Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Kjetil Jikiun of Nøgne Ø Interview


Andrew (NØ), Bo (Lervig) & Kjetil (NØ) at Henrik after festival!


Nøgne Ø translates to the naked island, NØ started back in 2002. Today partners Tore Nybø & Kjetil Jikiun run it. I met Kjetil Jikiun the head brewer at Bergen Ølfestival Saturday September 8th. After trying all the beers they brought, some more than once I introduced myself and stated my porous. Kjetil replied "Ah stick around, we're soon run out of beers, we can do it then!" The interview was done after Nøgne Ø sold out all their beers around one hour before the festival was over. I even think they got some beers from a pub in Bergen to not run out earlier, I know some other breweries got that anyway. Many of the attending breweries sold out all their beers as the attendance turned out to be way more than anyone ever planned or dreamt of, in other words the festival was a success! And Kjetil had spent two long days on his feet on cobblestone talking to the festival goers about the beers. Now here at the end he's gotta deal with me (Haffy) and my questions. Before we turned on the camera sounds like "Ahhh, ohhh & whooo" came out of his mouth, "It's good to finally sit down". "It's not only about the product you know, it's also about people" said Kjetil to me. "If your interested in craft beer you also have to be willing and interested in talking to people at festivals and welcoming your fans to the brewery." I did my best to be nice and we talked for around 15 minutes while the festival volunteers were running around and obviously searching for something! (I tried to edit them out!) If they found it I don't know, but I found a great interview object, and you can see the result below!

This time the picture quality is lower than in my other videos; I used a borrowed camera that I'd never tested indoors before. But the sound quality is good! So enjoy the interview, I think it's a good one...





If you’re not familiar with Nøgne Ø's beers I recommend you try some, my favourites are: #100, Two Captains, Imperial Rye Porter & Imperial Stout. These are all heavy beers, barley wine, Imperial IPA-Porter & Stout. If you’re in a Norwegian grocery store you might find their tasty "Havrestout", a 4,5% stout made with lots of oats, one of the best low alcohol beers in Norway! But seriously, Nøgne Ø is a brewery that I can drink and enjoy almost every beer they've ever made. My favourite Norwegian brewery easy...


Mike Murphy (Lervig) & Kjetil chatting after the beer festival!


If you liked this blog I hope you subscribe to it and check out my other articles. It's also possible to subscribe to my youtube channel. But you might get more than beer videos then! Anyways, hope you subscribe and share and all that stuff. (Comments are nice too!) Spread the enthusiasm for craft beer, spread the gospel of the hops, the malt & the yeast and anything else you can put in a beer that Germans don't like...  

Cheers!

For Die By The Beer Blog
- Haffy

Friday, 21 September 2012

Bergen Beer Festival (Bergen Ølfestival 2012)



This is a story in three parts, written by three different people!
Part 1: The festival in the eyes of Haffy!
Part 2: A little e-mail interview with Mr. Krog!
Part 3: Kjetil's supersexy swingin' version on the Bergen Beer Experience!



Part 1: The festival in the eyes of Haffy!


We met Stian Krog and Hanne Frosta for the first time at a beer festival in Copenhagen back in May this year. Little did we know that they only months later would give Bergen it's first beer festival. The last month before the festival, we got daily updates on facebook on what was new with the festival, new breweries, other info, but we didn't really know what to expect when we got there, well except beer, lots of beer. Stian was kind enough to let these two hard rocking beer bloggers from Stavanger crash at his couch... (us) ...for two days while running the festival. So as we walked up the hill to the festival entrance with our entire luggage Hanne met us, and before even getting in we're hugged and escorted backstage to a place we can leave our luggage. What hosts is my first thought. I've only met these people like once! A lot is said about people from Bergen around Norway, but after 48 hours in Bergen, my first visit in years, I got to give it to them, "Bergensere" and Bergen isn’t that fucking bad! They're warmer, more honest and way more real than most Stavanger and Oslo people. Yes I know that's a pretty huge generalization, but what I'm trying to say is; Bergen is cool, so quit that bullshit talk!


A historic festival in an historic area gave a great atmosphere!


Bergen Ølfestival (BØ from now on) ran over two days, the 7th & 8th of September in the year of the Dragon 2012. All the best breweries of Norway showed up;

· Nøgne Ø
· Lervig
· Haandbryggeriet
· Kinn
· Ægir

Newcomers on the scene were Balder Brygg from Leikanger deep in the Sognefjord, deep into no mans land, Balder had their festival debut at BØ. Waldemars Mikrobryggeri from HansaBorg was also there but I have no intentions on giving them any good review. Since we're already on the subject, let's start with them, so you can find out why!


Waldemars Mikrobryggeri:



If there's something you expect to be served at a beer festival other than beer its knowledge from the brewers or the persons serving the beers. I was apparently the first one to inquire at the Waldemars stand, and when I asked about the yeast type used in their German Wheat Beer, desperation struck the face of the presenter. (Edit: I've been told later that he was one of the brewers.) He started fumbling around with envelopes before one word came out of his face: Weihenstephaner. The beer wasn't bad, but again it's nothing special. WM also brought the Export, basically just a stronger version of the Hansa Pilsner, but with 20% more hops and malt as the presenter said, probably extract! But when they choose to call themselves a microbrewery at least fucking pretend! Ringnes have never been a favorite of mine, but even Ringnes "macro" brewery manages to make interesting beers so why can't Hansa? Ehhh I mean Waldemars! Ringnes, Norway's biggest brewery are these days releasing the Imperial Polaris, a double bock in the style of their Christmas bock as collaboration with Brooklyn Brewery, that's taking initiative. A 10% bock made with honey, coffee, orange peel & simcoe hops. And did I mention that it tastes great? Apparently WM brought out an IPA the second day, but after the disappointment of the conversation I had with them the first day I didn't bother to talk with them any more. I expected more, even from WM.


Haandbryggeriet Sur Megge

Haandbryggeriet:



At the Haandbryggeriet stand I met Rune Eriksen one of the owners, he knew how to answer questions. HB brought some really great beers I hadn’t tried before:

· Haandbryggeriet/Närke Unionöl (Traditional ale brewed with Swedish malt, cranberries, honey & juniper.)
· Sur Megge (Sour ale: Rare beer, being brewed again due to popular demand, I heard...)
· Sundvolden Porter (A great porter brewed for Sundvolden Hotel.) 

As time flies I've forgot what else they had, but I remember the Fatlagret Porter, Costa Rica Porter & Sundland Kreosot. I really liked the beers HB make, they make good beers while not being afraid to Xbeeriment! (He-He) We confronted the HB guys on why the carbonation levels and wild yeast problems of the past and were ensured these problems will not haunt the present since they've changed brewery. No equipment used for the sour/wild ales will be in contact with anything used for the other beers, these are good news indeed, and will help HB produce higher quality ales. If you're new to Haandbryggeriet I recommend that you go and buy the 8,5% Imperial Wheat Stout "Dark Force". HB was the first brewery at the festival to run out of beer. So I'm glad I got to taste what I wanted to. But I hope they bring more beer for future festivals, cause their beers really deserves to be tasted by bigger crowds.


Kinn:


Never been a huge fan of Kinn, but I respect them a lot, and I think it's really cool how they ferment their beers in open fermenters. I got a few words with Espen Lothe, head brewer and owner of Kinn before he ran off to a phone call. Kinn had only two beers I can't remember trying before and that was a blonde ale called "Alden" that they brew for some place around where they come from. And a porter called "Prestesonen", which means "The son of the priest", it's funny cause Espen kind of have this "blessed/holy" look upon him, anyways one of the other guys in the Kinn tent confirmed that he is the son of a priest. My favorite beer from Kinn is easily their IPA "Vestkyst", that beer is just amazing, lots of aroma hops, all hops added the last 30 minutes of the boil, then dry hopped. Espen is kind of conservative as a brewer, especially the English inspired beers, but it's the beers he dares to go crazy with and take chances Kinn really shines. Another example is "Svartekunst" a "Forgein Extra Double Imperial Russian Export Stout Porter". Yes it's a parody, but the beer is great, sure not my favorite Imp. Stout, but I'm looking forward to the second edition of it. I wish Kinn all the best and hope I will have time to visit them some time in the future! Other than that, I hope they've made enough Christmas beer this year so people don't have to walk over copses to get a hold of them this year! Last year only Sandnes (Near me!) got the Kinn beer Julefred, reminds me I still have some bottles of that! Now I can leave you wondering on where I buried the copses or did I do the really horrible thing? Went to Sandnes?


