We got an overnight ferry from Copenhagen through Kattegat and Skagerrak into the Norwegian fjords and on to Oslo. It was definitely a ferry not a cruise ship. The ballroom was full of inebriated Scandinavians clapping hands in a large circle to the Venga bus is coming.
Needless to say I was in my element.
After a surprisingly comfortable night in a cramped cabin it was a beautiful still morning to wake up gliding across the fjords.
We moored up at Oslo harbour and found our way to the hotel. After dumping our stuff we made our way to the beautiful Opera house.
It’s a splendid building with an interior full of Scandinavian designs.
Even more impressive you can walk up the roof to the top, I’ve never seen anything like it but it’s a fantastic way to see the views of the harbour and the city itself.
We were getting pretty peckish and it was a lovely day so we decided to get something to eat on one of the outdoor tables on the waterfront.
Oslo was looking pretty pricey, we had already noticed a wrapped plastic cheese sandwich sets you back 7 quid, but the place we found, Olivia’s, was a really pleasant looking Italian with a very reasonable lunch time meal offer.
To cap it all, after a lovely pizza, pasta combo I notice they had a couple of Italian beers from my list!
Ke To Re Porter has all the wonderful flavours of a stout but in a milder version. A really nice daytime stout, this is actually brewed with a little tobacco for some sweet aroma. Though you wouldn’t know unless you were told to be honest.
Re Ale was the second beer I had there and the second beer from Italian Brewer Birra del Borgo. This was one of Leonardo Di Vincenzos first beers and it was the one that made him famous. It’s amber in colour, and light for a 6.4% ABV. It has a fleeting flavour of blood orange and just about pick up able bitter grapefruit.
After lunch we walked up to the Amundsen Bryggeri & Spiseri. It was really like an old English pub before everything was modernised and had one of the smallest breweries I have ever seen in what I can only describe as a glass cupboard at the end of the bar.
Amundsen, I presume named after the Norwegian geezer who was the first person to the South Pole, are very cool at the moment with their brightly designed cans backing up their exciting range of beers like Everyday Hero IPA which is a strong example of the style.
It’s pricey there though. Cor dear is it pricey. Michelle had a house brewed Porter. Not Imperial just standard and seeing as it was brewed in house so minus transportation and maybe packaging you would think it might be less in price than others, but you’d be wrong. It came in at a princely £6.60 a half, £13.20 a pint.
I saw an American beer on my list Oskar Blues G’Knight. It was a can, it’s not that hard to get hold but still set me back £15.60!Christ alive. We were starting to feel glad we were only here for one day!
The beer itself is an Imperial Red IPA and it’s very red. Its kind of scented without being perfumey. Loads of caramel and hops, resiny yet still refreshing.
I hadn’t found a single Norwegian beer I was after yet so we decided to push on as I only needed 3 from here.
We made our way to Dr Jekyll’s pub and I really liked it. It was practically a theme pub as they went all out on the horror memorabilia. It had a super cool toilet which is hidden behind a bookcase like you see in the big film houses. Nicely laid out it felt like a dangerous pub as in it seemed to be inviting people to get very drunk there. They had a great beer list too, a very helpful young lady behind the bar and some Norwegian beers I was looking for.
The first was Ardenne Blond. This is a saison that is unmistakably made with Brett yeast. It’s clearly very refreshing on a summers day but I found it a little tart.
My second felt like the polar opposite. Dark Horizon is a thick very strong (16%) dessert beer. It’s double fermented with brown sugar and coffee. I thought it had loads of interesting flavours but the one that was most pronounced was frazzles the crisps with loads of bacon coming through from somewhere.
The night was drawing in early as to be expected in Scandinavia, so we ventured forth into the darkness to find the last pub which I hoped would hold the last beer I needed.
We arrived at Handverker Stuene and our initial impression was that it was the most authentic bar we had been in all night. It was very busy but that may have been due to the theatre next door. It had a great layout, feeling like a traditional Scandinavian inn, though I’m not sure what that’s like, just a hunch. They had a great selection of Norwegian beers including my final beer I should try before I die from this country I was increasingly enjoying.
Norwegian Wood was our second beer from HaandBryggeriet which means hand brewery with Ardenne Blonde being the first. This, just like Ardenne, is real craft beer. Sculpted using locally harvested juniper branches, German and English malts and American hops. This like many others I have tried on this journey are a million miles away from commercial continental lagers I grew up smashing my way through. I found it had a bitter sharpness with a smoky mouldy orange coming through. If the Dark Horizon reminded me of Frazzles this was definitely more in the Walkers Smokey Bacon camp.
So there we have it, Oslo. Very clean, very friendly, very expensive. So much more to do than our little skim of the service, it felt relaxed, with a city confidence of a well maintained infrastructure.
Worth a visit, but again, bring your wallet. Bowl of chips? £16. Forget about it.