Norwegians celebrate “Jul” (from old norse Yule) on 24 December. RideNorway is counting down to Winter Solstice with trip planning tips and trivia!
3 December: Top 3 craft beers of Norway
These tips are only to be followed when you have parked your bike for the day. Remember: Norwegian highway police enforce (for all practical purposes) a zero tolerance in DUI. Whatever you do in your home country: Do NOT drink and ride while in Norway.
Apart from that, you are always more than welcome to enjoy proper Norwegian beer. Whereas Norwegian cuisine – you know, lutefish, smoked sheep head and the lot – may sound questionable at best (even if it tastes wonderful, at least to Norwegians), the beers we have to offer are top notch! For many, many decades, Norwegians and everybody else thought Norway had no beer brewing tradition, and that beer was best brewed in the UK, Germany and Belgium with the traditional lager, ale or wild yeast. A few years back, the prominent beer conoisseur Lars Marius Garshol started to investigate Norwegian farmhouse ales. Lo and behold: An all Norwegian, fourth class of yeast was discovered – the Kveik. Kveik is very special, as it is fermented at really high temperatures (up to +42C), making the beer ready to drink in just a couple of days. Each kveik has its own characteristics, depending on where in the country it is from. Some have really citric flavours, others more earthy, others again more floral or fruity. But we can assure you that the beer is top stuff, and the yeast itself has become an export article to the beer brewers of the world.
You simply must sample this beer when in Norway, even if you thought you didn’t like beer. Assuming you’re not seeking out local brewers of traditional farmhouse ales, you have to buy it. Here’s RideNorway’s top 3 list:
1) Voss bryggeri – Jolabrygg
Voss Bryggeri – Jolabrygg. Image: Vossbryggeri.com
This is a brew for celebration of the Winter Solstice, or “Jul / Jol”. But it is so good that it deserves to be drank all year. It is not like the traditional dark ales served at this time of year. Rather, it is a golden, slightly sweeter, but oh so fruity beer. If you cannot find it, look up “Vossaøl” or “Kveika Rugøl” from the same brewery. They are almost as good, and are usually easier to source in the summer.
2) Haandbryggeriet – Earthkveik
Haandbryggeriet – Earth Kveik. Image: haandbryggeriet.com
A slightly lighter kveik beer with more earthy flavours, and more hops. It is perfect accompanied by something to nibble after a long day’s ride. It is sold in 0.33cl flasks, so a bit more awkward to transport in your pannier – but it is wort(h) it. Perhaps the best beer to get you introduced to kveik beers.
3) Ego Brygghus – Helt Rått
Ego Brygghus – Helt Rått raw pale ale. Image: ego-brygghus.com
The wort in this pale ale has not been boiled, as is customary with beer elsewhere, which is why it is called a raw beer, or “rå”, hence its name “Helt Rått”. It is double dry hopped, instilling slightly more bitterness to the usually fruity kveik brews. It has the full body of a raw beer, while retaining the juicy flavours. A good thirst quencher after a day in the saddle!
You might have to seek out the Vinmonopolet which is a state owned and run monopoly for sales of alcoholic beverage above 4.7% vol to find these (except Helt Rått, which may be found in well assorted groceries or at Gulating). The Vinmonopolet outlets are found everywhere. If you have trouble finding one, ask any local. They know where to find one.
Oh, and if you are into beer brewing and want to learn more about kveik and how to brew with it, seek out kveiktraining.com. Maybe you’d like to make a stop-over out West to learn the trade while you’re in Norway anyway?
Do you have other favourite beers? Let us know in the comments below!