and a lovely kellerbier. Hungry from all the sea air, I enjoyed a very pleasant hamburger and some tiny round potatoes. You can see the brewery through a window, but it has to compete with the gorgeous view of the sea and the islands.

Fjaderholmarna1

Mikkeller Bar Stockholm (Closed)

I just had to write a line about this bar. It didn’t exist very long, and closed permanently back in September 2015. Mikkel Borg Bjergsø mentions the reasons for this in the summer edition of the excellent Swedish beer publication C/O Hops, that he didn’t feel comfortable with the look of the bar, and the relationship with the people running it. I thought it was a shame, not least because I usually live in the same street when I visit Stockholm and the Keith Shore on the wall was really cool. They are looking for a new place and new partners.

There is some news about this now, a new bar will open in the fall of 2016: http://mikkeller.dk/2016/08/10/mikkeller-bar-stockholm-opens-in-the-fall-of-2016-and-we-need-staff/

Scary Keith Shore
The author thinks the Keith Shore characters are a bit weird looking, but wishes they would come back to Stockholm! And come to Oslo as well!

Something else:

Systembolaget

The Swedish state run liqourshops are more or less all over Stockholm. My favorite was behind NK in Regeringsgatan, but has now moved to the basement of the neighbouring PK-Huset. They sport a good selection of Swedish and foreign beers of all kinds.

Bottl3.5hop

BottleShop

In Sweden you will learn about “folköl” or “peoples beer”. It is beer brewed with an ABV of 3.5% and lower. This beer is the only kind allowed to be sold in groceryshops in Sweden. The Bottl3.5hop (3.5, get it?) is an attempt by some beer geeks, who also runs a beer import firm, to atleast try and establish a Swedish bottleshop under the current regime.

Kocksgatan 19.

Further hunting

These are just the bars I happen to like the best or think are more relevant to anyone wanting to go on a craftbeer hunt in Stockholm. I could of course have written about the wonderful Wirströms Pub (Stora Nygatan 13), right smack in the middle of the tourist trap that is Gamla Stan. It is an institution and should not be missed. There’s the Bishop Arms bars around town, of course part of a chain of bars right across Sweden, still they uphold a very good and hightly competetive list of craftbeers, but are perhaps not quite as geared towards the beer geek as the after office crowd (I like the one in Vasagatan 7).

Along the way I have discovered a “fake” Flying Dog bar (The Flying Dog Vasagatan 52), Belgobaren (Bryggargatan 12) and several excellent burger joints with an amazing list of beers (Try Flippin’ Burgers in Observatoriegatan 8). Another fine place is Babajan (Katrina Bangatan 75). With a menu of “World Food” and a style where Hipster meets Thai/Goa pothead, it has a long list of bottles as well as an… interesting food menu.

I hope this inspires  you to take a trip to wonderful Stockholm. If you do, remember to say “Skål!”