HaandBryggeriet
from Norway
16th highest rated brewery (of 635)
Highest RatedSweet & Sour (86 / 100) Average score70 / 100 (Very Good)
Lowest RatedSur Megge (55 / 100) Number Tried40
Sundland Kreosot
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 17.06.15 in bottle
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)
Bottle gifted to me by the Jezbian, shared with Andrew 12/6/15.

Pours a dark brown, with a bit of colour at t'edge. Head is sudsy beige, retaining a finger of foam. Lace is stunningly thick. Looks fantastic.

Smells smoky. Peaty, earthy and pleasant. Some dark spice and dark fruit notes. Touch of hops maybe. Pretty pleasant.

Taste is meaty, chewy with the smokiness. Bacon and a mild slow-roast beef character to it, BBQ sauce and earthy tarry character. Some hop notes late which take on a bizarre, but bizarrely pleasant, flavour. Kind of gooey chocolate fondant with mandarin, sultanas and a crispy bacon edge. Truly odd, but oddly beautiful.

Foamy mouthfeel; body has a good presence but not too thick; pretty good.

Wonderfully appealing and idiosyncratic beer. The hops and specific earthy smoke character should be mortal enemies but here they make a substantial friendship with benefits. They're having dirty illicit sex in my mouth and I don't mind.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.5
Sur Megge
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 10.11.14 in bottle
Overall:
55 / 100
(OK)
Pours a burnished orange-amber, very still and flat in the glass. No head; no revival with a swill. Yeah, very uninteresting.

Smells pleasant. Bretty funk with a nice zesty acidity to it. Some metallic character and a fair herbal shade as well. Citrus, herb and funk. Could be bigger, but what's there is nice.

Taste leans far more on the bitter, phenolic side of funk. Some fresh Bretty notes upfront then gets somewhat medicinal midway with big Belgian yeast notes, then finishes a bit tarter, with a nice mild orange peel character and a touch of grapefruit. Bit light, like it's just lacking body and has some odd yeasty notes just floating on the top. Mouthfeel is really thin and flat, slight pull on the back.

I enjoy drinking it enough, but it's quite lacklustre. Beers with this kind of character tend to be more charismatic, and this just seems insubstantial.
appearance: 2.0 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | drinkability: 3.25
Sur Megge
Reviewed by Jez on 08.11.14 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Excellent)
500ml brown bottle purchased from Leura Cellars some time ago. Cracked open with Sam & Rich during a brew day.

Pours a rather clear burnished golden colour, with a fairly decent weight to the body. Carbonation is very low (indeed it barely fizzed at all when uncapped), leaving only a few pocked bubbles in a ring around the glass by way of head. No lacing to speak of. It looks ok, but certainly a bit dormant.

Nose is very pleasing. Soft acidity gives some vinous overtones, with a hint of something fruity and sweet—perhaps something a little tart as well like black cherries or apple skin. There's also a very vague, plasticky lambic tone which suggests some deeper sophistication to it. I like it.

Taste is also good. Here there's certainly still the acidity, but it's interworked with a slightly tannic character, which enhances the comparison with wine. Mild bitter-tart characters on the back, suggesting perhaps a little grapefruit. Dark red fruit characters come through on the back, giving a mild medicinal tone on top of everything else. It's complex and engaging, with a lot of subtlety to find.

Feel is fine. It's light, and certainly lacking in effervescence due to the low carbonation. But the tartness gives it a life of its own.

Overall, this was a very fine beer from Haand, who have a tendency already to do very fine beers. I liked the acidity, and some of the more interesting characters underneath it—it's a sipping beer, no doubt, but one I'd perhaps like to sip on more often than not.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.25
Porter
Reviewed by Jez on 29.01.14 on tap
Overall:
72 / 100
(Very Good)
Tried on-tap at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst. For reference, this was called the "Norse Porter" there, but it's the same beer as what is generally called their "Porter".

It's a good looking beer from the outset. A firm, porter colour with a fairly pronounced clarity to the body. Head is gorgeous and thick, and sticks around in its deep creamy brown crest until the bottom of the glass. Looks great.

Nose is mostly on the money, especially with a pleasant dark, toasted bread character that permeates and gives most of its body. A slight nuttiness raises a little sweetness as well. There's a hint of something vegetative to it as well, and some minerally chlorine notes, but they're minor things, and don't detract much from the basis.

