Here's a Viking invasion to celebrate.
Historically, Scandinavian beers have largely been weak lagers that are about as pleasant as the region's winters. But lately, Nordic brewers have begun following American craft brewers' lead by making challenging, inventive beers worthy of a voyage to your bottle shop's import aisle.
Denmark Peripatetic Danish brewer Mikkel Borg (pictured) concocts his uncompromising, genre-busting Mikkeller beers at breweries in Scandinavia, Europe and America. His hits include Beer Geek Breakfast, a morning-friendly stout with deep flavors of coffee and dried cherries, and the balanced Monk's Brew, a strong, malty Belgian-style dark ale.
Norway Haandbryggeriet ("hand brewery") devises intriguing bottles like the smoky Norwegian Wood, a traditional farmhouse ale flavored with juniper berries and twigs, and the Dark Force, a potent wheat stout with hops aplenty. Compatriot Nøgne Ø ("naked isle") makes a bold IPA to rival California's finest, as well a rich, roasty imperial stout that's divine over vanilla ice cream.
Sweden The Nils Oscar brewery cultivates its own grain to create the complex, toffee-nuanced Rökporter, which is gently flavored with beech-wood-smoked malts. By contrast, the burnished-orange Kalasöl is nutty and grassy, a great mate for rich stews or game.
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