9.5 % ABV | Barley Wine | 500ml | HaandBryggeriet | Drammen, Norway
The craft beer phenomenon isn’t an isolated incident.
Sure, countries like the United States and England are certainly at forefront, with larger collection of craft breweries and louder campaigns surrounding the culture, but they’re hardly alone. In an ever-growing number of regions worldwide, the interest in hand-crafted, independently-owned craft beer has, at the very least, taken root.
And those roots are scrappy little bastards, surviving (and even thriving) in places no one ever expected the culture to expand. Through fascinating new combinations of culture and modern brewing, we have access to some of the most wonderfully off-kilter beer samples ever to be brewed – such as those in the Scandinavian region. And thus we’re headed to Northern Europe, where the skies get dark, the beer gets smoky and words get an absolutely ridiculous number of letters.
Case in point: the Hannbryggeriet brewery in Drammen, Norway.
Norway’s craft beer scene, arguably still in its infancy and perhaps slower to build than the rest of the region, is nevertheless an exciting one. Even its own government seems excited about the notion of Norwegian craft beer, as recent programs have begun to sponsor craft brewers that have the potential to bring attention to otherwise rural areas.
Unlike many other beer-brewing regions, Norway seems to seek to eschew the conventions of its beer history (which is admittedly an odd one: farmers were required to brew beer lest they be evicted) and instead brew with whatever itches their off-the-wall fancy. Haanbryggeriet – The Hand Brewery – is one of the most significant faces of the quirky Norway craft beer scene. Even better, the brewery’s humble beginnings more or less equates to a few homebrewing buddies who set up shop in an old textile factory and started to churn out some honest-to-goodness, delicious, bonafide real ale.
And with no further adieu, we present the Jaekel.
A brutish barley wine that acts as a tremendous showcase of a beautiful array of dark flavors, from charred wood to licorice, held up by a bevy of fruit flavors like plum and banana. Thanks to its sturdy malt backbone and Belgian yeast profile, Jaekel evicts more Belgian Quad than it does American Hop Bomb, and there’s just enough of a boozy burn to remind you of its higher alcohol content. Enjoy now or come back to it in a few years, Jaekel is a gorgeous beer whenever you enjoy it.
So here’s to a bright beer future, Norway. Use all the letters you need, just keep brewing that excellent beer.