Finding farmhouse ale in Norway
Posted in Beer on 2019-07-14 10:39
Mug of vossaøl, in Voss
Quite a few people write to me, saying they're planning to visit Norway, and want to know where they can experience Norwegian farmhouse ale culture. Probably there are more people who are interested, but who don't write email, so it seemed like a good idea to just publish everything here.
The first thing to note is that farmhouse brewers are home brewers. They're not selling their beers, they don't have tasting rooms, and if you're going to see the brewery or taste the beer you need to visit them at home. That rather limits the tourist potential, unfortunately, which is why this list is as short as it is. Norway basically isn't ready for beer tourism, and farmhouse-style beer is not easily available here.
The second thing to note is that farmhouse brewing for the most part survived in remote regions where it was difficult to buy beer. That means you pretty much have to have a car to visit these places, and the most interesting sights are far away from Oslo.
Brewing equipment exhibition at Mølstertunet Museum
Smalahovetunet is a farm that produces the local specialty smalahove, smoked, steamed sheep's head. It's possible to order a dinner there, and be served local Voss-style farmhouse ale with it. (Web site.)
Voss Bryggeri is a modern craft brewery, but they brew several beers with kveik, and also a version of the local farmhouse ale. The brewery is sometimes open and serving beer, but it's a good bit outside Voss itself. An alternative is to visit Tre Brør, a pub owned by the brewery that always has beers with kveik on draft.
Mølstertunet Museum is the local history museum. Most summers they have an exhibition on the local farmhouse brewing, showing off a brewhouse with kettle, yeast logs, etc, and a collection of wooden drinking bowls. The museum is a really impressive old farm, preserved exactly as it was, in a beautiful location above the center of Voss town. I recommend dropping by there.
Old house at Sandane Museum
The farmhouse ale festival in October is really your best bet for tasting authentic farmhouse ale and getting to meet the brewers. You can also get kveik directly from the owners. The downside is you have to come that specific weekend. (Web site.)
Kveik Training in Sykkylven is a business started by farmhouse brewer Sigurd Johan Saure, owner of kveik #8. They give courses in real farmhouse brewing of raw ale with kveik and juniper. There's also a tasting room where you can try their beers, and you can even stay the night. I recommend contacting them to make an appointment.
Sandane Museum has malt houses and drinking vessels, but without a guide I'm not sure how much sense you can make of what you see. It may be worth contacting the museum to ask what they can do for you.
Morten Granås's malt kiln, with himself in the door
Morten Granås has a licence to sell his stjørdalsøl, so you can try calling him to see if he has any available. He might also show you his såinnhus (malt kiln) and brewery, if you are lucky. (Contact info.)
It's not, strictly speaking, in Stjørdal, but very much worth a visit anyway: Klostergården. This is actually an inn where you can eat, drink, and stay the night, on the island of Tautra. It's worth visiting just for the site, but the food is also good, and they have a brewery that makes their own takes on stjørdalsøl. They even have a såinnhus that they'll probably let you see. (Web site.)
(Update: Alstadberg was added 2019-08-10.)
Roar Sandodden receives visitors and groups on his farm. Roar has his own såinnhus, and brews traditional stjørdalsøl. He gives tours where you get to see the såinnhus and brewery, get a short talk on stjørdalsøl, taste the beer, and eat some home-made snacks. The whole thing takes 1-2 hours. Contact info.
Brewing demonstration at Norsk Folkemuseum
The easiest way to find beers with kveik in Oslo is actually to go to the wine monopoly stores. The wine monopoly always has beer with kveik. This applies in most Norwegian towns, and not just Oslo.
Eik & Tid is not a farmhouse brewery, but they're a sour ale brewery that uses techniques and ingredients from farmhouse brewing, such as juniper infusion, raw ale, and kveik. Their tasting room is open on Fridays and very much worth a visit, because their beers are really quite unique. (More info.)
Norsk Folkemuseum is a large open-air museum that has several old brewhouses and malt kilns, and they also exhibit old beer bowls and other drinking vessels. It's a beautiful place, and gives clear sense of just how different the lives farmers led just 150 years ago were from today.
