September 1, 2014
Dec 13, 2012
04:27 PM

First Draught: a beer from Norway’s top craft brewery

Nøgne Ø: strange characters, good beer (Image: David Ort)

Aficionados of Scandinavian food and drink — they are everywhere these days — will be thrilled to see that the LCBO has joined the parade by featuring Nøgne Ø. For as long as supplies last, we’ll have the chance to try five different selections from Norway’s best-known craft brewery. 

The brewery’s name means “naked island,” a term that Henrik Ibsen used to evoke the bleakness of the rocky outcroppings that stand off from Norway’s south coast.  

One of the standouts is the #100 American-style barley wine. The beer’s name seems to deserve an explanation just as much as the brewery’s, but it merely signifies that this beer was first brewed to celebrate the brewery’s 100th batch. 

At 10 per cent alcohol, this beer is particularly attractive because there is enough preservative alcohol to make it suitable for a year (or more) of home cellaring.

Dipping my nose into a glass of the #100, I get the sweet aroma of freshly baked butter tarts with a heavy pinch of lemon zest. Tipping it up for a sip, the malty sweetness is still there, but it takes a back seat to assertive American hops (Centennial, Columbus and Chinook), with their familiar notes of pink grapefruit pith and a touch of pine resin. 

The other Nøgne Ø beers are excellent as well. The Tiger Tripel is a skilled rendering of a complex style, and with its clove and banana notes, it’s a good reminder of sunnier times. Christmas cheer is supplied by the Underlig Jul (Norwegian for “peculiar yule”), which could only be made more festive by doing this.

Nøgne Ø #100, $6.55 for a 500 mL bottle, LCBO #296293

In addition to covering beer, new restaurants and food trucks for Post City, David writes about food and drink for several Toronto publications including Spotlight Toronto and his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on food, beer and life in general, follow him on Twitter.

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