My favourite beer in the world is Denmark’s Tuborg. Like so many Nordic foodstuffs – pickled herring, brown beans, cloudberry jam – I don’t consume a huge amount of it and yet it still has my gastronomic imagination in a vice-like grip. It quenches like anything yet I’d feel guilty if I only stopped at one. But even then I don’t need a huge amount. It’s the stablemate of Carlsberg but feels a million times crispier and punchier. It’s proper cold yet demands your companionship.
In yeasty appeal terms, how does this all add up? The aim of mainstream brewers is to sell as much beer as possible – and yet this relatively mainstream beer, which is not extortionately priced, seems to me (though perhaps not everyone else) to be an inordinate triumph of quality over quantity. So many paradoxes and beverage subjectivities here that the Worldly Scandifriend, as befits his name, feels obliged to try and discuss other beery treats from the Nordics and elsewhere in order to gain a sense of perspective.
My local where I live in the UK is currently running the excellent Belhaven Burns Ale. It’s described as ‘almost toffee-like’ on the brewer’s official site, but I’d say it was a very balanced and finely-tuned blend of sugar, malt and watery stuff. It is a tribute to Scotland’s most famous poet, Robbie Burns, and as someone of part-Scots heritage I certainly appreciated it, but it placed my heart in the Highlands and my mind in memory of a vintage German dunkel beer at the same time.
Thanks to my local for continuing to run a ‘special ale of the month’ feature. It’s a great venue and they deserve a photo plug at the very least.