Sep. 12, 2012 - Issue #882: Down On The Farm
A nice cold one
Beer from across the Arctic ice floesMammut Pale Ale
Nanoq Beer, Narsaq, Greenland
$6.50 for 500 ml bottle
Most of the time I pick beer to review based upon my previous experience with it or its reputation as a quality beer. And then there are those times when I get enamoured by the story. This is one of those times.
A couple months ago I discovered that someone had imported into Alberta a couple of beer made by a brewery from Greenland. Greenland!! This arctic island has a total population of 55 000, less than the city of Medicine Hat. It is surprising enough to learn that they have a brewery at all, let alone one that can export beer to western Canada.
The story gets even wilder. The brewery is Nanoq Beer, from Narsaq, which is on the southern tip of Greenland. Narsaq has a population of 1600 people (a number which, sadly, has been declining over the last 20 years). In a North American context, that is an impossibly small location to open a brewery.
Nanoq opened in 2010, stunningly rescuing a previous failed effort from liquidation and dispersal. Clearly Greenlanders are determined to ensure a constant supply of beer through their interminable winters. The two bloody-minded entrepreneurs behind the company decided to export earlier this year.
The Mammut Pale Ale, their anchor beer, seems to be a British-inspired pale ale. It presents a medium gold with an admirable, consistent blanket of soft white head. The aroma gives off a distinctive fruit nose, including berry, cherry and plum. I also pick up some toffee malt sweetness and a touch of fruity hop aroma. Overall, the aroma is a bit flat for the style.
The flavour starts with a clear English fruitiness, which is sweet and light. In the middle some toffee malt character builds. I pick up a bit of wet paper oxidation, which I attribute to its long travels. In the finish the beer builds a floral and earthy hop. The hop is more about the flavour than the bitterness.
This is a decent beer, but as a pale ale it seems rather subdued. I appreciate it seems designed in the British tradition, which should be fruitier and less hop-forward. But even then it seems it could offer a little more. It is a pleasant beer that I imagine is even better fresh from the brewery. I just think, on the whole, it needs a little bit more of everything—especially hops—to really make its mark.
But they should be given some slack due to their story. I am still thrilled that I can report that I drank a beer from Greenland. V
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