Brewer Abroad! Nick at Nøgne Ø Pt I

February 8, 2013, by Crafty Pint
Brewer Abroad! Nick at Nøgne Ø Pt I

A week ago, Nick Rhodes from Holgate boarded a plane in Melbourne bound for Norway. Coming the other way was Norwegian brewer Ingrid Skistad from Nøgne Ø. We brought you the story behind their brewer swap here, while Nick promised to keep us up-to-date with his adventures on the other side of the world.

He’s been good to his word too, with his first missive from the snow flecked countryside of Grimstad below. Already he has discovered that there are places in the world more expensive to drink beer than Australia and that it pays not to get excited in front of Norwegians when you see snow...

“Been in Norway a week already! Didn’t take long to notice a few big differences…

“I was picked up from the airport by a mate, it was minus 10C and covered in snow. We went out for a few beers, which after some quick math came to $12 for a 350ml glass! Throw anything else at me Norway!

“I made the journey down to Nøgne Ø on Sunday. The work has been great so far – the benefit of getting a fresh perspective cannot be understated.

“This week at Nøgne Ø I’ve seen how this brewery with a serious rock star factor does things differently: no secrets here, just passion and commitment to great beer. It’s been a welcome challenge stepping up to this 50 hectolitre brewhouse too. It’s only been a quiet week so I’ve been able to ease into it, punching out a Tiger Tripel and a Two Captains with the Nøgne Ø brewers as well as a thorough CIP [clean-in-place, non-beer nerds] of this four vessel beast.

“The proof has always been in the beer that this place knows what it’s doing, but it’s fascinating to get stuck in and see how. It’s the small differences here that I think are making the difference we all taste in the bottle. Like many other brewers Ní¸gne í˜ have developed their own processes over time, but follow it up with thorough lab work and record keeping to ensure consistent quality.


Home from home


“The brewery is housed in a converted hydropower station in a rural area. In winter it’s quite a sight. This imposing building seems fit for such a brewery, but when you walk in and see the size of the brewhouse, the unitanks lining the walls and the bottling line somehow crammed in between the two, it’s no surprise a move to a bigger facility is in planning.

“There are currently five 200 hec tanks offsite in a warehouse 1.5km away: a tractor with a 50 hec tank on the back helps get the wort to the tanks and the finished beer back for bottling! The warehouse is like a beer geek’s dream. The number of beers in production seems insane, yet seasonals are being squeezed in somehow as well. A dark corner is home to rack upon rack of barrels, next to a large cool room for hops. It’s not the size of the place but the variety of beer that has me so excited.

“Wednesday brought the first powdery snow of my trip – all the Norwegians got a good laugh out of my excitement!

“Now that the first week is down I can’t wait to get stuck in and learn even more from these beer crazy Norwegians!


Keep abreast of the brewers' adventures via the Twitter accounts of Holgate and Nøgne Ø.

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