Norwegian beer styles
The Norwegian brewing tradition has its roots in Germany and the Czech republic. Apart from Germany, Norway was the last country to abandon the German purity law in 1994. The purity law stated that beer could only be brewed with water, malt and hop (yeast where later added). The Norwegian beer is usually lagers and are fully filtered and pasteurized. Let's take a look at some of the beer styles that sets the Norwegian market a bit apart from other countries.
The beer style that raises the most eyebrows when we bring it abroad is definitely the Aass Fatøl. You do not get fat by drinking the Fatøl. In fact, it is one of our beers that have the least amount of calories. The therm "Fatøl" simply means "kegged beer" in Norwegian. Some might say that it is kind of ironic since the sales are mostly in cans.
The beer style appeared in the late 1980s as a way of imitating how the Pilsner, the most common product in Norwegian bars, tasted when it was sold as draft beer. With the kegging technology an draft equipment at that time, the pilsner tasted a little less bitter and a little sweeter than in bottle or can. A light, easy drinkable beer strongly related to the Pilsner. Fatøl went on to become a category of beer on its own. Today this is the second largest beer style in Norway by any measure.
Bayer is a beer style, as the name might suggest, linked to the brewing done in the south of Germany. The beer is comparable to a German "Dunkel". A chestnut colored lager made with dark malts. Because of the Norwegian alcohol tax system the beer has a 4.7 % ABV, but would probably not have been at a significant different ABV, even with a Norwegian tax legislation that encouraged it. It has a stronger "half brother" in the Bock beer at 6.5 % ABV.
The Bayer is one of the classic beer styles made in Norway and was part of the assortment that the Norwegian beer cartel allowed in the portfolio. The Norwegian beer marked was a cartel until the mid 1980s. The origins can be traced back to the early 20th century.
The Norwegian Christmas beer became a tradition as early as the 11th century. All farms and estates where obligated to, and for some time even mandatory by law, use their finest malt to brew Christmas beer. It was the women's duty to brew the Christmas beer, so the best brewers in Norway was and still is women. Usually the Christmas beer was around 6-6.5 ABV. The taste and beer style is comparable to a German style "Dunkel" or a bock. Usually a lager, but can also be an ale.
Today the Christmas beer is one of the most popular beer styles in Norway. the variety is wide and there is a Christmas beer on every level of ABV, every degree of sweetness, with interesting ingredients, but usually pretty dark in color. The beer style even offer gluten free and non-alcoholic alternatives.
Similar to the Christmas beer, the summer beer have become a Norwegian tradition. The beer is often light, fully filtered, with a fresh taste and a modest bitterness. Some of the products also have an amount of wheat malt to get a little bit of extra fruitiness.
The wort beer is a dark, alcohol free beer, with a very sweet taste. The beer is not fermented at all, so no sugars are converted into alcohol. It gives a high amount of maltose in the drink. This type of sugar molecule, with its high energy level and slow digestion, fits perfectly for long lasting efforts like biking or cross country skiing. Of course making this a popular drink in Norway where sports needing a high stamina and lung capacity are highly regarded.
The wort beer have the brewery mascot "Bjørn Aass" on the cans and multi packs. The name "Bjørn" is common in Norway and simply means "bear". He is inspired by a stuffed real brown bear that we have by the brewery entrance.