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Nissefar - HaandBryggeriet

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

97 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 97
Hads: 164
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 14.25%
Wants: 7
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
HaandBryggeriet visit their website

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Sigmund on 06-17-2007

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (37) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 97 | Hads: 164
Photo of brewcrew76
4.75/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Batch 98
Brewed October 2007
Best before October 2010

A - Black with chestnut hues and a thin cocoa head with oily looking strings of lace.

S - Dark fruits, chocolate covered cherries, brown sugar, maple syrup, semi sweet chocolate and stale black coffee as it warms.

T - Leather and tobacco leaf mixed with red tea, dark fruits, nice sweet milk chocolate kick in the middle changing to bitter chocolate in the finish. Very complex.

M - Thin to medium with light carbonation. Very creamy.

D - This goes down way too easy. Seemed more like a Baltic porter to me but very nice and complex.

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Photo of mrquartetman
4.67/5  rDev +21%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer from Drammen, Norway is also known as "Father Christmas" (a very loose translation of "Nissefar").

Appearance: A rich dark reddish brown. It pours with no head at all, worrisome in a foreign beer (has it gone flat?), but in this case, of no consequence with respect to taste.

Smell: Big malt aroma, quite toasty, with some alcohol wafting off the top. A most inviting aroma.

Taste: A top-flight deep, malty taste that persists on the palate. The Haandbryggeriet web site terms it "very complex, packed with the tastes and smells of Christmas, like chocolate, caramel and raisins." The caramel character is certainly there, the chocolate less so. A case could be made that the fruitiness is raisiny, but it's more intense than just raisins.

Mouthfeel: This is a high gravity beer with strong malt character and tastes as dense as it is.

Drinkability: Lovely to quaff, but a bit expensive to drink a lot of.

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Photo of nickfl
4.66/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Pours with a nearly complete lack of head, just some loose, fisheye bubbles. The body is black and opaque.

S - A nice, dark aroma of chicory, smoke, and chocolate. Some light spice notes of cinnamon and allspice. Earthy, dark and chocolate-like the aroma is much more encouraging than the looks.

T - Dark malt and chocolate flavors with notes of caramel, chicory, and bittersweet chocolate. Some light acidic notes enhance the mild coffee essence in the middle and lighten the caramel sweetness. The beer bursts open in the finish with a lush complexity full of chocolate, dark fruit and subtle spices. Lingering chocolate and smoke flavors caress the tongue and lend the aftertaste great depth.

M - Smooth, medium-thick body, very low carbonation, and a semi-sweet finish.

D - Based on the apperance and the readily apparent lack of carbonation, I was expecting the worst form this beer. I was decidedly wrong. The aroma is quite nice with a well balanced collection of rich, velvety chocolate and spice character, but it only begins to hint at the flavor. The beginning is relatively light and slightly acidic with just some minor caramel flavors, but it comes to life in the finish with a wonderful depth of flavor. There is a dark, bittersweet and earthy cocoa flavor that compares in richness and intensity to only a few other beers that I have ever had. It speaks volumes about this brewery that they have created a beer that is able, at this relatively modest level of alcohol, to display flavors that I have only ever seen in over the top, extreme imperial stouts. What's more, these flavors take on a different sort of clarity and depth because of the light body and relative simplicity of this beer. I think this beer is quite an unusual achievement, or it would be for almost any other brewery, but I have come to expect nothing less than excellence from HaandBryggeriet.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.57/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nissefar (a word apparently meaning "Father Christmas" in Norwegian) is a holiday ale, and the batch from which my bottle sprung was brewed over two years ago--so there's no telling what time has done to the drink. Still, the nose is delicious and Christmassy, filled with huge dollops of figs, raisins, caramelized brown sugars, and even not-so-subtle jolts of port and brandy, with just a shovelful or two of chocolate malt thrown in for good measure.

On the tongue, the beer is just as strong as the nose hinted at, though the flavor profile is far different, for here the deeper fig and raisin notes are initially subsumed under a strong brandy river which carries hints of Flemish sourness (which I suspect might not be quite as present in a fresher bottle). A goodly smattering of hops is also present, providing a strange, though tasty bitter grapefruit counterpoint to the brandy. Late in the mouthful, after the sugars have died off a bit, the chocolate malts and fig flavors are allowed to shine through, fading to pure chocolate malt at the end--though still accompanied by the grapefruit hops. Aftertaste is mainly chocolate malt and hops, and lingers for a long time. Mouthfeel is medium-light, which is strange considering the power of the flavors, and carbonation is medium-light.

