The First Norwegian Sour Beer in a Century?

Last night I cracked open a bottle of Haandbakk beer made by HaandBryggeriet, a small Norwegian brewery in the town of Drammen. Haandbakk is its first attempt at a sour beer, and the brewery claims it’s the first sour beer to come out of Norway in over 100 years. Whether or not that’s true, it seriously rocks, and not just because it’s from a country so famous for its black metal.

Haandbakk is a dark brown beer, with a lot of malty flavors, tempered by an intense sourness. It doesn’t have a bunch of funky stank like gueze, more of the balsamic vinegar smell of Flemish sour ales. The beer was brewed in 2006, aged in oak for two years, then bottled. It’s unpasteurized, and comes with a good amount of yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Something must be going right in there, because it is nicely carbonated, and between the effervescence and acidity, is a great food beer.

I’ll definitely be seeking out more beers by HaandBryggeriet to fill up my drinking horn and enjoy while listening to some Dimmu Borgir. The brewery bills itself as experimental and has many interesting beers either in the works—like Valhalla which is made with figs, honey, and wild yeast and bacteria, but isn’t out yet—and a bunch that are already out like Dark Force, “the only wheat stout in the universe.” There is also a real sour fruit lambic made with red currants and mountain cranberry in the works.

HaandBryggeriet’s Haandbakk, in specialty beer shops for about $11, distributed by Shelton Brothers in the States. Visit sheltonbrothers.com to see who carries it in your area.

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