Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

Beer Review – Haandbryggeriet “Odin’s Tipple Dark Norse Ale”

Beer: Odin’s Tipple Dark Norse Ale

Type: Russian Imperial Stout

Brewery: Haandbryggeriet (Norway). Imported by Shelton Brothers of Belchertown, Massasschusetts

Serving: 0.5L bottle

Welcome to Pitch Black Brigade’s first beer review. Appropriately enough for a Black Metal blog that dabbles in Viking Metal, the first beer we sample is “Odin’s Tipple Dark Norse Ale” made by the fine folks at Haandbryggeriet in Drammen, Norway. Never heard of this brewery? Well, I can tell you right now that you should support them by running down to your local beer broker and emporium and demand they carry Haandbryggeriet’s creations. Why? Because they are a small brewery run by four dudes and some volunteers in their spare time. Check out their website for the full story but let me tell you that everything, including bottling and labeling, is done by hand – there is no automation – because they are trying to keep Norwegian brewing traditions alive. My bottle is stamped, “Batch 277. Brewed 27.3.10.” They proudly make what they call “living beer,” beer “that is not filtered or artificially carbonated but naturally re-fermented in the bottle.” Pretty damn cool, eh?

Where can you find Haandbryggeriet beers? My beautiful bride picked up a bottle of this Norse nectar for me at the beer Never Never Land and dreamland, Charleston Beer Exchange, a veritable Toys-R-Us for beer aficionados. If you find yourself in Charleston, make sure you visit there because you can find everything from growlers of local products to exotic Swiss sour ale and everything in between.

Odin’s Tipple – that’s tipple, not nipple, as my bride was bound and determined to call it – is the first Haandbryggeriet beer I’ve had. “Odin’s Tipple was meant to be a strong beer,” Haandbryggeriet explains, “but we changed our minds…its still strong but we won’t follow the mega-strong trend. It should be possible to make great beer without the extreme alcohol potency. Odin’s Tipple is now approximately 11% abv, it’s a dark almost black beer from lots and lots of chocolate malt. Its the malt that contributes the flavor…no added coffee or anything else. It’s got a great body without being old engine oil and still very drinkable due to the wild yeast we use. This beer is made with a single strain of wild yeast and the recipe is dead simple.  We have now tasted the test beer and its gooood!”* They aren’t kidding when they say it is strong. Odin’s Tipple is a Russian Imperial Stout. What is a Russian Imperial Stout, you ask? A stout with high alcohol content. Just for a frame of reference, most wines are somewhere between 12-16% ABV so this 11%ABV stout packs a wallop not unlike Odin’s son, Thor, and his mythical hammer.

And now let’s get to the tasting.

Pour: Pouring Odin’s Tipple into a pair of glasses stunned my beautiful bride and me. We had never seen a beer so dark and with so little head. You think Guinness is dark? Brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This beer is the color of espresso. It’s appearance is “deep and intense,” as my bride noted. And, based on the pour alone, Odin’s Tipple is the perfect beer for a Black Metal blog; it was blacker than Satanic Tyrant Werewolf’s black thong underwear (Werewolf is the “brains,” if you can use that word, behind the Black Metal band Satanic Warmaster). The stout had a thin, dark, but creamy head like the type of foam you see in a cup of espresso.

Smell: The bouquet is all malts – intense smoky, coffee, molasses, and licorice aromas.

Taste: Smooth, unexpectedly smooth. I expected it to hit like a ton of bricks because of the high alcohol content. Coffee and chocolate flavors dominate. It is very dry; there is no sweetness at all this dark Norse ale.

Mouthfeel: Just like it was smoother than we expected, Odin’s Tipple was lighter than we imagined. I was expecting the Guinness “I’m-drinking-a-pint-of-oatmeal” feeling but instead was surprised by how comparatively light it tasted. The high level of carbonation probably contributed to the lightness. The stout’s earthiness lingers on the palate and the burning of the alcohol flavor only emerges later.

Drinkability: Odin’s Tipple Dark Norse Ale goes down a lot easier than we thought it would. Here is the evocative image my wife used to described it: She thought we should be drinking it in front of a fire in some North Sea-facing pub in the middle of a cold, drenching rain. She also mentioned that there should be a large hunk of meat rotating on a spit in the enormous fireplace. This, it seems to us, is the perfect environment for enjoying this beer. If you aren’t traveling to northern Europe anytime soon, my bride recommends you enjoy it with a hearty beef stew.

Would we have another one? You bet. We are intrigued by and want to support Haandbryggeriet’s approach to business and brewing and Odin’s Tipple is a hearty, complex beer. Because of the high alcohol content, though, I can’t see pounding them one right after another.

* accessed 1.4.11