Balder Brygg:



Balder was as earlier mentioned the newcomers from no mans land. They brought the "Sognepils", "Sognelager" & "Bergen Pale Ale". If I remember correctly they brewed 200-liter batches and their goal were to brew around 70.000 liters a year. The Balder guys were interested in carrying on the Norwegian farmhouse brewing tradition, back in the days when beer was brewed all across the country. Local beer for local people! All their beers were good and clean, well tasting brews, but not really to my taste, unless I was up for a binge! But definitively something I would recommend to new self proclaimed "born again" beer lovers, that still hold their favorite industrial pilsner close to their hearts. Balder got plenty of new fans at the festival anyways, and they brought enough beer, something all the breweries attending didn't. They answered all my questions and did a good impression to be a first timer. I heard the promo material for their stand was delivered by a delivery boy only minutes before the festival opened, thats timing man! Good luck guys and don't be afraid of those hops! Hops are sexy!


Ægir:



I'm grumping over the ridiculous price for the "Lynchburg Natt" at The Wine Monopoly (230NOK) and different pubs around Norway. I fucking love it, and that’s why I bother to write this, but screw it, I'm not paying that much for this kind of beer. At the festival it was also the only beer costing two drinking coupons. I had one, it was awesome, but come on guys! I have and can get better beers for a much better price! Fun fact I was told about this beer is that when these casks that come from the Jack Daniels distillery usually still have some Whisky left in the casks. And then they just pour the "Natt Porter" on top of the whisky and voilà you have a JD/Ægir collab brew. Ægir brought nothing new to Bergen, well except a very fresh version of this year's Harvest Ale, yummy by the way!. A brew that where one of my top favourites last year. Ægir is a great brewery and I recommend you to try out their beers "Tors Hammer" & "Ratatosk". Pure greatness, a symphony for your taste buds. Pay no mind to my little rant on the price for the Lynchburg, it's probably not cheap to produce, maybe it should be made available in smaller bottles?


The Lervig guys!

Lervig:



Lervig is undoubtedly the brewery in Norway with the most tasty grocery store strength beers, (<4,75%) but that's not all! They also make kick ass strong beers! Atle & Mike came up from Stavanger to present the Lervig beers to the Bergen audience. The newcomer Hoppy Joe was a hit, just like it already is back in Stavanger as it almost matched the sales of Lucky Jack the first month it's been out. And the Lucky Jack sales didn't fall either. Their new beer this festival were the Mikkeller collaboration, a 14% Imperial IPA called "Double Eye PA". This hop monster is unlike anything I ever heard of, cause all the hops were added at the flame out. Apparently hop extract were used at the start of the boil for bitterness, then just hundreds of kilos of Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, Simcoe & Ahtanum when the beer had boiled for it's 120 minutes. No wonder this brew has an explosive aroma, ka-boom it's a palate wrecker! I prefer the bottled version of this to the tap version, I think it taste better. After the celebration that was Bergen Beer Festival Lervig sales can only go one way in Bergen! UP!


Mike Murphy & Kjetil Jikiun

Nøgne Ø:



Easily the best brewery in Norway, well in my eyes anyway! NØ brought a couple of new treats Imperial Python Pilsner & Pumpkin Ale. They also brought the Citrus Hystrix IPA & Imperial Rye Porter. The Python Pilsner were nothing less than a 9% Pilsner brewed with champagne yeast and tasty hops from New Zealand. Dry, tasty, fruity, a good beer nothing less, had to try it twice! This year's version of the Pumpkin Ale wasn't really my "glass" of beer, so to say! None of the spices I like in these kinds of beers, it was just pale ale with pumpkin. It also turned out weaker than last years "super stuck" batch due to a brewers mistake. More on Nøgne Ø will come in an article of it's own. At the end of the last day I was lucky enough to get some words with Kjetil Jikiun.


More about the festival:



Fucking rain man!
Well one thing you'll never be able to fix in Bergen is the never-ending rain! Rain = Bergen, Bergen = Rain! That's just the way it is. The festival was arranged the same time as the yearly food festival, a good choice as the focus is taste and flavors. Friday was a great day at the festival area for me, mainly cause it gave me a good opportunity to talk to the brewers and try all the stuff I wanted to try! On Saturday at least three times as many people came, great for the festival! But huge lines and long waiting times for the tasters were the down side, the festival even ran out of beer bongs. But you can only tap beer as fast as the tap is willing to go, so next year more taps probably! The local home brew shop had a stand, there was a cooking completion, and the criteria were you have to cook with beer. Old ladies sold fried sardines, beer bottle etiquette competition. What more, lectures with Petter Nome and Gahr Smith-Gahrsen. A super crappy cover band played, but fuck that shit by the way! I didn't come to Bergen to listened to "Tore Tang"! But whatever, everything was great, it was 2012 and the birth of "Bergen Ølfestival", the mother of the child was Hanne Frosta, the daddy was Stian Krog, and with them to help raise this child they had a whole bunch of uncles! And they lived happily ever after, I hope!


What more happened?



As Stian were our host we hanged out in his apartment, after the first day of the festival we had a tasting with the Bergen Beer Geek Tasting Crew. We went through the Mikkeller Festival Special Edition Series, the last one, the 2012 version was an Imperial Stout limited to 170 hand numbered 1,5 liters bottles at 20,1%, best before 2062 it read on the bottle. Would have been a perfect suicide beer for when I was old and tired of life, but nope, we drank it up in the middle of the night! And what a wonderful beer it was. The Danish food blogger Mogens, who also stayed at Stian's was smart enough to go to bed before all this went down. Check out his blog here: Madkultur

After the festival was over we were invited to the after party at Hanne på Høyden. What can I say? That place has really great food, I had a hard time fitting all I wanted on the plate. A great ending to a great weekend! Before leaving I thanked Hanne for the food, then we left home for a early night. When we got there Stian was already in bed, he came out shortly to say goodbye the morning after when we leftt, before going back to bed again. Festival arranging is indeed hard work, but you did a great job Stian! Cheers!


More words on Bergen:



We also checked out a bunch of bars, the best without doubt "Henrik Øl & Vinstue". 44 beers on tap almost none of them crap. We had a great time and we met a bunch of beer geeks here, like Kjetil & Sean from Nøgne, Bo & Mike from Lervig, Gahr the "famous" home brewer, Erik from VANØ Kristiansand and others. We had a great time, a place with no music and lots of great beer, oh and with great company can you ask for more? We will return! Oh yes we will, Bergen you haven't seen the last of us!



Part 2: A little e-mail interview with Mr. Krog!


Stian Krog looking for beer!

The timeline for Bergen Ølfestival from idea to reality?



Well, I think it was in the middle of January that Hanne called me and asked me if I wanted to make a beer festival in Bergen. It took me about 2,1 nanoseconds to say "YES!!" Then followed a long period of considering pros and cons of all kinds of things, all throughout the spring. In addition to discussing the actual concept for the festival (Profile, competitions, stands, location, etc.) we considered private investors, sponsors, public funds of various sorts and other ways of securing the financial backbone of the festival. Finally, we opted for an alliance with Bryggen Tracteursted, a restaurant in the middle of the festival area, which already had a serving permit for alcohol, so it would be fairly easy to expand this instead of getting an all-new. All we needed to do was convince the owner that this project was viable, and there was a bit back and forth with that decision. In the end, Eric Saudan (the owner) settled on supporting the festival by basically being the middleman financially. To achieve this, we had to give him a deal in where Bryggen Tracteursted got a significant part of the income and since the
festival was a great success he's all smiles now, despite being kinda cautious from the outset. In late June, we got the green light from Saudan and started compiling the rest of the crew for the festival committee. But by then, summer holidays started settling in so we had to wait another month to get things properly running. At last, the ball started running in mid-July and we found ourselves knee deep in work all the way through the festival, actually.

