Unbeknownst to most, blokes from Scandanavia were not “Vikings”. A common misconception: “Viking” is the anglicized version of the word “Vikingar”, which is actually more a job description than an ethnicity. Vikings were seafaring traders and raiders: to “go viking” was to go on a boat-ride and raid a coastal settlement. This, of course, gave the ancient Scandinavians a bad name, since they sometimes went off and killed people for their sheep.
Or, that could be another historical misconception. The evidence of Vikings raiding villages and towns are not what I’d call “reliable”, as in they were pamphlets of propaganda by the Catholic Church against “filthy heathens”. How often a viking would happen is a matter of debate, and I’m not an expert on the subject (yet). However, regardless of what is actually true, the image of the viking warrior is a fierce, bearded bastard with a bellyful of mead and a big fuckin’ axe. Not the most kindly image of big socialist Scandawegia, eh?
In any case, these introductions are mostly romanticism anyways. What we’re looking at is beer, not the battle-cries of sea-raiders. We want a glimpse of the beer culture of countries across the Atlantic, nations with histories as colorful as their banners. So, let’s get started with Sweden, which simultaneously seems appropriate (as most people’s perceptions of Scandanavia comes from Sweden), and it will get me a lot of hate from Norway, Denmark, or Iceland. Hate is fun, you see. Would help if I could find beer from those countries as well, but no matter.
Sweden is a place known for having a fuckload of vikings in their history, from the Swedes, Geats and Russ Tribes. Moreover, they had an empire, and one of the greatest Modern Military Generals in history: Gustavus Adolphus. He is credited with innovating battle and giving to Europe the methods of battle that would last until the First World War. But moreover, he was a brilliant statesman and revolutionized public education. All in the 1600s. What a guy.
So yeah, Sweden isn’t just the place where you get Meatballs, crappy furniture, and modern-day socialism. They also were great warriors and set the bricks of modern education. And Minecraft. Never forget Minecraft.
Anyways, we’re not here to blow smoke up Sweden’s ass. I want to try some of their beer, and evaluate it compared to all the drinks I’ve had before. I want to know if it justifies the stereotypical Swedish arrogance, which I’ve never really seen myself. Maybe I should go visit, and see if I can find the kinds of stellar ales or lagers I’ve been craving lately.
That said, I’m not the most informed about Swedish culture, and I’ve never had their beer before. I’m not sure if the beverage I tried is indicative of their beer on the whole, so I won’t make any assessments of culture like I did with Canada or the US of A.
However, I will say this: the beer I tried tasted curiously better out of a big fuckin’ horn than a typical lager glass. Which is both appropriate, and quite silly. The beer is from a brewery whose name cannot be typed on a typical English Keyboard, but I’ll try anyways: “Åbro Bryggi”. The beer is easy enough to type, though: “Mästerens”. Basted on the word “master” in there, I’m assuming it’s a higher caliber of beer, and not a cheap piece of shit.
Anyways, this lager is very straightforward for the most part, but my own experience indicates just how much certain types of lagers ought to be drunk from a horn. So let’s get into it, and raise your Horns!
Åbro Brygg Mästerens Gold Lager
Yes, I have a drinking horn. Four, in fact. These things are quite interesting, but for now, I’ll spare you the details. I’ll write a post for them later, describing what goes in them, how to take care of them, and what NOT to put in them to avoid the worst night over the toilet in your life.
Anyways, the can is very gold, and the alcohol percentage there indicates that it is on the potent side of lagers. That’s nice to see, but the words “Premium Gold” concern me. Those twin words on a beer-label instantly give me tremors of terror. I suppose in the Americas, premium means “cheap as fuck garbage horse pee”, and not “good quality”.
The beer, not really visible in the above buffalo chalice, is a light, golden colour. The head is typical for lagers: light, fizzy and flits away within moments. It looks clean and rather clear too, belying the high-alcohol content. That’s ignoring the flavour, of course.
In the horn, which obscures the tint of course, the head takes on a different character. It thickens, lasts a long while and the carbonation thins out. It’s surreal how the beer reacts to the warmer, porous horn. It almost resembles a darker-lager, or a nice pale ale, than a typical European lager.
This beer is of two characters. First, out of a glass, it has a sour malty nose. I would call it a “typical beer smell”, and nothing terribly special to write poems about. It’s far from, say, a bad smelling lager, but it isn’t a lavender-perfumed wench either.
The taste is also standard. Malty with notes of cereal, it has a decent lager flavour. I like it personally, particularly as a fan of easy-going lagers that still avoid the pitfalls of piss-taste. The finish is curious, though. It’s far more bitter than other lager’s I’ve tried, which tend towards peppercorn flavours. This one is more herby-bitter, like rosemary or sage. There’s where the quality reaches out: mild entry with a bitter, wintry finish.
However, pouring this thing into a horn takes it to a new level. The nose is largely the same, though the sour malt scent is masked by the horn’s own musk. Think tallow candles and bees-wax, and you got it. This gives a meaty edge to the beer, which translates into the flavour.
The bitterness is still there, perfuming the lager nicely as it leaves my tongue. But the entry is entirely different. Rather than the cereal malts, which someone more uncharitable than I would call “limp”, the horn lends it’s beefiness to the lager. No longer is the beer a mildly sweet, but mostly herby lager. The horn adds a throaty, meaty taste to the entry. It’s like the cereal malt was injected with steroids and went on an all-steak diet. It makes me want to try all of the lagers I’ve had before in that horn, to see what happens.
I will say this: the beer’s texture was not terribly different from both vessels. The glass kept the heavier carbonation, which kept the beer nice and refreshing on the palate. Any stickiness is boiled away with the carbonation, and the result is a clear, if tingly lager.
From the horn? It’s roughly the same. This sin’t a bad thing: Mästerens has the kind of texture you want in a lager, as well as the malty flavour and unique herbal finish. But the cleanliness matched with a meatier palate from my mead-horn? That kind of depth I expect to stick stubbornly to my tongue. The texture keeps the strong taste from being terribly obnoxious, and I’m glad it’s preserved in my secondary goblet.
This beer gave me two experiences. First, was a very decent, if fairly nondescript lager. I liked the herbal flavour alongside the cereal malts. The texture was just what I was looking for too, clearing out my palate. But it lacked a certain “umph” that I like. Can’t say I should expect that from every lager I drink, but whatever.
As for the horn, it vastly improves the flavour by adding much needed body to the beer. But I can’t evaluate or recommend the beer on the back of how Id rank it. Not everybody (as in, nobody at all) has six mead-horns to choose from, so ultimately, most people will care if it tastes good from a glass.
That said, if you have this lager, and you happen to own a large buffalo horn at hand, feel free to give it a try. You won’t be disappointed. Unless the horn isn’t cured properly. Then you’ll be very ill. But maybe that’s part of the fun: a Vikingy sense of danger.
- BERLY MALTY
- ALL OF DER HOOPS
- GET DER WATUR
- UN DER TERP YEEST
- BORK BORK BORK