Denmark

Nørrebro Bryghus: New Menu 2017

A little less than two years ago, when I was still working in Malmö, I had the pleasure of having Logan on the opposite side of the bar I was working at. Logan was visiting from Texas and was staying at the hotel next door. When he was done sightseeing in and around Malmø, I made sure to keep him hydrated. 

 Tasting board anno 2017

Tasting board anno 2017

Fast forward almost two years, and Logan is back in Scandinavia, back in Copenhagen (because let's face it, Danes are cooler!), and ready to let me show him the wonders of good danish craft beer. 

I'm tasked with finding a place to eat. As Nørrebro Bryghus recently launched their new menu, it seems like a no-brainer to give it a try. In the basement, brewer, Emil, is having what appears to be his post-work beer(s), although he tries to convince me he's still working. The tanks are getting filled after having a wee rest over New Years. We talk about the successful launch of their new sub-brand Braw and Emil is quick to find a sample of their new Pale Ale - it seems exactly in the same vein as previous outings. Hoppy, crisp and delicious!

Logan arrives and we move upstairs, quickly deciding on the taster menu, consisting of five small servings. We are however surprised to receive a taster glass of the new quadruple from Braw. It doesn't have much going on in the nose, but the flavor is spot on. Sweet, heavy and to the point, just like a good Quadruple should be, but maybe also better suiting for a dessert than an appetizer.

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Before we are presented to our five food offerings, we get some bread with butter - and it brings me right back to Luksus (read more here) as a basic offering that just works - and works even better with the Quadruple (although probably not intentional). 

Then we actually, finally get to our five small servings. Smoked almonds, cod tapioca, tartar, salmon and porter braised pork jowls. 

We both decide to start with the salmon and we both find it to be a bit towards the fishy side, but in a good way. It's soft texture gives a good first impression, but the secret lies with the panko flour and the cress - together they turn it into a whole new serving, that works on all levels. Rich, umami, yet easy enough to not fill me up too fast.

Out of all the beers that was presented to us, finding a good match proved difficult though, most of the regular lineup proved to sweet, and most of the Braw brews proved too bitter.

Moving on to the tartar, which is my first meeting with tartar. I am a Tartar noob no more! None the less, it's apparently nicely paired with Ravnsborg Rød, a Red Ale to the sweeter side. It seems as though I like tartar. It disappeared fast and I blame the truffle purée!

The final "bigger" taster is the pork. It's been braised in beer, and when meat is braised in beer I am fairly certain there's something inexplainable sorcery happening. It's extremely soft! I would've loved it even more as a full dish, served warm, but I guess as a taster menu, this is what you get! Again, none of the beers seems to work for the dish - I would have loved an ESB, or in general something on the softer side. A dubbel could've worked wonders. 

 Cod chip and Logan. One flown in directly from Texas. 

Cod chip and Logan. One flown in directly from Texas. 

The last of the five (nuts not included) is the cod chips. It's the weirdest serving on the plate and we both saved it for the end, because we have no idea what to think of it, or what to do with it. It's preferred pairing was the New York Lager, and although decent, we never quite seem to get why most of the "regular" beers seem so sweet. The chip seems mostly like a gimmick. It doesn't taste bad, it just seems very forgettable.

In conclusion, the food and the beers brewed on-site is really good. The pairings need some work and I would prefer some hot dishes next time.  I would - and will - come back to try the beers going under the Braw brand and maybe have a bite to eat if the beers are too good!

Stille Nacht Vertical 2005-2016

I'm not a fan of what most people around here consider a Christmas beer. The supermarket highlights a stronger and sweeter pilsner, while the craft breweries have traditionally opted for the occasional addition of various spices. None of these really call out to me, although I can enjoy a few each year around Christmas.

 12 years of Silent Night! 

12 years of Silent Night! 

One Christmas beer serves as the exception though. It's basically the Orval of Christmas beers. Loved by most, and always worth a sip or three...

Although, let's be honest, usually more than three sips!

I'm obviously talking about Stille Nacht from De Dolle in Belgium - and this season I found myself invited to a vertical tasting ranging from 2005 through 2016. We started off with the latest and worked our way backwards to see the evolution of sugar.

It was an interesting journey right from the beginning as we started with a young, pungent strong ale. It's surprisingly hoppy from the Nugget hops and it leaves the beer with an overall floral and herbal feeling. The booze is very present in both taste and aroma.