The people: Who, what & why?



The original committee was Hanne Frosta, me, Gunnar Nagell-Dahl and Erik Aarebrot, a home brewer that had helped Hanne with her early brewing projects for the restaurant. After some time, Erik had to throw in the towel and leave the committee because he had too much to do at work and was offshore half the time. Gunnar was our connection to the food festival ("Bergen Matfestival", on the front side of Bryggen.) and helped with guidance to how their festival worked but really didn't know much about the world of beer or brewing, so Hanne and me was pretty much on our own from around March up until June. Then I got our designer, Geir Goosen on the ball. He proved to be a great partner; not only in terms of making our fonts, logo and overall design but also as a guy to play ideas off in our creative and organizational efforts. A short while after, Hanne recruited Jonathan Krzywinski, another homebrewer friend of hers (and a brewing buddy with Erik Aarebrot) who both knew the Bryggen area from work and also had experience with festival organizations. Hans Ole Benonisen, with a similar background but more experienced in security concerns, also joined in around the same time (late July or so) and Jonatan recruited more of his brewing friends to be our web group; this was headed by Arve Solli but Jonatan's cousin Christoffer Krzywinski was also a major contributor here, as far as I know. The last member of the committee was Martinus Fjeldstad, daily manager of Hanne’s restaurant Hanne På Høyden, who came in as a "controller" regarding not only our budget and the deal with Bryggen Tracteursted, but also concerning rules and regulations around alcohol. (in Norway, this can be a mine field!) Martinus quickly got the role of "the Devil’s Advocate", and brought us down to the ground with crude reality checks whenever the rest of us got carried away by lofty ideas and beer visions… He was completely indispensable in so many ways, particularly right before and during the festival. They all played very important parts but of course I think Hanne was a key player – she's a great motivator, diplomat and hostess (in the very broadest sense of the term) who ultimately made everyone feel good during the whole process. And that's damn important.


Hanne with the DBTB boys in some old house!


Why was this such a successful festival?



It was successful festival because everyone put their hearts and souls into it. I think the reason for this is that Bergen people are very proud of their town and this was Bergen’s first beer festival. In addition, one of the requirements for recruiting people – from committee members to volunteers – was that they had to be genuine beer enthusiasts. That's very important when doing things like this; everyone must be ready to help out with virtually anything, at any given time. Our problems were all related to the fact that the festival was "maxed out" in every way: the breweries ran out of beer, about 4-5 times as many people showed up as we thought and of course that meant that both we and the volunteers had a lot of pressure – which was handled superbly by everyone involved. Like I said: motivation is the key. Also, the festivalgoers contributed a lot by being in a great mood and not getting too drunk, which basically was our intention all along. Glad it worked out that way.

What was the motivation for doing the festival? Future plans?



The motivation for doing the festival was putting Bergen on the beer map, for real. And making the beer scene in Bergen grow. Personally, meeting all the brewers and brewery associates personally, at the same time, was absolutely amazing. My face hurt from smiling during the whole festival. We're gonna get bigger and better organized next year. Area-wise, we need at least double the space – both for the stands and also for more seating areas and space for people to move around. We’re also gonna need probably twice as many volunteers, and we need to organize the festival space better. The volunteers will also be organized differently now that we know how to utilize our staff best and how the festival takes form from hour to hour. We're gonna have more competitions and lectures (they were very popular). One of the great things was that even the "geeky" brews were sold out and there was an unexpected demand for those – so next year, we'll ask the breweries to bring as many different beers as possible; Bergen is ready for anything when it comes to beer!

Final words...?



I'd like to give a shout out to all the volunteers at BØ who basically worked their asses off during that weekend. Without the amazing efforts of so many people, the festival would have crumbled under its own weight. Major thanks to all of you, and hope to see you next year at Bergen Ølfestival!



Part 3: Kjetil's supersexy swingin' version on the Bergen Beer Experience!



Iggy is screaming "I wanna be your dog" through my headphone speakers, but Haffy is on the other end of the line screaming "Damn, Hey ho, let's go to Bergen."

"Bergen???" I answer. "Why the funk do I wanna go to Bergen of all places? I'm fine right where I am!"

"Because they're having a party and we're invited dude! Now put your pants back on and lets slide out of here"

And so begins yet another adventure of Bill & Ted go to hell…. eh ...Bergen. We're excited. It's "ON" and we're on our way to the first real craft beer festival in Bergen (Bergen Ølfestival), four hours by car or five hours by boat north of our hometown Stavanger. Our friend, Stian Krog, internationally known for being one of the wackiest beer fanatics north of the South Pole, is one of the founders and drive forces behind the festival and our host for the weekend. He has a shed full of rare brews of mystic and magical power, we've heard. He collects beers no one else knows about, not even the brewer who made it. He might even have a golden Michal Jackson statue stacked in the back of that shed, and we all know which Michael we're talking about! (Don't we??) We might not survive this! This might be our final journey. This is it baby!

The festival came together when national celebrity Chef Hanne Frosta, and the head of the Bergen Food Festival, Gunnar Nagell-Dahl with Stian Krog decided to create a beer festival that ran alongside the annual food festival that was held down town at the old quarters in the harbor of Bergen. They wanted to create a relationship between beer and local food that would be appealing to the people of Bergen. Since Stian had contacts with breweries and homer brewers through a wide network of people through the Internet and his beer club (of fanatics), they quickly came in contact with some of the most interesting and hardcore people in the business throughout Norway. Nøgne Ø: Check, Ægir: Check, Lervik: Check, Kinn: Check, Haanbryggeriet: Check baby! Local brew supply stores, old ladies making fried sardines (awesome by the way) home brewers and the famous weather of Bergen. All showed up for this amazing even that took place at this fantastic site that has building that goes back over 400 years. Not to mention the people of Bergen who finally got to drink some real beer for a change. 

The first thing that hit you in the face when you get of the boat in down town harbor Bergen is the smell of fish. Everywhere! No wonder since the famous fish market is located there. After spending 4 ½ hours in a rocking boat, swallowing huge waves and fighting of the Kraken, the smell of fish was not what we had bargained for. "Give me beer or give me death" yelled Haffy, and off we went. Luckily for us the festival was just a 5 minutes walk away. Passing the food festival, we entered the site as one of the first, if not the first festival beer geeks. We hadn't even bothered to get rid of our luggage. "Beer" yelled Haffy again as the froth was spewing out of his mouth. We had really looked forward to some of the new releases, especially from Nøgne Ø, who had brought their new Python pilsner, "Citrus Hystrix IPA" and Pumpkin ale, and Haandbryggeriet who had brought some really specialties like the "Sur Megge" sour ale, "Sundvolden Porter" and new version of "Aquavit Porter". (Barrel aged Porter) There was also a New Norwegian brewery called Balder who has just started up two months before, and I was interested in tasting some of their beers. But first we hooked up with Stian Krog, who was very busy with all the things that can go wrong, has gone wrong and will go wrong on a newly started festival. His head was already lighting up like a light bulb, but he took his time with us, and was very kind in letting us use the backstage for dropping off our luggage. "Go buy some beer bongs and get the fuck out of here and get some nice beers dudes". And off we went.



