This was Norway’s first craft beer festival, and would be held in Haand’s new brewery in Drammen near Oslo. Much like in the UK the Norwegian beer scene has exploded over the last couple of years and over 1000 advance tickets had been sold for the two day event.
HaandBryggeriet have been making great beers now for over 7 years, they’re well respected across Europe for their innovative beers and for their first festival had invited many of their friends from European brewing.
With a line up which included De Molen and Emelisse from the Netherlands, Alvinne from Belgium, Naarke from Sweden, Haand and Nogne O from Norway and Italy’s no 1 craft brewer 2011 LoverBeer, we were in pretty illustrious company and cautiously hopeful our beers would stand up in comparison.
After a very early start to the day we arrived at the festival around 1pm and after setting our stand up had a look around the brewery site and other stands. The setup at the festival was great, in addition to the beer stands there was excellent food on site provided by a local restaurant available to help soak up the beer and a glass washing station for the festival goers to use.
There was also an international bottle bar with some excellent imports from the US and Europe.
At 4pm the first session started and the brewery slowly filled up and by early evening it was difficult to cross the packed main hall. We were delighted with the response to our beers, the public was a mixture of informed homebrewers, craft beer heads and the uninitiated and it was a great experience introducing our beers to them, answering their questions and getting a direct response and feedback.
By 7pm a small queue had formed as we were ready to tap the first keg of our 6 month aged Imperial Stout Bourbon Barrel Bearded Lady, which had generated a fair bit of interest among the festival goers. 10pm saw the end of the first session and we finished the evening sampling the other breweries beers and chatting with the friendly brewers.
Saturday’s session ran from 12pm till 10pm and attracted around 800 people, making a great total of over 1300 attending over the two sessions. Much like Friday the festival was packed with friendly interested drinkers and added to the lovely weather made for a great vibe, the afternoon passed quickly as the beer and conversation flowed and new tastes were explored.
All the beers at the festival were served in 15cl measures (10cl for over 9% brews) which meant lots of beers could be tried without to much damage sobriety wise. One noticeable thing in contrast to the average UK festival was the respect shown to each sample, nearly every person we served looked closely at the beers colour and appearance and spent time taking in the aroma before finally tasting the beer and savouring the flavour.
By 10.30pm the last of the public had left and another couple of hours were spent talking with the other brewers. The evening ended in collaborative spirit with Jens, Glenn from Alvinne and Valter from Loverbeer creating some crazy sour blends from some of the 3 different brewers amazing wood aged creations.
We had a brilliant time over the two days, we loved what we saw of Norway and the setting and organisation of the festival couldn’t have been better. We had such a warm welcome from the other brewers and left with loads of new friends and great memories to take back home; we’re very hopeful we’ll be invited back next year.
Jens from Haandbryggeriet commented that a festival like this would not have been possible in Norway only a year before but judging on the response this year we have a feeling next years festival will be very busy indeed.