I can honestly say I’ve never had a beer from Norway before. This, along with the fact that Nogne-O (‘Naked Isle’ in Norwegian) was started up by two enthusiastic homebrewers made me make a beeline for a couple of their bottles whilst perusing UTOBEER earlier in the summer. I had to pick them up there and then, because I hadn’t seen their wares further North at all.
Although I didn’t know what to expect, I’d seen some excellent videos featuring them on YouTube and had a feeling that their tastes would lie more American than English. I was right, at least in the case of the IPA (Bottle conditioned, 7.5% abv); Chinook and Cascade hops give us that US-Style grapefruit/citrus punch on the nose straight away. And, in my bottle, it was this huge aroma that impressed me the most. Aroma can be hard to maintain in bottled beer, so Kudos where it’s due.
Another really interesting aspect of the IPA was the colour – it’s really quite dark for its style; easily the darkest IPA I have seen. This complexity presumably comes from the addition of Munich malt to the grain bill alongside the classic combo of Maris Otter pale malt and Crystal/Caramel malt. This nice twist gave a biscuity, slightly wheaten undertow to the firstly sweet, then massively bitter taste. It’s also a thick, chewy mouthful, with tons of body. For me, a great beer – and this is what I really enjoy – ‘twists’ genre rather than overhauls. I want my beers to give me something new whilst staying recognisable, and they boys from Nogne-O have done that with their IPA.
Anyway, I’m tasting these beers this week, so I will let you know how I get on with Brown Ale, a style very close to my heart, in a few days. In the meantime, here’s some Nogne-O Vid-eo to enjoy; Greg Koch from Stone visited the guys in 2008 and made a diverting little doc whilst enjoying great food, beer and scenery. That guy has a great job.