I got to go to Scandinavia a couple of times in the early part of this decade; my travels were focused primarily on Karlskrona and Stockholm, Sweden – with a side trip for fun to Copenhagen, Denmark. I actually did drink a decent amount of beer on those two trips, but nothing of consequence. As I understand it, there wasn’t anything of consequence being brewed in Sweden, Denmark, Norway nor Finland until relatively recently. Me, I remember something called PRIPPS BLA – a light, macro lager that seemed to be on every tap handle in Sweden. Lately, though, there’s been a lot of noise from MIKKELLER in Denmark and HAANDBRYGGERIET & NOGNE Ø from Norway, all of whose beers have found a loyal audience with American beer dorks and who’ve been able to charge some pretty high prices to same. I’ve had beers from the first two and have been nothing but very impressed.
Recently I got my hands on a bottle of NOGNE Ø BROWN ALE – yeah I know, probably not the place to start to get some real proverbial bang outta your buck, but it’s what was on offer and I jumped for it. NOGNE Ø BROWN ALE is a quality brown ale through and through. It’s got a much stronger hop presence than your traditional British pub warmer, but otherwise a lot of the same characteristics that make this such a favorite style of pint-pullers worldwide. It’s got a really nice satin texture to it, and some good smooth balance. Sure, it could have been made by just about anyone with some mad skillz, so here’s what I’d have to say: if you’re toolin’ for a brown ale, and that’s what you’ve got to have, then save a few shekels and go with AVERY ELLIE’S BROWN ALE. If an exotic label and the thought of a few more hops justifies you spending a few more dollars on a bottle of brown ale, then NOGNE Ø BROWN ALE totally works. We’re calling it a 7/10 over here.