Monday, September 10, 2012

Nøgne-Ø Sunturnbrew

So it begins ..."while most people think differently, Norwegians are convinced that the sun turns and actually changes direction on every December 21st."  The only movement I am aware of is the ever so slight change in the light of the stars that happens during a solar eclipse, which was discovered during the course of proving Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. In any event, the brewers at Nøgne-Ø wanted to pay tribute to "this stubborn idea" by making a "Sunturnbrew."

And, just what is a "Sunturnbrew"?  Technically speaking, it is an American barleywine.  The ingredient list is rather short: Grimstad water, malted barley, malted rye, malted wheat, hops and yeast. Nøgne-Ø describes a Sunturnbrew as much, much more: it is a beer brewed at the same time as the Norwegians think the sun changes direction.  The brewers declare, "[t]his brew is for the the changing direction of the sun, the change of mind and the change of perception."

A change in mind and change in perception is exactly the way to describe this beer.  Back in May, when I was sampling different beers at the International Beer Fest in Cleveland, Ohio, I tried the Sunturnbrew.  I was not impressed with it.  I did not have anything nice to say about it, so I left it out of my posts.  The beer tasted like burnt plastic or burnt rubber.  I was quite disappointed because Nøgne-Ø  is a great craft brewer and I really like their other beers, such as the #100 Barleywine Style Ale. I was unsure if I would ever try it again ... except for the fact that that my dad bought me a bottle of the Sunturnbrew, from batch number 474, which had been quietly resting in our basement.  

So, I decided that I would try it again.  Remember the "change in mind and change in perception."  The Sunturnbrew had changed 180 degrees from that taste I had back in May.  The beer poured a dark brown, the color of healthy, vitamin laden soil.  The aromatic elements of the beer gave gentle reminders of smoked malts and even a little smoked peat.  Those elements reminded me of L'Abri de Tempete's Corps Mort, which ranks as one of my favorite smoked beers.  (The Corps Mort earns that distinction because the brewers use smoked grains from a local smokehouse that makes smoked herring and smoked mackerel -- the use of those particular local ingredients sets that beer apart from others, at least for me.)   

As for the taste of the beer, it possessed a similar range of flavors as the Corps Mort, minus the taste of pepper.  There was a pleasant, smooth smokiness to the taste of the Sunturnbrew.  The smoked flavors were accompanied by a hint of vanilla and some spice, although all of the flavors were mellowed and rounded out by both the alcohol (11% ABV) and age.  After all, the beer had been resting in my basement for at least several months.  What had first seemed like burnt plastic, now tasted like a nice sipping beer, one that could be enjoyed by a fireplace on a cold winter night.  (Too bad I drank it during the fall.)  

As I mentioned above, I was given a bottle of Sunturnbrew as a gift.  I have seen it at some beer and wine stores that have large international and/or craft beer selections.

ENJOY!

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