Thursday, 7 February 2013

Lervig's Homebrewers Competition + Mikkeller news

"So Lervig's having a homebrew competition" that is what I heard, well before being able to do anything about it I heard it was over booked. So what to do? Rogaland got a really active home brewer scene so I guess I had to go and watch the show without being able to bring any brews of my own. Other breweries have had the same kinds of arrangements, with great success so it's really cool to see Lervig starting up to, I hope it's gonna be an annual tradition. Anyway it was the 1st of February 2013...

Kjetil & Haffy at Lervig

When I came to the brewery, to my surprise they where serving the new Lervig batch of Beer Geek Breakfast. And you don't have to ask me twice not to dig in on such an event; you actually have to ask me twice not to, minimum twice... Kjetil was late so, I and my good friend Erik (Photographer for this post) got into the mingling and extensive beer testing of the Beer Geek Breakfast...

Haffy & Kjetil at Lervig

Kjetil got some words on this:

I'm driving home from work. Speedometer says 60 mph in a 35 mph zone. I don't care, got to get moving. Harder. Faster. I can't afford to be late. I finally get home, but I'm not where I need to be yet. I grab a Konrad's Stout out of the fridge, break the bottleneck on the kitchen sink and pour it down, almost giving myself a forehead lobotomy. No time too loose. I call the cab and get moving. "Where you wanna go sir", the taxi driver asks. I pull out my 44' Magnum Colt Anaconda and stick it in his face. "Take me to Lervig Aktiebryggeri and make it snappy punk! I got a date with the new Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast so put a cork in it and drive dirt face!"

Atle proud of a new product! This photo by Haffy

It's not fresh news, but if you haven't heard the word on the street yet, Lervig Aktiebryggeri, located in Stavanger Norway, is now the official producer of that bastard of an oatmeal coffee stout known as Beer Geek Breakfast by Danish gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø aka Mikkeller. Not your average "whatshisname" Stout you have tasted a hundred different times, but THE oatmeal coffee stout in the world in my opinion. Rated as the best stout in the world according to Ratebeer, and still going strong as ever after all these years. Yet now it has made full circle, as the first brewer who made it commercially many years ago now brews it again. Mike Murphy used to make this back when he was brewing in Denmark, and now he's doing it again as head brewer and master of alchemy at Lervig Aktiebryggeri. With all respect to Nøgne Ø, who previously made it, and still is one of the best breweries in the world, period. They have certainly played a huge role in the success story that this beer is and has proved themselves over and over again to be among the best there is. But it seems like the time was right and Mikkeller and Mike have known each other for a long time, and the brew flew over the mountains and landed here in Stavanger, where it now belongs.

My friend Vidar happy with the Beer Geek Breakfast!

The beer has made some remarkable changes, and the first thing you notice is that it now comes in a 0,33 l. bottle compared to the 0,5 l. that Nøgne Ø is famous for. The label also has a new artistic look and the design looks pretty frikkin awesome. Given a new design and a new package it only comes naturally that the beers gets an upgrade too. First notice is how the coffee flavor is so much more present now that in the previous version. Though it is almost straight from the storage tank at the brewery and very likely will mellow out and become smoother with time, I still think this behemoth kicks you in the teeth just like grandma likes it. The espresso aroma and flavor is magnificent. Too me it takes an already awesome beer and gives it the luxury feeling to it. It is smooth, and the mouth feel is silky and creamy. The coffee is very much present, but does not give you that old/cold coffee taste that some stout's tend to give you. It's fresh and you kinda expect the beer to be warm when you smell it. Chocolate, toast, roast and an awesome mouth feel profile contributes to the sensation of drinking this brew. This beer has definitely grown. It is better, without saying that the old one was any worse at all. It is just different, in a very good way. It has a new touch, a new twist too it. It is the effect of a new brewer with a different brewery using other ingredients, or just using them in another way. It is perfect, well almost. It gets pretty close to perfect.

We prefer Beer for Breakfast!

I had several that evening and probably too many. It was from the first batch and all of it is being shipped out of the country. I bet people in San Diego, Copenhagen, New York and London are going to be zipping this one from their sniffers way before we get it here on the marked in Norway. We'll probably have to wait for batch 2 or 3, if we're lucky. This is one of the best sellers from Mikkeller and I bet the demand is gonna sky rocket when it hits the marked. Get one, get drunk and die in the snow. It's THAT good.

Thanks Kjetil for making all the readers thirsty and jealous, but I'll get back to the home brewer days...

More than just that one, there were more surprises, a tasting of the new Barley Wine, a 13% monster, recently just released from serving a year on Maker's Marks bourbon barrels. And god damn has the rehabilitation worked, it's so much smoother than Lervig's 10% Barley Wine released back in 2011. This time they brewed 1800 liters and they are hoping to get some into Vinmonopolet. I really recommend this brew and hope you will be able to get some. All of you who likes to taste something, this dark gem is for you! Expect bourbon, wood, dark fruit, roasted flavors and general dark deliciousness.

These casks were used for deliciousness...

But possibly the biggest highlight was Mikkeller's George brewed at Lervig. A 12,12% ABV gourmet dessert. So sweet and roasted, with vanilla and chocolate flavors, it's candy time and I'm the candy man in candy land! And now the Maker's Mark barrels that used to hold the Barley Wine is holding a barrel aged version of George! I'm not sure this beer can better from it, but I'm excited about finding out. There might even show up more versions I've heard, head brewer Mike is considering finding space for more barrels. And with the quality of the two first Mikkeller brews he's made and Mikkel's barrel age craze I think it's going to be sooner rather than later. And of course it's the rest of the Beer Geek series too, with the success of the mentioned one and the smoked malt in the storages shelves that holds witness to my theory that Beer Geek Bacon is next. Sausage and coffee in one anyone?

Some of the people!

The home brew competition that were the reason 60-70 people gathered at Lervig this day was won by Kim Odland with his home brewery "Black Cat". Known from the first Norwegian Gypsy brewers ABC Brewing, the B & C stands for... ...yes you guessed it! (Check out the interview we just had with ABC brewing here.) Reading this article and the latter will unleash a little Easter egg of an conspiracy theory in your brain, that I nether can spell out in words or actually think is true, but it's still funny! Anyways Kim brewed a American Rye Pale Ale and the judges was impressed with how technically well the beer was brewed. Kim just won the Norwegian brewer of the year award at with his fellow ABC man Gahr Smith-Gahrsen. The winner of the first price will brew 1.000 liters of the beer at Lervig and hopefully that will hit some of the craft beer pubs of Norway. The second price was sponsored by Norway's very best brew store, so if you wanna start to brew that's a good place to begin. 

Mike, Magne & the winner Kim Odland.

Mike Murphy and up 'n' coming brewer Charles Magne Melhus both held speeches, Mike came straight from the airport to attend, that's dedication, jet-lagged and all! A lot of what he was talking about (his story) is what he said in the interview we did with him last year, you should check that out here, and while your at it check out the interview I did with Mikkeller last year if you haven't seen it! (Here) So now that you have enough to catch up with it's time to wrap it up!

Mike in action!

Magne with his hat on...

Lervig this was a great arrangement and I hope you do it again, thanks for a great night and cheers!

- Haffy & Kjetil (Lervig supporters)

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