Monday, September 16, 2013

Taste of Norway

This weekend was my first time in an LCBO for more than a month. Unless, of course, you count the time in Merrickville, when I was on my canoe vacation, and had been paddling for six days without any beer. That evening, I bought two cans of Hop City's Pale Ale but made such short work of them that they seemed like a dream.

Good stuff, by the way.

But this weekend was the first time since before I shut down Beer O'Clock that I walked into an LCBO, thinking to myself, "I need a beer to review."

For the first time in even longer, I left my local shop, empty-handed, uninspired by what I saw.

Still determined to find something, I went to the next-closest LCBO, at Merivale and Hunt Club. It's a good store and can usually be counted upon to have one or two obscure beers. I was also happy to find that it was still fully stocked with the Red Racer Summer Sampler that I reviewed last week.

I found something.

I used to shy away from saison ales, but over the past year I've taken a shining to them. So, when I saw one from a Norwegian brewery, one that I've heard of, heard it was good, I had to try it.
Saison (6/5% ABV)
Nøgne Ø (imported by Roland + Russell)
Grimstad, Norway
Beer O'Clock rating: 3
Appearance: an unfiltered, glowing apricot with a creamy, white head that settles to a thin cap.

Nose: grass, light ginger.

Palate: flinty, white pepper and malt, with a slight metallic finish.

Overall impression: most saisons that I have tried have displayed citrus characteristics with distinct fruit on the nose and in the mouth.

Not so with this ale. Its dryness reminds me of the difference between an off-dry, lychee-laden Ontario Gewurztraminer and a flinty, bone-dry Gewurz from Alsace. With these wines, you have one grape but two distinct products. And both of them are great, although I prefer the Ontario style.

The Nøgne Ø saison is a good beer, worth drinking for what it is, but I prefer the fruity interpretations of this style of ale.


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