Draught list at Henrik



First stop was of course at the mother off all Norwegian breweries (that make good beer) and that was Nøgne Ø's stand. The festival had just opened and there weren't a lot of people yet, considering it was noon Friday, so we basically had the lads to ourselves. We had the awesome Python Pilsner raging at 9% abv. "This is a pilsner?" I asked main man Kjetil Jikiun, as there was hardly any resemblance to the Bohemian beer style. "We're gonna call it whatever we want" he responded cheerfully. This was truly an amazing lager. Fruity, citrus with a nice marmalade taste and sweet, even though at the end of fermentation they have added champagne yeast to dry it out. A very interesting beer I am looking forward to tasting again. We went then straight for the pumpkin ale, which in my eyes is just an ok ale, not bad, but not great. The Citrus Hysterix needs no introduction, as the name says, it is a lot of citrus flavor in it. A fantastic IPA with lots of body, (due to rye and oats) tangerine and fruit. Lovely on a hot summer night. Too bad we were in quasi summer Bergen, but the sun came out once in a while just to tease us. In between the rain showers of course, but the day started out great, and we finished off with an Imperial Rye Porter in collaboration with Terrapin. This beer is just insane. Can you get more rye in a porter? I think not! This beer is so awesome I can't even begin to describe it. Actually, as I write this, I'm going down in the basement to get myself one right now!



Before it got busy...



And as I sit here drinking my Nøgne Ø/ Terrapin Imperial Rye Porter holding in on 9 ABV on a working day in mid-September, I drift back to Bergen. The next brewery on our list was Balder, who as I said was fairly new to the game, but they brought some interesting beers, even though two of them were lagers. For those who have read my story on Prague you know that lager is not my favorite style of beer, even though there are some exceptions to the rule. But I must honestly say that the beers they brought were good. They had a refreshing lager, an export and an APA. I am really looking forward to taste more from this brewery. They are small scale, and their intention is to get the ordinary man in the street to drink better lagers and pale ales, instead of the ordinary industrial crap you get on tap, an honest motive! They were not going to compete with the more experimental and hardcore craft breweries, but rather be a very good alternative to what the mainstream drink. Deals with restaurants and stores in the Bergen area are already made, and I wish these guys all the luck in the future.

We moved over to Haanbryggeriet and Kinn, where we had some crazy brews. Sur Megge, Krekling, Sundvolden Porter and Barrel Aged Porter were awesome. We talked a bit about the new brewery they now have, the ridiculously large wooden barrels they mature some of their beers in, and some of the problems they had with some of their beers in the past. They have definitely been corrected and all problems are solved, and I am proud to say that Haanbryggeriet makes some of the most interesting en experimental beers in the world. I am happy that I got a Sur Megge (Sour Old Hag) back home with me, since this is a rare and very limited beer they make. A sour/wild ale with brett, super refreshing and dry, with a nice sourness/vinegar taste to it with hints of berries. I Love it! At this point I'm getting a bit fuzzy in the head, and as I know we had some awesome beers with Kinn as well, I'm kind of lost in a haze here. Especially since I believe I had two glasses (or more) of their Foreign Extra Double Imperial Russian Export Stout Porter (Svartekunst) holding in at a tolerant vitamin content of 10% ABV.



Kjetil, dude from Henrik & Erik Dahl.



Now I'm screwed, but luckily the first day of boot camp is coming to an end, and we retreat to one of Norway's finest craft beer bars, Henrik, located in down town Bergen. This was my first visit to this waterhole, and what a nice place in deed. They had 44 beers on draught, and lots of bottles in the back. We hook up with some friends of us coming in from Kristiansand and some other beer geeks from Bergen and hit the bar. Hard! This is where things start to go wrong. I ask the bartender what he recommends on the menu. He says he recommends everything. Thanks dude!! So I start ordering beers like there is no tomorrow, and what do you know, things get funky all over the place. I order Amager, I order Mikkeller, I order Lervig, I order Nøgne Ø! To quote Dio; "And it goes on and on and on, it's heaven & hell!" At this point everybody is getting in the mood, and we take the metro up to Stians Krog's place for some more midnight boogie. Not that kind of boogie, but as he has for a long time bragged about his beer cellar we took it as our holy mission to drink some of his best. And we did, and when things really got crazy, the dude brings out all four available Mikkeller Festival beers. (2009/2010/2011/2012 edition) There is only made from 170 to 1300 magnum bottles of each series and a new one comes out every year. They range from strong ale, sour ale, strong porter and imperial stout. I hardly remember anything, but I remember they were insane. Here we are sitting drinking extremely limited edition beers, and I'm lost in space with Matt LeBlanc. What a waste! What awesome beers! What a waste! These should have been saved for more sober hours, but no one has ever claimed that beer geeks are smart people. After these four behemoth beers we are stupid enough to bring out our own homebrewed spiced barley wine hitting hard at 15% ABV, and if I was screw half a chapter ago, I'm fucked now. The other guys leave, and I'm ready for bed 2 hours ago. Too bad Haffy and me have to share the couch together. How nice. I finally got a date after wearing my beer goggles all day and night. A snoring, vulgar raging bitch (Flying Dog) with an attitude that smells of farts and alcohol! Just like my girlfriend. I fall discomfortable asleep waiting the horrible hangover too come. It was massive, I should have known. I lived through it to fight the next day. Mogens, a Danish beer and food blogger who was lucky enough to get the only spare bed in the apartment, only laughed at us following Saturday morning...



Bergen Beer Geek Tastin Crew with guests!



The famous "Die By The Beer" dudes, reduced to whining wimps! Can't handle your alcohol, eyh?”



Cheers and drink responsibly, getting intoxicate is an occupational hazard/risk for beer bloggers! It's never the goal of the session when we're in contact with rare masterpieces and quality hand crafted brews! But we just like you, (whoever you are) also enjoy a real party once in a while! "Bergen Ølfestival" was a blast and some of the head-brewers were bold enough to say it was the best beer festival they've been to. If you live in the Bergen area it's mandatory attendance next year!



Cheers
- Haffy & Kjetil






Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Mikkel Borg Bjergsø / Mikkeller Interview

There are many myths and tales about Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, his name has travelled far and wide and so has his beers. The man is a legend, I myself have heard tales of this character called Mikkeller or Mikkel, and before meeting him I was curious what kind of man he really was! When I saw him at Copenhagen Beer Celebration I decided to go and say hello, at that point I already knew that Mikkel was coming to Stavanger to brew at Lervig, my local brewery. We had a chat and took a picture for my blog. Mikkel is a man that basically make most of his beers at some of my favourite breweries, and has shit loads of connections, he makes things happened, could some of these stories I've heard be all piss and wind? Or is there anything there? Success creates a lot of envy and undoubtedly the Mikkeller brand/name has had a lot of success, but after tasting some of the beers there's no doubt it's well deserved success. So how does a former schoolteacher end up becoming one of the world’s most famous brewers? How does a man that started home brewing less than 10 years ago end up in this position? Mikkel's beers have been brewed in more countries than you can count on your fingers and more breweries than you can count on both your fingers and toes. His company exceeded 26.000.000 Danish kroners last year and has had an annual increase on around 100% yearly. Now this is the same man that stayed up all night making coffee for the first batch of Beer Geek Breakfast just cause they had to make it the same way as they did when they brewed the beer home in the kitchen. That means pot by pot, yeah more than 80 pots of coffee actually, that first night at GourmetBryggeriet back in 2006, that's dedication, and not really that long ago... That's no fucking compromise! 

Coming soon to a bar near you!

But now a few years years later, there's a "brand", a bar, a festival and a story and I think it's best to let Mikkel tell it himself, just like he did at Cardinal's bi-weekly beer club meeting "Mandag i annen", the day before brewing at Lervig. We went through a program of 10 or 11 Mikkeller beers and Mikkel told the story behind every single beer. He told us how he started out, by cloning his favourite beers. He answered questions. And then afterwards he hung out with Mike Murphy head brewer at Lervig and the rest of the beer geeks there till the small hours.

Mikkel at "Mandag i Annen/Mandag i toern!"