Taste follows similar lines. Firm bready characters through the middle, with a lively sweetness akin to roasted hazelnuts. It gets a little thin around the mid-palate, with a slight char on the back which is more pronounced than it needs to be. Mouthfeel is excellent though, despite the suggestion of thinness to the flavour.

All up, it's actually a very good, well put-together brew. There's plenty of flavour, and it's remarkably drinkable for what it is. I always like Haand's beers, and this one is no exception.
appearance: 4.25 | aroma: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | drinkability: 4.0
Porter
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 21.08.13 on tap
Overall:
57 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a dark red-tinged brown. Lovely dense beige head. Lacing is wonderful, a beautiful curtain left around the glass. Looks awesome.

Smells boozey. Spicy, touch of tequila and definitely lacking in classic portery notes. Bit of chocolate but overwhelmed by booze.

Taste is a bit more portery; chocolate with touch of smoke and char. Bit of booze, but largely dark strength on the back. Good toasty chocolate sweetness, still a bit big though.

Smooth enough; bit of boozey coating to the tongue though.

A bit big, which detracts from the nuance it may have had. Disappointing from Haand.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Fyr & Flamme
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 07.04.13 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a dirty, muddy amber, quite sedimenty at the bottom. Head looks a treat, but it's way too generous, taking up a good three-quarters of the volume. Lace is cascades of dense foam. Seriously, looks great, but a couple of noticeable flaws there.

Smells very hoppy. Very fresh and fruity in kind. Big pineapple aroma on that, with Granny Smith apples, passionfruit and citrus. Tangy, complex; it verges on sour with so much fresh fruit vying for attention. Pleasant, but could use more grounding, or more sweetness, for balance.

Taste is not quite as potent as I'd expected. Hops take hold from the get-go but never quite reach highs of bitterness, or any other sensation. They're largely fruity with hints of pine, flax and citrus. Quite smooth palate, though, with just enough malt to carry the tangy bitterness across, so it's not overpowering. Still, a decent palate that's nothing mind-blowing.

Little bit sharp on the mouthfeel from the alpha acids, but settles down at the end. OK body overall.

A nicely-balanced beer that delivers good, drinkable flavours. If the flavours were bigger and more exciting I'd be rhapsodizing about this, but something about it makes me feel it's too "safe" and borders on mediocre when there's clearly a very big, exciting beer trying to come out. There's nothing bad about it but it disappointed me a little.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Dark Force Reserva
Reviewed by Jez on 24.03.13 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Very Good)
Bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne, at the recommendation of Chris the beer guy. Shared with Sam during the brewday for our Imperial Stout. After tasting our wort, I had a hankering for something big, dark and oak-aged.

Pours a very deep black, shaded slightly brown by some streaming towards the head. The head itself is a very deep chocolate brown, very pleasant and thick, almost creamy when swirled. Lacing forms in leopard spot around the edge of the glass. body is rich and liquid, holding fine carbonation softly and slowly. Lovely looking stuff.

Nose is woody, dark, roasted and slightly smoky. There's a comforting wintertime around the open fire to it: pleasant fresh cut wood, smouldering flames, and suggestions of soft dark booze and sweet dark fruits. There's a slight freshness to it as well, a greenery, maybe even some true hoppiness. It's very nice indeed.

Taste is... oh wait, Haand? Yes, that explains that. Definite sour twang to it, just a suggestion of whatever wacky wild yeast they tend to put in everything. It gives it a slight metallic character over the rich darkness, and really skews this into strange places. There's darkness, plenty of wood, but very little body or sweetness: it feels like the sour character has ripped these out completely. It creates a more unique, but potentially a less objectively good beer.

Feel is decent, but again attacked by the acidity.

I guess I should have expected this from Haand. I usually like their rustically wild take on things, but I guess I'm a little bit disappointed that this didn't really fulfill its potential as a truly great Imperial Stout. Still, it's a very good beer nonetheless, wild and unique, with Haandprints all over it.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | drinkability: 4.0
Sweet & Sour
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 19.03.13 in bottle
Overall:
56 / 100
(Decent)
Pours a golden champagne colour, light bead feeding a fairly stagnant head. White, with decent lacing. Standard.

Smell tart. Belgiany. Sharp vinegary acidity, touch of lemon and some Barnyard funk as well. More than tart and more than spice, the essence of weirdness itself. Nice, though. Subtly sweet.

Taste is...ummm... smokey? Where the hell did that come from? Tart, balsamic and grapefuit upfront; touch of pearl barley in the middle then weird, woody smoked bacony goodness at the back. Not really a perfect mesh, and what's exciting and novel at first soon becomes quite incongrous. Odd.

