So were finally at the end of the year, (Actually 2012 when I post this…) this is the time when many choose to sum up what’s happened the latter twelve months. This marks my first year as a beer blogger, and what an awesome year it has been. So I guess I’ll make some of those lists too. These are my highlights of the year and the best beers I’ve had in 2011. I usually take pictures of all the different beers I drink to remember them, so there’s a lot of pictures I need to look through before I start writing...
This is the easy part, the highlights, but ranking them is the hard part, but the order don’t really matter does it?
- “The Ginger Man” in New York City.
New York’s best bar, hands down! 73 craft brews on tap, and between 100 and 200 awesome bottles of delicious beer, this place is a dream come true. Best service in New York, no contest there, but that alone don’t make it awesome superb plus! Super efficient bartenders that know their job and beer, good looks are the dot over the i. (As we would say in Norway) Me and Kjetil had an awesome time, even getting to know the owner Bob Precious, getting a tour and freebies! If ever in NY, this place is a must, and you gotta try the “Ginger Man Ale”, ale brewed by the local brewery Captain Lawrence exclusively for this bar. Great food and atmosphere and good times is what you get here. Arrive early this place gets packed! Read the whole story here.
- “Beer Festival” at Nærbø.
|Eddie from Midtfyns & me.
The bi-annual beer festival at Nærbø was a blast! Ægir, Nøgne Ø, Kinn, Lervig & Midfyns and other exhibitors were present, the brewers poured the beers themselves, and were available for a chat. New beers were introduced from several of the breweries. Ægir introduced the awesome “Ratatosk Double IPA”, Kinn brought on their darkest and strongest beer so far with “Svartekunst” the “Foreign Extra Double Imperial Russian Export Stout Porter”. Nøgne Ø introduced “Holy Smoke”, the etiquette features a picture of Kjetil the brewer of Nøgne smoking a joint! Midfyns had a new Black IPA called “Gleipner”. Eddie the boss of Midfyns were also apart of the beer seminar and were one of the speakers, he nailed it! He shared his beer generously, and joked around a lot, funny guy. Espen Lothe from Kinn and Petter Nome the main spokesman from the “Brewery and beverage association” also spoke in the seminars. Other than that I got the pleasure of meeting most of the dudes from “Norske Ølbloggere”. (Norwegian Beer-Bloggers) Good times…
- X-Mas dinner at “Nøgne Ø” brewery.
Hanging out at the power station was awesome, we got a private tour of the brewery and everything. In their storage room our guide opened a bottle of “Dark Horizon 2nd edition” and gave us all a taster. We tried the Sake, we tried a new beer called “Indian Saison” and all the new seasonal beers. Talked to the brewer, got drunk and had a blast. Also to mention at the vorspiel with “Venner av Nøgne Ø” at Patricks in Kristiansand, Erik Dahl shared his last “Dark Horizon 1st edition” bottle. It was amazing! Many thanks to “VANØ” for being awesome hosts. Strange memory: Having to chug down large gulps of 2nd edition before leaving with the bus, strict bus driver, that was my second bottle of the 2nd Ed. that night, he he…
- The “Brooklyn Brewery” visit with a private tour by Steve Hindy.
On our way to the airport we stopped by Brooklyn Brewery, a pub owner we’d met told us he could get us a private tour with Steve Hindy and he weren’t lying. The pub owner thought we were starting a new Norwegian microbrewery, but those words never touched our lips. We showed up at Brooklyn Brewery and got a private tour by the owner, it was me, Kjetil and two bosses from InBev. Needless to say, we felt like small small fish, but it was still fucking awesome and informative! Read the whole story here.
- Visiting Southern Tier.
We went through hell and high water to get to Southern Tier, and then we where bummed out by a shitty bartender when we got there. But after one sip of the first beer, everything felt better. One of the employees straightened the earlier mention issue with a tour of the brewery after the pub closed. That day is one I will remember for the rest of my life! Read why here.
- Visiting the Brewdog Bar Aberdeen.