The day after this I left work early, I'd already seen pictures of the brewing process on facebook, and knew I had to step on it to be able to catch Mikkel. I came down to Lervig and started preparing for the interview, had to wait a little while, Mikkel wanted to go and buy some candy first. So before starting the interview we all stood outside the brewery admiring the amount of steam coming out of the pipe of the brewery while the beer was boiling. Mikkel was eating and sharing candy and drinking Coke. The beer that was brewing then is a so-called Imperial IPA or a Triple IPA as it's going to be 14% ABV. 15.000 liters was brewed, IBU at almost 100, 120-minute boil, 6-8 weeks fermentation. The recipe is something like 90% Pilsner malt & 10% Oats plus sugar. The hops used are Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe, Chinook & Ahtanum. That's at least what I heard...


Here are the 25 minute video interview, I recommend you open the files in Youtube and watch in full screen and HD. The interview is divided into two parts.





The same day as I did this interview you just watched this showed up in the local newspaper, (http://www.aftenbladet.no/nyheter/lokalt/stavanger/Mikkeller-vil-brygge-hos-Lervig-i-Stavanger-2980941.html) Mikkel also mentioned this might be a possibility at the Beer Club the night before the brewing. Now it seams production of the BGB series might be moving to Stavanger, to Lervig Aktiebryggeri, a brewery that doesn't use more than a third of their capacity, a brewery that not only is qualified to do the job, but also needs it for economic reasons! I'm crossing my fingers and toes for this, but meanwhile I'm just looking forward to the "Double Eye P.A."...

Mikkel & Mike at Cardinal!

Oh and the conclusion on Mikkel after the way I started this story, he's a cool guy and very talented, don't you go believing anything else! Some of my favourite beers has his name on them!

Cheers 
- Haffy

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Copenhagen Beer Celebration Road Trip!


Intro:

Hello everybody, this is the intro for this story, why an intro you say? Well we got so many impressions from this trip that this is a hopeless attempt to separate them and categorise them, so that this will be easier for you the reader. I could and probably should separate this into more stories, but new stuff is coming up so I need to clear my slate here...



It all started back in September/October 2011 when we first heard about this event, I started a facebook group/event and encouraged lots of local people to join in. When the tickets was put out for sale the 11.11.11 at 11:11 both me and Kjetil sat ready on our computers at work, it was a rush and Kjetil was first able to get through and score tickets. That was exactly half a year before the festival was scheduled. Then later we decided to visit the Sour & Bitter festival also, cause two days of drinking after all is just two days...

The Road Trip:

Just two guys out on a road trip, drinking beer, meeting people and shopping, nothing strange about that! Did you say shopping? Yes, beer shopping of course. If you gaze for long into a beer, the beer gazes also into you! And when you drink Imperial Stout after Imperial Stout for five beer fuelled days, all blacker than Satan’s blackest heart, darkness must come one way or another... ...NOT! Kjetil and me started our little journey straight after work Tuesday afternoon. We headed out on the highway, if there is such a thing in Norway, and set the destination for Patricks Pub in Kristiansand. We spent the night in bunk beds at the luxurious Budget "Hotel" in Kristiansand before driving down to Aalborg for a beer run at Ølkonsortiet, we had a little break in Aalborg, before heading straight for Ølbutikken & Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen. We stayed at the not so amazing "Absalon" one star hotel, but whatever we didn't spend many hours there. Let's talk about some of the wonderful places we visited.

Patricks Pub & Restaurant:

Bartender & Erik Dahl of VANØ at Patricks back room.

Patricks Pub calls themselves an Irish pub and I think that’s hilarious, cause there's no positive references in my head to Irish pubs or the shit they serve. Look beside the Irish decor and the name and there's nothing here resembling an Irish pub. A Kilkenny & Guinness tap might be enough for some people to call it an Irish pub, but I couldn't care less, all pubs serve that crap anyways, but what Patricks actually is good at is Craft Beer. I would like to Honor them with the title Craft Beer Bar, sure it's not all craft beer, and as it is today they probably wouldn't survive without their CB beer. But one look at the shelves and a couple of words with the bartender and you know that’s not where their love and passion lies. A quick look in the menu and I concluded that everything is as it was the last time I visited Patricks back in October 2011. But no, they have a monthly special menu, with the newest beer selection, most of it limited and in constant rotation. We met up with Erik Dahl of "Venner av Nøgne Ø" and he gave me a little tour of the back room together with one of the bartenders. There I found some exciting little treats I hadn't tried before. So you understand what great beer selection this place had I will list up some of what we had had on our night at Patricks: 8 Wired Batch 18 a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, the first of many stouts we had on this trip, really heavy on the wood, quite nice. Brewdog Abstrakt AB:07 a Whisky cask aged Imperial Scotch Ale, limited to 4.200 bottles. Mikkeller Black Hole Barrel Aged Edition Red Wine, a quite unique beer experience, something to convert wine lovers maybe? Nøgne Ø/Terrapin Imperial Rye Porter on tap, maybe one of my favourite beers so far this year, I've mentioned it in other articles but I don't mind repeating myself when saying this is a world class Porter. Just as full bodied as Midtfyns X-Porter, with a great mouth feel, balanced and luxurious as hell! Not only did we hang out with Erik Dahl of VANØ at Particks, but an old friend of mine and Kjetil, Bjørn and his girlfriend Eva also joined us. Later former Manager of Patricks and friend of Erik Dahl also joined us and that brings us into the next chapter. But anyways, Patricks is the place to be in Kristiansand!

Christianssand Brygghus:

Lars infront of the brand new brewery.

Former Patricks manager Lars Kristian Amundsen offered us a little tour of what is to become Christianssand Brygghus. He told us that the plan is to open in August/September I think. The brewery is at 500 liter and will soon be put to the test so beer will be ready and stored before the opening. To get the right brewpub feeling the tanks and the brewery will be visible from the restaurant, they also plan a backyard under open skies, where you can smoke a cigar while sipping on some Iconoclastic Imperial Stout. Hops might be growing on the walls for decoration, maybe something to use for a hop smoked beer? I expect this place to also have great food and a great beer selection, both their own and from other great breweries and I'm really looking forward to visiting them when they open. Cheers!

Ølkonsortiet:

Svend & friend.

Ølkonsortiet have existed around 8 years, the shop is run by owner Svend Nymann and some of his friends. Everyone there works for free, it's a non-profit business, and it's only open 3 days a week. They were kind enough to open just for us on a day they were supposed to be closed, and Sven himself came down in his break at his "paying" job to say hello. We got something good in our glasses and started digging in the shelves. Cigar City, Mikkeller, Emelisse, Lagunitas, Evil Twin & more. But one thing that bummed me out was that they had sold all of their Bourbon County Stouts from Goose Island to just one guy. A treat like that is rare in Europe and Ølkonsortiet have nothing to win on just giving it all away to one greedy FUCK! guy. So when we were there lots of boxes was filled with yummy Goose Island stuff and we couldn't buy any of them! But we still left with skinnier wallets that we came with, a trunk full of beer and with smiles on our faces. We will return to Ølkonsortiet, but first we will call them and "lay off" all the really good beers before anyone else can buy them, kidding! Ølkonsortiet was/is rated as the 3rd best bottle shop in Europe, and it’s run by geeks, and that’s the way we like it! (Cause we're geeks too!) The negative part of this little section are just me being a whiny boy so disregard it, cheers Svend, keep up the good work!

Mikkeller bar:

Shady looking boys with Tom "Kjempetorsken" Young.

If there were a bar at the end of the world, inches away from the edge, that would be Mikkeller bar. People from far away would travel here to tell tales of infinite wisdom and share magic elixirs. Brewed up by artists and wizards from all the seven continents of the world. I don't know if I would say that Copenhagen is at the edge of the world, but the selection at Mikkeller bar certainly is out-of-worldly, they have beers from all four corners of the known brewing universe. As the last time we visited this beer Mecca the 20 taps are still there, and they're ever changing, we're talking Mikkeller, Evil Twin, Dark Horse, Cantillion, Three Floyds, Rogue, Pizza Port and more. But what really made my week was their extremely great bottle selection, the vintage bottle selection that is. Some of the vintage beers we enjoyed here was the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2008 & 2010, Three Floyds Dark Lord 2008 (Most expensive beer I've ever bought, 650 DK), we compared Orval 2006 & 2007 both looks and tastes differently, we compared Dark Horizon 2nd edition & 3rd edition, I like the 3rd edition the most and so did the 3 others I shared them with. We also had a revisit of the great beers Tyttebær, Sweet & Red Horizon from Nøgne Ø, rare indeed. 

