As it happens, Norway's craft brewers seem to be doing quite well, though there are only two of them in the bottling game. Both produce a staggering range of beers, with hardly a dud between them. For this post I'm concentrating on those from the Nøgne Ø brewery in Grimstad. Their Porter is a marvellous deep black affair, 7% ABV, and brimming with bitter chocolate notes. Havrestout is similarly chocolatey, but much lighter and quite quaffable, despite being a little more prickly than is strictly warranted.
Nøgne Ø IPA is a textbook example of the American style, rich and bitter, though rather strong at 7.5%. It's not to be confused with their Pale Ale which is fizzy, bitter and quite rough. Oddly, they make it alongside their Amber Ale which seems to be in the same genre but is totally different: bitter oily hops on top of a rich deep red ale add up to the beer equivalent of a Terry's Chocolate Orange. It's not as hoppy as an the IPA, but remains quite delicious and one of their best.
Back on the lighter side, Nøgne Ø Wit is another by-the-book perfected style. It's a dark yellow with a sharp citrus tang on the nose and even more on the tongue. It's a little drier and bitterer than most of its Belgian cousins, but isn't quite as ashen as the dry French wits. A touch of lemon, a dash of orange and loads of equilibrium. Turning up the volume from here is Nøgne Ø Saison, a maibock/saison/passbier-type affair. It is classically orange and cloudy with a soft foam and hints of peach. Like the wit, however, it's a tad drier than average, but still first rate.
(I've got this far and realised I haven't explained the title of the post. Nøgne Ø is Norwegian for "Naked Isle" and is a reference to an epic poem by Ibsen, set in the Grimstad area. It's good to know there are other literary beers out there, since Dublin lost Beckett's Lager.)
Blogger's limit on tag length, my tagging policy, and the long name of the next brewery all mean another post is in immediate order. Continued...
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
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