Norwegian Wood | HaandBryggeriet

very good
225 Reviews
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Norwegian WoodNorwegian Wood

Brewed by:

Style: Smoked Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed with smoked malt, munich malt, crystal and chocolate malt, and spiced with juniper twigs and berries.

Added by Sigmund on 06-17-2007

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Reviews: 225 | Ratings: 335
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a dark amber color ale with a large dirty white foamy head with good retention and some light lacing notes. Aroma consists of smoked malt with some light tart fruit notes. Taste is a complex mix between some tart fruit notes with some smoked malt with light dry caramel malt notes. Body is about average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well put together and quite original.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.84/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

If this beer is anywhere near as satisfying to me as its musical namesake, I’ll be happy. Cheers.

A: Translucent, ruby-red body; tan, fizzy cream head that only lasts for a minute. Minimal retention looks like powder over the body, with very little lacing.

S: Hickory, smoked-cured meats, campfire, pepper, and sweet maple come headlong in a tumult of deep, roast-forward malts – a gripping, full smell. It doesn’t lay waste to the subtlety of the nose, though, as smoked beers are wont to do: there are spaces for apple butter and a light herbal character to rest. Still, this nose is mainly smoke.

T: The palate lives up to the smoke-and-juniper description on the label – if you’re thinking char and herb tastes, that is. It begins with a malty, crackling smokiness, tasting of bacon, fig, burnt toast, cedar, almond, and smoky char bathed in semi-sweet chocolate. There’s lots of dark complexity, but the chocolate comes through with intensity matching the smoke, drawing attention to the sweetness of the palate. And then the herbs: juniper and mint bolstering a bevy of lemony hops, tastes that I didn’t think I’d be getting in a beer this dark. They’re certainly welcome, though. Finishes with a toasty, tannic bitterness.

M: Slightly astringent via that hard water character that can only be found in beers produced in Europe; I’m convinced I won’t be able to find that texture in the United States. And as far as European beers go, this one is pretty thick: medium carb and medium body.

O: The chocolate in this beer is keeping me excited for each sip; it’s a taste I haven’t found anywhere else. And beneath all that, it shows nice play between bright herbs and bitter smoke. Just goes to show the skill at which Haandbryggeriet operates: every beer I’ve had from them has been complex and satisfying.

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Photo of beergoot
3.77/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 209
Brewed feb. 09
Best bef. feb. 11

Poured a nice reddish-brown color with a good off-white head. Definite smokiness to the smell along with some grain sweetness. Taste nicely combines sweet, malty grain flavors with smoke. Mouthfeel comes across soft and light.

Despite being sampled about 19 months after the "best bef." date, this beer brought out a nice combo of smoke flavor with a gentle malt sweetness. I didn't catch any of the juniper berry component of this beer. This beer would be a perfect introduction to someone who is curious about smoked beers but my be a bit leery about being overwhelmed with some of this style's bolder examples. I was a bit surprised that such a relatively light body still packed such a wonderful flavor. Not too big...not too little...A fine beer...

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Photo of sommersb
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 09-19-2012
Freshness: Batch 432
Packaging: 500ml brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Pint glass
Purchased: Single from Argonaut Liquors, Denver

The brewery website has a nice description about the history of this beer in Norway and the ingredients used. They say it is a recreation of ales all Norwegian farmers were compelled to brew by law!

Appearance: Dark copper-colored and cloudy beer, topped by a large off-white head. Excellent lacing and head retention in the glass.

Smell: Big smoked aromas here, reminiscent of a campfire, plus woody (oak) and earthy notes.

Taste: As in the aromas, the taste is dominated by smoke flavors. The website says they use imported smoked malts from Bamberg, the home of the rauchbier. The taste reminds me of meat as well, like bacon. Other flavors are from the juniper twigs and berries, used instead of hops, which impart some wood/piney characteristics.

Mouthfeel: Highly carbonated and having a body between medium and full. The finish features smoked meat flavors - not really sweet or dry, but balanced between the two. I think the edge smooths out as the beer warms up.

Overall: This ale reminded me of Yazoo's Sue smoked porter as well as the German rauchbiers. A slow sipper due to the intense taste, but a well-constructed beer I'm glad to have tried.

