Drunken Speculation

#15 Nøgne ø #100

nogne 100If you ever wondered about the timeliness of our reviews, this should answer your question: while this is published in late March, I drank this in early February when Nøgne ø was all the rage on the craft scene, especially considering Nøgne ø and Holgate’s exchange of brewers.

It’s our first international craft review and I’m not even sure how to pronounce the brewer’s name. This is not good international relations. Seriously, it’s nigh on impossible and when the bartender said it back to me, I was more concerned with the $17 price tag, 10% strength and the “double bittering”. Holy shit, I just bought two beers in one.

To back up, it’s a sunny afternoon at the Archive. Apparently, you have to go next door to the hardcore bar just to get #1, so while I was there, the Norwegian beer caught my eye and I decided that an impromptu review was in order. Some poor decision making later and I have a very expensive, very strong and very bitter schooner in my hand.

Our 100th batch, brewed for the enjoyment of the brewers, but popular demand forced us to release it commercially. This malty, yet light bodied ale has a massive hop bitterness. Most enjoyable in a comfortable chair in front of a roaring fire.

Recommended serving temperature 10°C

Ingredients: Maris Otter, wheat, and chocolate malt; Columbus, Chinook, and Centennial hops; English ale yeast, and our local Grimstad water.

Refer to my earlier comment about it being a sunny afternoon and I can tell you I did not get my beer at 10°C or in front of a roaring fire. Nonetheless, I managed to press onwards.

It’s not a clear beer by any means. It’s a cloudy dark brown, as one would expect, considering it’s probably in the porter category as much as anything else but that’s probably me being lazy – it’s reportedly a “barley wine” in the States and “IIPA” in Europe. The head is white but not a bright white. The head doesn’t hang around long but does stick a bit to the glass. There’s thankfully not a great deal of carbonation as I’m sure I’m going to struggle to keep this down as is.

I can smell some hints of chocolate but overwhelming in a massive way is the Columbus and Chinook hops. I wouldn’t normally have ascribed an aroma to Chinook but there must be a metric fuckton of this pair of hops in the beer because it grabs you by the olfactory epithelium and makes you pay attention. The Centennial hops, as what I assume are meant to be the aromatics, are nowhere to be found.

The taste might not be so bad if it weren’t so strong. As a general rule, stronger beers are less tasty beers. I don’t see why the 2-5% difference in strength would negate the flavours underneath but it does. Maybe it’s my subconscious asking me the what the hell I think I’m doing pouring that down my throat. Overall, the predominant flavour is bitterness and not much else. Bitterness needs a companion flavour, otherwise it ends up old and alone in its apartment, tending to a glaring of cats (i.e. it is unwanted). Good beers are built on pairing bitterness, solidity and something else to make it worthwhile drinking. Maltiness is a good pairing. It may be there in the aroma but it is not present in the taste.

As you may have guessed by my allusions outright explicit references to the beer’s strength, it is in no way sessionable. I had one schooner, which totalled a massive 3.3 standard drinks. If you decide to drink this, you’re walking, taking a cab or getting a lift because there’s no way you’re fit to drive home. Putting that to a one side, with a $17 per schooner price tag (and over $40 for a bottle), your wallet better be lined with gold before attempting a session on this.

However, it’s not worth it in the first instance – the beer has a lot of punch but no redeeming qualities to make it fun. Drinking even a pot of this is a hard slog.


  • Website
  • Genre: IPA (apparently)
  • Regionality: Grimstad, Norway
  • Strength: 10.0%
  • Rating: 1.5 / 3 taste + 0.5 / 2 ancillaries = 2 / 5
  • Plus: It’s really strong, if you’re into falling off chairs.
  • Minus: It’s really strong, and so it has zero sessionability.
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