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.



  1. I find it hilarious, and honorable, that you decided to photograph an empty glass instead of fabricating a simulated beer. We, the viewer, would have been none-the-wiser, but your principles are rock solid Mave....rock solid :)

  2. Also, I really enjoyed your walkthrough of these multiple foreign beers, with your added personal flavor. The way in which you describe the underlined textures, the multifarious viscosities, and the overall character of each individual beer is quite stimulating, in which my mouth had started to salivate while reading this blog.

    These are simple pleasures in which I may or may not be able to consume within my lifetime, so I am quite content to say that you did a great job chronicling these initial beer, as well as giving the viewer a great mental visual representation of what you tasted.

    I give this initial beer blog 9 ShaneBuck's out of 10.

    PS: Bring some home to the lads!

  3. Wow I'd really like to try that Esrum Kloster...!

  4. Thanks Mr. Buick, though I not sure I'll be bringing any home, it only comes in 0.5 L bottles and I haven't seen it in Norway. I'll keep my eye out though and maybe I can bring home an Esrum Kloster to share with the 'lads'.