It started with some puerile punnage last month on Knut's blog. Actions have consequences, even in the blogosphere, so next thing Knut presents me not only with a bottle of the hilariously-titled Soddøl, but also an actual can of sodd: the Norwegian stew after which it's named. That's me taught a lesson about idle blog-commentary.
I'm used to the (for want of a better word) sober approach to beer names employed by Norwegian craft brewers Nøgne Ø and Haandbryggeriet. When they make a pale ale, they're most likely to call it "Pale Ale". But their new compatriot, Inderøy Gårdsbryggeri, has taken a more liberal approach to labelling, and as well as this stew-inspired pale ale, they have a porter called Ankerøl and a kölsch-alike called Kvamsholmer. By the sounds of it they're a tiny operation in a hostile environment, but I wish them the best of luck. Especially since I can now say first-hand that at least one of their beers is excellent.
Red-amber Soddøl has that typical Norwegian high gassiness, making pouring a long-drawn-out affair, but leaving a firm and lasting off-white head above a lightly cloudy body. The dense sediment collects in the bottom of the bottle, of which more later. The aroma is sweet and candy-like and the mouthfeel very full. First up flavourwise are roasted, almost smoky, malt notes followed up with a heavy brown sugar sweetness. An understated bitterness finishes it off perfectly. With the substantial lees added to the glass, this bitterness rises slightly, but the heavy treacley malt remains the driving force.
After a few filling mouthfuls I thought to look at the strength and was surprised to see it's a mere 4.5% ABV. Big flavour in a sessionable beer is definitely something to be welcomed. It makes for a perfect year-round winter warmer, and I think I can see where the stew associations came from.
From this day forth there shall be no higher compliment to pay a pale ale than "That stuff? Tastes like Soddøl."