In my last blog I focused on David Nutt’s research about how destructive alcohol is for us as individuals, and how damaging it is for society at large (as well as less depressing things, like some substances being far less damaging and more promising than commonly thought). Just to balance that, I thought I’d focus today on the joys of beer.
What’s that you say, I scared you off beer in my last blog? You thought I hated beer now? Yes, humans are complex and contradictory, and I both agree with Dr. Nutt’s concerns about alcohol and simultaneously adore beer. Besides, the university experience would not be complete without a pretentious predilection for popscience and craft beer, right?
One of the many pleasant surprises I had in store for me coming to Bergen was Norway’s microbrewing scene. I had been expecting a focus on aquavit (which I still have never tried, by the way – if some intrepid Norwegian wants to foist some upon me, here I am!) and maybe a few pilsners (afterall, “å pilse” is apparently slang for ‘to drink beer’). I did not expect a burgeoning craft brewing culture, complete with an annual beerfest (Bergen Ølfestival). So much for saving money by never drinking anything containing alcohol!
Here are my top 3 ways to celebrate some of Norway’s many fine craft beers:
1. Visit a Brewery:
Ægir, Norway’s “Brewpub of the year” three years in a row and 2011 Australian International Beer Awards silver winner 3-times-over, opened a new brewery in Flåm in 2012. Their beers are inspired by craft breweries throughout the world, especially the USA. Their website speaks of being inspired by the giant (and master of the ocean) Ægir from Norse mythology, brother of Kári (Wind) and Logi (Fire). It sounds like Ægir the giant throws quite the annual bash in Brime, his hall which is somehow magically lit with gold. There, the drinking-horns fill themselves, and fights will get the fighters banned… For. All. Eternity! Ægir has a reputation for brewing the best ale (to fill those horns!), and apparently he brews a lot of it. His brewing kettle, a mile deep, is the world’s largest.
You can contact them directly if you have any questions about the brewery, their beers, where you can find them or if you want give them feedback about their beers at email@example.com
Voss brewery (in Voss) has an Ølutsalget (which appears to mean ‘beer outlet’) that is open Thursdays and Fridays 16.00-19.00. If you make it there, or to a bar in Bergen, check out that Voss Oregonian, an American Pale Ale that is fantastic.
There are many other breweries to try either in person or at a local establishment, including Kinn Brewery (in Floro), Nøgne Ø, and Haand Bryggeriet. Or, if a road trip is too much for you, how about a short bus ride away?
As of last month 7fjell Brewery started opening its brewery to the public every last Friday of the month. Located in nearby Bønes, 7Fjell offers a gear/beer store open at 15.00 and a bar in their brewing facility starting at 18.00, the beers are offered at prices a little cheaper than a pub and the atmosphere is lively. The next open brewery at 7fjell is coming up on 24 April.
7fjell Brewery Open Brewery Friday. Photo: Stand Hiestand
2. Enjoy some ambience:
While some of these beers can be found in local grocery stores or in the vinmonopolet, you might want to get out with your friends and (pay a premium) to savor a beer.
Still my favorite bar in Bergen, Henrik øl og Vinstove is a fantastic spot to take your friends. No music so you can better hear your conversation; oodles of beer on tap; a friendly and knowledgable bar staff; and, it even appears to have a cool semi-secret entrance where you have to be ‘in the know’ to go (take that, hipsters!). But in all seriousness, there is no ‘storefront’ just a door to a hallway. Get on in there and head up the stairs to the best of Bergen bars.
Henrik’s beer list. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Henrik-%C3%98l-Vinstove/120146211388331?ref=ts&fref=ts
Henrik’s shadow looms large. Photo: Stand Hiestand
Starting to brew their own beers as well as offering a wide selection of microbrews, Una is a beautiful, spacious, airy feeling bar with lots of Jenga available to play (if you like to feel stressed out while enjoying a beer).
Una a little too costly for your wallet? Wanna find a deal? As you may remember from my post, “Did you know about this?!”, I just found out about Mikromandag (Micro-Monday) at Kvarteret every Monday between 17.00 – 01.00. I did go, and there is a good selection with several good deals (that Oregonian I talked up early was sold out by the time I got there because it was only 54 kr).
3. Get Festive
Learn to brew your own beer at home next weekend 24-26 April at Hjemmebryggerhelgen (Home-brewing Weekend) 2015. Here’s a link to the complete program at the Norwegian homebrewers’ union site. You can buy tickets here. If this event is a bit too expensive (1495 kr for the weekend), or a bit too ‘in Norwegian’ (I’m assuming it is entirely in Norwegian as their website is, although you can contact them to check), and you’re an international student (or very charming), there is another option for you:
There are several upcoming Ølfestivals:
Finally, stay tuned to Bergen Ølfestival’s website, as they prepare for next year’s festivities – 4th and 5th September, 2015.
Now, get out there and enjoy some craft brews in moderation!