Sunday, March 24, 2013

Oslo Beer City 2013

While 2012 was the year the beer scene really exploded here in Oslo, with good craft beer appearing in many old pubs across the city and new dedicated beer pubs and brewpubs opening up, things have not slowed down since my last post on this topic half a year ago. So here's an update from spring 2013.

A glass of Scream Ale at the newly opened Crowbar 

Beer Palace
Address: Holmens Gate 3
Opened: 6 April 1993, renovated fall 2012 and reopened 14 November 2012
Type: Beer bar
Taps: 23 (about half with craft beer)

After extensive renovations and some structural changes, including rebuilding the bar upstairs, Beer Palace reopened in November 2012 with an extended draft beer menu and even more focus on beer related events, including beer tastings. The place now sports more than twenty tap lines and usually half of those are with good quality craft beer. The selection of bottled beer has also been expanded, with bottles from all over the world in beer coolers both upstairs and downstairs.

But I'm not all happy with the new layout. Two long shuffleboards and the extended bar take up very much space on the second floor, reducing the seating capacity and making it difficult to enter or leave on busy nights, when everyone flocks to the bar and blocks the staircase.

Still, the dedication to good beer is evident and I've enjoyed some really great craft beer on draft since they reopened, such as Nøgne Ø Two Captains IPA, Ugly Duck Imperial Vanilla Coffe Porter, Emelisse Rauchbier, Boulevard Pale Ale and Ægir Lindisfarne.

The upstairs bar the Beer Palace with shutters down

BRU: Vulkan Pub
Address: Maridalsveien 13 (next to Mathallen)
Opens: Spring or summer 2013
Type: Beer pub

This pub is owned and will be operated by the people behind Ølakademiet, who also run the Øltorget pub in Mathallen and the old Akersberget restaurant just up the hill. The pub was originally scheduled to open back in November 2012 but work has taken longer than expected, with practically no progress over the winter.

A March 7 status update on Facebook said that work has resumed and that the pub will offer about 300 types of beer, both international and Norwegian, of high quality. But no opening date has been posted yet for what will probably become the smallest pub in Oslo, only 19 square meters large!

Crowbar, The Crow or Kråka bryggeri
- the hot new brewpub in Oslo

Crowbar Bryggeri
Address: Torggata 32
Opened: 13 December 2012
Type: Brewpub
Taps: 20

There is still some confusion about its name, which is listed as Crowbar & Bryggeri in official registers, because people working there and the glassware says "Crow" while the employee t-shirts actually has "Kråka" (Norwegian for crow) printed on them. Anyhow, the brewpub, which had an unofficial opening last December, officially opened up on January 13, 2013, with a big party and the cutting of the ribbon performed by Petter Nome - the leader of the Bryggeri- og drikkevareforeningen (Norwegian trades union for breweries).

When I first heard about it, I got the feeling that they would only have 5-6 beers, just their own, on draft. That turned out to be far from the truth, the Crow has an amazing (for Oslo) 20 tap lines! On any given day, the lowest numbers - usually from 1 to 5 or 6 - will be with their own beer, though the owner, Erk Potur, hopes they can stock up enough kegged beer to actually have taps 1-10 with their own beer. The rest of the tap lines carry guest beer from craft breweries in Europe and the US. I've already enjoyed draft beer from Rogue Ales, Thornbridge, BrewDog, Evil Twin, Mikkeller, Nøgne Ø, Ægir and HaandBryggeriet at Crowbar!

Because the place is still very young, it may not have settled yet and there are some issues they're still working on, such as the food part. But it seems they'll keep a focus on grilled food, ordered and served on the second floor, where guests get a good view of the micro brewery and bar below.

Brewmaster Dave Gardonio is still experimenting with recipes to create a good line-up for the brewpub, he has made a couple of very good Experimental IPAs (with three different high alpha hops) as well as a German-style Roggen bier (rye beer), a very tasty strong red ale and a strong mild.

After just a few months in the business Crowbar attracts many beer thirsty visitors and is usually packed during weekends, so the best time for a visit is early in the week or shortly after the daily 3 pm opening.

Opening night at Crowbar with an impressive 20 draft beers

Grünerløkka Brygghus
Address: Thorvald Meyers Gate 30 B
Opened: 8 October 2010
Type: Gastropub
Taps: 8

Finally, after three years of talk, this popular pub on Grünerløkka will soon start brewing its own beer. According to a recent Facebook entry and this Ølportalen blog post, they will take over the old 700 liter test brewery from Lervig Aktiebryggeri in Stavanger. It will be installed in the backyard of Villa Import, owned by Jan "Mr Grünerløkka" Vardøen who also owns the Grünerløkka Brygghus. By the way, this backyard is also where the annual Grünerløkka Mat- og Mikrobrygg festival has been held since 2009.

