HaandBryggeriet “Bestefar” Norwegian Winter Ale


Welcome to the last in my series of Christmas/winter ale reviews.  Half of it really ended up as a survey of Norwegian winter ales, and I have to say, I was very happy I gave them a shot.  As far as I know they’re relative newcomers to this market, and they ranged from good to excellent.  Tonight, we have another from HaandBryggeriet, their “Bestefar” Winter Ale.

It pours nice and dark and yielded a thick head pretty quickly, but then settled down to just a thing film.  Lacing was pretty minimal.  Sticking your nose into the top of the glass you get raisins, coffee, chocolate malts, and alcohol.  

It’s a little more carbonated than I was expecting.  It’s medium bodied, and the carbonation keeps it from being ‘chewy’ or ‘oily’.  There are a lot of flavors competing for your attention simultaneously when you take a sip.  I picked up roasty malts, chocolate, coffee, raisins, a kind of woody taste, vanilla, molasses with a rather boozy finish.  They really throw the kitchen sink at you with this one.  Given enough time I could probably sit here picking flavor notes out all night.  My pallate’s probably not sophisticated enough to find everything that’s in there, frankly.  

Overall, another really nice beer from this brewery.  It’s not exceptional, but would be great enjoyed on a cold winter night in front of a fire.  The alcohol warming at the end will definitely help take the chill off wherever you are.

Taste:  B/B+  I don’t know if we’ve given one of these before.  It’s very good, but neither grade felt right.  A bit more focus and taming some of that alcohol warmth would put this one solidly in the B+ if not A- realm.

Drinkability: C  One and done with this.  It’s a nice sipping beer, maybe even in a snifter if you’re feeling fancy.  It’s big on the ABV and tastes it.

Label: A  These guys have a great label style and tell a story that makes enjoying beers like these that much more, well, enjoyable.

Vitals:  Poured from a large-ish bottle at about 50F.  Beer has aged over a year (bottling date August 3, 2010) and could probably age further which might mellow the alcohol taste further.  ABV: 9.00%


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