Beer Review: Nordic ale adventures with Nøgne Ø Brown

An opaque reddish brown body sports a tiny crown of tan head that leaves chunks of sporadic lacing on the sides of an imperial pint glass. Nutty, smoky flavors dominate, with hints of caramel and pear. Carbonation is very low, but the body isn't thick or syrupy. The finish is clean and toasty and, thanks to the delicate flavor of Crystal hops, there is almost no hop bite, only 27 IBU (international bitterness units).

Nøgne Ø Brown is everything an English-style brown ale should be. However, like most of the finer things in life, Nøgne Ø isn't cheap. At around $12 per 22 oz bottle, it is something to be savored, but definitely worth the expenditure. I always say a good brown ale is hard to find, and this is the honest truth. There's the old standby Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, but some of the best browns by king bee brewers like Alesmith, Goose Island, and Smuttynose aren't available in this market. Even Nøgne Ø is fairly new to the Bay area. So, cheers to distribution networks for enabling a beer snob like myself and allowing me to take pleasure in an obscure Norwegian brewery's delectable brown ale in the comfort of my Clearwater residence.

Nøgne Ø Brown

English Style Brown, 4.5%


Norway: home of freaky death metal, smoking hot models, and user-friendly light lagers. Who knew they could produce such multidimensional ales? The Nøgne Ø (pronounced non-yay) brewery truly breaks the typical Scandinavian beer mold, turning out a line of big, bold beers, all of which I find thoroughly satisfying. It was hard to pick one brew from Nøgne Ø's extensive line, but after careful consideration and extended scouring of distributor product lists, I chose the Brown Ale.

The grain recipe combines a little bit of everything: wheat, Maris Otter 2-row barley, chocolate malt, brown malt, amber malt, and caramel malt. Imagine the head brewer sweeping his arm across all the grain-littered counter spaces at the brewery — "let's just put all this in the mash." But this mad mixture works, as the sheer maltiness of this brew is pure heaven.

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