Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Carlsberg & Carlsberg's Elephant (Denmark)

Carlsberg 4.6%

Probably not the best beer in the world (despite what their slogan says). It has a slightly malty taste which is a little bitter for an international lager but all in all it does not feature a very interesting taste. Not the worst of the generic beers out there but you might as well get a cheaper (a.k.a. local) one that has a full 5.0% ABV since I don't see why you'd only be drinking this for the flavour. That is unless you are in Denmark, because as they say: " When in Denmark, drink Carlsberg (at least once)!" No really they say that over there all the time...

Carlsberg Elephant 7.2%

The first thing I notice with this beer is its almost, but not quite, syrupy texture. It tastes a little of almonds and toasted bread; a little bitter and a little sweet. It makes me think of a "grown-up's" version of Colt 45: it's main feature is its high alcohol content but spend a little bit more money to get a better flavour. It doesn't taste like 7.2% but it packs a wallop.

Certainly worth trying if you are passing through Denmark and want a strong beer without much flavour (good or bad) but if you miss it, well, you are not exactly missing a unique or special beer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Selection of Beers From the Aass Brewery in Drammen, Norway

Aass Bayer 3.4%

A delicious dark tasting beer with hints of coffee, chocolate and maybe even wood (oak?). Predictably dark in a glass.

18.50 NKR for a 330ml bottle.

Aass Bayer Uten 0.6%

This a dark alcohol free beer, it's chocolaty and ever so slightly bitter - like dark chocolate - but it tastes as though something is missing from its pallet. This isn't a trait of good alcohol free beers of which there are a surprising number in Norway.

7.90 NKR for a 330ml bottle.

Aass Lettol 2.1%

A delightfully fruity and light beer, a hint of bitter in the tast but a refreshing and clean aftertaste. Full carbonation.

8.90 NKR for a 330ml bottle
Aass Original Pilsner 3.4%

This is another good beer from a really good brewery. A sparks filled burst of flowery flavour (almost like a spontaneous fermentation beer) with a bitter aftertaste. Very clear yellow colour - surprising for a beer with so much unfiltered flavour.

15.50 NKR for a 330ml bottle.
Aass Sommerol (summer beer) 4.7%

Tasty but tastes like a watered down version of the delicious Aass original pilsner: a little fruity sort of like a spontaneous fermentation beer. Maybe that's what they mean by a 'Summer Beer'? Has a flowery flavour as well, but overall quite mellow.

Last and least ...

Aass Vorterol 0.0%

There is a cute brown bear on the label ... and it tastes like bear fur may have been used in the production of this gross beer. I'm going to have to try this again because I love everything else this brewery makes that I've tasted. It tastes musty and TOO sweet as if it has been sweetened with artificial sweeteners. The taste is sort of like a restaurant with poor ventalation and a lot of examples of taxidermy. It is dark and has a thick foam ... it's really gross.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Carl's Porter (Carlsberg - Denmark)

Now THIS is an authentic porter. Smooth, barely carbonated, and bitter with strong flavours of black coffee and peat smoke. High in alcohol (7.8%) and opaque in a glass ... really opaque: if you have more than an inch in a glass you can't see through it.

Made by the Carlsberg brewery this is a really nice porter, certainly not a beer that anyone who doesn't like dark beers is going to like, but this is a dark beer for dark beer lovers. Also, considering it is such a strongly flavoured and so dark (have I mentioned it's dark?) this beer is surprisingly light.

I paid 10 DKK (which exchanges for a little under $2.00 CAD) for a 0.33 l bottle of this from the Carlsberg Brewery gift shop. Which I consider a steal of a deal. If you have the chance and like porters I recommend this one.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ringnes Pilsner (Norway) 4.5% ABV

A refreshing lager/pilsner type beer with a slightly (slightly) bitter aftertaste. It is fairly lightly carbonated and a clear golden colour in a glass. Nothing fancy here but definitely a beer of people in Norway.

