Craft Brew of the Week - Week 6, N.C. State

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I will be profiling a quality craft brew each week prior to the game, one that fits with the theme for the week, because beer and game day are highly complementary. Please don't ‘rec' this post, as I would like them to roll off the front page each week.

My criteria for this list are:

A) use a combination of foreign and domestic beers that are generally available this time of year
2) only high quality beer
D) beers from a variety of U.S. regions for domestics
River∆) present a variety of styles, with attention to the season, and do both classic styles and offbeat beers
Magenta) in general, bigger beers for bigger games

And we're off...

Sept 29 - N.C. State 8:00 p.m. -

The Brewer: Nøgne Ø

Selected Beer: Imperial Brown Ale

This week, we go north to where the wolves roam... and for their sake, I hope they've prepared, because Werner is Coming. For this game, let's enjoy a dark malty brew, and since we haven't sampled any international brews in this series so far, let's open a brew that hails from way up north and across the pond. Saturday night looks to be in the 60s in North Carolina, so I think this is also a good time to open a brew suited for slightly cooler climes.

Nøgne Ø, a Norwegian brewery, is one of a handful of Nordic brewers that are widely distributed in the United States. Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have undergone a craft brew revolution that parallels that of the U.S., and the brewers there are focused on many of the same styles popular with American brewers. This is unique in Europe; most European brewers focus on the classics because they are standards for the brewery and/or the region. Nøgne Ø was founded just a decade ago and in the last five years have won or placed highly in international beer competitions. I haven't had a bad brew from them. They brew very clean and somewhat adventurous interpretations of a number of styles. Nøgne Ø also helped to springboard Mikkeller and Evil Twin, two brothers that brew and bottle, but do it using others' equipment or in collaboration with other breweries. Mikkeller's beers are especially worth tasting; he has created some really interesting and unique beers, and uses high quality ingredients. His '19 Hop' IPA series is fascinating and still available. Because these Scandinavian brews are imports, and high quality, they can be slightly pricier than their domestic counterparts. However, they are certainly worth exploring, as are many of the craft breweries from the region.

The game day brew:

Brown Ales are an English style of beer and were classically brewed with brown malt, which is roasted darker than typical base malt. Because of this, they have big roasty malt flavor and can be thicker than pale beers. Modern brewers have moved away from using brown malts as a base, but still use a good dose of darker malts to maintain the maltiness and the body of the beer. Hops can range from a background note to fairly assertive, and brown ales can range from mildly sweet to dry. The yeast flavor is neutral, and profiles the malt, as is the case with many beer styles of British origin. Because of the range of potential hop and malt variety, this is a popular style for craft brewers to tackle.

When you see the words ‘double' or ‘imperial' on a beer label, it generally means ‘higher alcohol content', and ‘thicker' as base malt levels are increased for these beers, increasing the overall body and the wort sugars. Hop volumes are increased as well, in order to keep a consistent balance between the ingredients.

The Nøgne Ø pours a dark amber-brown with a dense, somewhat creamy head. It smells roasty with chocolate, toast, and a touch of nut and fruitiness, and is practically all malt on the nose. This beer is mildly sweet, with a good level of bitterness from the hops, but little hop aroma. It has a big mouthfeel, a slight mineral taste, and big malt flavor. This will be great brew for sipping pregame at a tailgate, or during the game at home.

Alternate Brews - Hit up the Nøgne Ø section of your local craft beer store. I really like their Imperial IPA (#500), which is fruitier and has a thicker mouthfeel than many American versions, their India-Style Saison, a collaboration with Bridge Road which is a bit on the hoppy side, and their #100 Barleywine, which is downright delicious.

If you want to try a different Brown Ale, I can recommend Clown Shoes, Dogfish Head, and Brooklyn Brewery as ones to check out. See what's in stock and go for a 22 is you want big flavor. There are also some interesting Nut Brown Ales out there.

What I'll (probably) Be Drinking Saturday: Cigar City Cucumber Saison, Thornbridge South Pacific Pale Ale, the Nøgne Ø, Southern Tier Crème Brulee, and homebrews. There may be a Pumpkin Ale tasting in the works as well, which will certainly sideline some of these others until next week.

What about you? What are your thoughts on this Brown Ale and what is your favorite? What will you drink on Saturday?

Previously reviewed brews:

Sept 01 - Murray State 6:00 p.m. (click to review this post)- Stone, Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

Sept 08 - Savannah State 6:00 p.m. - Lagunitas, A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale

Sept 15 - Wake Forest 12:00 p.m. - Green Flash, Saison Diego

Sept 22 - Clemson 8:00 p.m. - Southern Tier, Backburner Barleywine

Sept 29 - South Florida 6:00 p.m. - Cigar City Brewing, Oak-Aged Jai Alai India Pale Ale

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