Andrew & Elsa of Nøgne Ø at Mikkeller Bar.

We shared a Speedway Stout from Alesmith with Elsa & Andrew from Nøgne Ø, we shared lots of great and awesome beers with Herman from Cardinal and his friend Lars, 8 wired iStout from New Zealand, Highland & Calvados edition of Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, and one of the highlights of the trip finally trying Hoppin Frog D.O.R.I.S. The Destroyer, an incredible beer, max score! Everywhere we've been the last year or two this beer appears in the lists, but they never have it, it's like Doris have been dodging us, another beer that have been dodging us for a long time is the Great Divide Oaked Aged Yeti, if anyone here reads this and would like to send/share one with us, please message me. I'll be indefinitely grateful! Mikkel and his brother Jeppe was also there, they preferred self-service in the bar. I met Menno from De Mollen in the bar line, we met Mike Murphy from Lervig, Tom from the Kjempetorsken blog, Mikael from Melkebaren in Sandnes, Jakob "The lord of malts" who used to review with the "Master of Hoppets" blog. We met Belgians, Americans and French people coming to Copenhagen for the sole porous of beer! We didn't meet any Germans though, reinheitsgebot, REINHEITSGEBOT!!!!!! Mikkeller Bar is awesome, a top 10 bar on this planet for any true beer geek!

Menno of De Mollen & Haffy at Mikkeller bar, very sober!

Ølbutikken:

Kjetil outside Ølbutikken.

If you're anything like us, you like to do some real shopping while on "vacation", right? Located in the dirtiest corner of Copenhagen, where people come to exchange their greens for live flesh, that’s where Ølbutikken resides. Awarded best Beer retailer in the world loads of times by ratebeer, this store is owned by phantom brewer Jeppe, also known as Evil Twin, brother of Denmark's most famous phantom brewer Mikkel(ler). He also runs a "little" import company called Drikkerige that supplies Ølbutikken & Mikkeller bar with many of their extreme and rare beers. OK, you know those wet dreams you have at night? Where you just dream of awesome beers that you wish you could enjoy in the comfort of your own home, without the hassle of going to the pub or visiting the brewery. Yeah, those super great, rare and awesome beers that you would love to saviour in your cellar for years, laying there just waiting for that rainy day you need something super special, this is the kind of beers you find at Ølbutikken, 250+ beers mainly from Belgium, Denmark & USA. We're talking Alesmith, Mikkeller, Southern Tier, Lost Abbey, Evil Twin, Amager, Cantillion, Jester King, Stillwater, Brewdog, De Mollen, Hoppin Frog, 8 Wired, Green Flash and more, the list goes on, you get the picture. As far as I know this store have been at this location a bit over a year, it used to be in a smaller and more uncomfortable location before. Now you can sit down and have a break, have a beer and do some of what I call "real" shopping, this is the only way to spend your money in Istedgade!

Barley Wine:

It was crowded at Barley Wine when we came.

Since last time we visited Barley Wine their location has changed, now in a bigger & better place, with lots more room for wonderful beers. This place is much more affordable than Ølbutikken, we're talking value for money, bang for the bucks, so the next time I go to Copenhagen I will start my beer shopping here before moving on. Barley Wine got a crazy beer selection, even more than they got at Ølbutikken, Ratebeer claims 400 different brews. BW has lots of rare beers and lots of not so rare beers, but all great beers, no crap. Much more Danish microbreweries than the other stores, many of which I've never tasted or heard of. I would love to spend a week just trying different Danish microbreweries, stay at a cheap motel and just hang out, eat, drink and meet new people. Barley Wine is a great store, with good but a bit slow service, but I highly recommend you take the time and pay them a visit!

Fish & Beer:

Kjetil found some Rogue.

We had to compromise, because we bought so many beers at the first three stores mentioned, that the luggage room of the car was already full. Fish & Beer was a bit outside the centre of the town, their selection was great, and the service was OK. I was a bit disappointed that they actually didn't sell fish cause I had this very different mental image of how the place would be like, almost fairytale like. Big freezers with ice cubes and boxes with fresh fish, refrigerators with cold beer, and workers dressed in white plastic aprons packaging this stuff, tossing beer and fish back and forth while yelling to each other and having fun. They used to sell fish and beer, and the company actually still sells fish, but not in the store, but it's a great name so why not keep it. Kjetil was very happy to find a lot of Rogue we hadn't seen anywhere else here, other than that the selection were kind of like Barley Wine only less. A great store, but still not comparable with the other three stores mentioned here. Will we return? Probably not! Was it worth the trip? Yes!

Sour & Bitter:

Jeppe & Haffy at Sour & Bitter, not looking Sour or Bitter...

Far outside of town, in a run down area there is a big white building. In that building 200-300 lucky bastards gathered to share a special experience of primarily sour and bitter beers. And with the likes of 3 Fonteinen, Port Brewing/Lost Abbey, The Bruery & Pizza Port who can complain. This night was filled with wonderful and interesting beers. Bitter Stouts and IPA's from Pizza Port, they started out as a Pizza place back in 1987, but in 1992 they started to brew beer. 4 locations and a bottle shop is it, but they have a great reputation, no doubt due to their great beers, but also due to the fact that Port Brewing/Lost Abbey spun out of Pizza Port. Anyways this is beer you can't find in Europe, so I just had to try them all, all 16 of them. And they came in generous portions too. The Coffee Monster and The Barrel aged Night Rider were my favourites from them, Pizza Port beers taste a lot, their motto should be: More is more! 

Me with brewer of Pizza Port.

When we came we tried some 3 Fonteinen Framboos (The most sought after beer in the world right now!) with Jakob "The Lord of Malts", we also shared a bottle of Millenium Geuze (Bottled back in 1998) from the same brewery with Stian Krog and his VANØ Bergen friends. This is actually where I met the only jackass on the whole trip. An American holding a table for his friends, that just wasn't there, but no one could sit down, it was "their seats." There were six available spaces and this fuck asked me to get his chair back when I sat down. I so badly wanted to tell him to fuck off but Kjetil talked me out of it, my comfort is that all his friends had ditched him and that he probably had a miserable time. Yeah and hopefully the next guy he annoys like that will smack him up a bit, I'm way to nice, but I like it like that...

Us with Head Brewer Fred Karm of Hoppin Frog.

We also met Fred the head brewer of Hoppin Frog and I also talked to the head brewer of Pizza Port. We were introduced to Hanne på Høyden from Bergen, Christer "BeerNorway" showed up and so did Svend Nyman from Ølkonsortiet. We had a great time talking with these people and others. Before the end I bought my Framboos to go, Jeppe himself was the dealer, cash only in the back of a white unmarked van parked in the alley, now I'm trading two of them for a Dark Horizon 1st edition & Stormaktsporter and some other great beers. I also decided to try all the Lost Abbey stuff, and the guys in the bar was cool enough to let me pour my own beers as I tried my way through them. 

This picture speaks for itself on the state of the photographer.

At this point I started getting drunk as a consequence to all the awesome beers I'd been drinking, and I don't really have much more to add. Sour & Bitter was awesome, so my hang over the day after was quite evil, I felt like dying! I actually think I almost did. But what doesn't kill you simply makes you stranger...

Die By The Beer with BeerNorway!

Fermentoren:

Dan Shelton & Mike Murphy

After Sour & Bitter we met the head brewer of my local brewery Lervig Mike Murphy and some other folks from Stavanger at Mikkeller Bar and we grabbed a cab. Fermentoren was a big bar, with a great tap line, Cantillion & Crooked Moon among others. And this is where we hung out until the small hours. This bar is probably the reason why we overslept and came late for the main event of this trip...

