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: 336
Photo of osusullins
4.89/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had this on tap and out of a bottle. One of my favorite smoked beers.

The beer pours a hazy brown with a tan head. Not much lacing.

The nose of this is wonderful. You can really smell the smoke, but it is nicely balanced by the juniper berries. Sweet and smokey like the best bbq. I think what sets this beer apart from other smoked beers to me is that the smoke smells authentic. Not like that liquid smoke smell. It smells specifically like hickory to me. I could sniff this bouquet and get hungry easily. This beer goes well when paired with all smoked meats.

Speaking of smoked meats... that is exactly the flavor that my palate pulls from this beer. Like the best carbonated beef jerkey you ever tasted. I absolutely love it. The hickory smoke flavor is evident immediately and lingers in the mouth. The berries give both a sweetness that comes in the middle and a very subtle tartness on the backend that is balanced throughout by the smoke. Light bodied, not heavy at all. I could drink this all day. The taste lingers just long enough to not be offensive. Very nice beer. Again, this is by far my favorite smoked beer.

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Photo of Pahn
4.13/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle into Duvel tulip. "Batch 100, brewed Oct. 2007, best before Oct. 2009" printed on the label on the bottle, which I neglected to look at before buying it yesterday (Oct. 2011).

Drinking in honor of Haruki Murakami's new novel, 1Q84, being released in America tomorrow. While Norwegian Wood isn't one of my favorite Murakami novels, the name of this beer still makes me think of the Japanese author more than the Beatles or the terra around HaandBryggeriet.


Appearance: Free pour yields a fizzy, 3 inch off-white head that dissipates slowly and rockily. Pours a semi-translucent dark ruby and leaves a few large arches of lacing.

Smell: Some smoke (campfire, rauchmalt), some dark fruit. Some noticeably sherry-like oxidation. Dominant is chocolaty dark fruit, with smoke and oxidation acting equally as background notes.

Taste: First sip: chocolate up front, with some grape. Smoke in the finish, with a long aftertaste of smoke and wood and surrounding ambiguous fruitiness. From the next sip on there's some rather prominent oxidation notes, but with the malty dark fruit and smoke it works really well.

The aftertaste on this beer is great; it just keeps going. Lots of fruity, musty, hard to classify flavors wash over the tongue. There's a persistent caramel malt sweetness in the background, along with subtle smoked malt and chocolate.

I'm missing the juniper unfortunately (I get wood from the branches it's brewed on, I think, but the berries themselves seem to have been lost to time). I'll have to pick up a fresh bottle and rereview. As is though, the beer is a real treat, honestly. Somewhere between a rauchbier and a mild BSDA that time has been kind to.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, maybe on the lighter side. Moderate to high carbonation, which compliments the dry finish.

Overall: Not to force a comparison too hard, but this beer is perhaps more apropos than I thought as a Murakami celebration, in that things didn't go at all as planned, but the beer was quite enjoyable regardless (Murakami novels are pretty unpredictable). It's also a great culture- and genre-spanning beer--at least aged like this--as it shares qualities with old barleywines and BSDAs, as well as rauchbiers.

Dropping the strained literary comparison, in short, I liked this beer very much, and found it to be greater than the sum of its parts. The smoke really works with the oxidation, and there's enough malty goodness in here from the Munich and crystal malt to deliver a very satisfying overall flavor. A nice surprise.

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Photo of OutFox
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed a pint at Rattle N Hum

A - Dark almost reddish tint (it was dark in the bar and it was late so...). A white head with a moderate amount of lacing and retention.

S - Fireplace. Fukn fantastic. I love smoked beers. This one isnt as heavy on the smoke its quite balanced.

T - Same as the nose but moderate on the smoke. I get a lot of wood sort of taste. Really pleasant. Theres a good balance to this beer. Not over the top smoke.

M - Good carbonation and a really nice mouthfeel to this.

O - Fantastic. I love smoke beers and this is already becoming one of my favorites. Not over the top good balance, good beer.