Sharp tartness upfront on the feel, levels off towards the end. Not bad.

An experimental brew, it would appear. Doesn't really work for me, I'm afraid.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Pale Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.02.13 in bottle
Overall:
64 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a russeted amber colour, clear and bits of bubbles around the edge; has a cream-coloured head that sinks disappointingly, with nice lace left behind. OK-looking pale.

Smells quite fruity, and hoppy. Mango and peach with a dusty hop note. Not all that vibrant, with some maybe vegetative spicy notes, maybe a bit flattened out with age, but still some nice aromas coming through.

Taste has fruity notes on there, but they're slightly stale, with a muted, blanketed kind of flavour overall. Hints in there of peach, citrus and pink pepper with some minty hops late. Bit of bite shows it's mostly still there, but it does come across as a bit aged and diminished; maybe even a little sour. Still a decent pale ale though.

OK texture-wise, a bit bitey and spicy late, which goes to service the style well.

Drinks fine, but in my opinion this bottle is a little old, and I feel there was nothing especially fresh or vibrant to it anyway. Decent, though.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Haandbakk
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 09.02.13 in bottle
Overall:
70 / 100
(Very Good)
Pours a murky red colour, with thin whispy beige head, forming a ring of large bubbles with minimal lace. Looks OK, but nothing too special. Yes, a beer can look too special.

Smells very odd, with a big smokey, boozey funkiness. There's a petroleum level of strength to this, with a hint of salt, pepper and some underlying prune-raising dark fruitiness. Definitely intriguing, also quite likeable, but yeah, flavour will have to rein itself in a bit if I'm going to enjoy this, I fear.

Taste starts out with massive smoke, plus oak. Tartness is there from the get-go as well, with big jammy, plummy fruit and a tart edge. Spicy peppery notes towards the back, with a large tobacco herbal character coming through as well as mint and galangal. Intense, pretty polarising and wild even in and of itself. Maybe not such a firm hand on the flavour rudder here, but there's lots to grab onto and enjoy.

Fluid body; texture comes through late. Touch of sharp booze on the back. Not bad.

A little too much, maybe. Lots of spice/booze and maybe could have used a bit more fruit to complement the slight acidity. Nice, but just a little overcooked for me.
appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Nissefar
Reviewed by Jez on 03.02.13 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Very Good)
500ml bottle purchased from Leura Cellars.

Pours a pretty opaque and slightly reddish black (if you can have such a thing), with a pocked, large-bubbled faintly tan head. This dissipates quickly, only leaving a skeletal structure of big bubbles around the deep, black interior. Body looks somewhat heavy, somewhat fluid: it certainly doesn't have much stickiness to it, but it has some heft and hold very fine carbonation. It looks good.

Nose is rich, dark and roasted, but with plummy dark fruit undertones. Mild milk chocolate sweetness comes through, brushed with a liquorous, boozy brandy character. As often is the case with Haand's beers, there's a lick of smoke to go with it as well, giving a heartening, warming feel to the aroma overall. It's very good stuff indeed.

Taste is a lot lighter than I was expecting, with surprisingly little thickness or sweetness. Mild roasted characters come forward, with some cocoa-chocolate notes later on. Some faint cherry flavours round it out, but the back really just drifts away smoothly, and doesn't leave much of an impression on the back. Booze is well-hidden on the palate, though, without much prickle in the feel or heat in the flavour—the only hint is in the aroma.

Overall, I do like it a good deal. It's smooth and flavoursome, without being particularly heavy or bombastic. The faint Christmas overtones are there, but they're not overt, and it makes the beer feel more subtle and refined than it might have. Good stuff.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Sweet & Sour
Reviewed by Jez on 11.11.12 in bottle
Overall:
86 / 100
(Exceptional)
Bottle purchased for me by @LaitueGonflable, so I thought it was only fair to crack it open with him, and the freeloading @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a rather gloomy burnt orange hue, with a fine but insubstantial white head. Lacing is patchy, but solid where the loops stick. Body looks pretty solid and the carbonation is nigh-on static. Not bad at all.

Nose is clean, and tart with some green apple coming through along with a weird fudgey sweetness. Oddly rounded, with a slightly meaty hint like honey-soy chicken. Oh my, this is an odd and disturbing beer—and that's just how I like them.