There's a black hole here somewhere!?!

Copenhagen Beer Celebration:

Jeppe, Haffy & Mikkel!

The vision of Copenhagen Beer Celebration is that of Mr. Mikkeller himself Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. The goal was simply to create the best Craft Beer Festival ever: "The greatest beers + The greatest food + The greatest atmosphere + <3 = The greatest beer celebration." At least that’s what it says on the booklet we got upon arrival. This all happened in the 100 year old Spartahallen just outside of Copenhagen centrum. For me this festival was all about the breweries, I had expectations for the food and the breweries; only the brews accomplished my expectations. The food was great, but my expectation was to high. There were beer seminars, 5 different every day covering different subjects, I didn't attend them, I had enough tasting the best beers in the world. With breweries like: Cigar City, De Struise, De Molen, Hoppin Frog, Kernel, Nøgne Ø & Three Floyds who can blame me?

Jakob Schytz & Fred Karm

As mentioned we arrived late the first day, the festival doors opened at 12:00, we were still sleeping at that time, some 4 hours later after deciding whether to live or die from the immense hang over, and after force feeding our self solid food we left for the festival. We got our glasses and chips and started trying different kinds of beer. The beer line up was different both days and so was the food, so I'm really happy about going both days. Another thing I'm also really happy about is the fact that this was not the only beer festival in town this weekend. This is controversial, because this subject has been debated heavily on different forums on the net. Even at Mikkeller bar while hanging out there, one dude was all going like "He did it because so and so", so I told him, "Mikkel is right there why don't you ask him", and he did and I wish I could repeat what Mikkel said, but they both spoke Danish and my Danish isn't very good. 

Evin O'Riordain aka The Kernel.

Well back to the point, why I'm glad: It's not because I think the other festival is shit, but it's a great opportunity for those who wanna see more, not only one of the festivals, but also because the people attending the CBC were only hardcore beer geeks. There was no people trying IPA or Imperial Stout for the first time, people didn't come to get drunk, but to drink great beers and socialise. With one or two exceptions maybe! I think Elsa from Nøgne Ø said it best when Andrew asked us if we were going to both of the festivals: "These dudes are hardcore beer geeks, they won’t go to the commercial festival." After six hours of beer tasting we left for the Mikkeller bar to hang out there.

Die By The Beer poster boy Kjetil!

The next day we arrived a lot earlier, we're now at beer geeking day number 5. One of the first things I hear is Fred from Hoppin Frog saying, "Hey I heard you guys finally got to try the D.O.R.I.S. yesterday! How was it?" De Struise, the only brewery placed on the outside had moved from the front side to the back yard where the festival toilets where placed. We're talking Roskilde festival toilets here, probably, he he! De Struise had a 20 tap festival waggon, they where the only brewery not changing their beer line up between days, but they also had the biggest line up, so I didn't really care. I think they where my favourite brewery at the festival! We ate the food of Jakob Mielckes of Mielcke & Hurtigkarls, Saturdays dish was quite nice, I didn't care to much for the beer that were served with the food, after drinking so many tasty beers this beer just weren't tasty enough in my eyes. We also ate Hot Dog with beer pickles, beer ketchup and beer mustard from John's Hot Dog Deli, we had a great time walking, talking and meeting people. Before the end we took a group picture with Mikkel and Jeppe and I got a few words with Mikkel, he said that what he were most proud of was getting Three Floyds to Europe and to the festival. 

Some woman getting beer!

I really hope Mikkel will do another festival next year, and I really hope I have the opportunity to go. I don't care too much if they still have festival toilets but I would like the opportunity to clean my glass and wash my hands after going to the loo. Oh, and I wanna be able to sit more, so I can hang out longer than I did and try even more beers! Other than that everything was perfect, great event, best line up ever, best beer festival I've ever been to! Two thumbs up! CBC was the highlight of a road trip filled with highlights!

Kjetil, Jeppe, Lars, Herman, Haffy & Mikkel.

Beers from CBC that demands more attention:

De Struise Dirty Horse 1983 7% Wild Ale: One of the oldest beers I've ever tasted, impressively good and complex.

De Struise Black Damnation VI - Messy 39% Imperial "Eisbocked" Stout: These guys should teach Brewdog how to do it, you would never guess it's that strong, drinks like a normal Imp. Stout. Awesome!

Westbrook Mexican Coffee Cake 10,5% Imperial Stout: Spicy dessert of an ale, could just as well been made by Southern Tier. Have this instead of dessert? Yes please...

Evil Twin Even More Jesus 12% Imperial Stout: My kind of beer, an "all in" Imp. Stout from Jeppe brewed at Fanø, great!

Brewdog Anarchist and Alchemist 14% Triple IPA: Finally something new and relevant from the Scots, great beer, go get it and enjoy!

Cigar City Marshall Zhukov's 11% Imperial Stout: One of the best Imperial Stouts in the world, one of the best Imperial Stouts ever, you will never get to try this beer! Ha-Ha! Or maybe you will...

Fanø Bryghus Chocolate Lava 10% Imperial Stout with chocolate, licorice syrup and chili: Starts off with chocolate sweet chocolate flavor, then chili, chili, chili.......HOT!

Mikkeller Spontandoubleblueberry 8%: This beer both looks and tastes amazing, incomparable and unique, a beautiful beer!

Spontandoubleblueberry

The long way home:

The next morning we left the hotel at 11:00 in the morning, and came home at 04:00 in the middle of the night; we had work to attend the next morning, any questions? Yes it was swell!!!!

We returned safely with all our loot!


Cheers
- Haffy

Monday, 7 May 2012

Øl & Akevittmesse på Røde sjøhus i Stavanger 21.4.2012


Or... Beer & Aquavit Exhibition at Red Sea House in Stavanger 21.4.2012, since this blog is in English and not Norwegian...

Finally a BEER festival in my own town! Even the small town of Nærbø has one; of course Stavanger needs one too!

So the great breweries of Berentsens Brygghus, Lervig Aktiebryggeri & Nøgne Ø showed up, along with newcomers Sundbytunet. Also and maybe the best part was all the great home brewers present, Ølklekkeriet with Ivar Andre Ødegaard fronting and Gyldenlöwe Brygghus with Kim Odland, Boulder Brewery with Hege P. Ingebretsen & Aleksander Baustad, Villgjær with Atle Eikenes Hansen & Nils-Henrik Stokke and the excellent homebrew from the Bryggselv guys Erik Schønsee & Patrick Witte. Yes, I'm name dropping! Cardinal Pub & Bar moved parts of their staff and beers down to the exhibition and also served for Ægir Bryggeri who couldn't make it. A bunch of other suppliers and importers of booze and beer also showed up. There were also lectures held by Petter Nome (TV celebrity), Torkjell Berulfsen (TV celebrity) and Sigmund Melberg of Cardinal. The beer was good the aquavit was nice and we had an amazing time, this is exactly what Stavanger need! But lets categorize a bit and go through this part-by-part.

The night before! Foto: Erik Furulund

Where to begin, where to begin? What about the night before? Because this were kind of a heavy weekend for me. The night before my band Upskirts played a gig at a local festival and the whisky and the beer and backstage party and all that took its toll, so believe me it was no easy achievement to wake up early to go for beer and aquavit tasting. But still there I was 12:30 in the evening carrying a 125-kilo malt order from Bryggselv.no down the stairs at the sea house. Working up a sweat in the hot location already steaming with mashing and boiling from the home brewers. At 13:00 I had my first beer, a great way to kill a perfectly good hang over...

Always nice with some whisky after a show! Foto: Erik Furulund

The Breweries:

Us charming guys hanging out with Elsa!

