Brewer Abroad! Nick at Nøgne Ø Pt II

March 19, 2013, by Crafty Pint
Brewer Abroad! Nick at Nøgne Ø Pt II

A few weeks back we ran an article by Holgate brewer Nick Rhodes, who had not long touched down in Norway to commence a brewing internship with Nøgne Ø. It was part of a brewer exchange that has seen Nøgne Ø brewer Ingrid Skistad head in the opposite direction to spend a month at Holgate in Woodend. As part of the exchange, they brewed an imperial red ale at each other’s brewery – based on a recipe the two of them had worked on together via email.

Nick is now back in Australia and sent us a second article on his experiences in the middle of the Norwegian winter.

“The Holgate and Nøgne Ø brewer exchange collaboration beer is maturing as I write and should be hitting the taps by early April. It became even more of a collaborative effort then originally planned too. I got back [from Norway] a little earlier than expected so got to spend two days at Holgate with Ingrid where we brewed the last two batches of wort together.

“Before returning, the rest of my time at Nøgne Ø was cold and snowy but I’m not nearly over the novelty of it! After my first week, I got comfortable brewing solo and my second week was made up of four batches of bitter. This wort was destined for one of the offsite 20,000 litre unitanks – just a short tractor trip away…(see above) All the wort is transferred to a tank on a trailer for transport. I love the size of Nøgne Ø; it’s a bit of a brewer thing but I got a serious kick out of producing that much wort!

“Some work on the bottling line was good fun, as well as some tank cleaning, yeast cropping and repitching, and a look at the sake process.

“Above all, the brewery impressed me most with their unique approach to processing beer. They have a full time lab checking on the beer the entire way through from wort to package. This lab work gives Nøgne Ø the confidence to do away with filters, re-pitch yeast with consistent results, use barrels extensively, and do all this crazy stuff like ferment offsite and move beer on a tractor! It lets them know exactly how the beer is going, and when and where they may be making process errors. A solid lab is something all Aussie craft brewers should be looking in to.

“I was also impressed by how committed the crew at Nøgne Ø really are to craft beer: they’re not scared of getting beers wrong and stay true to their passion. Hanging out in such an environment has been a great experience and I can say I’ve developed a lot as a brewer – even in such a short space of time. Like I said in my first article there are no secrets here, just a well-rounded knowledge of brewing and a passion for craft beer.

“My trip was also filled with a few nights eating and drinking with other brewers and some locals – I even had roast moose for Sunday dinner…

“Ingrid’s time at Holgate gave us some insights into things we could not just do better, but differently, as her knowledge is extensive (with a low points of her trip being the VB she was offered at a BBQ). She’s been in Queensland scuba diving at the moment but keep an eye out at the Fed Square Microbreweries Showcase [March 20 and 21].

“Overall the exchange was a great experience, Holgate and Nøgne Ø have formed a relationship that we hope doesn’t end here. Nøgne Ø founder Kjetil Jikiun, Paul Holgate and head brewer Ian Morgan are all AIBA judges this year so the friendship is only looking like it will get stronger.

“What’s more, I’m very intrigued to see a Norwegian summer so this may not be the last Nøgne Ø beer I brew…”

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