Total Score: 7.6/10
This will, appropriately/sadly, be my last beer review for a while – reviewing beers seems to have added a solid inch or two to my waistline over the last five years and I plan to work hard to get those inches back. In the meantime I will still be posting old reviews on this blog regardless. So Nøgne Ø Sunturnbrew is a heavy hitter 11% ABV smoked Barleywine from the venerable Norwegian brewer, it is fitting that I go out with a bang, and here it is.
Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.
A: Dark chocolate brown body with a firm packed half centimetre tan head. Appears as formidable as any big beer. The head soon reduces to a lace ring as high ABV brews usually do, still tasty I say. 8/10.
S: I like my smoked beers as geräuchert (German for ‘smoked’) as they can get and this Sunturnbrew throws down a real peaty gauntlet, bravo! Behind the veil of spruce campfire smoke is a thin veneer of sweet toffee malts and dark fruits (plum mostly). There may also be a hint of pepper spice in the background from the rye, it’s hard to tell with this much smoke… mmm, rauchy. 8/10.
T: Quite syrupy, but we’ll get to that in a second, flavour is quite peaty and spruce-like with some mid-palate toffee/plum sweetness and a bitter herb liqueur finish: More Pelinkovac – a Croatian/Serbian bitter herb liqueur – than Jägermeister (which is much sweeter). Aftertaste is lingering smoke and slight herbal bitterness. The flavour is bold and uncompromising, as expected. 8/10.
M: Now to the body which is a heavy very sticky and viscous sensation… possibly the most gooey brew I’ve imbibed, which you would think is a good thing but it really detracts on the palate IMO. There is too sticky and this beer is it. Apart from that a light/almost flat carbonation rounds it out. 6/10.
D: I love single malt Islay whiskies (Ardbeg being my perennial favourite) so theoretically I should love Sunturnbrew, but it’s too much viscosity and a tad too much bitterness towards the finish that distracts the scotch drinker in me and reminds me this is in fact a beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that [not at all!] however I really wanted to get a better balance from this brew (without needing a good tongue scraping afterwards). 7/10.
Food match: Smoked meats obviously. Salmon, herring or venison if you want to go the whole Norwegian hog… hog would work as well.