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Photo of spoony
3.79/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From a bottle into a snifter.

A-Copper and amber tones. Thin head of lighter colored foam dissipated, but never went away completely.

S-Campfire and wood. Smoke is very strong, but I found it pleasant. Just a hint of the junipers mentioned on the label.

T-Smoke and charcoal. Oak is there, too. A touch of yeast and malt, but I didn't get much juniper, which is probably OK since the smoke is plenty to handle.

M-Mothing special. Medium body with lighter carbonation.

O-After the overwhelming smoke subsided, I noticed some more fruit flavors and I started to enjoy it. My palate was probably blown out by the end, but I managed to finish most of the 500 ml bottle.

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Photo of liamt07
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from ZorPrime, thanks Eric! 500ml into a tulip, batch 408, bottled September 30, 2011.

Reddish brown with a cream coloured cap. Good retention and a bit of lace. Nose has some smoked wood, caramel, toasted bread and some mild darker fruit notes that could be coming from the berries. Some earth as well. Taste has some heavily charred wood/bread, caramel and some herbal, fruity notes. Drying, with charcoal and burnt matches in the aftertaste. Medium body and a relatively low carb. An OK smoked beer, but doesn't really stand out for me as it's a bit harsher in some regards than I appreciate within the style.

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Photo of askeladden
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is a beer that doesn't smell like beer: once opened, the aroma of smoke is extremely strong. Smoked salmon, smoked beer... It seems that Norway lies in the very deep hearth of this brew. I know that "5 should be rare", but a 5 for a smell like this is mandatory!

A - dark amber color, very opaque body. The foam is quite firm but not so thick.

S - read over. Wrapping strong smoked smell that reminds of a burning match.

T - smoked flavor above all. The juniper berries give a dry fruity taste.

M - it's 6.5% abv but the mouthfeel is not that strong. The alcohol is almost totally covered by the mixture of smoked and fruity flavors. It leaves a thin layer of aftertaste that lasts for several hours.

O - if you like the smoked aroma (as I do) drinkability is not an issue. Not for everyone though: either you'll love or hate it.

[I'm not a native English speaker but I hope you'll understand my review.]

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Photo of zaphodchak
3.48/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thinnish offwhite head, and deep amber body. Some lace.

Incredibly pungent smoke, a bit odd.

Acrid, harsh smoke. Piney, almost, maybe tannic. It's like you're eating a popsicle, but it's just the popsicle stick.

Some medium carb, kinda coarse.

Decent but kinda harsh in terms of drinkability.

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Photo of bruachan
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

it's been awhile since i review a beer, which is stupid because i drink plenty of good stuff

reddish copper color with merengue head and promising lacing to start

aromas are smoky and hoppy. the latter spicy and herbal

the smoke and juniper tandem magnificently. the spicy tang of berry melds well with the gritty smoke, as both ride the sweetness of a full-bodied brew. which brings me to my next thought...

even if 6.5% isn't strong, the beer is a mouthful. it's fun to evaluate what fun smoke it, other than just contributing awesome. it's spicy and earthy

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Photo of cincyfan90
4.01/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A nice dark color that gives it a thick and viscous appearance; maintains a nice off white head.

S: Barbecue, charred wood, subtle coffee

T: A complex evolution of flavor notes displays barbecue smoke, and dark chocolate. Smooth carbonation aids in presenting the flavors.

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3.94/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. ½ Pint glass. Enjoyed on apr´12.Inviting pours orangish red in color. Yellowish froth creates a thick layer crown. Involving smokiness both in flavor & aromas. Juniper touch to the nose. Mildy maltiness & low bitterness. Slightly spicy palate, smooth sensation. Notes of resins & wood linger in to the aftertaste. Flavorful, well balanced, smart beer. A delightful beer suggested as session beer in cold weather despite its ABV. I´d really enjoyed it very much.

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Photo of Duff27
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Feb '09 bottle

Thin off white head on a medium brown body. Head recedes to a collar around the glass.

Tangy fruits from the nose.

More fruits that turn to smoke at the very tail end. "Very Sahti-ish". Minimal alcohol presence.

Still well carbonated for being 3 years old.

