Who says Norwegians can’t go wild?
Saturday 12 February 2022
This article is from
Great European Road Trip
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Norwegian craft beer powerhouse Lervig needs no introduction - if you don’t recognise the name, you’ll certainly recognise the colourful, whacky designs on its packaging, which matches its bold, creative approach to brewing beer. Founded in 2003 in an effort to bring independent brewing back to Stavanger, the years have certainly not slowed the innovation and passion among the team. It’s been a good year for Lervig - despite the Covid-based restrictions across the country, including several periods during which the sale of alcohol was prohibited in hospitality venues, the brewery has managed to stay afloat and make the best of a bad situation.
The beginning of 2021 saw the setup of its new barrel-ageing facility Rackhouse, a huge warehouse within which almost 600 barrels sit housing all kinds of beers, from dark stouts to mixed fermentation sours. Lervig’s mission has always been to brew the best beer in the world, and now the team’s plans have expanded to experimenting with the influences that different types of wood can have on a beer. As well as a huge number of ex-bourbon and wine barrels, rum barrels, and a couple of oak foeders, there are plans afoot to get hold of a coolship (a large, shallow vessel used to cool wort so it can acquire lots of lovely natural bacteria for fermentation), and more large foeders to house a variety of beer styles.
Brews in the new Rackhouse programme will be released in two separate categories - a Dark Series, and a Norwegian Cultures series. The former will include such delights as barleywines, big punchy stouts, and Belgian Quadrupels, and the latter will feature exciting variations on mixed-culture sour beers, saisons, and fruited sours, all showcasing Norwegian yeast strains and naturally-occurring bacteria.
There have already been some releases over the past months which have proven incredibly popular, but there are more to come, including a range of blended, foeder-aged mixed fermentation fruited sours - one with apricot, one with blueberry, and one with cherry. I am certainly waiting for these releases in extreme anticipation.
The team at Lervig’s commitment to quality and to putting the same amount of love and care into each brew still applies to beer that they have to ignore for months at a time - after around six months, they have the very arduous task of checking on the beer and seeing how it’s tasting (who would want to be a brewer, eh?), and it’s at that point, once the base beer is perfect, that they consider what adjuncts they will put into it, if they want to blend several variations together, or if they’ll age it on fruit.
Lervig’s other news for 2022 comes from the complete other end of the beer scale to big, oomphy aged brews. Over the past year it has been expanding its range of non-alcoholic beers called No Worries, and there are plans to expand it even further in the coming months after having a lot of commercial success with the current collection. At the moment there’s a (very highly-rated) pale ale, and fruited variations on it such as lemon, mango and pineapple, but the team is currently working on more fruit options, and on a crisp lager for the summer. No-lo ABV beers are difficult to get right and difficult to make tasty, but they’re - in my opinion - going to be one of 2022’s biggest trends.
For those interested in the geekery behind non-alcoholic beers, the reason Lervig does it so well is that it uses a special strain of brewer’s yeast that is unable to ferment maltose (the sugars produced by the malts). This, alongside a generous but not overwhelming dose of light, citrusy hops means it ends up tasting more like a lower-ABV brew than an alcohol-free beer.
Lervig has been going strong for almost 20 years, and since the start it has always been one to watch - I look forward to seeing where it goes with its No Worries series, its Rackhouse programme, and all the usual developments in its roster of impeccably-brewed beers. Skål!
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