Beer of the Weekend #406: Nøgne Ø Winter Ale

I have a new mid-week drinking rule: I can only drink beer if I am officially tasting for a BotW post. So today, as I happened to be walking past John’s, I decided to grab a beer so I could imbibe after transcribing an interview. And here I am, interview transcribed, with a bottle of Nøgne Ø Winter Ale, brewed by Nøgne Ø – Det Kompromissløse Bryggeri A/S of Grimstad, Norway.

It has been a long time since I drank Norwegian beer so I thought I would splurge on a bottle. In fact, I believe this is only the second time I have ever drank Norwegian beer. The other was Dark Force, brewed by HaandBryggeriet. Let the black metal roar!

Serving type: 500 ml bottle. No freshness date. The bottle cap was quite dusty so I assume it has been sitting around for a while. Hopefully not too long.

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is very cloudy black; it turned to a murky, deep amber brown when I held it to a lamp. There is quite a bit of sedimentation. Three fingers of dense, cappuccino-colored head dissipated slowly.

Smell: Brandy and a forest along the NorCal coast. Very sappy and evergreenish. The aroma is very intense and boozy, but it also has a very enticing and festive spiciness. Very herbal and woody (as oppose to tinny). Others have pegged it as juniper and I will refer to them. Underneath is a solid malt base of caramel and chocolate, but the spice and booze dominate.

Taste: The booze is completely masked by the herbal, woody spice. (Juniper? Perhaps. It tastes a little like pine, too.) Unlike the smell, though, the malts are much more pronounced and effective; caramel, toffee, and chocolate. The herbal spice and hops leave a subtle bitterness after each sip.

Drinkability: In essence, it tastes like a spiced Christmas wreath. And I have no problem with that because it is tasty as hell.

Fun facts about NØWA:

-Style: BA classifies it as English Porter.

-Price: $8.99/bottle at John’s Grocery in Iowa City.

-Serving temperature: The “[r]ecommended serving temperature” listed on the label and webpage is “12°C/53°F.”

-Alcohol content: 8.5 percent ABV.

-Food pairings: Believe it or not, I actually missed listing the food pairing the last couple times, so I have decided to list the food pairings only when offered by the brewery. The beer’s label says Winter Ale is “Great with cheeses, nuts and fruitcake! ☺.” Seriously: there is a smiley emoticon at the end of the sentence.

-IBU: 30.

-In Norway, the beer is known as God Jul.

-Translated from Norwegian, “Nøgne Ø” means “naked island.” The translated name of the brewery is “Naked Island – The Uncompromising Brewery.” Here is a little more description from the label:

The name Nøgne Ø means “naked island,” a poetic term used by Henrik Ibsen to describe any of the countless stark, barren outcroppings that are visible in the rough seas off Norway’s southern coast, where the brewery sits.

-The ingredients listed on the webpage are “Lager, Munich, caramel, black, and chocolate malt; Chinook, Columbus, and Centennial hops; English ale yeast, and our local Grimstad water.” Mmmmm! Tap water!

The Quiet Man’s grade: A.

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