There were lines, notices posted, and irritated LCBO employees all over the province this week. The Westvleteren XII that caused the stir has sold out but — hold on to your hats — the LCBO carries other, quite excellent beers. One example, this one from Norway instead of Belgium, is the #100 from Nøgne Ø that I wrote about in this week’s First Draught post on Post City.
The name of the brewery, that the LCBO is featuring this season, is a bit tough to pronounce so have a look at this Youtube video that features the brewery’s owner (and a remarkably adept beard grower) sounding it out for us.
I’m not surprised that people noticed that line in the tasting notes about butter tarts. The aroma really is sweet and raisiny, but the lemon zest is definitely what comes through most forcefully.
Aficionados of Scandinavian food and drink — they are everywhere these days — will be thrilled to see that the LCBO has joined the parade by featuring Nøgne Ø. For as long as supplies last, we’ll have the chance to try five different selections from Norway’s best-known craft brewery.
The brewery’s name means “naked island,” a term that Henrik Ibsen used to evoke the bleakness of the rocky outcroppings that stand off from Norway’s south coast.
One of the standouts is the #100 American-style barley wine. The beer’s name seems to deserve an explanation just as much as the brewery’s, but it merely signifies that this beer was first brewed to celebrate the brewery’s 100th batch.
At 10 per cent alcohol, this beer is particularly attractive because there is enough preservative alcohol to make it suitable for a year (or more) of home cellaring.
Dipping my nose into a glass of the #100, I get the sweet aroma of freshly baked butter tarts with a heavy pinch of lemon zest. Tipping it up for a sip, the malty sweetness is still there, but it takes a back seat to assertive American hops (Centennial, Columbus and Chinook), with their familiar notes of pink grapefruit pith and a touch of pine resin.
The other Nøgne Ø beers are excellent as well. The Tiger Tripel is a skilled rendering of a complex style, and with its clove and banana notes, it’s a good reminder of sunnier times. Christmas cheer is supplied by the Underlig Jul (Norwegian for “peculiar yule”), which could only be made more festive by doing this.
Nøgne Ø #100, $6.55 for a 500 mL bottle, LCBO #296293