On Thursday evening we popped across to Hackney Wick to attend a Nøgne Ø beer tasting hosted by Crate Brewery. Nøgne Ø are a brewery that I had heard of, but never had the opportunity to try before so I was very excited, almost as excited as when they plonked this cheese board down in front of me and I nearly face planted it.
Nøgne Ø had sent one of their Brewers across to chat to us. It’s great to hear from anyone who has such passion for high quality, flavoursome beers. It was also really interesting to hear about the struggle for visibility in their own country, particularly as in Norway it is illegal to advertise alcohol, even online!
We tasted 6 beers over the course of the evening and, due to the high ABV (the lowest was 7%) each bottle was shared between two people.
I made notes which became slightly more surreal and illegible as the evening progressed…
First up: Imperial Brown Ale (7.5%)
A surprisingly floral aroma, there were also hints of barley wine; not what I expected from a brown ale at all. The taste was sharp, like a black IPA, but there was also treacley sweetness. It reminded me of a Anchor Christmas Ale. A really pleasant surprise!
The interesting thing about Tindved is the addition of sea buckthorn juice. Now, this is a beer that reminds you just how subjective and diverse taste can be. To me, this smelled overpoweringly of antiseptic. I found the taste fairly bland, but the aroma of TCP really took over. It was quite sour and reminded me of a Belgian Kriek or Gueuze.
My drinking buddy completed disagreed. To him the aroma was of olives and witch hazel was also prominent.
Aurora Australis (11%)
Apologies for the poor photography; the label is holographic and difficult to capture. You can view the bottle here.
Aurora Australis is a collaboration between Nøgne Ø and Bridge Road Brewers in Australia. The beer is brewed in Australia, put into red wine casks to mature and sent across to Norway.
It poured a rich red mahogany and the aroma was of sweet and sharp fruits. The taste was just so complex; acidic cherries, dark fruits, red wine, coffee, you could pick up a new flavour with each sip. I wrote in my notes, “LOVE LOVE LOVE”.
India Pale Ale (7.5%)
I rarely meet an IPA I don’t enjoy. If I had to choose one type of beer to drink for the rest of my days I’m pretty sure that’d be it. Nøgne Ø’s IPA didn’t disappoint. Look at that beautiful amber colour and creamy white head. The aroma was of fresh fruit (I underlined ‘fresh’ in my notes), citrus, sharp grapefruit and the usual suspects. It was a nice hoppy number, very creamy and really coated the mouth. A bitter finish that didn’t linger. Drinking buddy described it as “chewy”.
Imperial Stout (9%)
Oof, this stout. Now, I’m going to be honest and say I’m not really a stout drinker. I’ll give anything a go, but I’m probably not going to be loading up the trolley with them. Nøgne Ø’s Imperial Stout might just have changed my mind. Just look at that photo; I could eat it with a spoon. It truly was a dessert in a glass with coffee, roasted nuts, chocolate malt x infinity. I wrote in my notes “like drinking a coffee and eating a chocolate cake”. What a beaut.
And last, but certainly not least: Horizon Tokyo Black (16%)
This is the one I’d been waiting for. Not because of the 16% which, frankly, scared me, but due to the many reviews absolutely raving about this beer. It’s a collaboration with Brewdog and comes in a beautiful box (you know it’s good when it comes in a box).
Have you ever been in pitch black? I mean absolute pitch black where it’s so dark your eyes will never be able to adjust because there is no light. That is how dark this beer is. My photo doesn’t do it justice, but look at it here.
I’m not sure if a review will ever truly do it justice, but I’ll give it a go: the aroma was of a Belgian chocolate mousse and rich, liquer chocolates. The taste? Rich melted chocolate, cognac and fondant with highlights of vodka. It was served with a chocolate brownie which went amazingly well, but afterwards I needed a little lie down on the floor. Two days later we’re still talking about how good it was.
Thank you to Crate for hosting this and thank you to Nøgne Ø for telling us all a few things we didn’t know and, most of all, for letting us drink your beer! If you ever get an opportunity to try any of their beers, please do, they won’t let you down.