This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Country #8: Norway

Beer: #100 (Barleywine-Style Ale)

Brewery: Nøgne Ø, Grimstad, Norway

ABV: 10.0%

This is some serious, Viking-quality beer that'll have you bellowing Uff da! in no time.
I have no idea what kind of beer the Vikings would have drunk, but my imagination tells me it must have been thick, dark, and strong. Those guys were crazy, in pursuits both malicious (raping, pillaging, burning) and courageous (reaching North America five hundred years before Columbus). The sensory overload of the Viking lifestyle demanded serious beer, and Norwegian brewery Nøgne Ø could have provided it for them, had it not been founded only ten years ago. 

Nothing says Norway like the letter  Ø
These guys make serious stuff: the beer I tried, #100, is a barleywine-style ale, which is perhaps a redundant name, as barleywine really just refers to certain types of ales that have enough alcohol to rival wine. #100, named as such because it was the 100th batch the brewery made, is as black as a December high noon in Hammerfest (where the sun doesn’t come up from late November to late January), as rich as a Viking back from a successful pillage, and as thick as his gut after munching on twenty legs of lamb for dinner. At 10% alcohol by volume, it packs a punch, and when you pour the entire 25 ounce bottle into a big glass and drink it one sitting (as I did), it packs the alcoholic punch of about five Bud Lights. So, if you’re a Viking, it might make for a nice breakfast.

I would have drank my Norwegian beer out of this thing, if I had one. I would also probably have one of these if they didn't cost $89.95
Nøgne Ø, Norway's first craft brewery, has made a name for itself brewing over-the-top beers like this. The packaging screams Norwegian: simple, utilitarian design, and not one but two of those o’s with the line through it in the brewery’s name—which means Naked Island in Norwegian, referring to the barren, rocky crags off the Norwegian coast that Grimstader Henrik Ibsen wrote about. Their beer, however, is unabashedly American in character, and the brewers aren’t afraid to admit it: the bottle claims they are “thoroughly inspired by the boldness of American brewing,” and they often collaborate with American brewers, including San Diego’s own Stone, with smashing results. Before Nøgne Ø came along it was hard to find any Norwegian beer in the States, but their commitment to making interesting beers has landed them on the shelves of Whole Foods here in California (where I got mine), as well as at one of the bars just up 30th street from my house. I’m not sure what uff da! means exactly, but drinking this beer made me want to say it.

One of Ibsen's "naked islands" off the coast of Grimstad. This one is wearing a lighthouse. (Picture by Panoramio user Tore Heggelund)

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