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Posts Tagged ‘saison’

The first time I had heard of Norwegian brewery Nøgne Ø was when I learned of their collaboration with American craft brewers Stone and Jolly Pumpkin on a highly coveted “Special Holiday Ale.”

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Naturally, my curiosity was peaked. After all, Stone and Jolly Pumpkin are two of the most kick-ass [craft] brewers in the world (forget about the country). If they thought that Nøgne Ø was awesome enough to collaborate with – then logic can only deduce that this brewery has got a little somethin’ somethin’ going on.

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Truth be told, Nøgne Ø is ridiculously bad-ass. Started by two Norwegian homebrewers with lofty dreams, Nøgne Ø has completely revolutionized beer in Norway.

Now, you may think that my last statement is a radical over exaggeration. Well, I beg to differ.

Nøgne Ø will forever go down in history as “Norway’s first microbrewery for creative brewing.”

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Before Nøgne Ø, there were no IPAs in Norway. (GASP!) In fact, there were no pale ales. No Porters … no Imperial Stouts … no bottle conditioned ales. Actually, Norway had pretty much nothing but lagers (insert high-pitched horror flick scream). Worst of all, most Norwegians had no idea that any other beer styles even existed!

Imagine a world without ales. For The Beer Wench, such a world is the equivalent of (if not worse than) Hell.

One of the brewery’s founders, Kjetil, is an airline pilot. On his frequent trips abroad, he developed a taste for better beer, and especially for bold brewing styles. His attempts to re-create these beers as a homebrewer were so successful that he was strongly encouraged to follow his dream of brewing professionally.

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Today, Nøgne Ø is Norway’s leading and largest supplier of bottle conditioned ale.

The name derives from the first two lines of the famous poem Terje Vigen by Henrik Ibsen: “There lived a remarkably grizzled man on the uttermost barren isle”. In the ancient-styled language in which the poem is written, “barren isle” comes out as “nøgne ø”.

Nøgne Ø’s subtitle is “The Uncompromising Brewery.”  It is their mission to craft ale of highest quality, personality and individuality by using only the highest quality of ingredients in order to make beers of uncompromising quality.

They currently “create” nine bottle conditioned ales.

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The list is as follows:

1. Nøgne-Ø # 100
2. Nøgne-Ø Brown Ale
3. Nøgne-Ø Dark Horizon
4. Nøgne-Ø Imperial Stout
5. Nøgne-Ø IPA
6. Nøgne-Ø Pale Ale
7. Nøgne-Ø Porter
8. Nøgne-Ø Saison
9. Nøgne-Ø Winter Ale

Sheltonbrothers are the official US representative. They help to distribute the Pale Ale, Brown Ale, IPA, Sasion, #100, Imperial Stout and Dark Horizon to a total of 43 different states.

The beer gods must really love me. Naturally, after finishing my post on the “Special Holiday Ale” collaboration and learning all about Nøgne Ø … I was bound and determined to find me some Nøgne Ø to taste. As fate would have it, as I was combing the shelves of Total Wine for some Lambics that same evening … there they were.

Four different beers stared me down with extremely seductive bedroom eyes. The Saison, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, & Porter all blinked their long flirtatious eyelashes at me … and I giggled like a little school girl. I wanted to kick myself for not noticing them in the past, but as it turns out, it was not an oversight on my part. The store clerk informed me that Nøgne Ø only just entered the store (and the Florida market???) the previous week along with Stone Brewing Company.

Being a slut for all things Belgian [well, actually just Belgian and Belgian-style beers], I was immediately seduced by the Saison. The Pale Ale also managed to slip into my basket as well. In a way I regret not picking up the other two, but then again the store is only a car ride away.

Tonight I opened the Nøgne Ø Saison.

Description on the bottle:

SAISON 14°P, 25 IBU, 6.5 ALC/VOL

One of our most refreshing brews, made for those hot summer days, but satisfying year ’round. Recommended serving temperature 8°C/45°F. Goes well with seafood, particularly oysters.

