As American's we tend to think that outside of Belgium we are the only countries making unique beer. Sure England makes some amazing brown ales, stouts, porters, barleywines, etc, and Germany is top notch when it comes to pilsners, Wheat beers, Bock's etc. But neither of these countries are necessrily known for pushing the boundaries (yes there are exceptions, I am speaking in generalities). But more than America and Belgium are making unique barrel aged sour's, or barrel aged anything, other countries are getting in on the fun as well. One of these countries is Norway. I've had beer's from Nogne brewery so I'm aware of some of the things that country is doing. Well during my last visit to Denver I saw another beer from Norway, this one from the hard to say and hard to spell Haandbryggeriet.
This is an interesting brewery, one that is run on a volunteer basis, yes that's right, they don't brew full time. Unexpectedly they are tiny, making 18 bbl at a time, housed in a 200 year old wooden building. Per their website it also seems like they are very environmentally aware. Reviewing their website they make quite a few beers for being so small, ranging from IPA's to Farmhouse ales to of course sour ales. The Hesjeøl that I picked up is a recreation of a Norwegian farmhouse ale made with rye, barley, and oats.
The Beer: This one weighs in at 7.0% and pours a cloudy hazy orange with a thick quarter inch head. The nose is malty, smokey, yeasty, candied sugars, white fruit. The mouthfeel is full and thick, fruity, grapes, pears, smokey finish, a bit of char, a bit of smoked meat. The flavors remind me of autumn if that makes sense. Slightly sweet, honey, flowers, smoked melon, very little alcohol. Some hop bitterness. Smokiness is more meaty less oaky. Candied sugars. It reminds me of a Belgian Pale ale combined with a rauchbier. Very good, very interesting that gets a B+ from me. The folks at BA like it as well.