It cost 12.50 NKR (approx $2.15 CAD) for the 330 ml bottle pictured below and is available in every grocery store in Norway.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beer Tasting on the DFDS Crown of Scandinavia

This beer tasting consisted of five good sized samples of different beers brewed by the Skands Brewery of Denmark. The samples, served in the cozy environs of the Red and White Wine Bar on Deck 8 of the Crown of Scandinavia while sailing from Oslo to Copenhagen, were presented and described by the bartender (and self-described Wine Guy) Peter who did an excellent job of guiding me through the flavours.

(Peter, manning the bar and doling out helpful tips, as well as delicious wines and beers)

The tasting itself is also well designed working up from the more subtle flavours to the stronger tasting beers; I really recommend this tasting. So, if you find yourself planning to travel by boat on any DFDS ships check to see if they have this service. It's much cheaper if you buy it ahead of time, when ordering your ticket online, but still isn't very expensive (for Scandinavia) if purchased on board: 120,00 (DKK) or around $24.00 (CAD).

First up:

Humle Fryd (Hops of Joy) 5.5%

This is a hoppy, lightly flavoured beer with a measured but lingering aftertaste. It's very pale in a glass and while it isn't bad it pretty well just tastes like any other international lager.

(I drank it before I remembered to photograph it ... I was thirsty!)

Elmegade IPA 6.2%

This IPA smells a bit like apples or cider and tasted the way an old fort converted into a museum sometimes smells, musty but with an interesting history. This sounds like a terrible condemnation but I swear it isn't. Elmegade IPA is bitter but not overly, actually quite refreshing. Has a faint herb taste in the background of the flavour that I couldn't pin down (maybe coriander) but enjoyed. A tasty IPA this may not be exactly what was rolled onto the India bound sailing ships of the British Navy those hundreds of years ago but it tastes like it should be and if it was: lucky sailors.

New Stout 5.8%

Peter: " A modern interpretation of stouts and porters: lighter so you can drink more of it."

And drink more of it you will! Eminently drinkable I heartily recommend this one. Still has smoke, and coffee and caramel flavours and although dark in a glass it is not opaque. It is also nicely carbonated and certainly light enough to enjoy with food and to drink several of them. Of the beers in the sampler this is the first I made plans to order more of. It really is a wonderful interpretation of heavier stouts and porters because it manages to keep the full flavour without being heavy like traditional stouts and porters, and without being watery as some other dark beers that are striving to be more drinkable.

(I drank this one before I photographed it also but had to order a full bottle of this one!)

Bla Chimpanse (Blue Chimpanzee) 6.5%

A Danish attempt to mimic the beers made by the Belgian brewery monks of Chimay. A fruity bouquet, creamy with a complicated taste, more sweet than bitter. Cloudy and a deep amber in a glass. A taste of clover and a hint of caramel. This is a good beer but the Belgian original is better.

(On the return trip this one was worth trying again)

Last but certainly not least:

Esrum Kloster 7.7%

Brewed by Skands but spiced with herbs from the very old monastery after whom the beer is named.

A sip of this beer is a veritable blast of flavour: jasmine and sage pound the senses of the unwary. A sweet and gingery aftertaste left me intrigued and very pleased to have a whole glass left. This lovely beer has a taste like what every gardener who plants beautifully smelling herbs intends/wishes/hopes/dreams their backyard will smell like. No hint of the high alcohol content except that it reminds me a little of a particularly potent Swedish mead.

If you can only try one of the beers from this sampling make it this one. I enjoyed the rest (particularly the New Stout) but this one is far and away the best and indeed one of the best beers I've ever had to pleasure to drink.


Extended Absence - Over!

So due to non-beer related stuff going on in my life this blog has been neglected, but no more!

Coming soon will be a entry describing a truly excellent tasting on board a ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen and then every Wednesday following (at least) that I will have an entry on a new beer. At the moment I am in Oslo so the first slew will be Norwegian or at least Scandinavian beers.