So, back in 1997 Sam and Mariah headed to Scandinavia to attend the first-ever Scandinavian Brewers Conference (Sam was a keynote speaker). Sam took the opportunity to connect with Anders Kissmeyer of
So, back in 1997 Sam and Mariah headed to Scandinavia to attend the first-ever Scandinavian Brewers Conference (Sam was a keynote speaker). Sam took the opportunity to connect with Anders Kissmeyer of Nørrebro Bryghus in Cophenhagen, a brewer pal that he’d met at various brewing events. Anders and Sam started talking beer, Anders invited Sam to brew at his brewery, they traded ideas and all of the sudden – Sam was brewing in Denmark!
Sam and Anders decided on an old, traditional Danish beer style. They unearthed the obscure ‘Odense Old Style Ale’ web page with a translation of a 15th century pre-hop era gruit ale recipe from the town of Odense, and began the process of converting this into something that might be brewed on a modern brewing system. Ingredients included pale and dark barley malt, oats, fine syrup (which was actually maple syrup from Sam’s dad’s farm in Massachusetts), smoked dark syrup, fir branches and fir bark, wood sage, hyssop, blackthorn berries, woodruff and star spice – woah!
Brew day at Nørrebro Bryghus arrived – what a fun one (photos to the right)! Suffice it to say, that the amazing souring of the beer, that happened within 48 hours of fermentation, must be due to the potent ‘herbal juice’ hand squeezed by guest brewer Sam from the herbs in the 7 huge gauze bags, and added to the wort kettle during the boil.
The Old Odense Ale is a 7.5% abv beer that defies any known beer style or category (wow, that is so un-like Dogfish). On the label it is described as “Ale brewed with maple syrup and herbs”. But this says precious little about this bright and copper coloured beer with a very sparse and fragile head. The aroma is extremely complex and spicy, with notes of anis, tobacco, brettanomyces, leather and dried fruits. The body is rich and with a delicate sweetness that balances the sour tartness, making it far more accessible than a Belgian lambic, which would be the only well known style to which one could possible remotely compare Old Odense Ale.
Flash forward to 2008… the beer is ready to go and Anders is actually exporting some of this single-batch, limited edition brew to the United States! Old Odense Ale is available in the US through Shelton Brothers Importing of Belchertown, MA. Get in touch with them if you want to track some of it down!