Pretty unique beer here. I found it more similar to a style akin to a Sahti than a smoked beer....this may be attributed to its age but like I said earlier, still enjoyable.

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Photo of wordemupg
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into tulip 22/3/12

A glows a reddish amber with a loose light tan thumbs width of foam that ends up looking soapy leaving random lace

S smokey yet a little fruity, a little licorice and spruce, smells pretty earthy with some faint hops

T leather and tobacco work well with the spicy juniper, pretty unique when you add on what I smell, not overly smokey but its hard too miss

M medium-full with just enough bubbles, very long aftertaste of twiggy char

O interesting stuff unlike any other brew I can think of, no booze detected is pretty impressive too

this one has been elusive to me other then at a beer fest but I wasn't taking notes, pretty glad I was finally able to grab a bottle its good stuff

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark red brown amber. Two finger medium off-white head that dissipates relatively quickly, leaving nice lacing. Aroma is intense smoke and peat with an almost metallic element, probably from the peat. Taste is neutral malt, smoke, light peat and understated dark and light fruit. The finish is dry and smokey, but mellow. Medium bodied. Well done. Not quite as sweet as some of my favorite smoked beers, but I like the flavor progression and taste of this. The peat in the finish is a little bit of an off flavor for me, but overall this all works.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured out as a nice looking dark brown color with a tan colored head on top. the head settles quickly and doesn't leave much on the glass at all. The smell of the beer is smoked for sure, plenty of burnt smokey aromas in this one. The malts are in there too which is nice. The taste of the beer was pretty good, the beer didn't taste salty like most smoked beers seem too to me. THe juniper was a little difficult for me to get from the taste here. The mouthfeel was pretty good, medium bodied with a creamy feel to it. Overall not a bad Smoked beer, worth trying.

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Photo of mindspin315
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big tan head over a deep amber/mahagoney body teetering on brown. Head doesn't stick around but a bit of alcohol legs and lacing do. Tiny carbonation bubbles are visible on the side of the glass even with such a dense looking body.

Smoke is at the forefront and the most noticable aroma, but it isn't overpowering in anyway. The smokey notes blend with a nice touch of dark berry fruitiness, whole grain/rye bread, and chocolate. Yeasty esters and floral jasmine flowers too.

A touch of light smoke upfront fades a bit and sits in the back of the tounge through the finish. Smooth drinking, palate isn't overwhelmed by anything. Finishes slightly thin. Chocolate and caramel malt sweetness goes from the middle trough the finish. Light smoke, caramel, pepper, and faint dry pine bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. The pine and bitter aspect are a result of the use of juniper berries.

First beer I've tried by HaandBryggeriet. I will be definitely trying some of their other offerings now. A well crafted smoked beer, with everything in check.


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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.34/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy, but pleasant enough murky red colour, with a fine but filmy head of slightly orange-tinged white. Speckled and insubstantial lacing forms when tilted, and the body looks a little thin. Not bad, but I've seen better.

Nose, ooh, now there's something wonderful. Big smoky notes, but tempered and pleasantly savoury. No meatiness to the smoke, more of a rustic charm, which melds pleasantly with the hearty, all-grain bread notes and a sparkle of something brighter and slightly crisp and fruity. Very pleasant indeed.

Taste is also excellent. Very big and pleasant smoky characters, but blended really nicely into a toasty grain flavour, that sinks towards roasted bitterness on the back. The transition is almost seamless, giving a very smooth ride through a plethora of smoky, roasted flavours. Some brightness coming through as well, although no particular flavours are distinguishable here—it just gives a lift to the palate.

Feel is very light, which in some senses works to the advantages of the palate; but there's enough depth here to support more.

Very nice brew all up. I love the smoke character blending so well with the malted grains—it really works the character into the beer to give a suggestion of how this would have been done in the past.

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Photo of mcallister
3.79/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

'07 bottle. Pours a deep cloudy orange muddy color with a highly carbonated overly active head.

Light smoke, milk chocolate, juniper, pine, earthy and musky aromas. Different.

