Norway, sip by sip: Noteworthy brewery and distillery tours
Norwegian American Weekly
Looking to add a kick to your next trip to Norway? Consider visiting one (or more!) of these unique breweries and distilleries. You’re certain to learn something new about Norwegian drinking culture, microbreweries, or akevitt distilling—and all while having a good time!
Nøgne Ø Bryggeri
Calling all craft beer enthusiasts! There’s a reason that Grimstad’s Nøgne Ø calls itself “The Uncompromising Brewery.” Unlike the standard Norwegian lagers, Nøgne Ø uses only the highest quality ingredients to make top-fermented and bottle conditioned beers. It’s probably no surprise then that the brewery was started by two home brewers, Gunnar Wiig and Kjetil Jikiun, committed to improving Norway’s beer landscape.
In just over a decade, Nøgne Ø has become Norway’s largest supplier of craft beer and now exports to more than 40 markets. And in addition to their 30 plus standard, seasonal, and experimental ales, Nøgne Ø has expanded to sake—becoming the first and only producer of the Japanese rice wine in Europe.
On the guided tour, you’ll get a chance to learn about the past, present, and future of Nøgne Ø, as well as the entire brewing process—including tasting the Maris Otter malts from the UK and smelling the flavored American hops. For more information or tour reservations, contact email@example.com.
Ægir Bryggeri & Brenneri
If you’re in the mood to pair your alcohol with Viking spirit and Norse mythology, the Ægir Bryggeri & Brenneri may just be your Valhalla. This brewery and distillery combo is located in Fjord Norway’s Flåm, an ideal destination for anyone traveling on the popular Norway in a Nutshell tour—or just exploring the fjords on their own!
Named after the sea jötunn of Norse mythology, the Viking-style Ægir first opened in 2007. Founder American Evan Lewis started Ægir as a brewery only but the company added a distillery in 2011. In addition to the large selection of ales and lagers available at Ægir, you can now enjoy akevitt, whisky, and bourbon as well!
Ægir Bryggeri & Brenneri offers a variety of experiences for guests. All of their tour packages cover the history of the brewery, the brewing process, and some samples. You can try Ægir’s five most popular beers, but the more adventurous may want to try five unique and distinctive brews at an extra cost. For even more adventure, opt for a taste of Ægir’s own Yggdrasil akevitt alongside two beer samplers and a discussion of ideal food pairings. To schedule your tour, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ever wondered how the potatoes on your table turn into the akevitt in your glass? At Atlungstad Brenneri, you can see it with your own eyes! Every autumn, Atlungstad distills 25,000 liters of akevitt, and guests have the opportunity to observe this process from spud to spirit.
The roots of this historic distillery stretch back to 1855 when a group of local farmers in Stange, located on Lake Mjøsa, came together to create the distillery. Throughout the years, the distillery faced changes of ownership, fires, and eventually a shutdown. Fortunately, Atlungstad Brenneri AS purchased and revived the distillery in 2011, saving this important piece of Norwegian cultural history.
On the tour, you’ll explore the production facilities, the distillery museum, and the barrel room, where akevitt is stored within oak casks. For an additional fee, you have the option of tasting four unique akevitt samples. You’ll leave the tour with an improved understanding of spicing, barrel storage, and the best ways to serve akevitt. These tours are generally given in Norwegian, so if you require English be sure to contact them ahead of time at email@example.com.
Are you the studious type? Perfect; the Ølskole at Aass Bryggeri is awaiting your attendance! (If not, don’t fret—this is a beer school after all!) At 181 years, Aass is Norway’s oldest brewery and has a great deal of history to share with history buffs and beer enthusiasts alike. Located in Drammen, just over 30 minutes outside Oslo, Aass attracts 8,000 to 10,000 visitors each year.
Since its establishment in 1834, Aass Bryggeri has overcome several hardships to become the third largest brewery in Norway. The company has passed through five generations of the Aass family and is currently run by Christian August Knutsen Aass.
The fun and educational Ølskole is held in either the Gildehallen or the old Direktørboligen, which was the home of two generations of Aass directors. Either way, the experience will include a tour through the brewery, the beer class with samples of food and drinks, and a fun, social experience. If a tasting plate is enough, choose the two-hour class. If you have more time, a bigger appetite, and a thicker wallet, go for the four-hour option with dinner included. Following your class, be sure to head to the Bryggerhuset where you and your friends can try out the brewery’s most innovative experiments. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the Ølskole.
L. Macks Ølbryggeri
Up north? Then you better not miss L. Macks Ølbryggeri; it claims to be the northernmost brewery in the world (at least until Svalbard Bryggeri starts up; they hope to start serving glacier-brewed beer on Svalbard later in 2015). Not to mention the affiliated Ølhallen, Tromsø’s oldest pub. Because as the saying goes: “You haven’t been to Tromsø if you haven’t been to Ølhallen.”
Ludwig Markus Mack established the northern brewery in 1877 to the pleasure of Tromsø’s inhabitants. To this day, the brewery continues to be family owned and well received, and his legacy lives on.
The hour-long guided tour starts at the Mack Shop at 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. And at the end of the tour, you’ll find yourself in Ølhallen. And you know what that means—it’s time for a cold one!
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 18, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.