Nøgne Ø: Elsa Haraldsdottir the sales manager of Nøgne Ø was representing Nøgne Ø this time. For me Nøgne Ø is the ultimate brewery in Norway and we were lucky enough to try some brand new beers: Among them the new Citrus Hystrix IPA that was developed with Norwegian Championship chef Trond Moi of the Bølgen & Moi restaurant. This is a Rye/Oats IPA brewed with tangerine juice and lime but still the first thing you taste is the massive Nelson Sauvin hops. Nelson is an awesome hop, and this was an awesome beer! The next one we tried was the new Imperial Rye Porter brewed as a collaboration beer with the American microbrewery Terrapin. This beer was so awesome that I've already ordered a case of it! Also important to remember is that Nøgne Ø have two new barrel aged beers: Imperial Stout Cognac Edition & Sunturnbrew Borbour Edition out now, great stuff! Nøgne Ø = Amazing!

Haffy and Kjetil with Bo from Lervig.

Lervig Aktiebryggeri: Charlie Magne Melhus & Bo Schiner introduced us a new beer, the Saison Du Soleil, a gastronomical beer breed with red peppercorn and American hops. What’s really cool about this in my eyes is that Lervig gives their other brewers a possibility to make recipes and be a part of a creative team. Mike Murphy has made some really good beers for Lervig and I really like that these other guys also get the opportunity! I was lucky enough to try this beer earlier the same week also and it’s a very special beer, and already on the second try it grew on me. I bet this beer would be great with some fatty fish! Lervig is really in the wind as we say in Norway, so watch out for these guys, I know that they're bound for greatness!

The Die By The Beer crew with Charlie from Lervig.

Berentsens Brygghus: Mr. Harald Berentsen showed up himself and he also brought a new beer, a brown ale called Skumringsøl, this is a 4,7% beer and that means you can find it in the shops! Whoo-Hoo! Berentsen is a great brewery, they make the best Christmas Ales in Norway, yeah them and Nøgne Ø! They also make a pilsner that don't taste awful and most don't do that! (But I don't really drink pilsners!) We're planning a visit there soon, (hopefully) so stay tuned! Yeah and they also make the best <4,7% stout in Norway! (Sorte Får)

My good friend Kim drinking Skumringsøl at the Berentsens stand.

Sundbytunet: Is a welcomed new addition to the Norwegian brewing scene, represented by owner Kjersti Sundby & the Swedish head brewer Frank Werme. I really liked their Emigrant IPA and even their pilsner was OK. But the most interesting thing was the aquavit brewed on 50/50 Kjellerpils & Juleale before added spices and stored on oak. As a snack they also served flatbread made with corn from the mash. Sundbytunet opened on the 11.11.11 so they're pretty fresh and I really want to pay them a visit, cause I'm impressed with their concept! A hotel, a restaurant, a brewery, a shop, man what don't these guys/gals do? I was planning to do an interview with them, but I think I want to save that until I have the time to visit them. Thumbs up and approval from me to you!

Sundbytunet

Ægir Bryggeri: Cardinal represented Ægir, and they also had an Aquavit. Ægir is a high quality brewery, and I'm looking forward to be able to visit them soon in Flom, I'm also looking forward to their Whisky and the beers stored on those casks again and so on. Since they weren’t there personally I don't really have much news to bring you!

Ægir Aquavit

Home brewers:

Erik from Bryggselv

Alright, that was the Breweries! But a bunch of home brewers were also there, and I tried a whole bunch of their beers, but it's harder for me to write about that because, well there where some beers and I've never heard of them before, the beers that is. Some of these guys also go to the same beer club as I do, but most of the time we try new commercial beers not homebrew! But judging by how tasty these home brews are we need to do something about that soon...

Villgjær

So anyways, I really liked all of them, that is Ølklekkeriet, Gyldenlöwe, Boulder Brewery & Bryggselv. The best beer was the Dogfish Head 120 Minutes IPA clone made by Bryggselv, a 20% ABV lunatic! Totally awesome, I recommended it to anyone who was somebody. Image wise the Villgjær guys really stood out, Indie rock glasses and semi dorky suits, but I don't really know what the deal was with giving out free popcorn, popcorn and beer that's like uhhhh, I don't know, wrong! Maybe I'm being prejudiced here? Their beers weren’t the best of the bunch either, but whatever! If your having fun, don't stop! I know I won't... 

Boulder Brewery

Cardinal Bar:

Sigtuna Beers at Cardinal stand.

Brought a lot less this time, than what they did on the Nærbø Festival last year, but that’s ok, I was happy to see three new beers I hadn't tried from Swedish Sigtuna and the Begian lambic/gueuze Gueuze Tilquin, awesomeness in bottle form! If you’re ever in Stavanger make sure you make a visit to Cardinal, 500+ beers and a great atmosphere, great service! Just smile and say your a beer geek!

Awesomeness!

The Lectures:

Sigmund Melberg

To be honest I planned to attend a lot more of these, but I had too much of a great time mingling, yes I said mingling, but I did catch Sigmund Melberg's lecture on how to taste beer. Sigmund is the author of the famous beer "bible" at Cardinal. He brought his own beer, the Sigmund’s Herbarium brewed at Lervig, a herbal/spiced beer, good stuff, and you should try it! Where you said? Cardinal! He also brought three other great beers and did a basic walkthrough on how to taste/drink beer, the lecture was filled with fun facts a witty remarks and I recommend it for any newbie if he does it again next year. As Petter Nome talked in the main hall, all the taps were turned off, buuuuu, Petter is great don't get me wrong, and I probably needed the break. Anyways he did his normal thing on beer tradition, drinking culture and history. I believe a lot of people learned a lot from it! The other lectures I didn't catch. But I really believe these things are great for anyone wanting to learn more about beer and alcoholic beverages, in this case Aquavit.

Petter Nome

At the end of the day, we used up the rest of our bongs trying different aquavits and talking to different suppliers, great stuff, I like! But I don't really think I have much more to add, Aquavit means water of life, it's spiced with dill and caraway, I like the ones stored in sherry casks with a "hint" of anis, but make up your own mind, just try a lot of different stuff, don't be afraid, you're not gonna waste your money. The end of the night was spent drinking beer with home brewers and the guys from the home brew shops at Cardinal, good times! Petit and Bryggselv was arguing on whom we should order from and everything went by fine, and the rest is as they say history!

Aquavit man!

Interview with the event manager: Svein Egil Meling

Before we finish this little tale and tell you all you have to show up next year, if there is one next year, we had some words with the event manager Svein Egil Meling:

Where did you get the idea for the Beer & Aquavit Event from and how long have you been working on this, tell us about the process?

The idea came after we arranged a Cognac event, and we asked the visitors if there were any interest for a Beer Event/Festival. I threw in Aquavit also after finding myself at the liquor store not knowing what to buy. I started working on this back in November 2011, because I really like both, especially to some traditional Norwegian food like Pinnekjøtt & Komle. I started by contacting Petter Nome from the Brewery Union & Drikkeglede, he helped me out with advice and contacts. I also spoke with Harald Berentsen from Berentsens Brygghus and Tom from Cardinal. Then we went ahead and contacted sponsors and so on.

Any troubles on the road...?

Yes, the beer business is a slow moving thing, we got lots better response from the Aquavit suppliers. The biggest challenge was that Vectura's new computer system didn't work, so we had delivery problems before the event. One supplier had to cancel due to this and some other had to get out on town and borrow products or buy them at Vinmonopolet.

Will this be a yearly thing...?

We hope so, it depends on the financial side of it, my job is working in the Event agency Høydepunkt. As it is now the financial side isn't more than it has to be, and if we only ran this kind of events we wouldn't survive too long. The advantage is that next time it will be a lot easier to market for visitors and suppliers. We might do a Beer and Whisky thing next time as many people like that combination.

We thank Svein for his response and sum up...

How did we think the event was? Could anything be better? Hmmm, I had an awesome time, and thought the event was great, something better? More breweries I guess, foreign, national, craft breweries, I would love that! And Whisky would be really interesting if it's not just a beer event. But am I complaining? No not at all, I had a great time and I will return next year if they arrange it again, and I will make sure all of you will know about it!

Here's a smiling Aquavit man for you!

Cheers
- Haffy