Overall, even though my bottle's "Best before" date was three months ago, this is fantastic beer: carefully, lovingly crafted by people who obviously put their hearts and souls into their work. I look forward to my next encounter with this brew--hopefully with a fresher bottle, and on a cold Christmas morning.

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Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
4.5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours black as hell with a mocha colored two finger head that actually takes a few minutes to go subside in my long hammer ipa glass.
big roasty chocolate with tons of black fruit anywhere from rasin and fig to black cherry and perhaps just a slight bit of booze hidden in there.
most of the fruit stays in the nose and just gives way to chocolate and its probably some of the smoothest most delicious chocolate ever. theres a little bit of sweetness initially bit it quickly disappears after each sip. just a light touch of carbonation is perfect for this beer, and although is listed as an american porter, i feel its just a little bit bolder than most other of the same style, that ive experienced anyways.
drinkability is fantastic. i could enjoy it any day, night, or for friggin breakfast. total yum.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a St. Feuillien chalice.

Batch NR: 98
Brygget: Okt. 07
Best før: Okt. 10

A: Pours a deep, dark brown with the top 1/2" taking on an almond-y hue. Creamy dark khaki-colored head gives way to a bubbly ring and a faint whispy skim. Ropes and specks of lace are left behind.

S: Not at all subtle aromas of ripe dark fruit, molassas, cherry, dark chocolate, brown sugar, anise, and deeply roasted malt. Also noticed a very subtle boozy aroma like whisky or bourbon.

T: Big dark fruit and chocolate flavors with a healthy dose of tangy cherry, blackened malt, dark roast coffee, molassas, licorice, and cocoa. Oddly enough, a tart and lemon-y citrus flavor pops out during the finish and compliments all of the sweet and savory goodness going on before it.

M: Typical Porter thinness when first poured. Thickens considerably as it warms. Really cool mixture of sweet, semi-sweet, dry, and roasty.

D: I couldn't put down the glass! Every sip brings on a new subtle nuance. This brewery seems to have the midas touch with everything I've tried from them so far. I'm dying to find more of their bottled offerings!

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Photo of RickS95
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It's awfully black with just the slightest bits of brown mixed in. While it might be a shade lighter around the edges, the light gets stuck and can't make it through. The head is light tan and fleeting. It's got a creamy look, but it's gone quickly with a light lace left behind.

The smell just explodes. It's a concoction of dark malts, chocolate, coffee and licorice. The scent is nothing exactly I'd associate with the holidays, it's an exception smelling beer.

The taste is like the smell only muted a bit. It's still a malt bomb, but all the ingredients are on their best collective behavior. Very malty with a slight tag-team fight of chocolate and coffee. Some hop presence in the finish, deep in the finish, provides some balance.

There's a lot of complexity and layers in this beer. It starts off sweet and thick. As it works its way back, the bitterness builds from the chocolate and coffee before finishing strong from the hops. It's viscous and sweet, it's bitter and full-bodied. The alcohol sends only a subtle message, just to show you it's there. The tongue is left slightly coated so you feel and taste the beer long after it's left your mouth.

While I have no idea how this is a holiday beer, I really liked it. It's got a stout or strong porter taste and feel. It's certainly not cheap, but it was very good.

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Photo of sweetLew
4.35/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Father Christmas has brewed up his winter blessings and sent it straight from his dedicated little elves in Norway. Everything the brewers from HaandBryggeriet concoct seems to recall a rich, hearty adventure into Viking territory - Nissefar is no exception.

The beer pours a deep reddish brown with a thin but robust tan head. Scents of an earthy and woody malts are subtle, but it's the brew's taste and mouthfeel that bring the Christmas cheer. The first sensation is one of a sharp sweetness, that fades and washes away as the rich maltiness spreads over the palate. Faint alcohol and hop character are detectable within the complexity, along with some fig and date fruitiness, all well balanced for a dynamic drinking experience. My chestnuts are roasting on this open fire.