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Photo of canucklehead
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The smoke gets you first but once the beer opens up the other flavours meld together with the smoke to create a very nice smoked ale. Porter like notes on the finish and the beer tastes quite like Stone's smoked porter at times. The juniper berries are only a sideline to the main smoky profile but the beer has a pleasant balance that shows up after awhile. I have enjoyed everything from this brewer and this is no exception

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 285 2010 Edition – Only 1080 Bottles

Pours a rather ugly cloudy dark orange/brown. An attractive tan head tops the brew. Plenty of wood in the nose with cherries, apples and smoke supporting. First sip is all smoke, wood, sweet malts, and ripe fruits – that actually are juniper berries. Great balance as this puppy is not overly smoked. A pretty unique beer from a great brewer. I wish Norway’s politics were as good as her beer.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.47/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - very hazy burnt orange brown, decent head that you could hear as it fizzled away quickly with no real lacing
S - odour of yeast, herbs, peat smokiness, bready and with some aparent alcohol
T - wood and tobacco smoke, mild but building fruitiness, herbal and leafy towards the finish with some alcohol heat
M - over the top carbonation, spicy and somewhat dry with a lingering feel similar to a cigar
O - interesting in that it has the tart fruity characteristics of a belgian and/or juniper berry flavoured pale ale, but with a mild yet rich smoke to it, the juxtaposition generally works but not a brew where I'm looking to crack a second, well worth a try though for the uniqueness alone

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Photo of womencantsail
3.68/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for sending this one my way, Lee.

A: The pour is dark amber/light brown with a finger of off-white head.

S: Smells smokey (what a shocker). I pick up almonds and a mild saltiness. There are hints of dark fruits, particularly cherries, with some toasted malt, toffee, and molasses.

T: Amazingly, the first thing I taste is chocolate! There's plenty of toffee and some mild fruit notes. The smoke note is moderate; it's actually heavier on the wood than smoke. A touch of salt and some mild char.

M: The body and carbonation are both medium.

O: I've never had much luck with Norwegian beers or smoked beers, so I had doubts, but this was pretty good.

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Photo of headlessclown
3.66/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

50cl poured into goblet
Date on bottle (brewed): 19.01.11

A: Dark amber/red in colour. Not crystal clear but not murky, either. Generous head with reasonable retention. Minimal lacing.

S: Interesting mix of smokiness and some dark, almost rich fruity notes. It's not bad but I'm not convinced it's great.

T: Smoke and fruit in the front, all smoke in the back. But not overpowering. I'd say laid back in terms of smoke, but I had a Laphroaig last night, so my palate may be a bit skewed. Nevertheless, a good amount of complexity from the marriage of the two distinct flavours. I like it... it exceeds my expectations after the somewhat underwhelming aroma.

M: Moderate carbonation with medium-low body. The lingering smoke is the standout here. Again, not overpowering. It sticks around just enough to let you know what you've just had.

D: An interesting beer, for sure. It doesn't, in my opinion, transcend the best smoked beers and the best dark fruity beers to become greater than the sum of its parts, but it's a valiant effort. Worth a try and a beer that I certainly would not object against drinking again.

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

A- Pours a reasonably clear rusty brown/orange color, and there appears to be an abundance of fine looking carbonation. The head is most impressive, being slightly beige in color, but super dense, super thick....three fingers worth and the retention is absolutely wonderful, settling to a layer about 1.5 fingers in thickness...lacing leaves a little to be desired unfortunately, not really leaving behind any sustainable foam on the glass as I drink it, but it gets better as it warms I find...otherwise a very nice looking brew.

S- There is a whole lot going on here in terms of smoked qualities. I immediately picked up on smoked meat...a rich gamey sausage to be exact. There is also essences of campfire, an herbal cedar wood smell, and smoked peat. Aside from the variations in smoky aromas, there is some sweetness in the middle and some modest leafy/herbal bitterness on the finish.

T- This beer took several sips for me to determine what exactly I tasted outside of the smoke flavors. Charred wood comes to mind, but there is some herbal earthiness that really shines. The aforementioned meaty quality is present as well, and there are tastes of medium rare steak. The finish is of subtle hop and juniper spiced bitterness. It is also reasonably clean tasting for a heavier style of brew in my opinion.

