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Nissefar | HaandBryggeriet

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very good
98 Reviews
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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Reviews: 98 | Ratings: 166
Photo of popery
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
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 Richardberg
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glasses. Opaque, cloudy, dark brown with a huge head of tan foam. Slightly toasty malts, sour fruit, oak. Interesting combo, not quite what I expected -- not in a bad way, just not sure the flavor combo really works, especially when you put an elf on the label.

Medium bodied feel, mild carbonation, nice & creamy/smooth, didn't linger on the tongue as long as I'd like though. Alcohol bite was about right for a decently crafted 7% -- if you hid it completely, you wouldn't keep Santa warm, after all.

Enjoyed this beer but not for the expected reasons...will search elsewhere for true winter ale satisfaction.

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Photo of TLove
3.19/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Very interesting, fruity, lambic-porter blend with a sour, smoked malts in the body. A bit off for an American porter, but this beer is structurally adept and overall, pretty damn good.

The body is a deep, dark brown with a very think glass-clinger of a head that disappears very quickly. A sour, fermented fig and tones of chocolate and some smoky spices. It is a very rich malty body with a nutty, raisiny, caramely cherry flavor from front to back. Alcohol is present, but not particularly strong. Carbonation is limited, a creamy mouthfeel. Has a taint of vanilla and a tingly, soda-like tingle on the tongue.

Starts to come to its own as it warms. Matures as a winter warmer, but finishes like a spiced ale or smoked lambic.

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Photo of jjayjaye
3.15/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An aggressive pour yields negligible collar and spotty lacing patterns from this dark brown beverage. The smell from the bottle neck was chocolaty but from the pour a highly roasted malt and coffee aroma. The mouth is bright and tangy from a sour character. The first bit of taste flags the burnt and smokey flavor that becomes monolithic. Its equally as tart as the feel. Not my favorite.

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Photo of philipquarles
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle from 8/08. Pours opaque, very dark brown with a small beige head. Strong chocolaty, dark malt on the nose, along with some dark fruit. Slightly tangy. Dark roasty taste, again with plenty of cocoa. Slight sourness that works really well here, surprisingly. Dry finish. Medium, creamy body. Really pleasant-drinking, if unconventional, porter.

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Photo of YankChef
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml pour into sam smith pint glass

appearance: Black with ruby tints on the edges not terribly thick in appearance, nice creamy light brown head with some sticky lacing

aroma: chocolate and coffee, a bit boozy as well, some black peppercorn, a bit of creamy milky ness in the aroma as well

taste: upfront a bit of sourness which i found surprising, sort of a currant cherry thing going on then fades to roastiness and more dark fruit flavors, the lingering finish is bitter espresso what a roller coaster... then on the finish after that its kinda like a charleston chew... carbonation is relatively low but i think that suits this beer

overall - interesting as always i love haand... this may bot be as good as the flemish sour but still worth a a try especially at half off like i got it for :]

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.27/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Chocolate chestnut with slim slices of burnt orange along the edges and a thick chunk of oatmeal colored foam up top. Opacity is a positive. Head descent is slow, but almost no lace is appearing on the sides of the glass.

Even though Nissefar is brewed to be a dark malty holiday ale, it smells like a porter. A pretty good one too. Aromas of high cocoa dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans see to that. According to the label, no spices are in use. Good, because I don't appreciate any.

It isn't often that a beer tastes significantly worse than it smells. Nissefar is way too sour for the style and doesn't have enough malty guts to make up for it. I might have thought this bottle was old, but the 'best by' date isn't until August 2010. Then again, that may be too optimistic for a 7.0% ale brewed in August 2008.

If this is what the original English porters tasted like back in the day, I'm glad to be living in this day and age. Actually, the beer tastes like a milk porter (lactic acid added), although I don't think the brewery went that route. Specifics: watery carob, tangy raisins and a wee splash of sour milk. Absolutely nothing about this brew says 'Christmas'.

The mouthfeel is thin, although not quite aqueous, and doesn't have enough carbonation. Perfect bubbles might have allowed it to eke out an above averge score. More malt sugars would have helped fill things out.

Nissefar (Father Christmas) is my least favorite of the handful of HaandBryggeriet beers that I've had so far. Sour is desirable in some styles, but it doesn't work at all in this one. Bottom line: barely better than a lump of coal as a stocking stuffer.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
3.18/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottle into red wine glass. Batch 169, brewed 08/08 according to rear label.

Pours black with a one-finger, bubbly tan head that settles in pretty quickly. Stickage is iffy.

Nose is pretty crazy. Very nutty, walnuts and pecans with some dry cocoa and a bit of smoke mixed in. Definitely some interesting spices mixed in that I'm just unable to pull out fully. Some wet cardboard comes through as well, so I'm assuming this bottle is a bit oxidized. Still, bottle states good through 8/10 so I'm pressing on.

Taste is chalky, dry, hints of nuts, cocoa and spices, wet cardboard blandness. Yeah, this one's gone I think. Which is odd, considering it's well within the best before date.

Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, medium-full body. Dry.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle a rich dark brown with a thin tan cap.

Aroma of sweet malts, brown sugar, raisins, and nuts.

The taste is very nice with sweet malts, caramel, chocolate, raisins, sour cherries, and nuts. Nice mellow chocolate mocha notes in the finish.

