Wednesday, August 22, 2012

from the middle of the atlantic ocean

If you thought that Iceland was in the middle of nowhere, check again. Just south of the Island, towards the coast of Scotland are small islands called the Faroe Islands. A very small country with a delightful language and proud people.

When I received this as a gift at work I was surprised but also happy, because although the Faroe islands are not far away, this is something I dont see every day and is rather hard to get hands over.

What I gather is that Okkara started out as a microbrewery in an abandoned chicken farm in Tórshavn. They have only been operating since 2010 and export to Denmark as well as trying to battle the other Faroe brewery, Foroya, at their home ground.

Looking over their catalogue of beer nothing seems out of the norm, typical northern European brewery brewing mainly lager beers, but nothing is as it appears. They are trying something different, they have an imperial porter as their flagship export beer and their last christmas beer was a barley wine.

Out of these five that I got I could not wait to get my hands on two of them, the very interesting Okkara Rinkusteinar and the Okkara Brendan, a 2,500 bottle batch of a hoppy quad.

They did not disappoint. Of Okkara Rinkusteina I was not expecting much, it´s an ale that has been filtered with hot rocks, something that is a bit cliché and touristy when you think about but the beer was a bit special. It had this dry hoppy bitterness without the floral and fruity aspect of the hops. A fine ale that would accommodate every dish of Scandinavian cuisine very well. A fun experience and definitely something out of the norm.

The quad was something else and it also brings me to the never ending discussion of over hyped Belgian beers. I swear to you, if this had the Rochefort label or of some other famous Belgian this would be thought as one of the most sought after beers in the world.

Dark brown, cloudy with a small film of a head. Massive aroma of spices, candy, sugar, caramel and sweets. Very yeasty but perfectly balanced by the hops as they leave you with a fantastic aftertaste of rock sugar, yeast and caramel. The only downfall is that the beer is maybe a bit too young but oh boy, will this be massive if aged for a year or two. I liked the fact that this was a big Belgian, and it was very well masked and it also did not leave you with an overly sweet palate after each sip.

The porter sits now in my fridge waiting to battle an all new Iceland porter coming soon, more on that later

Sunday, August 12, 2012

best bar in Iceland, Micro Bar

what if I told you that in downtown Reykjavík is small place, a really small place, a hole in the wall kind of place just off the main square, and in that tiny little bar you can have most of the Icelandic micros on tap and about 80-100 foreign craft and rare bottles? Impressive danish import and belgian stuff, most of the BrewDog line, and many more. Yes, this magical place exists, and is a love child of Gæðingur in the north of Iceland, and they have formed a flawless relationship with the best beer importer in Iceland, Járn og Gler.

The interiors are industrial and good looking, same artist that designed the label has designed the wall art, and what makes this place even more interesting is that this is a hotel bar, and belongs to City Hotel in downtown Reykjavík. Imagine all those trips you took as a beer nerd and in almost every country and every town the hotel bar served you up with a bottle of Heineken or the local macro swill.

The staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable but foremost they really care about the bar and the business which is a rare thing nowadays.

Being the number one outlet that Gæðingur has in the capital, they are mostly focused on them on draft, which is a good thing, because Gæðingur brew really good beers, and to have them on tap is fantastic. They also serve the other micros, Ölvisholt and Kaldi, and rotate some of the taps. The main concept was to open up a bar that did not serve any macros, after Gæðingur was simply bullied out of the bar market in Reykjavik, a market dominated by the two big macros, Vífilfell and Egils. The only downfall of this is that Micro will probably never serve Borg beers, because Egils are the owners, but hey, Gæðingur brew pretty decent stuff and the Pale Ale, the IPA´s and the Stout are simply world class!

They are now brewing two IPA´s which they rotate and tap. Tumi Humall, a 65 IBU 6.5% big session and a smaller one, 50 IBU 5.6% Humallína which I have yet to sample. Their Pale Ale is simply world class, an unfiltered cloudy glass of hoppy goodness which packs a punch considering the very low alcohol percentage.

A visit to this small but remarkable place is a must if you are in town