Our first shot at Craft Beer tourism were a smash hit. The Brewdog guys and gals gave us excellent service and awesome beer. No need doing anything else, we spent 12 hours each day at that pub. Tried exclusive beers, met James Watt, got free merch, had a good old time. The BBQ were awesome, "5 am Saints chutney" and "Beer & hops ketchup" anyone? Witnessed the premiere of Evil Twin “Jin & Jang” and drank Wasabi stout. What more you say? A dude gave us free beer spiked with Viagra, he he, no joke… Read the whole story here: Part I & Part II.
- Visiting Copenhagen “The Beer Mecca of North Europe”.
|Kjetil and me at Mikkeller Bar.
This trip was cursed, Kjetil got robbed, the plane was 12 hours delayed, half of the beers we packed in our bags to take home broke and the Mikkeller bar was flooded the week before and had no bottled beers. But Copenhagen is a Mecca for beer lovers. Tried a lot of great beers, the highlight was drinking a Mikkeller “Black” from tap at noon before having breakfast. Ice cold 17,5% stout in the sun. Read the whole story here.
- Cardinal’s Christmas Beer Tasting.
73 different types, I tried them all, good food and good times. Sigrid Strætkvern the author of the Norwegian book “Beer with a knife and a fork” lectured us on the traditions of Christmas beer, or sun turn brew as this tradition is older than Christianity in Norway. Sigrid and another guy from Ringnes were seated at the same table as me, we had many interesting discussions about beer. Some of the highlight were introducing Mike Murphy from Lervig to the Ringnes guy, and drinking single barrel akvavit stored on cherry casks. Best beer of the night: Port Brewing “Santa’s Little Helper”, surprise of the night: Liking the Jacobsen “Golden Naked Christmas Ale”.
- Me and Kjetil starting to brew.
After becoming a craft beer geek and then a beer blogger this was the next natural step. We didn’t start brewing before 30/10, so we’ve only brewed six batches. All of which has learned us more about beer. Instead of starting to brew by following recipes, we decided to make our own. We consider that approach a bit like we do in our band, sure we like other bands songs, but we wanna make our own songs, in this case beer! The best part, it tastes good, sure some better than others but we’re learning and having fun. More on this coming in 2012... DIY
- Lervig getting their groove on, Stavanger finally getting its first IPA!
A great local brewery is important for a beer geeks pride. And after Mike Murphy moved to Stavanger in 2010, Lervig suddenly got worth noticing. From the start there were limited edition brews available only at Cardinal, I can remember “Northwestern Lager”, “Luck Jack Unfiltered”, “Smoked Baltic Porter” & “Cardinal Winter Wine”. The beers you can get in the local grocery stores are “White Dog” (Wheat beer), “Betty Brown” (Brown Ale) & my personal favorite “Lucky Jack” (Pale Ale). At the national wine monopoly you can get “Winter Ale”, “Konrads Stout” & “Rye IPA”. They also make both a low and high alcohol Christmas beer. Before 2010 all they brew were pilsners. Can’t wait till next new brew, Lervig got the groove on and it feels and tastes good…
- Getting my friends together for craft beer nights!
Acceptance among friends is important to any geek, and when I can share my experience, and get the trust to use my friend’s money to make an excellent beer program for the night, I know it will be an awesome time. I’m currently planning another night and I hope some inexperienced and curious friends will join. If you have an open mind and palate you’ll be fine! Live by the beer, die by the beer!
Top Beers of the year:
This is the hard part, I have 27 beers on my list before starting to write, and I’ve already edited it down from almost 40 beers. Damn this has been a great beer year! Here's top 11:
- Nøgne Ø “Dark Horizon 1st edition”:
The most awesome beer ever: Intense aroma, awesome head, extreme body and a finish to die for! What is DH1? It’s a crazy 16% ABV, coffee stout, all out, all in, go crazy, all the way, motherfucking S.T.O.U.T! It’s awesome, as it’s one of the world most sought after beers I thought I’d never come across this one. Now I can at least check off one of the points on my “Things to do before I die” list…
- Mikkeller/Brewdog/Nøgne Ø “Black Tokyo* Horizon”:
I’m so lucky to have tried all the beers this brew’s recipe is based on in 2011. It’s funny, three different tasting strong beers like this, into one, and I can recognize elements from all of these three different beers. When it comes to Nøgne Ø’s part of this brew, it’s based on the recipe for the 3rd edition of the Dark Horizon. This is 17,5%, but it tastes like gold, it tastes like victory. This is brewed at Brewdog in Scotland. Probably the most expensive beer I’ve ever paid for, price? 340 NOK, almost 45 Euro or almost 60 dollars, worth it? YES!
