14 October 2011
The Norwegians were at the front of the house, behind an unusual bar which showed off their keykeg arrangements to all and sundry but featured no badges or beer names at all. They also provided a nice bit of variety in a world of dark beers. Nøgne Ø India Saison was a beaut: incredibly clean and refreshing with delicious sherbet and fresh orange notes. The Tiger Tripel was tasty too, though a little bit by-the-numbers: some spice, some booze, but nothing to write home about.
There was a touch of tripel spice about the nose of Aku-Aku, a hazy pale amber beer they've brewed with lemongrass. But the nose is the best thing about it: it gets a bit watery after that. I was expecting much better things from Nøgne Ø Citra IPA too, but there are just some nice candied lemons and not a whole lot else.
Of course they didn't dodge the dark beers altogether: there was Not So Mild, a, er, dark mild. I liked it: it hits the super-smooth light roast coffee notes a good mild should have, but adding some lovely and distinctive hop tones to the aroma. Their Oak'd Bruin was less of a success. Though gorgeously exotic in its cedarwood aroma, the taste is too harsh: dry and powerfully woody, like chewing a sideboard.
Top of the pile for Nøgne Ø, and one of my favourites at the festival, was one that's recently appeared in Irish off licences: #500, a 10% ABV, 100 IBU imperial IPA. Dark amber and exhibiting that beautiful highland-toffee-studded-with-hops balance of really good hopped up strong pale ales. The booze adds a comforting warmth and in no way detracts from its drinkability.
That leaves us with Bästa Rököl. It's rather less simple. Dark mahogany, the rök is out in force, with lots of peat flavour. Juniper was promised too, but that never broke the surface of the sweet smoky flavour profile. Even with just 100ml I settled in to enjoy this. The guy at the next table was smoking a cigar which, second hand, paired wonderfully with it. Such is life.
Next up, the other big Dutch presence at the festival.