Nøgne Ø is an outstanding Norwegian brewery pushing against a traditional lager-only beer culture. I previously reviewed their collaboration Special Holiday Ale. Today, we turn toward their Winter Ale. At least that’s the name on the US import. In other Scandinavia the name is God Jul, which in Norwegian means “Merry Christmas.”
Ø Winter Ale pours deep, dark brown with a no visible head. At least for a few seconds, and then a fine khaki colored foam head half a finger deep forms. I pick up sweet toasted malts, caramel, coffee, cocoa, and a hint of spices on the nose. Smelling this beer, you know it’s going to be dark, full-bodied, and sweet. It is.
As the beer comes up to room temperature the flavors develop. It begins with roastiness: toasted malts, chocolate and coffee. Bitter, dry with a touch of smoke. Later I pick up cherry, plums, and some cranberry acidity. I thought it would be much sweeter than it is. It’s actually more balanced.
It’s brewed with Chinook, Columbus, and Centennial hops and registers at 30 IBU. The 8.5% alcohol makes it a proper winter warmer.