Thursday, 6 March 2014

Braukunst Live! 2014 - The Nøgne Ø Session

As with the previous two years, BrauKunst Live featured a full programme of masterclasses and talks. I hadn't planned to attend any of the paid ones, but was talked into the Nøgne Ø session by Gerrit, and yeah, it was worth the extra fiver. Not just for the drinks, but to hear Kjetil Jikiun speak for a while about the principles on which Nøgne Ø was built.

Now, I have to admit, this was nearing the end of the evening, and there were seven drinks served in rapid succession, with Kjetil talking the whole time, so my notes are patchy, as it was hard enough multitasking to drink and listen attentively!

For a beer tasting, I was surprised we were to start with a Sake, I think the  Nøgne Ø Sake Yamahai Motoshibori. Apparently they got it into their heads to just try making it, then couldn't sell it locally, as it was so unlike the usual bland Sake that people were getting in restaurants. Craft Sake? I guess so! I'm not an expert, but I liked it. Tart, with tinned pears, almonds, gooseberries. Quite unlike any Sake I've had, though in fairness, that's not saying much.

The Sake
Nøgne Ø Pale Ale brought us gently into the beer round. With Northern Brewer for bittering and Centennial for the rest, it was a good opener. Nutty, creamy, orange pith and grapefuit bitterness. Fairly straightforward.

Nøgne Ø Two Captains Double IPA originally stemmed from a homebrewing competition winner, in fact, a former Scandinavian Airlines friend of Kjetil, so when it was brewed at Nøgne Ø, it was called Two Captains. Did I mention, Kjetil was an airline pilot and homebrewer, who used to bring back 25kg sacks of malt in his suitcase, because he couldn't get the supplies he wanted in Norway? Apparently, and I'm not sure this should be put in writing, but Two Captains was originally homebrewed as a Pliny the Elder clone. Piney, with masses of orange pith on a creamy caramel base, it's chewy and bitter, and rather delicious.

For the next one, I wrote down India Saison, which must mean it was the Nøgne Ø / Bridge Road India Saison, as I also noted it was brewed with Australian hops and Belgian yeast. And very nice it is too. Snappy, fruity, with hints of tropical fruits and citric leanings, just a little funkiness and a mild, nutmeg-like spiciness to keep it interesting. I like Saison, and I like IPAs, and this blends the two rather well together.

Moving into more experimental territory, was Nøgne Ø Tindved, They don't do things in half measures at Nøgne Ø. This experiment was an 18.000 litre one, where they added lots of juice from pressed sea-buckthorn berries, thinking it woulfd ferment out and give them a sour edge. As it turns out, it did not ferment out, so they had somehting a lot sweeter than planned. So what did they do? They added Brett, as that'll eat anything. Sure enough, it dried it up, resulting in quite a tart beer, with red currants, just-about-ripe strawberries, and a definite horsey layer, nicely showing off the Brett action.

The beer I noted as being" the one with the Eskimo with shades on the label", turned out to be Nøgne Ø Sunturnbrew. At least I knew it was a smoked barley wine! Butterscotch, sweet, light phenols, suggesting pipe tobacco, lovely oily texture melding that with a thick caramel base, and a reasonable bitterness. 

The final beer was the Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout, which Kjetil said was probably their most famous beer. My notes just say "Mmmm...". Enough said.

Looks like somebody asked a stupid question.
It's nice to get a concentrated look at beers from a brewery, and even better when they are hand selected by the brewer. One of their core values is that they want that when a person finishes a bottle of their beer, that they'd like another. I think they're succeeding on that count.

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