At just over 7% alcohol, Nissefar is well drinkable and would pair well with a hearty winter meal; skip the milk and leave some Nissefar out for Santa this year!

Sample was fresh, brewed Sep. '11. Procured at ØL.

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Photo of brentk56
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a brown color with a modest head that leaves a few shards behind

Smell: Licorice, caramel, subtle smoke and dark fruit

Taste: The licorice adds depth to the caramel flavors, up front, with the dark fruit flavors rounding out the profile in the middle; after the swallow, the smoke adds another dimension but the finish adds a holiday fruitcake character

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A really interesting beer that shows a range of flavor

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.29/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A: jet black, opaque, cloudy, rose-tinted edges - creamy-foamy, tan-colored head with decent retention - is this unfiltered?...sloppy-looking - somewhat ample lace

S: coffee with cream, milk chocolate - prunes and mild ethanol emerge later

T: chocolate out the ass - roast coffee supporting well, mellow and smooth - granola-like malt flavors - definite black cherry and possibly rosemary

F: velvety-soft, fullish body - filling, yet it drops off wonderfully - could benefit from a little more viscosity, however, its current state certainly lends itself to better drinkability

O: another very enjoyable dark beer from HB - quite satisfying and arguably one of their best dark ales

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Okay so I know enough not to expect your typical old ale here as its Haand...
nice deep brown amber pour with quick head. Booze chocolate aromas...some fruit notes.
taste is where this brew shines...chocolate with lots of wood and fruit and a hint of funk. Its not nearly as acidic as most haand...but its got a funk for sure. Lots of leathery chocolate...
really super smooth mouthful..not even realizing its 7%.
overall a really nice brew.
yes its miles away from Bois and Kuhnhenn but its still a great brew

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Photo of Bubba83
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch Number 98. Served at 45 degrees into a snifter. Poured very quickly to obtain a two finger-widths head. It's the darkest brown color I've ever seen, yet somehow it's not black. Mocha colored head that dissipates quick to a thin rim with fine bubbles and spotty lacing.

I smell chocolate, smoke, pecans, caramel, raisins, a hint of alcohol and some various faint spices.

The taste caught me by surprise, much richer, and flavorful than I had expected. The first thing I pick up on is yogurt covered raisins, followed by more dark fruits over caramel. Chocolate/vanilla follow and an undertone of deep smokey/roasty malts develops slowly. Finishes upbeat with some vibrant spice.

Thick stuff, but not overly so, it's chewy, velvety, and a joy to swirl around the mouth. It could be a little more carbonated perhaps, but I'm just nitpicking because it's really got a great feel.

Drinks well, there's a little warmth in the finish but it's pretty smooth. Definitely has a different character than most American Porters, and I really dig the risks they took in creating the unique flavor profile. Probably the fruitiest porter I've had yet, great balance though and a real treat. Seek this one out, it's underrated.

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Photo of mlazzaro
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Batch #169 500 ml bottle
Brewed Aug. 08
Best before Aug. 10

This beer is technically "expired" - Cellared longer than expected (forgot about it). I think I'm fine aging an old ale 4 years.

Smells of fruity yeast and caramel malt. Slightly oxidized alcohol aroma. Interesting. Tan head over a dark and murky black beer. Brown around the edges in the light. Head didn't hold very well.

Flavors have sizable range and are curiously balanced. Ashy charcoal + dark caramel malts. Slightly sweet finish. True fruit coming from yeast, very raspberry-like. Hop presence is mild, and found in suiting bitterness.

Thinner mouthfeel than I expected, and sweetness is strong but not overbearing. Strange that the flavors are darker until the end you get a punch of sugar cane (bright sweetness). Warming to the esophagus from booze content. Smooth mouthfeel hides ABV well. Mild carbonation which I appreciate.
Pretty good beer.