Damn nice in the mouth. Much more smoke, tannic on the finish. Juniper, dark rustic breads, burnt raisins, milk chocolate, earth, pine, with a perfume like flavor deep into the long long finish.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.69/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An odd looking beer: cloudy, dark orange/brownish color with a small head that quickly dissipates, leaving a thin off-white band on top. Not much lace.

Aroma is lightly smokey and sweet; fruity with a touch of booziness underneath.

The taste is pleasant enough, with hints of gin character coming from the juniper berries, good smokiness that’s not over the top, and a general sweet maltiness. No hop presence at all. Nicely woody.

Low to medium carbonation on a medium bodied beer with a touch of creaminess in the mouthfeel. Lightly lingering aftertaste with smoke and traces of juniper.

An interesting brew but not good enough for me to go back at the 10 dollar price tag this fetches around here.

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Photo of GilGarp
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Brewed 6/26/2009.

500 mL bottle served cool into a goblet.

Norwegian Wood is a redish amber color with good clarity seen on the pour. Head is thick at first but settles quickly to a skim layer.

Aroma is really pleasant but is surprisingly not smokey. It has more of an orchard fruit and mellow sweetness than expected.

Flavor is more intense than the aroma would lead you to believe. It still manages to be balanced with bitterness from the juniper and sweetness from the caramel malts. The smoked malts are well judged so you can tell it's there but it doesn't dominate the palate.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly over carbonated for my tastes.

Overall a really nice beer with a good story of the history behind the style.

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3.71/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16.9oz bottle to snifter. Brewed Oct 07. Best by Oct 09. Sampled 8/10/11, well past the date.

A: Loud pop upon uncapping. On the pour, a large four finger khaki colored head erupts and rapidly deflates. Fizzy, foamy and loosely compacted. The body is a murky chestnut brown with copper highlights when backlit. No lacing.

S: Burnt caramel, with a doughy and meaty quality. Soy sauce, possibly some tobacco. Lightly roasted malts and a beautiful smoke contribution.

T: Hearty bread. Lightly woody. Open fire smoke. The juniper berries are no longer detectable. Signs of oxidation.

M: Medium body. Very lively carbonation. Mineral-like texture at first but a little thin once the effervescence starts to fade.

O: Despite this beer being consumed nearly two years after the brewer's recommendations, it held up fairly well. I'm interested in updating this review with notes from a fresh bottle.

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Photo of nezelrac
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - hazy mahogany/amber; scant, fine-beaded, white head; no retention or lacing to speak of

S - woody and smoky malt with subtle yeastiness behind; some dark toast, burnt caramel, and grilled apricot

T - malt then smoky wood; hint of licorice/juniper; caramelized sugar; good length; woody parts linger appealingly

M - lean and firm woodiness; no astringency from the wood/smoke

O - gentle rauch; very good; quite enjoyable

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Photo of bonkers
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured from a bottle into a SA perfect pint glass, light amber pour with a medium white head, no lacing. The aroma is light smoke, wood. The obvious flavor is smoke, hints of oak, salt, finishes smokey. The body is medium, good carbonation. A solid smoked beer, could not taste any juniper, never a good thing not to be able to taste a listed ingredient.

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Photo of Rutager
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a hazy red-brown with a huge, foamy off-white head that lasts a while.

Smell. Smokey wood, belgian yeast, and a little caramel and juniper berries. Slightly sour.

Taste. Smokey wood, baker's dark chocolate and juniper berries. Much nicer than the smell!!

Mouthfeel. Medium body with pretty strong carbonation.

Overall. Nice tasting beer. The smoke isn't overdone and the juniper berries are a nice addition. Good stuff.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On draft at The Farmhouse Tap & Grill.

Pours a hazy orange brown with thick off-white head that takes a while to settle down. Nose is rather odd. Smells like coffee with a lot of cream in it. Can't really nail down the aromas on the one.

Palate is bright and gripping with bitterness. Smokiness is understated and comes across more like barnboards than smoke. Very earthy and dry. Carbonation is frothy and keeps things moving.

Notes: Excellent balance, but a very mild smoke beer.

Edit: After reading the description, I think the odd aroma I couldn't hit was juniper.

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Norwegian Wood from HaandBryggeriet
3.93 out of 5 based on 335 ratings.
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