Up until now their "house beers" have been brewed by selected Norwegian craft breweries, such as Nøgne Ø (Kjell Pop Single Hop IPA) and Kinn Bryggeri (Løkka Haust og Løkka Svarthumle). Now, with the help of former Nøgne Ø and Møllebyen Mikrobryggeri brewer, David Dudek, the plan is to install the new brewery and have it up and running before the summer. Of course, there are many pitfalls so we can just cross our fingers and hope that the installation goes smoothly.

The backyard where Grünerløkka Brygghus will install their
brewery is also used for an annual food & beer festival

Nydalen Bryggeri & Spiseri
Address: Nydalsveien 30A, Nydalen
Opens: Summer 2013
Type: Brewpub & brewery

Nydalen Bryggeri & Spiseri is a brand new brewery that will open up in the old Bølgen & Moi restaurant in Nydalen, Oslo. It has the same owners as the Amundsen Bryggeri & Spiseri brewpub, and the plan seems to be to use the new brewery more as a production brewery because of its larger (1000 liter) capacity.

The brewery will be in the capable hands of brewmaster John Hudson, currently at Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri, who will start working in Nydalen in May. His first task will be to install the new brewery and get it operational, which may take a couple of months, but by mid summer the Nydalen district of Oslo should have its own brewery.

As the "Spiseri" part of the name suggests, the brewery will also have an attached pub where you can enjoy the local beer along with some food.

Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri
Address: Trondheimsveien 2, Grünerløkka
Opened: 1 October 2010
Type: Brewpub
Taps: 14

After two and a half years and 250 batches of beer, Schouskjelleren brewmaster John Hudson has decided to move on, to start brewing at the new Nydalen Bryggeri. His replacement, Luca Saccomandi, is an Italian brewer who worked for brewery Le Baladin when he got the offer to brew in Norway. He'll move to Oslo in April and take over the brewing at Schouskjelleren when John Hudson moves on in May.

How the change of brewers will affect Schouskjelleren brewpub is hard to tell, hopefully the new brewer will keep making some of the old classics - such as Thunderbear Stout, Empress of India and Garden of Eden - while also making his own, signature beers.

Before John Hudson leaves Schouskjelleren he'll brew one last collaboration beer, with René Hansen from Det Lille Bryggeri in Denmark. Hansen will come to Oslo on March 26th, but what kind of beer he plans to brew is still a well kept secret. Currently, Schouskjelleren has another of its collaboration beers on draft - batch 250, a 7.5% heather blossoms and heather honey scotch ale brewed with Dave Gardonio from Crowbar & Bryggeri.

The owner of Schouskjelleren, Nevzat Arikan, is also working on plans for a new 1000 liter production brewery next to Schouskjelleren, but this brewery will probably not be operational until the fall or late 2013. In the meantime, Schouskjelleren may continue to brew and bottle some of their beer at other breweries, like they did in 2012 with Empress of India (brewed at Herslev Bryghus in Denmark) and the Juleøl (brewed at Dugges in Sweden).

The vaulted brick ceiling of the beer hall at Schouskjelleren

The Whisky Bar
Address: Rådhusgata 28, Kvadraturen
Opened: 12 May 2010
Type: Restaurant, beer and whisky bar
Taps: 12

While already a fine beer and whisky bar when it opened up summer 2010, The Whisky Bar has just upped the stakes by installing a new 7-tap beer tower, bringing the total number of draft beers up to a dozen (plus some industrial lagers I decline to include in the count).

According to the bartender I spoke with, they sell a lot of craft beer from breweries such as Ægir, HaandBryggeriet, BrewDog and Magic Rock, so there is a surprisingly good rotation of kegs - when I was there they served BrewDog Punk IPA, HaandBryggeriet Fyr & flamme, Ægir India Pale Ale, Svaneke Den Udødelige Hest Porter, Magic Rock Dark Star Stout and Lexington Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, to name a few.

And because their customers keep asking for more exciting draft beer, The Whisky Bar plans to install another 7-tap beer tower later this spring. That is, if they can find space for it in the small bar. So keep an eye on The Whisky Bar!

The new 7-tap beer tower at The Whisky Bar.

Here are the links to the original post and the update.