I always appreciate a born on date. But I think I will decide when my beer expires, this was delicious.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

wow, what an interesting and delicious beer. one heck of a take on holiday beer. dark dark brown in color, hardly any head, but it doesn't need one to impress me. its rich and silky looking, more like a big porter than an American old ale, with minimal light moving through. the nose is oddly smoked, much like the bestefar they make, with some honey sweetness and a huge roasty body, dark and chalky. the taste is similar, with a short lived campfire vibe for a minute before bitter dark, and finally sweet dark malt flavors come in waves. the finish is dry for the looks and style, with a sharp fusel alcohol untidiness. I like the complexity, depth, and richness of this beer an awful lot. not something I could drink a whole lot of, but I surely appreciate its uniqueness. i don't get the tartness others did, this was smooth all the way for me. in what I can only imagine to be freezing cold Norwegian winters, this is a beer I would want to have on hand. I would strongly recommend it for the holiday season here in the usa. it changes what I thought old ale could be, excellent product.

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Photo of dgilks
4.23/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Opaque dark brown colour with no real head. Okay.

Rich, dark fruit aroma. Lots of almost rum and raisin notes. Good toffee aroma. Nice.

Sweet malt with plenty of caramel and toffee. Dark fruit abounds and some spice notes add interest. Moderately bitter which cleanses the palate.

Medium body with moderately low carbonation. Nice.

A tasty Old Ale. Good fruit, malt and spice balance and integration,

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Photo of kmo1030
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a dark oily black with a creamy tan head that proves to be pretty durable.
a chocolatey molasses hits you first when you take a sniff. dark malts come next, with a few touches of anise. with warmth the chocolate turns into a more milk chocolatey aroma, and significant dark fruit comes out.
the taste begins in much the same way with a large dark roasted chocolate component. following that is a rich dark molasses flavor, with osme subtle dark fruitiness containing raisin mostly. the is some tobbacco leaf sweetness coupled with some smokiness towards the finish. the is a moderate bitterness cleaning things up at the back with some floral and herbal hop flavors. just a bit of that porter tang towards the back and finish. very nice. reminds one of a baltic porter, with a certain crispness to it.
the mothfeel is full but seems deceptively lighter partially from the way the taste acts upon it, and partially from the delicate but active carbonation.
the drinkability is quite good. it's one of those beers you keep in your hand until it's finished, which is undoubtedly fairly quickly. i wish i had picked up another bottle. this isn't even i style i'm that fond of, but this is a must try.

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Photo of goblue3509
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with a thick khaki colored head which leaves some nice lace on the glass. The aroma is of chocolate but then the aroma of sweet dark fruits, raisins, and plums. The taste follows suit, there is a chocolate backbone but then a belgian sweetness takes over before a big deep flavor of dark fruits takes place. There are raisins, plums, and red grapes that dance over the tongue. The mouthfeel is thick and moderately carbonated. Overall this is a very good beer, the taste is big and bold, it is a very complex solid beer.

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Photo of corby112
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes:

Pours a very dark chestnut brown color with a thin half finger tan head that quickly dissipates leaving only minimal spots of lacing. Visible carbonation bubbling up.

Roasted malt aroma with a prominent dark fruit presence. Hints of cherry, plum, raisin date and fig. There's also some nice peppery spice, especially cinnamon and peppermint, in the nose.

Medium bodied and very quaffable with a nice balance of roasty malt, sweet dark fruit notes and peppery spiciness. The dark fruit notes are prominent with hints of sour cherry, plum, raisin and fig. This is countered by the sightly roasted chocolate/caramel malt flavor resulting in a slight sweet creamy feel mid palate. There's also a good amount of peppery spice with hints of cinnamon and peppermint. I'm also picking up a slight medicinal syrup flavor before a dry and slightly tart finish. Very nice.

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Photo of popery
4.2/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark malts, sour, very low carbonation, Nissefar is probably not a beer that will make everyone's Christmas wishlist, but I think it's great. The beer pours an opaque coffee black with a very small mocha head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is in the fruity stout/porter malt range with some vanilla, oak and faint souring. The flavor is sweet and sour with a soft hop bite in the finish. The mouthfeel is smooth, like drinking a beer pre-carbonation. Nissefar is a different and enjoyable experience if you don't mind some sour in your flat porter.

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Photo of falloutsnow
4.19/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from John's Grocery in Iowa City, IA
Bottled 07.09.10
Poured into a standard US pint glass

Nissefar combines smoked and roasted malt to very satisfactory conclusions in this winter-themed beer. The overall impression is of a sweet-smoke-stout with well-defined flavors that stand out, alongside a truly smooth and enjoyable mouthfeel that has both the right heft and carbonation levels. A definite one to revisit for sure.