Taste starts with a peppery astringency and a hint of limey acidity. Then, whack-bang out of nowhere comes a smoked character that ensures that all bets are off. Did I say this was odd and disturbing before? I didn't even know what an odd and disturbing beer tastes like then. The smoke tingles on the back, but the green-apple acidity still manages to stalk through the haze, leaving a really rather unsettling combination. Whoa, indeed.

Feel is light and spritzy, which is just so weird and off the wall—so I guess it fits in with the rest of the beer.

Bloody hell but Haand do some fascinating things with beers. What's astonishing is how well they seem to work. This is weird, abrasive and makes me want to have a little confused cry in the corner.

And yet I love it.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Odin's Tipple
Reviewed by Jez on 31.08.12 in bottle
Overall:
81 / 100
(Exceptional)
Uncaps without a hint of carbonation escaping. Hmm, an inauspicious start.

Pours pleasant, despite this: a rich, thick, oily black with a fine ring of deep chocolate brown bubbles around the edge of the glass. Some fine gauzy lace when it's tilted, but not much in the way of carbonation proper. I mean, really, this is a sinister looking beer.

Nose is incredible. Thick dark roast coupled with gorgeous, sensuous, devilish sweetness, touched with smoke, laden with gravity. Hints of char and pepper in the sinuses, everything you could possibly want. Just phenomenal.

Taste is also excellent, but it doesn't rise to the levels of bliss the nose was promising. In fact, it starts off surprisingly light, without a big-bodied sweetness on the front, or a big roasty character. Instead, the feel creates a chewy nothingness, before the roast and depth creep up later. By the mid-palate, you're in the middle of a bold crescendo, with roasted malt, liquorice and a hint of toffee making a clamour. And by the end, a huge rush of coffee and high-cacao chocolate gives a powerful finale. It's great stuff, but it's surprising how late they leave it to hit you with everything they've got.

Very backward on the palate, but that creates a genuine interest in the beer. And Haand are nothing if not interesting.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
HaandBic
Reviewed by Jez on 23.08.12 in bottle
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Uncaps with nary a fizzle, and pours a light rose-red colour, with a very insubstantial, but very fine head that sits in a ring around the edge of the glass. Body has a big of weight behind it, despite looking clear and fluid. Carbonation forms in a fine storm when the glass is tilted. Looks pretty good.

Nose is great. Definite lambic notes, giving a clear, direct vegetative note, like fresh olives. This mingles with a fruity acidity and a cranberry tartness. There's peppery, slightly dusty notes on the back as well. It doesn't capture some of the more subtle complexities of a rich Belgian gueuze, but it's a cracking approximation.

Taste is also good, but a little flatter and less expressive than I thought it might be. Cranberries certainly come forward here, with a big sweet-tart bite that seems to provide most of the acidity on its own. On the back we have some mild peppery and slightly vegetative characters, a little like roquette. Actually minimal lambic acidity, and it's missing a lot of funk, but it's still pretty interesting stuff.

Feel is flat, but crystal clear and bright.

Overall, this is pretty good stuff. It's no Cantillon, and perhaps it suffers from the comparison, but it's nice stuff well done, and they seem to have captured something of the classic style.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Sundland Kreosot
Reviewed by Jez on 20.08.12 in bottle
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)
500ml Bottle. Purchased for me by @epiclurk.

Pours a deep black colour, with just a tinge of red at the edged. Head is full and frothy, forming a solid mocha-coloured crest to the beer. Lace is excellent: firm and full, but with interesting wavering patterns at the top. Body is quite fluid. It's a great-looking beer.

Nose is pleasantly balanced between three characters: one, hops, which come forward in a pronounced but generic sweep. Two: darkness, but this is far from a generic roast character. Instead, we get a sweetness that melds with the hop fragrance and releases its own aromatics, that of aniseed and liquorice. And finally, there's the seeming constant in Haand beers: a very slight note of smoke. It's a glorious combination, making this a very heady brew.

Taste is also glorious. Indeed, every sip seems to plumb new depths. On the front, at various times we have liquorice, roasted malt, or the progenitor of hop bitterness. Whatever the start on your particular sip, this always develops into a strong roasted character mid-palate, after which we get a milder and sweeter dark note, suggesting roasted nuts or biscuits. The back has a hay or grassy character as the hops put in their day's work, while the finish has a little more nuttiness and a slight wafty aroma of anise and smoke.

Feel is a little thin, the only drawback that I can really see.