Light-to-medium bodied, smooth, and lightly carbonated.

It's a bit past the holidays but still a damn fine beer. So drinkable!

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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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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 Georgiabeer
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a hazy dark brown with some sediment in the bottom and absolutely no head and almost no carbonation. Smells strongly of European licorice, bitter chocolate, and deeply roasted grain as well as a touch of sweet malt. Interesting. The taste is quite deep and rich for an American Porter. Less licorice here, but it is still quite noticeable. There is a a fai bit of malty sweetness and some herbal bitterness and molasses. Still, the overall effect is dry, not overly sweet. Rich and delicious. The mouthfeel is smooth, but lacks carbonation and is the tiniest bit sticky as well. A little thick to drink too much of, still, quite interesting.

 647 characters

Photo of WesWes
3.63/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick, rocky tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a wonderful black patent and chocolate malt scent that's dry and earthy with just a hint of sweetness. The taste is decent. It has a smooth, yet almost soda like feel. It's thick with loads of malt complexity. There is a weird tangy, bitterness to it. The mouthfeel is just above average. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. I just can't get over the thick, almost flat beer aspect. This is an interesting beer. The malt bill seems right on and the appearance rocks, but the mouthfeel really ruins it for me.

 648 characters

Photo of mdm46410
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle (Batch 169, brewed Aug. 08) and served in a snifter. This beer poured jet black with a few cola colored highlights near the edges and a thin head of bubbly, tan foam. Minimal lacing. The aroma consisted of roasted malts, baker's chocolate, and some slightly vinous dark fruits. The flavor included charred malts, chocolate covered cherries, plums, and a hint of underlying toffee. A nice, mellow roastiness lingers but is not bitter or overpowering. The mouthfeel was full-bodied and slick/oily. Light carbonation. An interesting Christmas brew. The flavor is a bit vinous and full of dark fruit, but it is also rich and malty.

 654 characters

Photo of kmo1030
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
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 nick76
3.48/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The aroma is sweet and toasty with fruit, hops, and coffee. It reminds me of a porter. Three is also a hint of soap. The appearance is dark brown with a smooth tan head that is very persistent. The flavor is just like the aroma. The palate is thick. Overall a nice beer. I just dont like the acidic finish.

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Photo of BretSikkink
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with plenty of highlighting. Tanned head is about an inch initially, but recedes to a small collar and thin film on top. Good lacing that's really sticky.

Nose is quite rich, with dark fruit sweetness and some roast character coming in behind. Nice and powerful - it's great.

In the mouth it exhibits a nice complexity of flavors ranging from a mild coffee note to caramel, back to anise, with a hint of milk in the finish. A tiny bit of smoke is in there late as well.

Smooth, full mouthfeel with little carbonation, although the flavors are well enough restrained that the bubbles aren't missed. I'm impressed with this take on the porter, even if it's not exactly what an American Porter is normally like.

 731 characters

Photo of SilentSabre
3.15/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured like rusty stagnant black rain water from an old pipe. Absolutely no head whatsoever even after a rather assertive pour in hopes of getting some kind of foamy cap...nothing. Immediately, I think something is amiss and suspect that there is something wrong with this bottle, until I read that many other people have said the same thing. Oh well, moving along. The smell is terrific, which really surprised me after that truly lackluster performance in the pour. Very malty with loads of sweet, toasted grains, toffee, and perhaps a pinch of spent coffee grounds. All of these are reflected in the flavour, but not with the intensity one gets in the aroma. Mouthfeel is about what you'd expect from a holiday beer boasting 7% as far as weight, however, there is ZERO carbonation. Overall, I found this rather strange. Why would a Norwegian brewey choose to replicate an American Porter for their Christmas offering? How can their other offerings be so well crafted, yet this pours into your pint glass like cold coffee with a little bit of black mushroom soil dissolved into it? Oh well... I'm still glad I got o try this one, and it isn't *terrible*, it just looks odd when you pour it. These guys can do much, much better, though!!

 1,238 characters

Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

How does a Norwegian Christmas beer qualify as an American Porter? Huh...well, this pours black into a Duvel tulip black with a mocha foam. Spotty network of lacing, looks nice. Cocoa, anise, pumpernickel bread in the nose. Rich and roasty taste, blackened malts, chocolate or carob, sassafras, molasses, with a mild amount of residual spice that lingers in the aftertaste. Low carbonation, sort of a smooth lactic feel. Kind of average yet well crafted, for the money i'd much rather have a sixer of Anchor OSA.

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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.

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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!

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Photo of baggio
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

3 months since xmas and i'm still not trough all of my xmasbeers. Time to review one more!

A: Dark with a huge, creamy, beige head. Looks promising

S: Licorice, Chocolate, Berries, Heavily roasted malt, coffee with cream, spices.

T: Syrup, Bitter chocolate, Spices, Anise, Burned coffee, salt, dried fruit.

M: A porter with a slight touch of fruit. Very refreshing burned aftertaste with a touch of fresh fruit. Different but yummy. Medium carbonation.

Something to enjoy after your christmasguests have left. Very good indeed. Try it!

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Photo of Sigmund
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
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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Nissefar from HaandBryggeriet
3.87 out of 5 based on 166 ratings.
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