Pours a very nice, medium-intensity tan head of super-dense, small bubbles reaching about 2-3cm. Head has excellent retention, taking many minutes to sink to a thick cap atop the beer. Leaves excellent lacing in its wake. Body is a dark brown to black, with a slightly lighter amber-brown color around the edges when held to a light. Carbonation is still visible streaming along the sides of the glass.

Aroma is pleasantly of roasted and smoked malt, not as intense as Aecht Schlenkerla's brews, but still noticeable This is supported by malt sweetness, mostly caramel, and some sweet cream component as well. Slight metallic (iron) tinge to back of aroma.

Tastes opens with some dark malt sweetness that quickly transitions to roasted malts, cream, and a bit of chocolate on the front of the palate. Smoked malt appears most at mid-palate, which becomes the central character that the sweetness, roastedness, and chocolate revolve around. This smoked flavor induces a mild sourness that prevents the other, sweeter flavors from becoming cloying. Closes out with chocolate syrup, leading to creamy roasted malts. Aftertaste is of mildly bitter roasted malts, char, smoke and coffee with cream.

Beer is medium bodied with fairly light, though still noticeable, carbonation, which produces a very smooth and slightly creamy overall mouthfeel. Phenols and ethanol provide very slight spiciness, appropriate for this winter-themed beer. The finish is very dry, again, seemingly on target for a roasted, smoky stout-like ale.

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Photo of MsRif
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, PA. Poured a dark brown color with a minimal tan head that retained well, leaving spotty lacing. Had an aroma of dark chocolate, sweet malts, dark fruits and spices. Very enticing. Tasted primarily of dark chocolate, dark fruits and spices. Slightly yeasty and boozy.

Between medium and full bodied with low carbonation. Very drinkable...best saved for the end of a session due to the fullness in body.

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Photo of rtepiak
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i shouldn't have read this originally. this was much better than given off to be.

this was a winter warmer style porter quality beer with a sweetness of a aged hop quality. afterall. the hop was about a year and some old at this pine... but hopping resembled something of a tangerine citrus. nice and sweet chocolate covered citrus. palate was that but not as syrupy as expected. rather lean and quick finish of something some bright. note of tangerine, chocolate, clove, and fruit cake sugar. dessert... and simple fruit character.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle conditioned, 500 ml. Very dark colour, nearly black. Large brown head. Delightful aroma of roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee, prunes, caramel and oak. Flavour is not quite as complex but still good, bitter roasty and coffee notes combined with bittering hops dominate, on a background of dark bitter sweet chocolate, hints of English liquorice. Roasty bitter aftertaste. Anyway, this is a very fine effort from Haandbryggeriet. Not a beer for the traditional Scandinavian Christmas dinner, but try it if you have chocolate pudding for dessert - or simply enjoy it on its own!

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Photo of Gehrig
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the magnificent Crane Alley in Champaign, IL.

Two lush fingers of mocha froth top a deep, dark brown body, with some lacing on the pint glass; nice looking beer. Good, roasted malt nose with plenty of fruity, berry aromas. The chocolate smell is most welcome.

Good taste, subtly complex, with this being malt forward, as it should be. Chocolate, caramel, a small bit of coffee bean (wish it were more) are present, nicely so and particularly prominent in the first half, with a good, fruity second half especially in the finish. The sweet fruit and rich, roasted malt interact very well, and the creamy mouthfeel works wonders here.

I found this to be a really good porter, very accessible and enjoyable, and the fruit was a welcome surprise and element. Very well done, and I'd love to have more of this and other wares from HaandBryggeriet in the future.

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Photo of bashiba
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a deep dark brown with a thick and creamy head.

The smell is loaded with rich dark chocolate and smokey roasted malts.

The flavor is very rich and malty. Loads of milk chocolate with hints of vanilla and caramel. A bit of dark smokey bitterness balances out the sweetness nicely.

The mouthfeel is creamy and rich.

Very nice. Almosy desert like in richness.

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Nissefar from HaandBryggeriet
87 out of 100 based on 97 ratings.