Larsblog - beer

Ringnes Imperial Polaris

For years now everyone's been wondering when Ringnes was going to wake up and realize that the old days of selling cheap industrial beers were over. Overall beer sales have been down consistently year after year for many years, while craft beer sales have boomed. Surely the biggest brewery in Norway had to sit up and notice at some point? Particularly when their owners, Danish Carlsberg, have already started two craft beer brands in Denmark (Kongens Bryghus and Jacobsen). ...

Read | 2012-10-04 20:25 | 3 comment(s)

Nøgne Ø Red Horizon

I don't normally do straight beer reviews, but this is not just any beer, and I think it deserves much more attention than it's received so far. It's both wildly unsual and one of my all-time favourite beers. And now that Nøgne Ø is brewing Red Horizon 2 and 3 the time seems right for a little write-up. ...

Read | 2012-02-25 14:02 | 2 comment(s)

GlavPivTorg — a window onto history

GlavPivTorg is not just a brewpub. It is also a theme restaurant. The name is a Soviet-style acronym meaning "Main Beer Cooperative," and the place is designed to look like an elite Soviet restaurant from the 1960s. This is the sort of place where the high-level Soviet apparatchik would dine. Even the menu is designed according to the state cookery manual for restaurants. ...

Read | 2012-02-19 18:17 | 0 comment(s)

The beer revolution comes to Norway

When I first got seriously interested in beer, roughly ten years ago, Norway was a miserable place for a beer enthusiast. Norwegian beer was pretty much limited to four styles of lager from the industrials plus two half-decent brewpubs. As for imports, they were not very impressive, either. Two pubs had some Belgian beers, but that was about it. I used to memorize which pubs in Oslo had Erdinger, so I could get something decent to drink while out. ...

Read | 2012-01-26 19:44 | 6 comment(s)

Lambic

I can still remember my first sip of lambic. I was sitting in the tasting room of the Cantillon brewery in Brussels after completing the brewery tour, all eager to try the final product. The shock of actually tasting it was all the greater. It was sour! So sour it almost burned. And what's more, it was thin and tasted of metal and grain. This was lambic? ...

Read | 2012-01-13 17:37 | 1 comment(s)

The beer bars of Vilnius

Lithuania may be a small country today, but once the joint Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth included much of present-day Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belorussia, and Ukraine. This is why Vilnius has one of the largest surviving medieval towns in Northern Europe, covering well over three square kilometers. So Vilnius is well worth visiting just for the sights, but it also happens that you can find a very rare beer style here: kaimiškas, or Lithuanian farmhouse ales. ...

Read | 2011-05-14 10:40 | 10 comment(s)

Are macro lagers really all the same?

Beer enthusiasts like to say that people who argue over which industrial pale lager is best are missing the point, because they all essentially taste the same, and none of them are very good, anyway. I personally agree with that, and that now that there are so many good craft beers available everywhere, there's really no reason to drink this stuff at all. ...

Read | 2011-05-08 16:23 | 9 comment(s)

Traditional Norwegian homebrew, finally

I was recently invited to give a presentation on Topic Maps at Vestlandsforsking in Sogndal, as part of their 25-year jubilee seminar series. I first tried to fly there in December, but because of fog the plane was never able to land. Ironically, the flight itself was absolutely beautiful. The little propeller plane flew over an endless expanse of snow-capped mountains in blazing sunshine. Just before arriving in Sogndal we could clearly see the Jotunheimen mountain range in the distance, sticking up over the smaller mountains. ...

Read | 2011-04-03 10:18 | 4 comment(s)

Europe's best-kept beer secret?

A flood of industrial lager has swept away the native beer traditions of just about every country in Europe except, famously, for the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, and the UK. Oh, and, it turns out, Lithuania. If you haven't heard about Lithuanian beer traditions, don't worry, because nobody else has, either. ...

Read | 2010-09-18 21:09 | 10 comment(s)

Ægir, Flåm

It's far and away the most spectacular brewpub I've ever seen. Part of it is the location, at the end of a Norwegian fjord surrounded by tall mountains that seem to tower over the little village. But it's just as much the brewpub itself, a dark, bulky wooden structure looking vaguely like a stave church that's lost its tower, decorated with wooden dragons on the roof, in true dragestil. Inside it's no less unusual, as we'll get to in a moment. ...

Read | 2010-08-05 20:33 | 5 comment(s)

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