Subscription boxes have exploded in popularity over the last few years. You can get practically anything conveniently delivered to your front door on a semi-regular basis – recipe kits, socks, even pet apparel, so it comes as no surprise that beer boxes are here to stay and the choice is plentiful.
I conducted a fair amount of research on subscription boxes back in 2016, eyeing up the various offerings and propositions, and after much deliberation I landed on Beer52. They are the leading craft beer box club and for good reason. For £24 a month you get 8 beers, an interesting snack (Previous nibbles including crispy seaweed and toasted pitta chips) and a copy of the ever-enjoyable Ferment magazine. The beers are frequently based around a theme, which I find to be a nice touch that helps reassure that the box wasn’t put together by someone blindly stumbling around a bottle shop.
The latest box to arrive at my door was a showcase of all things Norwegian. With the UK beer scene on fire right now it’s hard to justify straying away from home, however, that’s exactly why I was thankful to receive this Scandinavian celebration. I look to these boxes for discovery, and that’s exactly what I was given.
I admit that my knowledge of Norwegian craft breweries prior to this was practically zero. Lervig were on my radar, but I had yet to sample any of their range. Luckily the aforementioned Ferment magazine had my back and was here to help fill a few fjord sized knowledge gaps, featuring not one, not two, but three interviews with brew masters behind leading Norse craft breweries.
The box itself featured 4 beers each from Ægir and Amundsen. At first I was a tad disappointed I was only going to be experiencing such a small sample of what the country had to offer, but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. It meant I was really going to get a feel for each brewery and what beer means to them. Here are some of my highlights:
Ink & Dagger – Modern Day IPA, 6.5% – Amundsen
Before I dive into the beer itself, I first need to complement Amundsen on their eye catching designs. They are bold and colourful and packed to the brim with detail. All designs are the work of Peter John De Villiers, check him out.
Lovely little IPA here. The aroma is full of citrus, grapefruit, mango but with a grassy edge. The taste was bittersweet, with plenty of tropical and floral flavours bursting through. Not as hop forward as what you’d find over here, but the beer was crisp, punchy and overall extremely well rounded.
Sumbel – Porter, 4.7% – Ægir
Not your usual summer style, but boy did I love this. Look at that colour! Obsidian in a glass. Intensely rich aroma; it almost reminded me of a strong fortified wine, with cherries, dark chocolate and coffee coming through. The beer itself was rich, sweet and velvety smooth. To top it off it had a beautiful aftertaste that made you want to keep going back for more.
Everyday hero – Session IPA, 4.7% – Amundsen
Session indeed. There was virtually no bitterness to this thing. Fruity, crisp, refreshing. The term ‘quaffable’ comes to mind.
Needless to say Norwegian beers have made for a pleasant distraction from the UK scene and have certainly piqued my curiosity; I could see a 2018 expedition on the cards.