M- Solid medium body, with crisp, albeit fine carbonation. The smokiness really takes my mind out to sitting around a bonfire and roasting wieners. The flavors are smooth on the finish and stick to the palate after the swallow.

O- I was a little unsure about how I'd perceive this brew at first but the more I drink it, the more I really am enjoying it. It's unique, has some balancing spice/malt/smokiness that really blend well together in this recipe. It's definitely not a brew that I could drink many of in a sitting, but it's refreshing and makes for a very enjoyable pint!

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.27/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear copper with nice head retention and some light lacing. Really great looking pour for a smoked beer. I do not recall having a smoked beer that looked like an old ale.

Aroma is of smoke, peat, roasted malts and some residual sweetness.

Taste is fantastic. Great oak presence mixing with some bitterness and perhaps some spruce? not sure, but there is some piney presence mixing more with wood than anything else and "I like it. I like it a lot..."

Mouthfeel is extremely smooth and low carbonation. Overall I cannot imagine this being hard to drink for anybody. Its refreshing which most smoked beers are probably not in this category and extremely enjoyable.

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Photo of Shadman
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I like the picture someone supplied for the brewery that's a craft brewer..looks like someone's barn..

Pours a cloudy dark burnt orange, a lot lighter in colour than most smoked beers. lot's of head formation so pour aggressively at your own risk.

Almost has the aroma of smoked fish, but without a whole lot of fishiness. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's what I'm picking up. Almost a mossy smell as well that may be from the juniper twigs.

Nice..smoke doesn't overwelm the other ingredients until the finish. Slightly toasted malts, tea-like herbalness from the hops. ABV makes itself known soon after, but only in a fleeting moment. Finishes quite dry, slightly smokey, and with just a hint of juniper twang.

Smooth, get's a touch astringent toward the late-middle.

Very good smoked beer...too bad I'd have to take out a 2nd mortgage to drink Haandbryggeriet's product on a regular basis.

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Photo of NilsFrisk
4.28/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is amber colored with a tan head, most of it disapears, but a little bit of it sticks.
There is a scent of old coins in there, along with hops, amber malts and a nice juniper tone.
It tastes very nicely and ballanced of amber malts, hops, smoke and juniper, and it just feels great, full and creamy body with moderately low carbonation, just the way i like it. Not a beer to drink lots of in one go, but could definetly drink this one pretty often!

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
3.92/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my tulip glass...

Pours a deep and rich clear mahogany brown color with some coarse 1 finger head that is not retained much at all. No lacing to speak of. A swirl kicks up more bubbles and slathers the sides of the glass in a thin film. No legs develop, though.

Aromas of peated and smoked malt, a light berry sweetness, a healthy gin-like dose of juniper that reminds me almost of a gruit. The juniper is inviting, and gives way to hints of vanilla and chocolate that round out the aroma. The flavors follow, with the smoke and juniper really starting to take over the flavor a little bit. There are notes of citrus in the flavor that do complement the berry sweetness nicely. Caramel, vanilla, and chocolate come through in the mid-palate. The smoke comes back later on in the palate to round it out, but in doing so, it snuffs out the other more delicate flavors in the profile.

The feel is surprisingly creamy. It comes through with a medium texture and a good feel overall. A sipper, as it is so rich, this is a gnarly beer. Not a beer I would return to, just given my own personal tastes, but a great one to try.

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Photo of billab914
3.45/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle into my Surly glass. It poured a deep, caramel brown color with a thin, frothy white head to it. Pretty decent head retention, with a little lacing.

The juniper really jumps out at me in the aroma giving it some big herbal flavors. I get some sweeter, malty flavors coming out in it as well. The smoked malt gives it a nice, smooth smokiness and seems to bring everything together. The smokiness is very nice, the juniper is a little strong for me though.

The taste has a strong herbal, juniper and sweet malty flavor to it. The smoke comes through in the finish and again seems to bring the flavors together. I find myself really liking the smoke, but again the juniper just really doesn't do it for me. It feels a little sweet and herbal side in the finish.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being above average. Overall it was a pretty drinkable and flavorful beer, but the juniper just really isn't my thing. It felt a little too sweet and herbal to me, but I really did like the smoked malt in it.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle. The label depicts a nice story about Norwegian farms formerly being required to make their own beer. A local ordinance that I could totally get behind.