This is great stuff from Haand, who have a reputation to uphold with me. This beer discharges that reputation beautifully, and keeps Haand in my sights as one of the breweries to be truly excited about when I get a new beer of theirs in my hands.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Bestefar
Reviewed by Jez on 05.06.12 in bottle
Overall:
75 / 100
(Excellent)
On a miserably wintry day in Sydney, I thought this was a suitable beer.

Pours a pleasant deep, deep ruby-black colour, with a fizzling and frothy head of pale brown. Body is really surprisingly light given the size of the beer itself. Looks pretty decent.

Nose is bright and extremely vinous, giving off direct characters of red wine cork and a little oak barrel. Spicy and a little fruity, with some musty tannic qualities coming through as well. There's a touch more sweetness than you'd get in say a big, aged Shiraz, and a hint of roast to it, but otherwise it's remarkably similar. Perhaps slightly lacking in complexity, but otherwise good.

Taste is much different, with a bold, roasted smoothness and a smoky back palate, which lends a comforting if somewhat unusual edge to the beer. Feel is a little light, but leaves a smoothness that mingles with the oak and smoke characters. On the back there is a touch of astringency, and a hint of heat to it, which detracts from the drinkability overall.

Overall, a very decent beer, but one I feel perhaps just lacks a little of Haand's usual esoteric charm. There are some interesting parts to it, but it doesn't draw you in and take you deeper what's there on the surface.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.0
Fyr & Flamme
Reviewed by Jez on 31.03.12 in bottle
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)
Bottle purchased from Plonk in Canberra. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a fine, hazy, red-tinged orange, with an enormous head that seems obscene at the start, but which settles to a meringuey egg-white foam with thick, rich lacing. Body is quite light, leaving a rather fluid bead. Not a bad look, overall.

Nose is spectacular. Big, sharply crisp but fruity aromas, giving lychee in particular, with hints of melon rind, sweet citrus and sweet herbs not far behind. There's a touch of dryness to it as well, without any feeling of true, thick heavy sweet malt. Really lovely.

Taste is also very good, with a clean, slightly nutty bitterness reminiscent of blanched almonds. The fruit has dropped off mostly here, leaving just the dryness giving a slight crispness, although there are lingering aromatic hints of the lychees. It's crisp and very enjoyable.

Overall, a great beer, from a brewery who I continue to enjoy, and this time, even when they're not doing some kind of smoky monstrosity. Very clean and bright, but with tons of flavour, character and complexity. Lovely stuff.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 5.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Dark Force
Reviewed by Jez on 01.03.12 in bottle
Overall:
73 / 100
(Very Good)
Purchased from Plonk in Canberra.

Pours a lovely deep black-brown, with the suggestion of depth to the body. Surprisingly though, the body is quite light and fluid, giving a sense of thinness. Head is a wonderful deep chocolate brown, formed of fine bubbles that hint at creaminess. Some lacing. Apart from the body, looks very fine.

Nose is roasted, dark and slightly sweet, but with an odd clipped crispness to it. Slightly woody notes like freshly felled timber mingle with the base notes of chocolate and coffee. Almost a piney character comes through, giving notes of sawdust and resin. There's also a very faint slight smokiness to it, but restrained compared to Haand's usual handling of smoke. It's fascinating and a little different.

Taste is also pleasant, but more along the straight and narrow confines of the style. Some pleasant dark roasted notes giving a charred character and hints of high roast coffee and bitter chocolate, with lingering flavours of pine and a slight boozy astringency. The feel is certainly disappointing, and it leaves something of a hole in the centre of the palate that should be filled with gooey richness. It also accentuates the drying astringency of the booze.

It's a good beer, but it could certainly have been better: I just assume that the parts where it falls down are the result of the reliance on wheat in the grain bill and a weizen yeast for fermentation. i.e. It's the experiment itself that lets the beer down: what makes it unique also is what makes it slightly disappointing.

appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.5
Akevitt Porter (Barrel-Aged Porter)
Reviewed by Jez on 30.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
84 / 100
(Exceptional)
Quite an amazing pour: initially, it looks like it's not going to form a head at all, just leaving some yellowish-brown turbulent bubbles in the top of the deep, brown-black body. But then tiny bubbles start to nucleate forming a rich, chocolate-brown head of very fine film. This eventually settles out a little, but it's still creamy when it's filmy. Body is rich and full, leaving powdery static carbonation when swirled. Lacing is excellent. Looks like a fantastic beer.

Nose is intense, with big roasty high-cocoa chocolate characters, and savoury, slightly spicy characters of cardamom, aniseed and caraway seed. There's a hint of booze to it too, but it mellows into a nutty amaretto sort of character. Really quite unique and incredibly pleasant and complex.

