Never before has so many types of Norwegian Christmas beer (Juleøl) found its way into the shelves at Vinmonopolet. This year, experts have tested all 61 varieties from both small microbreweries to the large-scale commercial breweries.
Vinmonopolet is a government-owned alcoholic beverage retailer and the only company allowed selling beverages containing an alcohol content higher than 4.75% in Norway.
– A good Christmas beer should be a little stronger than usual beer and in my opinion, contain more than six percent alcohol. Moreover, it should be balanced and a little darker than usual, have a good body and rich foam, have a taste of Christmas spices such as nuts, chocolate and with a certain element of dried fruits. A hint of malt and hops are necessary, says member of the jury, Per Øyvind Arnesen.
Three beer types got top character, and one of them received top score from all three judges. The jury emphasizes that a Christmas beer should match the traditional Norwegian Christmas food.
The so-called “dice throw” (Norwegian: terningkast) is a method of review, often used in Norway, characterized by the number of pips indicating a negative (1), mediocre or positive (6) review – 1-6. It is a contrast to the stars or letters used elsewhere.
ThorNews provides an overview of this season’s 15 best Norwegian Christmas brews.
Winner of the 2015 Christmas brew test. Pleasing sweetness, honey aromas, dried fruit and rich in malt. Great balanced. A favorite. Top score from all judges.
Nøgne Ø God Jul
A ‘happy’ beer. Full of Christmas aromas like caramel, vanilla, cigar and malt. Really a meal in itself, but suits the traditional Christmas food because of its sweetness. Merry Christmas!
Lindheim 100 Days Of Juleøl
Rich on foam and carbon dioxide. Much body, delightful Christmas aromas of caramel, nuts and smoke. Well balanced. Suitable with or without food, or as a dessert beer. Among the very best Christmas brews.
A fruity, slightly characterized by yeast, and funky beer. Rich on malt and perfect for the Christmas dinner. Well-composed and a ‘cool’ beer.
7 Fjell 7 Sorter Christmas Ale
Another classic Christmas beer with great aromas of dried fruit and caramel. Rich foam, scent of wort. Bodied, rich in style. Suitable for all types of Christmas food.
Simply a Christmassy Christmas beer. Much wort, light fruitiness, rich foam, reddish color. Very suitable on the Christmas table.
Nøgne Ø Special Holiday Ale
A tasty, powerful and rich Christmas brew. Light bitterness. Good sweetness, with a hint of dried fruit and roasted malt.
Aass Juleøl Vellagret
Slightly heading towards sour beer in style. Much sweetness and acidity. A good beer, but more suitable for experts and aficionados. Lots of flavor.
A dark, powerful and rich Christmas beer. Good balance, with a Belgian influence. Pleasant bitterness and a lot of flavor. A good Christmas brew.
A complex taste experience. Dark, toasted malt character. Good bitterness, with intriguing aromas. Very suitable for Pinnekjøtt.
Great foam, good complex, nice balance of sweetness and bitterness. A delicious Christmas brew for everyone.
Dried fruits and toffee, a fresh beer with great bitterness. Rich taste of Christmas. Nice balanced. Simply a good Christmas beer.
A classic, Christmas beer rich on hops. Good balance, suitable for traditional Christmas food. Commercial style that makes the beer easily enjoyable.
Lindesnes Brygghus Juleøl
Cloves and slightly burned, but balanced bitterness. Rich foam and pleasant aftertaste. Proper Christmas beer to suit the tasteful Christmas food.
Klostergården Jul e øl
A very dark, burned and full-bodied brew. Really a meal in itself, with solid power and intriguing aromas. Taste of coffee and cocoa beans. An extreme beer everyone should try.
Marianne Tyldum Friis, Director of Marketing Vingruppen, Arcus AS.
Halvor Heuck, Director of Spirits Arcus AS, author, home brewer and judge in spirits competitions.
Per Øyvind Arnesen, Director of the judge committee at Norbrygg, beer judge, home brewer and writer. Has great experience when it comes to judging beer quality.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews