You know, sometimes I suspect Norway is just taking the piss. First the unpronounceable Nøgne ø, and now they deal us Haandbryggeriet. Do they create words over there simply by letting cats walk across keyboards?*
Me and Dad got a glass of this from the Hashigo Zake stand at the SOBA Winter Ale Festival last weekend, and we both were enchanted by it. The aroma was incredible – I got lychee, marmalade and lemon sago with treacle, and in the mouth tropical fruit with a piney bitter finish. It was creamy and well-balanced, punchy and fresh. I wouldn’t call it perfect – the finish was a little thin and short – but the flavours really made it stand out.
The reason I’m writing about it instead of one of the other great beers I tried is not because it was the best, but because it taught me an important lesson: I don’t think I want to be a beer expert.
In my excitement over the Fyr og Flamme I made Luke from Epic have sip, and he immediately screwed up is face in disgust. “It’s ridden with faults” he said (I can’t remember which), “you go ahead and enjoy it but I can’t.”
This is something I’ve encountered a few times. I think something has a nice butterscotch taste, a beer expert is horrified at the diacetyl. I like those green apple notes… all the expert can taste is acetaldehyde. I used to want to do a fault tasting session so that I could learn to pick up these things – but actually I’m not so sure. Ignorance is bliss, as they say, or in Norway – uvitenhet er lykke.
*And those are just the brewery names – what about gems like kjærlighetsaffære (affair), or the incredible menneskerettighetsorganisasjonene (the human rights organization)? Imagine the spit that must fly during arguments!