This beer pours a cloudy, sparsely sediment-strewn dark copper hue, with two fat fingers of tight fizzy off-white head, which settles soon enough, leaving a few ambitious streaks of lace around the glass as it lazily sinks away.

It smells of heftily smoked, meaty dark caramel malt, mildly fruity wild berries, and some equally dense earthy spiciness. The taste is like a barely restrained Islay malt - woody, peaty, seafaring - a mite bit lesser in intensity, yes, but better for it, for this otherwise straight-up Speyside fan, with a bit of understated sweet black fruitiness. There are softer flavours about, thankfully, with some tart fruitiness and earthy hops showing up amongst that pungent woody character.

The carbonation is on the soft side, the body medium weight, and generally smooth under that obsequious, yet thankfully thin blanket of acrid smoke. It finishes off-dry, the malt still pushing through the charred wood, with booze and hops doing their damnedest to make it seem otherwise.

Quite a challenging, and yet still well-made smoked ale - the relatively laid-back nature is refreshing, to a point, and this would likely be a perfect pairing for any kind of food that has itself seen fire, particularly in any sort of grungy campsite.

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Photo of BDTyre
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice beer. Light copper. When pouring into my pint glass, the head was ridculously big - it took up almost the whole glass.

Mild smoked malts, vanilla, cream, raisins and a bit of spice. Citrusy hops.

Peaty, malty, smokiness. Light chocolate, vanilla, citrus and even hickory are noticeable in the taste. Light gin like presence from the juniper berries.

I thought this would be a bit more carbonated, but it's actually quite smooth and it works. Slightly acidic as it hits the back of the throat.

Nice, mild smoked beer. Not very overpowering; nicely blended and enjoyable.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle into a NB Globe. Purchase from Wilbur's for around $6. Batch 232, brewed 26.06.2009 best 26.06.11. So towards the end of its life.

A: Amber in color with a light tan head, right at 1/2 an inch. Quite dense head that sticks around nicely. Slightest amount of haze. A few bubbles lazily moving through the glass.

S: Smoked malts are the first thing that jump out of the glass, not insanely pungent like a Islay whisky, but there is definitely some smoke in this one, think nicely smoked meat. Some caramel and just a whiff of vanilla. Also just a bit of juniper, but again faint, probably a lot more present when first bottled.

T: I really like this, very well balanced for a smoked beer. Nice amount of smoke and caramel that blend and intermingle into this amalgamation of sweet smokiness. Just a faint hint of hops and a slight amount of juniper, pretty faint though. Finish is surprisingly clean and devoid of smoke. This is damn tasty.

M: Creamy body that is on the heavy side, medium carbonation, and fairly sticky. Really enjoyable.

O: Definitely a beer that I'm pissed I didn't buy another bottle of. This works perfectly between smoked malts and sweet malts, a touch of herbal flavors, and just a hint of bitterness. Very enjoyable beer on a cold rainy spring day. Spot on.

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

A - Pours a cloudy amber colour, finger of head with solid retention and no real lacing.

S - Reminiscent of a dunkelweiss with cloves, nutmeg and bananas, followed by an earthy wooden smoke.

T - Although the smoke and peat flavours are present, they're quite subtle and overpowered by cloves and bananas, with some burnt sugar and caramel on the finish. Much like a dunkelweiss, and the smokeyness could certainly be ramped up a bit.

M - No complaints in this department, medium bodied, smooth and finishes with a touch of dryness.

O - Overall, a pleasant experience, though nothing mindblowing. Simply put, a tasty ale that has the potential to be outstanding, but comes across as just above average.

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Photo of MrKennedy
3.65/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottled shared between 3 and poured into a 7oz glass.

Great foam retention, a beige colour sitting about half a centimetre above for pretty well the whole tasting. Amber-mahogany colour.

Earthy aroma, occasionally strong smokiness will come through, then die down, then come through again. A little intriguing.

Complex flavour, dominated by smoke middle and relatively strong late.

Mouthfeel is solid, well matched to the strength and the style.

Overall a solid brew, interesting to try.