Ingredients: Wheat and lager malt; East Kent Goldings and Crystal hops; Belgian ale yeast, and our local Grimstad water

THE BEER WENCH’S TASTING NOTES ON Nøgne Ø SAISON

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Appearance: First off, let me just say that I totally dig the bottle. The crazy “O” logo is very reminiscent of my alma matta – Ohio State. Especially since the Saison’s version is in red (Ohio State’s colors!)

The beer is a ridiculously cloudy, Marigold yellow color.  (For all you non-Crayola kids … Marigold is light golden yellow with hints of orange). The small white head dissipates fast. This may be a result of my pouring the beer into a large round wine glass … but who knows. Regardless, it leaves a nice lacing on the glass … so carbonation is A-Okay.

Aroma: Definitely reminiscent of a Saison – aka Belgian yeast + farm “funk” smells. On the nose I get sweet grass, fresh hay, banana bread, and spice.

Taste: Starts out sweet with flavors of honey, toasted nuts and doughy yeast. The sweetness fades and a nice crisp hoppy bitterness takes over the palate. Light acidity fades as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, moderately carbonated, slightly syrupy (especially as it warms).

Drinkability: Overall, I like it. It is a lovely Saison-esque beer, moderately complex & flavorful. The nonabrasive, moderate alcohol level (6.5% ABV) makes it easy to drink.

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I am really looking forward to tasting the others in the very near future. In the meantime, I encourage everyone (in the 43 states where Nøgne Ø is available) to hunt down and try some Nøgne Ø beers ASAP!

CHEERS!

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Avery Brewing Company (located in Boulder, CO) is one of my favorite American craft breweries … BY FAR! Avery’s Seasonal Maharajah IPA is one of my all time favorite IPA’s … a “staple” in The Beer Wench’s pantry! Avery also produces one the best barleywines that I have ever tasted – Hog Heaven. But that is only MY opinion – feel free to form your own!

Being new to Orlando – I am only JUST uncovering its beer “niches.”

The other day I found its candy store for big kids – Total Wine. Despite the name, Total Wine has a pretty damn decent beer selection – from all around the world!

I filled up a basket of single beers while I was there … and I am REALLY looking forward to sharing my experiences with each of the unique beers that I bought!

FIRST UP: Avery Karma

Beer Style: Belgian Ale
Hop Variety: Sterling
Malt Variety: Two-row barley, Belgian special B, cara 45, aromatic
OG: 1.048  
Alcohol By Volume: 5.2%  
IBU’s: 10
Color: Amber

Commerical Description: We believe in Karma. We suspect most of you do, too. It truly is a global concept. Very simply put, “you get what you give.” Inspired by this principle and the wonderful farmhouse and pale ales of Belgium, we’ve created Karma Ale, a decidedly fruity and estery ale, intricate in body and nose, all driven by a unique Belgian yeast strain. Remember, good things DO happen to good people. Here’s to being good!

Beer Wench Tasting Notes:

APPEARANCE: Light golden amber. Thick, foamy, off-white, slowly dissipating head. Decently lacing (props to me for having a squeaky clean glass!) Cloudy with subtle sediment.

AROMA: Characteristically BELGIAN! Mild malt, almost non-existent hops on the aroma. Belgian yeast takes the cake – lots of clove … subtle banana … some citrus. DEFINITELY a Belgian Ale! My only gripe is that is does not have the typical aroma of a Saison – aka Belgian-style farm ale. It is missing the characteristic “manure-esque” aroma of saisons that I have come to know and love …

TASTE: Light malt, little hops, low alcohol. Very smooth, easy to drink. Bitterness increases as the beer warms and sits in the glass. Highly carbonated, minimal acid, short finish.

OVERALL: Not what I expected. Based on the description, I was hoping for something closer to a saison-style ale. Besides the characteristically Belgian aroma – this ale lacked many of the qualities that I love and enjoy about Belgian beers. HOWEVER, in the end – the beer was smooth and drinkable. The low ABV makes it easy to enjoy several of these – without regretting it in the morning.

Karma may not be the BEST Avery ale out there, however – it is still a pretty decent beer. One that The Beer Wench thinks is definitely worth trying! A lighter beer, with Belgian notes … and decent drinkability.

CHEERS!!!

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