Nissefar | HaandBryggeriet

very good
167 Ratings
no score
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Brewed by:

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Sigmund on 06-17-2007

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Ratings: 167 |  Reviews: 99
Photo of andant
5/5  rDev +29.2%

Photo of Jwren5
5/5  rDev +29.2%

Photo of brewcrew76
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%
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.

 593 characters

Photo of Vylo
4.72/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of mrquartetman
4.67/5  rDev +20.7%
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.

 921 characters

Photo of nickfl
4.66/5  rDev +20.4%
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 +18.1%
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.

 1,611 characters

Photo of zonker17
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of PearlyGates
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
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.

 807 characters

Photo of Chrily
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of rderedin
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of taigor
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of GbVDave
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
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!

 1,146 characters

Photo of RickS95
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

 1,331 characters

Photo of sweetLew
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

 996 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.31/5  rDev +11.4%
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

 496 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
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

 685 characters

Photo of Snellgg5
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of mdillon86
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of karatebartender
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
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

 510 characters

Photo of Arborescence
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of geocool
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of Bubba83
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
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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Nissefar from HaandBryggeriet
3.87 out of 5 based on 167 ratings.
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