- Southern Tier “Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale”:
Almost any of Southern Tier’s big bottles is worthy this list, ST is one of my favorite breweries ever, complete awesomeness. This golden treasure is one unforgettable piece of joy, pumpkin pie, madness, with crust & spices. The smell, oh the smell, I wish my pillow smelled like that, so I would get in bed in time more often, I wish I had one right now, a big 0,65cl bottle just for me, all alone. It’ mine, my precious… I had this fresh directly from the tap at the brewery, be jealous, and be very jealous…
- Cigar City/Mikkeller “Nielsbohrium”:
This brewery really caught my eye this year, I had two visits to America this year and tried a bunch of Cigar City, really good all of them, but this is the one I chose for this list. I bought this at Ølbutikken in Copenhagen this summer. This is a stout stored in oak casks used for rum. It’s totally awesome, and without doubt one of the best beers I drank last year in the peace of my own home, needless to say, I felt like a millionaire sharing this sexy big bottle with my friends…
- Ægir “Lynchburg Natt”:
“Natt” is the Norwegian word for night, this as a black porter aged in “Jack Daniels” barrels, it’s really awesome; much better than the normal “Natt”. And I don’t even like JD. Been drinking this at Cardinal many times, I just want more, even if it costs a pretty penny, I don’t care. Give me “Lynchburg Natt” or give me death! Hope they brew more of this one.
- Mikkeller “Black”:
I have a great memory from drinking this beer in Copenhagen as mentioned above, it’s weird, that such a beer can be this good, but it is, extreme malty flavor, almost no carbonation (On tap), but still awesome. This beer is also made in a million different versions, whisky, cognac and so on, I’ve tried a couple, they were nice, but the original is the best one!
- Midtfyns “Rough Snuff”:
Tastes like banana, smells like Belgium! This beer has added snus/snuff (tobacco) and bladder wrack, it’s a fisherman’s ale, made from a homebrewers recipe. It’s awesome, it’s illegal and it’s wonderful! Voted ”Beer of the Year” in Denmark 2010. This is one hot little babe you’ll never taste, unless you already have! Bananarama tobacco beer bonanza, no less! BANNED by the European Union!
- Ægir “Harvest Ale”:
Taste as fresh to me as hobbit legs does to Orcs. This tastes like heaven, nothing strong or special, just extremely fresh and smooth. Well balanced, citrusy, hoppy and clean. Awesome, I chose this one over Ratatosk for this list!
- Brooklyn “Black OPS”:
Brooklyn breweries best brew! Drank it at “Rattle ‘n’ Hum” in NYC. Got the tour by the boss of this brewery and he told us about the time Obama drank this beer by his doctors order. This is a vanilla bourbon bomb, and it kicks ass, it’s expensive but do we really care?
- Lervig “Rye IPA”:
My hometown finally brews IPA commercially! Love it, as the title says it’s a Rye IPA, 8,5% ABV and 100+ IBU! It’s a strong bitter motherfudger, with lots of aroma hops, dry hopped to heaven and hell and back to earth. We’re almost talking Imperial here…
- Southern Tier "Creme Brulee Imperial Milk Stout":
|This guy bought two! R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
This vanilla bean madness beer changed my perspective of what good beer could be. It was so good that I felt forced to try every Southern Tier I could find, and again what I found were so good if forced me to do a pilgrimage all the way across the big pond to the land of the "free". I love this beer, if you find it try, but it's really sweet, I recommend sharing one bottle with two friends...
Conclusion: This year went to 11!
So these are my highlights and top beers of 2011, there was lots of runner-ups for both of the lists, lot’s of good times and a whole lot of great beers. In 2011 I tried more than 1.000 beers I hadn't tried before, I've already come to terms with the fact that this is a year that will be hard to beat! But I’m OK with that, as long as I know there’s more new beers to try and new places to visit. See you on the road, or at Cardinal!
Let the beer light guide you…
Cheers and best wishes for 2012…