As we get served 2015 it feels a bit too cold. The aroma and taste are at a standstill. The finish is classical Stille Nacht, but it's hard to find a deeper meaning at the bottle of this particular glass.

As we reach 2014, we're back on track. The booze is still present, but the herbs have mellowed out a bit and let some vanilla and caramel shine through.

All the way down to 2010, we seem go the same route. Everything gets a little softer, a little smoother and a little more subtle. I guess it's called well rounded. Oddly enough 2012 seems more herbal and boozy than its fresher counterparts from 2013 and 2014.

2010 also marks the clearest of the Stille Nacht from tap. From here on out, we're drinking vintage bottles. Slight changes are expected...

However, as we let out 7 year old oxygen from the bottle, we can tell we're in for something very different. 2009 gives notes of toffee, oak, prunes and raisins; it makes it seem like a completely different beer. In a blind tasting I would guess it was a barley wine.

 Dig in... 

Dig in... 

As we dive further in we're again looking at something unlike our previous glasses. 2008 is much clearer and lighter in color; it almost resembles a whiskey more than a beer. Both the nose and taste bring similar notes to 2009, but it comes off a bit thinner and my mind wanders towards a good port wine.

As we're starting to see the end of our journey, so is Stille Nacht. 2007 and 2006 both seem to have faded past their peak. It could be due to storage, but they seem dustier and lighter. The booze seems to have returned as well and they generally don't seem as well rounded anymore.

At the final stop, the grand finale, 2005, we're sipping one of the easiest drinking 12% beers. It could be that we've been through ten other vintages, but it seems easier on the palate. Less booze and more mild vanilla, prune and oak characters than we've adjusted to by now, although still with a little dusty edge to it.

So, what's the moral of this story?

I have great friends?

Stille Nacht is a great beer?

 Probably the biggest Stille Nacht fan in the world. Thanks for inviting me Tony! 

Probably the biggest Stille Nacht fan in the world. Thanks for inviting me Tony! 

I'll go with both! And then I'll advise to go for either a three year old Stille Nacht if on tap or a seven year old in bottles.

Next year I hope to try 2008-2010 to see if I'd still pick the same as my favorite. For science, of course!

2016: Best Beer Bar

For the second year now, the danish beer bloggers are doing a "best of..." series. Started by Stovt last year, it's being done all over again, with some minor changes in the titles, but still with a view at the difference in beer bloggers views and experiences.

 On a cold winter night, this is the view that greats you.

On a cold winter night, this is the view that greats you.

Choosing the best beer bar seems counter intuitive, since I've been managing a bar for most of the year. After all, "my bar" would have to be my favourite, right? In Copenhagen, there's a lot of competition and some of these bars have been around for years and years. Fermentoren and Ølbaren are old favorites, but newcomers such as Himmeriget and Bootleggers are ready to steal my attention.

Future additions seems to make it even harder to chose my favourite for next year, but more on that later...

A certain memory keeps popping into my brain when I try to pick a favourite. It stands out because it was a combination of so many things, that just worked in perfect unison. And the fact that I wasn't working there might've been factor for it winning the title.

Beer is in focus, but add in the share-friendly dishes from the kitchen, the amazing view and of course the wonderful presence of some great, passionate people behind the bar. You got yourself a winner! It doesn't make it worse that my wife was on the other side of the table, the first time i visited.

If the above picture hasn't given it away yet, my favorite bar in 2016 is Penyllan Bar & Kitchen...

And the reason is mainly because of the first visit I had there. It was my wedding anniversary and I was having dinner with my wife. The food and beer was perfect, but the detail was in the pairings. Most beers on tap came from Beer Here, which is one of the few breweries I'll order with no hesitation, but rumors have it that Penyllan is launching soon... Perhaps? Maybe...? Hopefully... 

Either way, everything just works and I would recommend anyone to go there if they want an experience beyond amazing. Especially, but not limited to, beer drinkers.

Food connoisseurs will find a menu bringing you directly to heaven. I'm still dreaming about the chocolate cake paired with the Imperial Stout (Black Luck with Ghost Brewing).  

If you're more into cocktails you'll be treated great too. With barrel aged Negroni and Old Fashioned, you're in for a special treat although the Gin & Tonic worked as a perfect nightcap for us. Made with homemade tonic, there's simply not anything like it out there!

Add the carefully selected beer list and highlight the view one last time and I wish I could never leave Bornholm!