Aass Bryggeri - Juleøl Premium
- ABV: 6.5%
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 31.5
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Flute, Tulip
“Juleøl” is a style of Christmas beer popular in Norway and other northern European countries. It’s usually a bit like a bock, a bit like a dunkel lager, and a bit like a Vienna lager, and it can be spiced or unspiced. It might seem odd to feature a Christmas beer a few months after Christmas, but when we sampled this brew in late 2016 we liked it and decided to work to get a batch of this rare style made and imported for our members this month anyway. Why not? There are no rules against good beer! On to the pour… Juleøl Premium presents a deep red-amber color topped with beige foam. We picked up plenty of malty notes in the aroma including rich caramel, brown bread, brown sugar, and hints of chocolate, all overlaid with a dash of herbal, spicy hops. In the flavor, look for plenty of scorched caramel and toasted bread, bolstered by some dark chocolate around the edges. There’s a moderate residual sweetness here, easily countered by a significant addition of spicy noble hops which add balance and intrigue. We also liked the subtle fruity character underpinning the flavor profile, reminiscent of dried fig. Aass recommends pork, lamb, rabbit, cheese, and sweet desserts for a pairing. Cinnamon apple pork chops would make an interesting accompaniment, as would gingerbread cookies. Skål!
Located in the city of Drammen (current population ~63,000), along a river of the same name, lies Aass Bryggeri, Norway’s oldest active brewery. Originally founded by Ole Pehrson in 1834 and sold to Halvor Ellingsen in 1842, the company was initially involved in several industries in addition to brewing, including baking, household goods, and timber, which was floated down the river from the rich nearby forests. The Aass family comes into the picture after 16-year-old Poul Lauritz Aass, from a farming family living in the village of Skotselv (current population ~700), made his way to Drammen to start his adult life. After trade school, he and a partner bought the brewery business in 1860, and within six years he was the sole owner.
After Poul’s death in 1904, ownership of the brewery passed to his children, with his son, Jens, taking over operations. Educated in the art and science of brewing in Germany, Jens set about modernizing the brewery, introducing machinery to the brewhouse and replacing horses with motor vehicles for local distribution.
The third generation, Detlev, took over from his father around the time of World War II. Despite various hardships including rationing and a multitude of material shortages, the brewery survived, and in 1957 Aass gained a bottling license for Coca Cola which continued all the way until 2000. Detlev’s youngest son, Terje, took over the brewery in 1979, ushering in an era of expansion and export growth. The fifth and current generation, Christian August Knudsen Aass, took over in 2013.
Aass Bryggeri is one of just a handful of independent family breweries remaining in Norway. They employ around 100 workers who craft a fairly wide array of beverages. In addition to their main beer business, Aass produces cider, mineral water, and aquavit, a spiced liquor which is a Scandinavian specialty.
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