In Stavanger I recommend visiting the Cardinal bar, which is still probably the best beer bar in Norway. They know what they're doing, so you can be pretty sure they'll have some farmhouse-inspired beers on.
It's not a lot, is it, for a country with such a strong culture of farmhouse brewing as Norway? Unfortunately, Norwegians still haven't really woken up to the importance of their own national beer culture, and so we're not really doing that much to make it available. At least not yet. Things are improving, so I'm hoping this will look rather better in a few years.
Did I forget anything? If so, please don't hesitate to tell me in the comments.
People are confused over what to call Norwegian farmhouse ale and what styles there are
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Martin Mæhle - 2019-07-14 12:11:56
What about storli gård? But they brew mostly for Christmas
Lars Marius Garshol - 2019-07-14 12:13:32
@Martin: Good question! I'm not sure how often they have beer available. I'll ask them. Thanks!
Lars Flatberg - 2019-07-14 12:40:16
Wettre Bryggeri har en Farmhouse IPA brygget med kveik.
Piers White - 2019-07-14 16:30:34
If it wasn't such a sleeper, it would be near criminal to publish this list without mentioning Rodebak Brewery in Rennebu/Oppdal. A small one man operation specialising in farmhouse, and some of the best beer to come out of the country.
Lars Marius Garshol - 2019-07-14 16:34:49
@Piers: I haven't tried the beers from Rodebak, but I see they brew wit, IPA, saison, etc. That makes them a craft brewery on a farm, not a farmhouse brewery. This blog post is about those who make Norwegian-style farmhouse ales, which they don't seem to do.
Rolf - 2019-07-15 06:36:07
Skifjorden Brewery. Brew a seire if beers with Kveik - both traditional and modern styles . Tasting room, and also have a small festival first weekend in august. Kveik brew day, master Class and dinner with just Kveik beer. I know we are located «in the middle of nowhere», but we still count 🤣
JOhn - 2019-07-16 17:46:04
If brewing's such a traditional culture in Norway, why have Norwegians been asleep about it for so long? We're assuming here they were ever awake, of course. I'm reliably informed those who were ever awake, including the Icelanders and refugees who settled in Britain then the US, left Norway many, many moons ago. 'Norwegian farmhouse brewing' is largely what you've made it, sir. A very tall story indeed. If it's so great, why is the food so crap? Norway's culture screams 'peripheral', in every respect. Except skiing and bullshit, of course.
Per Christian - 2019-10-20 11:26:29
Hi Lars Marius,
With regards to beers available at vinmonopolet, do you have any particular recommendations? I know the available beers change all the time, but examples of something that resembles traditional kornøl seems to be mixed in with American triple IPAs brewed with kveik, which doesn't really reflect how this was done historically.
Any opinion on the beers from Brulandselva, Bygland, Voss or Skifjorden, and whether they taste anything like what you describe in your blog?
https://www.vinmonopolet.no/Producenter/Brulandselva-AS/c/brulandselva_as https://www.vinmonopolet.no/vmp/Land/Norge/Bygland-Sveikadden-Sterk-Kveika-Gards%C3%B8l/p/11263902 https://www.vinmonopolet.no/vmp/Land/Norge/Voss-Vossa%C3%B8l/p/6923402 https://www.vinmonopolet.no/vmp/Land/Norge/Skifjorden-Bryggeri-Hugleik-Dry-Norwegian-Farmhouse-Ale/p/11015401
Best regards, Per Christian
Lars Marius Garshol - 2019-10-20 11:35:23
@Per Christian: I haven't tasted all of these, so I can't comment on all of them.
Brulandselva is very interesting. It's brewed raw at de Proef, but they filter it and have high carbonation, so it's fairly different from the original.
Sveikadden is relatively traditional, but not a Kornøl.
Hugleik I haven't tried.
Bygland now has two beers in their "For the love of kveik" series at the Wine monopoly. These are brewed close to the original recipes of the yeast owners. Framgarden is very good, and quite like a kornøl, even if it has a little more carbonation. The other one I haven't tried yet.
Per Christian - 2019-10-26 18:48:29
Thank you Lars Marius. Much appreciated.