First night of #openit: AEgir Bryggeri’s Julebrygg 2009

Open It! Wrote Mark Dredge, mult-award-winning beer writer. Mark is saying that this weekend, December 3-5, is the time to dig into the far reaches of our cellars, cupboards, garages and fridges and pull out that bottle we’ve all been saving for that special occasion. Then blog, tweet, or Facebook about it.

Brilliant idea, and not just applicable to beer. I intend to open a bottle of whisky on Sunday night, but the concept equally applies to wine, or any tipple you care for. On Friday, though, I started off with a beer:  AEgir Bryggeri’s Julebrygg 2009 (Christmas Brew, in translation).

I almost came into possession of this Norwegian Christmas beer during December 2009. Jonathan di Blasi, a fellow judging panel member in the whisky competition at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival runs a bar restaurant in Leikanger, Norway, kindly offered to source a very special bottle of whisky that I wanted to give to MaltBrotherInLaw. He personally drove it all the way to Stockholm with the intention that our paths might cross as I made my way up to the frozen north of Sweden to celebrate New Year.

There was space in the car, and as well as the Highland Park Hjarta whisky, there were two bottles of beer from the AEgir Bryggeri. Now, I realise this sounds more like a Sigur Ros track than an up-and-coming Norwegian micro brewery, but nevertheless, I was really looking forward to trying them. Sadly, last December’s weather conspired against us, and I didn’t manage to pick up the beers. It was September this year before I got hold of them, and well, that’s just not the right time of year to break open a Christmas beer, so into the store cupboard it went.

When Mark Dredge announced Open It! I knew one of my bottles to try would be the Julebrygg. Would it have survived a long car journey a plane trip and a year in storage? At 7% ABV, I had high hopes that the alcohol would have cushioned its journey. And so it proved.

A reassuring hiss as the cap came off, it poured a deep, dark chocoalte colour with a  creamy rocky head, and smelt very fresh, with aromas of malt loaf and beurre noisette. It tasted of malt loaf too, and reminded me in style of a British traditional winter warmer. Very full-bodied, too, almost like a silky chocolate mousse and a warming finish. It says on the bottle that it is made for drinking with (Scandinavian) Christmas food, but this would have been great with a traditional British xmas pud.

Follow the Open It! weekend and join in:
On Twitter, search for the hashtag #openit
On Facebook, look for the Open It! page or go here.

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