Taste is a little lighter and less complex, but it has such a length on the palate, lending sweet chocolate on the front, before smoothly transitioning into a roasted bittersweet finish. Chocolate and cocoa still seem to me the dominant flavours, and some of the spice suggested on the nose has dropped out a little. Still the roastiness has nuanced layers to it, giving some brewed coffee tones above the smoother bitter chocolate notes.

Feel is wonderful, at once slick and light, but with that chewy lingering character that allows the flavours to mellow and develop in the mouth.

Really lovely brew this one, even by the high standards I place on Haand. They really do a good line in "Scandinavian" pseudo-traditional beers, which ironically puts them in the avant garde of the craft beer scene.

appearance: 5.0 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 5.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Kreklingol
Reviewed by Jez on 26.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
65 / 100
(Solid)
Opens with a pretty mighty fizz, and pours like a soft drink, very fizzy, light-bodied and head-less. Body is an interesting blood-red hue, with touches of brown at the edges, but very deep and dense in colour.

Nose is interesting, with a slight savoury-sweet tone to it that suggests fruit-skin, and a twinge of seaweed. There's a pleasant tone of grainy, rustic malt that seems characteristic of Haand. Slight rusty overtones as well, which give it some sharpness. Very interesting.

Taste is good, but a little flat, and really missing some body and sweetness. There are more of those savoury fruit characters (I assume the Crowberries), with a brusque foresty organic bitterness streaming over the top. Under this are those mild grainy characters, and a hint of slightly funky, rustic, saison-like acidity.

Very interesting, but perhaps more of an intriguing subnote than a truly good beer in its own right. Certainly missing a little something, and probably not worthy of the 7.4% ABV it's packing.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Dobbel Dose (Dobbel Dram)
Reviewed by Jez on 25.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
61 / 100
(Decent)
Bottle purchased from the International Beer Shop in Perth, WA.

Uncaps with a sharp hiss of carbonation, and then soon after delivers on that prophecy, with a ridiculously overcarbonated frothy of off-white foam pouring into the glass. On the first pour, there was almost no body to it, just the foam. After a while, the head crackles its way down to something a little bit more sensible, and the body forms a hazy, slightly murky golden orange colour. Body is surprisingly light and fluid. Despite the head, the carbonation seems quite fine and tempered.

Nose is surprisingly sweet and malty, with big caramel and lightly acidic toffee coming through potently. Some slight resiny, slightly piney hops come through, but they're mingled with an earthy puff at the base of the aroma leaving them subjugate to the malt sweetness. Perhaps there's something I'm missing here to explain it (perhaps the "Norwegian" in their style descriptor means something), but this is a sub-par IPA nose.

Taste is a lot better. A Lot Better, in fact: bright, nutty malt is the only transient sweetness, and this is ceremoniously layered with pleasant crisp hoppy flavours, giving a distinct bitter bite across the palate. Still, there's a touch of that earthiness with the hops giving more flavours of tobacco and tannic tea, but at least the hops are more forward here.

Slight booze on the back lends a bit of heat and astringency, but the feel overall is surprisingly light. With the heat and vapours, and the light feel, it has a texture somewhat like cheap whisky. The carbonation, while perhaps absent in the body, makes its presence felt, leaving the beer bloating and gassy.

Overall, a pretty disappointing drop from Haand, and easily their weakest offering I've had to date. Possibly not their strength as a brewer—I'll stick to your rustic Scandi smoke-and-funk ales, thanks.

appearance: 3.0 | aroma: 3.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 3.0 | drinkability: 3.0
Costa Rica (Coffee Porter)
Reviewed by Jez on 24.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
76 / 100
(Excellent)
Pours an extremely dark brown, almost opaquely black, and only leavened in hue at the very edges, where it becomes an oily, translucent chestnut. Head is bulbous and large-bubbled, almost fizzing up in extravagance. The colour is a pleasant very light coffee-crema beige, and the lacing forms as sudsy rings as it falls. The head and the associated carbonation is a little worrying, but otherwise it looks pretty decent.

Nose is pleasant sweet coffee, all the way, cut slightly with a touch of crisp acidity, possibly from the carbonation, as it settles down a little as the head does. Touches of leather, chocolate and pepper come through as well, all providing a dark roastiness, that never really gets towards roasted or astringent—it's a mild sweetness throughout.

