Pint 4 – Haandbryggeriet Haandbakk

January 2, 2009

I was fortunate enough to pick up two bottles of Norwegian beer during my last visit, both at somewhat reasonable prices – right around 1000 yen. The beer from this brewery, I think I’ve got it right although it could very well be Haand Bryggeriet, was easy to choose – I’ve wanted to try a sour ale for a long time since they seem to be the latest thing back in the States. The front label says “Norwegian Sour Ale Aged in Oak Barrels.”

Puckering Norwegian sour ale.

Puckering Norwegian sour ale.

The back label says the barrels were used to make sherry and rhubarb wine, which sounds amazing. It also says that this brew has been aging for a while:

Vintage 2006

Vintage 2006

First sniff revealed a little sour but also some deep notes, maybe the oak. I can’t really tell how the oak plays into the whole taste to be honest. I poured it and was surprised to find a really dark beer:

Surprisingly dark.

Surprisingly dark.

I wonder if that comes from the malt or the barrel aging. It is 8.5% alcohol but doesn’t feel too heavy. It has a super puckery sourness that increases over time. Really refreshing. I can’t compare it to sours, since this is my first, but I can compare it to lambics, which is the category Beer Advocate uses. It is far more complex than your average lambic, which shares the sour taste. (Maybe sour ale is just another name for lambics?) The fruitiness is only apparent in the sourness.

This is one of the most intense beers I’ve ever had. Really, really nice. Definitely going to have to try it again, maybe after some other brews from Haandbryggeriet.

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