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Photo of NEhophead
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16.9 fl oz brown bottle, served in a goblet.

Batch 232; brewed June 26, 2009.

A hazy, two-toned deep tea in color beneath a foamy, off-white head.

The peat-smoked malt aroma is full and commands attention. Beneath the thick layer of smoke is a complex coffee, buttery malt profile. Notes of black pepper and light clove.

Again, the peat-smoked flavors are the star here; however, the underlying complexities should not be overlooked. Soft caramel with notes of tea; a surprising citrus quality lightens this beer just a bit. The juniper berries add a touch of spice in the finish and provide a mild bitterness. Notes of smoke-laden caramel and coffee in the aftertaste.

Medium in body; remarkably smooth. The carbonation is skillfully kept in check.

A wonderfully flavorful and balanced smoked beer. Although I probably wouldn't drink this all night, I certainly wouldn't turn down a refill.

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Photo of Wadsey
3.2/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Batch 285 with a bottled-on date of 25.05.10.  Poured into DFH signature glassA: 

A: Enormous off-white head that dissipates leaving generous lacing.  The beer itself is deep amber, bordering on light brown.  Initial pour was clear, but sloppy second pour resulted in sediment and haze.

S: Smokey barbecue and salted pork with a subtle, general fruitiness. Could that be juniper berries?

T: The general fruitiness asserts itself surprisingly in the front, then smoke quickly smothers it. The  appealing barbecue and pork aspects of the smoke are somewhat lost in the taste. Instead, it is ashy, salty and slightly burnt. Thankfully, these qualities subside the quicker I sip.  Something akin to a spicy brown ale threatens to emerge but never quite makes it. Finish is oddly minerally, almost metallic. 

M: Carbonation is slightly higher than medium and the body of the beer is medium. Dry beer.

D: Norwegian Woods rates well in Appearance, Smell and Mouthfeel, but it simply does not deliver on taste, so drinkability suffers. I do not think I need to revisit this beer. 

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Photo of Suds
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Here is an engaging beer...historic, interesting, and exciting. It's a deep brown color, quite clear, with a fizzy white head (moderately stable). The aroma has a smoke and wood scent, along with a spice and malt quality. Firm bitterness in the flavor. The beer has lots of woody, tannic astringency. It's a beer with a considerable bitterness, although not a hop bitterness...perhaps contributed by the juniper twigs? Slightly smoky, although not as much as I expected. Nice body. Not a great beer, and certainly not my style, but very interesting.

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Photo of GRG1313
2.86/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Batch 100; Brewed Oct. 07; Best before Oct '09; Purchased at Park Lane in Lancaster Calif. Off the shelf well past "best before" date and tasted and reviewed same date.

Pours dark with a nice khaki head.

Nose is light smoke and bacon with chocolate and coffee undertones.

Mouthfeel is thin but has some character and appeal and is well balanced.

Flavors are all sweet dark chocolate and smoke. Decent light bitter acidic coffee/dark chocolate finish.

A year and a half past it's "best before" date the beer still has nice character and flavors. However, based on this tasting it shows that this one can take the aging but likely not improve. Would try again fresher.

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Photo of zeff80
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a burgundy color with ruby highlights. It had a two-finger, head of white, bubbly foam that left minimal trails of lace.

S - It smelled of smoke, wood and bacon.

T - It tasted smoky with some roasted malts. Very little hop presence.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A very dry finishing beer that is medium bodied.

D - This is a pretty good smoked ale. Not over the top with smokiness. It had just enough.

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Photo of metter98
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is hazy amber in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high beige head that slowly died down but never completely faded away.
S: Smoky aromas are evident in the nose, which also has some hints of juniper berries and twigs.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell; the smoky flavors stand out yet these are well balanced by the underlying malts.
M: The beer coats the mouth, is smooth and feels medium-bodied on the palate with a light amount of carbonation.
D: It's relatively easy to drink this beer because the smokiness isn't overpowering. I would definitely try this again because of its unique taste.

Note: Batch 232, Brewed 6/26/2009

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Norwegian Wood from HaandBryggeriet
3.93 out of 5 based on 336 ratings.
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