Taste is lovely, and the feel is way better than I expected. The slick, oily palate has the texture of cold espresso, and it manages to coat the tongue with its array of coffee, milk chocolate and creamy sweetness. Very clear and clean, and very luscious—there's not huge complexity in flavour, but the simple sweetness is soothing, warming and comforting.

Finish is surprisingly long, and while some of the sweetness drops out on the back leaving a sense of dryness, those cocoa and coffee characters retain the ghost of the sweetness, so the illusion lasts for much longer.

Really nice brew from Haand, who I believe I'm yet to have a disappointing beer from. This is smooth, slick and very drinkable, while making a really nice showcase of the coffee.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.0 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Hesjeøl
Reviewed by Jez on 04.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
83 / 100
(Exceptional)
Purchased from Leura Cellars.

Pours a lovely hazed but bright orange golden colour, with enough clarity just to keep the light shining through. Head is filmy and insubstantial. Body has a bit of heft to it, while staying fluid. Looks very decent.

Nose is wonderfully weird and interesting, with nice mixtures of smoke, juniper, hay and green cut lucerne. Something sharper to it as well, with a pleasant spicy character. Really nice.

Taste actually improves on this complexity, adding a soft sweetness on the palate, and a really nice wholesome grain character. All of this is layered pleasantly with the sharp juniper, the rustic smoke and even a touch of eventual acidity to clear it out. This is all aided by the feel which is smooth at the start, but peppered with a fine carbonation—it mirrors the soft malt/sharp green characters in the flavour.

Really nice beer: as well as having interesting complexities, it has a really well thought out and well executed balance to the flavours. I'm really loving what Haand does—this one may be the finest of theirs I've tried to date.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.0 | drinkability: 4.5
Røyk Uten Ild (Smoke Without Fire)
Reviewed by Jez on 02.01.12 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
500ml bottle purchased from the Adelaide Bier Shop.

Pours with very effervescent carbonation, requiring quick thinking to keep the foam from exploding out of the bottle. The carbonation stays fine and voluminous throughout, feeding a frothy but smooth head of off-white. Body is a cloudy deep mahogany colour, reddish in places, deep chestnut brown in others. Surprisingly fluid in the glass. Not a bad look all up.

Nose is smoky and sweet, with a type of meatiness to it that makes it feel solid and a little savoury. There are big caramel or treacle characters, which with the smoke mingle to give a glazed ham aroma. It's good, but I wonder if it will be slightly too heavy.

Taste is, contrary to all my expectations, too *hoppy*. On the back palate, we get a pronounced bitterness, that tends towards soapy grapefruit and rusty metal. This mingles with the (now dominated) smoke character to give quite an ashy finish. But the smoke flavour itself has almost disappeared, and the sweetness I was worried about ends up being overborne by the hops.

It's another interesting beer from Haand, but this one works a little less than some of their others. Again, they have some interestingly odd characters to it, but it's a little bit skewed towards anarchic here.

appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0
Norwegian Wood
Reviewed by Jez on 03.12.11 in bottle
Overall:
84 / 100
(Exceptional)
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.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Haandbakk
Reviewed by Jez on 27.10.11 in bottle
Overall:
84 / 100
(Exceptional)
500ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer.

Pours a deep dark mahogany colour, heavy in the body, with a decent heft to it. Flashes of ruby come out when held to the light, rather pleasantly. Head is lacklustre, as you often get with wild ales. This one forms a layer of large quarter-centimetre bubbles across the top that sit looking dormant and oily. There's some very fine carbonation visible at the corners. Overall, a good looking, if slightly mysterious brew.

Nose is sharp and old, giving slightly astringent acetone characters, along with dry flaky chocolate and ancient woody depth. Everything about it suggests that it's old and aged, giving a weird but compelling complexity.

Taste is gorgeous, and in some senses makes sense of the mystery on the nose and in the appearance. Here, a tight acidity strikes through the centre, lending an odd counterpoint against some of the sweet dark characters and the almost spiritous oak notes. Characters of dark cherries, carob, tannic wine and white pepper come through, along with a lengthy exhalation of booze. It's complex and challenging, but oddly moreish as well, setting your palate up for the next sip.

Wonderful brew from Haand. This is a complex, delightful and exciting beer, that gives something unique to the drinker.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5
Farewell Ale
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 12.09.11 in bottle
Overall:
66 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a very, very dark colour with red tinge when held right up to the light. Head is lovely, if a bit overexuberant - beige, dense and good retention. Lace is lovely and clingy.

