Nøgne Ø were founded in Norway back in January 2002, and despite being Norwegian, the brewery’s name comes from the Danish language, translating to ‘Naked Island’, and is originally from a poem by 19th century poet Henrik Ibsen. The brewery was founded by a pair of avid homebrewers, Gunnar Wiig and Kjetil Jikiun, and began with a modest production capacity of 300 hectolitres. Over the years this has grown to around 20,000 hectolitres, thanks to their original brewing facility in Grimstad being augmented by a second brewery being built right next door in June 2017.
In 2013 fellow Norwegian brewery Hansa Borg Bryggerier became a majority shareholder in the company, which allowed for Nøgne Ø to expand into many export markets, as well as bolster their existing sales and output. Original founder Kjetil Jikiun left the company in July 2015, but still holds some shares in the brewery, whilst Gunnar Wiig oversees a growing team of 24+, tinkering away at a variety of beer styles.
The brewery embraces and produces a wide range of beers, from IPAs, pale ales, brown ales and dark beers. Their standard range numbers over 20 different offerings currently, with several of them being alcohol-free. Nolo seems to have been worked on by Nøgne Ø since at least 2011, when they had a 0% stout named ‘Inferial Stout’ available. The subject of this review is also one of the brewery’s non-alcoholic stouts, this time a milk stout named ‘Svart/Hvit’. Translating to ‘black/white’, is this referring to what the beer will look like in the glass when we pour it? Let’s see shall we?
The beer is an opaque dark brown colour, almost black when we pour it, and produces a caramel-coloured frothy head which sticks around for the first few mouthfuls. Not quite the black/white that the beer’s name is suggesting, but we’ll let that slide. The aromas are strong and appear as soon as the beer hits the glass, with a flood of black treacle, coffee, roasted malts and sweet vanilla washing over our olfactory organs. It’s like inhaling a tiramisu (avoiding the horrible cocoa powder they sometimes cover it with), or the raw batter mix of a decent coffee cake.
On tasting we get bitterness up front, but it’s restrained, with an underlying flavour of roasted, almost charred malts. There are hints of coffee and dark chocolate, but this stout is all about the rich, dark malts. On subsequent mouthfuls there’s a caramel sweetness that appears on the tip of your tongue, which may be the lactose in effect (sorry Vegans). This lactose is obviously also helping out with the depth of body, which is heavy and rich as it should be, with mild carbonation giving a velvety mouthfeel. We get a bitter finish to the drink.
Nøgne Ø Svart/Hvit should be sought out by all stout/porter/dark beer fans as it’s the real deal. Delicious tasting and smooth, with body and depth that is often missing from non-alcoholic dark beers. If you’re used to a sweeter stout this might be veering over to the bitter side for you, but give it a try, especially as the nights draw in.
Buy Nøgne Ø Svart/Hvit
Nøgne Ø export many of their beers to the UK, so you might spot bottles of Svart/Hvit in your local off-license or bottle shop. Of course, shopping online is always easier:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)|
|Local Water, Malted Barley, Lactose, Hops, Yeast|
|Country of Production||Norway|
|Brewer||Nøgne Ø – https://www.nogne-o.com/|
|Vegan Friendly?||No, contains lactose|
Nøgne Ø Svart/Hvit Alcohol-Free Stout Review
A full-bodied and full-flavoured milk stout, swaying over to bitterness for once. A lovely drink for cold, dark evenings in front of the fire.