Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nøgne-Ø #100 Barleywine-Style Ale

Nøgne-Ø means "naked island" in Norwegian, and it is a reference to Henrik Ibsen's description of any of the stark, barren outcroppings visible off of Norway's southern coast.  Today, it is the name of one of Norway's most prominent craft brewers.  Both Clare and I were first introduced to Nøgne-Ø during a National Geographic beer tasting of Scandinavian beers.  We sampled only one of its beers during that tasting, only a small introduction to a brewery that has over a dozen year-around beers.

One of the year-around beers is the #100.   This brew has an interesting story behind it.  Originally the 100th brew of Nøgne-Ø, this beer is a barleywine style ale.  The brewers used Maris-Otter, wheath and chocolate malts, as well as Columbus, Chinook and Centennial hops.  They also used British ale years and Grimstad water to make this beer.  Although the brewers made this beer for their own enjoyment, they ultimately shared the beer with the public and, now, it is available around the world.

The #100 pours a very dark brown to black in color, with a light caramel foam that slowly recedes to the edges of the glass.  The beer has a malty aroma, full of caramel and toasty bread.  With each sip, this Barleywine style ale shows its preferences for malts over hops.  The malts are very much in the front, with the roasted malts providing hints of chocolate.  The hops bring up the rear, providing a little astringency to the finish.  The flavor profile of this beer places it in the category of English barleywines rather than American barleywines.

In the end, this beer seems a little more like an Imperial stout than a barleywine style ale.  However, that is not a bad thing, because I love both styles of beers.

The beer has an ABV of 10% and an IBU of 80.  This beer is available at most beer stores that have a large selection of craft beers and/or international beers.  I found this beer at Corridor Wine and Spirits in Laurel, Maryland.


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