This second installment covers Yule Beers that range in alcohol content from above 4.7% to under 7.0% ABV. These beers are sometimes called Julebrygg (Yule Brew) instead of Juleøl (Yule Beer). And also, although this trilogy is entitled Norwegian Yule Beers it also includes a few non-Norwegian Christmas beers that I purchased while I was living in Norway.
One of the most exciting things about the Norwegian Yule Beers and Brews is that while all of the good ones share a certain Yule-y flavour they are all still distinct which makes sampling them all a lot of fun. Enjoy!
Aass Juleøl Det Original (Norway) 6.5%
I'm a fan of the Aass brewery (as I make obvious here) but this is truly a top notch Yule beer. It smells like a red, looks like a porter and tastes like a delicious something-in-between. Bitter and malty but the defining taste is the distinctive Yule beer taste honed wonderfully: sweet, smoky, tastes of caramel, hints of oak and with an almost wine-like flourish.
Aegir Bryggeri Julebrygg (Norway - Flåm) 6.0%
This beer comes from a brewery nestled on the coast of the breathtaking Aurlandsfjord in the quaint town of Flåm. It's fruity and a little malty, and has a really flowery bouquet. Well balanced and excellently crafted but not Christmas-y or Yule-y, just tasty.
Berentsens Julefnugg (Norway) 6.5%
Really dark in a glass with a creamy foam. Very bitter and smoky with flavours of coffee, roasted nuts, caramel and very malty. This beer is particularly strong flavoured for a Yule beer and predominantly bitter.
Christianssands Bryggeri Juleøl (Norway) 6.5%
Wow, this beer is impressive: black like a porter with a frothy head this has the typical slightly bitter sweet caramel taste of a Yule beer but also packed with flavours like sage, toasted bread, hops, coffee and deliciousness. At 6.5% it is strong like traditional Jylebryg (Yule Brew). I recommend it!
Dahls Juleøl (Norway - Trondheim) 6.5%
Sweet with caramel flavours and tastes of apples. It's pretty good and much better than I had expected considering how bad Dahls Pils is.
Erdinger Schneewibe Das Winterbier (Germany) 5.6%
Very sweet, it's cloudy and it tastes cloudy. It is unfiltered so you have to be mindful of the sediment while pouring it out, you can drink sediment but it's not the 'best-practice'. It has a mildly bitter taste at first blush or should I say brush of your palate (if you're counting that is three puns) but is quickly washed away by a very sweet taste. It's not at all like the Christmas beers of Scandinavia but nor does it try to be: it's German and it bills itself as a Winter Beer (actually as THE winter beer) and its interesting combination of flavours seems to fit that name quite nicely.
Fredrikstad Original Recept Juleøl (Norway) 6.6%
The Borg brewery's contribution to Yule beers. Surprisingly mild mannered at 6.6%. Dark brown in a glass. Hints of oak and coffee but a generally shortlived taste. Initial bitterness masks a fruity underlying flavour of dark cherries which lingers on a little in the aftertaste. A very pleasant Yule beer but it really takes some 'digging' to root out the full flavours, all in all good but mild. Certainly not the taste adventure that some of these other Yule beers are.
Hansa Julebrygg (Norway) 6.5%
Dark in a glass and malty. Tastes a little like bitter cherries. An overly long and lingering, almost cloying aftertaste. This beer tastes as if Hansa felt it HAD to make Yule beer rather than doing it out of any particular inspiration. If it wasn't for the ugly aftertaste this would be a fine beer. As it is, it's a pass.
Mack God Jule (Norway - Tromsø) 6.5%
It is bitter and sour. Musky like a burnt cherry glaze on a roasted beast. It tastes like the smell of old liquor cabinet with spilled then evaporated sherry with hints of mildew. Though in its defense it is from the most northerly brewery on the planet. Pass.
Ringnes Juleøl Sterk (Norway) 6.3%
Dark and sweet and quite bitter. A nicely complicated flavour that tastes decidedly like the depth of winter. Hints of an ineffable wood flavour, toasting bread and smoke, with a strong taste of a bitter fruit stored in a musty earthen cellar. Fairly dark in a glass and, for it's strength and pronounced flavour, fairly light on the tongue with a somewhat nutty aftertaste that doesn't linger overly long. Quite a good beer.