11 January 2010

First Islay drink, then Jul read

My trip to Germany left me feeling decidedly sated as regards beer and food, as trips to Germany are wont to do, so I took a few days off beer to try and regain both my appetite and a view of my feet. However, by the weekend I was ready for another drink and needing something suitably special to break my fast. Step forward Nøgne Ø's God Jul Islay Edition, a December gift from that big jolly man who lives up by the North Pole.

I've complained before about heavy-handed carbonation in Nøgne Ø beers, so I poured carefully. Yet the viscous dark brown beer showed no inclination to develop a head until I lifted the bottle high. The end result was a satisfying thick layer of foam which had melted away to a thin skim by the time it reached drinking temperature. And you have to allow it reach drinking temperature: somewhere around ambient. I discovered from drinking an excellent oak-aged barley wine of Barry's that if barrel-aged beers are served too cold, all you get it is the astringent wood. The actual beer needs a bit of warmth to come out from under that. And so it is here, the first pull was all medicine cabinet and little else, but given a little time indoors the complexities emerge.

Yes, that iodine-disinfectant flavour is still there at the front, with the peat you'd expect and also a salty seaweed tone. They really got their money's worth from that whisky cask. The beer under it adds a subtle undertone of clove and cinnamon spices, plus a mellow warmth from the smooth texture and 8.5% ABV. The light aftertaste is a fading dry woodiness and just the ghost of the peaty scotch.

As the label says, it's not a beer that even pretends to be balanced, but as a relatively light winter sipper it's lovely. If you're interested in the non-whiskified version, see Boak & Bailey's recent post thereon.


  1. Oh yeah, there was something salty/seaweedy in the one we tried, too. I've added a link to this to our post.

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  3. Anonymous12:15 am

    Wow, colossal fail on my first comment attempt. Sorry about that.

    As I was saying, I had the non-whiskified version before Christmas, and it was lovely too. I'm interested to try this ... perhaps next year.