This Norwegian Holiday Ale comes with more than fine taste, it comes with a story. HaandBryggeriet is “Hand Brewers,” one of the new breweries to emerge in the explosion of craft brewing in Scandinavia. It’s four guys experimenting in a 200 year-old stone horse sable. And doing very well!
Nissefar, which means “Father Christmas,” pours nearly black with very little foam on top. The aromas is earthy malts and spices with the scents of juniper berry and spruce tips. There’s a little anise (black licorice) also on the nose but not the taste. It tastes of toasted malts, subtle chocolate (as in a good porter), nuts, raisins, and spices. It has the mouthfeel of a good porter, with a bit of sweetness up front and bitterness on the finish.
This beer has some age on it. Mine is Batch 783, brewed July 28, 2014. It’s 7% ABV and 25-30 IBU.
Here’s the story from the bottle: The “nisse” is a traditional figure in Norwegian lore – a barn gnome who was never seen but was known to get quire ticked off, and play nasty tricks, when a farmer forgot to leave a bowl of beer our for him at Christmas. In the old days, farmers were required to be brewers, and they would all compete to brew the best Christmas beer in the region.
This full-bodied, hearty ale is worth seeking out.