Smell is roasty and smokey. dark malt with rich chocolatey notes, some sultana and citrus peel. Smokey meat with cured ham, white pepper and honey. Very pleasant nose, good complexities.

Taste is quite dark with loads of wood smoke that's quite light and meaty with touches of fruit glaze - orange, honey and plum notes. Oak wood and ham smokiness midway that gives way to an oddly salty finish. Could use a bigger malt presence with more dark roastiness just to ground it. The palate seems to get out of hand a bit towards the end and drifts away from the roastiness one should expect. Not bad, just finishes oddly.

Fairly full body but a bit of drag on the mid-palate that makes it leave a bit empty.

I can taste in this palate the beer this might have been. Unfortunately I have to look for it, as the best flavours here don't quite speak enough for themselves.
appearance: 4.5 | aroma: 4.0 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Ardenne Blond
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 15.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Pours a pale golden colour with light haze. Head is white, very generous - nice, dense and fluffy with big bubbles appearing on the top, and decent lace that really could be a bit stickier. Pretty good.

Smell is quite Belgian. Rich, fruity and spicy with a dry musty edge. Lots of champagne grapes giving tart notes, some white pepper, capsicum and hint of clove. Slight boozey edge at the back. Yeah not bad, but the dryer, mustier notes could give way either to more fruit or more funky aromas, just smells like Belgian yeast.

Taste has a nice fruity underlying character. Stone fruit largely with lots of apricot, peach and candied orange. Develops into musty notes midway that really dry up the palate, producing some light vinous characters and a lot of mellow spice notes. Tart, highly attenuated, warm, but still a tad simple overall, with a slight alcohol heat on the back. A pleasant, drinkable palate but it still falls short of real greatness.

Bit sizzly on the feel, dry and a bit harsh overall. Good body though.

Really strikes me more as a Belgian strong pale than a strong saison, it's very Belgian in character but lacks those organic funky farmhouse notes. If the alcohol were reduced they might come through more but the warmth of the booze just ups the other Belgian yeasty flavours a bit too much.
appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.5
Good Force
Reviewed by LaitueGonflable on 07.06.11 in bottle
Overall:
63 / 100
(Solid)
Pours orange-tinged gold colour, nice haze to it. Head is off-white, nice and densely-packed but with nice webbing on the top. Lace is decent, clingy. Looks good.

Smell is tart and wheaty, but a large dose of booze on there as well. Slight citrus, a touch of melon, but the dominant aroma is, sadly, a characterless alcohol heat. Yeah, tart - sour, even - and boozey. That's about it.

Taste is definitely better. Quite rich with lots of sour notes, raw wheat mixed with orange peel, some white wine vinegar and distinct floral notes. Yes, camomile, but I'm thinking jasmine as well. It tempers the tart wheat notes, but doesn't entirely take over the palate. There's a hot booze note on the very end, which is a shame, but finish is still nicely floral with a tangy organic flavour. Quite nice, but not entirely successful.

Nice, full, smooth, feel. Booze is there in flavour only, not in the texture.

Yeah, a nice imperial wheat that manages to redeem itself in spite of a number of flaws. Decent, enjoyable brew.
appearance: 4.0 | aroma: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.0
Ardenne Blond
Reviewed by Jez on 21.04.11 in bottle
Overall:
60 / 100
(Decent)
Purchased from the International Beer Shop in Perth, while on a visit there. Chilled in my hotel bar fridge and served into an inappropriate hotel glass.

Pours a hazed but bright and light lemon yellow colour. Head forms in zesty, soda-pop-like carbonation at the start, but disappears almost as quickly, leaving a full and gelatinous body that just keeps large-bubbled carbonation on the top. Certainly quite heavy.

Nose is a bit zesty and a little spicy, but rather subdued overall. Some meaty, sweaty funk, a little pepper and a dash of grainy, organic malt, but all quite mild. Decent, but not exceptional.

Taste is similar, but the spice is a little more pronounced here, giving a very pleasant organic green vegetation bite. Phenolic on the back, which is out of character for the style, but adds crispness as a whole. Unfortunately, it doesn't really add anything to the palate, which is genuinely lacking in stylistic elements.

Feel is smooth and clean, but light, despite the appearance and the additional boozy notes on the back.

If you're going to make a Saison this heavy, it really needs to accentuate the classic organic and funky characters. This really doesn't, and it suffers for it. It ends up being too sharp, too heavy and certainly too boozy.

appearance: 3.5 | aroma: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drinkability: 3.0