I really liked this IPA, from Lervig Aktiebryggeri, which is one of Norway’s leading craft breweries, based in Stavanger.
Lervig was started in 2003 by a group of Stavanger locals who were upset that Tou, the local brewery, was being closed after being bought by Carlsberg-owned Ringes. Tou had been brewing in the town since 1855, so it had quite a history.
Lervig is funded by a group of 40 investors, of whom the largest is Norwegian financier Kristoffer Stensrud. Initially, production was focused on pilsner-style beers, and it wasn’t until 2010 when Mike Murphy became head brewer that things got really interesting.
Mike is an American brewer who has worked a lot in Italy and Denmark, and has a great reputation, and he started making much more interesting craft beers, including IPAs, saisons and stouts. Lervig have also done collaborations with other craft brewers such as Mikkeller and Magic Rock.
Lervig LA Galaxy IPA
Beautifully floral, with sweet, pure tropical notes of passionfruit and subtle herbs. The palate is amazingly fresh and pure with smooth, soft toffee and malt backing up the well integrated bitter hops. Very stylish with some sweetness. 9/10
Burning Sky is a really interesting brewery based in Firle, East Sussex. They make use of large oak barrels and slow brews to make super-complex beers. This is a completely epic beer that has been matured in large foudres. I’m going to be seeking out everything else of theirs that I can find after trying this. It’s astonishing stuff.
Burning Sky Saison à la Provision
A farmhouse beer that has a primary fermentation with a Saison yeast, then undergoes a secondary fermentation with a blend of Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces while ageing in foudres. Amazing stuff. Lovely bright apple and citrus flavours with a complex tangy lemony edge and some spiciness. It’s refreshing, tangy and alive. Remarkable. 9/10
So, a few months back, I had the very pleasurable experience of travelling up to Thornbridge Hall to judge their home brew competition along with talented fellow wine journalist Victoria Moore and food/drink writer and beer maker Daniel Tapper, along with representatives from Waitrose and Thornbridge. There were 200 entries.
The winner was this beer, made by former sail maker Graham Nelson. You can read about him in Victoria’s Telegraph column on the event. Graham didn’t win any cash (a shame for him), but he did get his beer brewed on a commercial scale by Thornbridge, and it’s now being sold in Waitrose stores (it arrived in 67 branches yesterday). The good news? It tastes great. It’s not just another big IPA, but it has real personality. You should probably buy some.
Thornbridge Vienna IPA
5.9% alcohol; £2.50 for 500 ml, Waitrose
Wonderfully aromatic with a lovely perfumed hoppy nose showing dried herbs, straw and passionfruit. The palate is fresh with some warmth to it and spicy, earthy, savoury hoppy notes, as well as a rich creamy texture. Very interesting, and not your standard big IPA. I love that this beer is so distinctive. 8.5/10