Bergen International Whisky & Beer 2015 - the preamble
Once upon a time (several times actually) there was Whisky-Meet, a great whisky festival in Bergen. The wizard in this particular whisky tower was Frode Harring, then whisky manager at Terminus Whisky Bar. Frode traveled the world, dreamt dreams, and planned plans. One day he found that the time had come and the time was his. He left Terminus and Whisky-Meet, he started The Tasting Room - a great whisky bar (more on that later), and began working on a new festival.
Blood, sweat, tears, beers and whisky ensued. Fast forward to February 12, 2015, and the festival was less than 24 hours away. Whisky Saga was kindly invited to attend a couple of pre-festival tastings at The Tasting Room, and not wanting to be difficult we happily presented ourselves thirsty for new experiences and great drams.
First tasting was a presentation of two Jameson expressions by Conor Breen, Jameson Brand Ambassador in Norway. The whiskies were Jameson 18 YO and Jameson Small Batch Select Reserve (soon Black Barrel). This was a fun and very informal tasting. Conor was enthusiastic and well-schooled in all things Jameson.
Eiktyrne - new Norwegian single malt
The second tasting was presented by Det Norske Brenneri (more info here). The brought their new make, their Audny Series 2 - Single Cask (see review of series 1 here), and their brand new Eiktyrne. This was the world premier for Eiktyrne, and this was the main focus for the tasting. A full review of Eiktyrne will be published here on Tuesday next week.
It was great to listen to the two guys behind it all, Stig Bareksten and Odd Johan Nelvik, tell the story of the distillery and their products. This is definitely a distillery we will visit asap, to tell you all the full story.
The Wild Beer Company
Well, this was to be a whisky AND beer festival, so we had to make an effort and try some beers as well. The official kick-off tasting for the festival was hosted by Cask Norway. They had brought Andrew Cooper from The Wild Beer Company, and he in turn had brought a handful of beers.
I must confess that here at Whisky Saga HQ we are not really big beer drinkers. We have dabbled in beer for a couple of years now, but that's it. Personally I had hardly had any beers until I turned 40 (yeah, I'm an old geezer). But we try, we really do. Having tasted a couple hundred beers now I have found that too much hops or bitterness is not good for me. Give me stout, porter, sour beer, fruit beer, Belgian whatever or quality ciders and I am more inclined to like it.
We have found that Untappd is a great app to keep track of what beers we like and which ones we should try to avoid in the future. If you use Untappd look up 'whiskysaga'.
Anyways, Andrew brought these beers:
- Wild Beer Sourdough
- My score: 4/5 stars. Love the freshness here. A bit like cider, and a mild sour beer.
- Wild Beer Fresh
- My score: 1.5/5 stars: Yeah, no. Too hoppy and too bitter.
- Wild Beer Madness IPA
- My score: 1/5 stars: Hell no! Even more hops and bitterness.
- Wild Beer Modus Operandi
- My score: 3.5/5: OK, we're back. This is interesting in a good way. Higher ABV here helps.
- Wild Beer Wildebeest
- My score: 4/5 stars: Yay! We're in stout country and I'm happy. Licorice, coffee and dark chocolate. What's not to like?
The Tasting Room
I have to sneak in a couple of pictures from The Tasting Room of course. This was our first chance to visit the bar, but they opened in May 2014. Frode has really managed to setup a fantastic place here. Great whisky collection, lovely facilities, especially the cellar with all the whisky bottle son display. He also has a great team assembled, friendly, service minded and knowledgeable. And they serve some great cocktails!
I'll be back very soon with the review of the festival itself.
Sláinte! - Thomas