Origin – Norway
Style- Amber Ale
It’s fair to say that the Norwegians aren’t famous for their beer. It’s likely the reason for the Vikings setting sail in the 8th century to raid the plunder of foreign lands was in search of a decent ale or lager! And thirteen centuries on, the situation still isn’t being helped by a regulation that stops normal outlets in Norway selling alcoholic beverages above 4.7% ABV (anything above that is only sold through state-run alcohol retailers… and the locals in Sydney thought Mike’s lock-out laws were unfair!) Enter Aud Melas and Evan Lewis. She originally grew up in Norway and him in New York, both meeting in California. With a passion for introducing the Norwegians to something more than the boring yellow fizzy lagers that pollute the beer shelves, in 2004 they left the shores of Pacific and move to Flåm, on the southern shores of the Aurland Fjord, some 300km north-west of Oslo. They spent the next few years building a hotel and brew pub using so much timber, driftwood and stone that even the Vikings would have been impressed, and in 2008 introduced the locals to real craft beer. It was hard to keep such a good thing quiet, and before long Aegir (which is a mythological giant of the sea, pronounced ar-jeer) was on the pour from Hammerfest to Lillehammer. In a few short years, they plundered more gold from local and international beer awards than you could toss an axe at. Thus with such an impressive back story, I was expecting an impressive beer. And although it’s surprisingly easy to drink, this amber ale is a little uninspiring. The colour is, well… amber with an aroma of caramel sweetness and malt. Given the use of six different kinds of malt, the flavour is surprisingly thin, with some, but far from enough toffee, raisins and currants, along with a small amount of hop bitterness. It at least finishes better than it starts, with a long sweet and sticky finish. It’s drinkable, however, I very much doubt it would have been the first ale a thirsty seafaring warrior would have been reaching for on his return from months at sea.