In a first for Meet the Brewer we head across the North Sea to Norway and chat to Kjetil Jikiun of Nøgne ø
What is your Brewery name and where did it come from?
Nøgne ø, Det Kompromissløse Bryggeri, which litteraly means Naked Island, The Uncomromising Brewery.
Naked Island is a term from from the poem “Terje Vigen” www.terjevigen.com which Henriks Ibsen wrote while living in our home town, Grimstad, and it refers to an island without much vegetation.
What is your brewery capacity?
The annual capacity of Nøgne ø is around 4500 hl.
What is different about your brewery?
In a Norwegian context, pretty much everything is different, as most other breweries make almost nothing but light, industrially brewed, filtered and pasteurized lager.
In an international setting I still think we stand out.
- For starters we only brew what we like, never what we think the public will like.
- We do not filter (in fact we do not even own a filter).
- We make sake, as the first and only in Europe.
- As we use English traditional malts and liberal amounts of American aggressive hops, we feel that our beers are true mid Atlantic in profile.
How long have you been brewing for?
Personally I started home brewing in 1999.The founding of Nøgne ø in 2002 made me take the step into commercial brewing.
How did you get into brewing?
By my enthusiasm for cooking, which made me venture into making my own beverage. Since grapes do not grow well in Norway, the only right beverage to start making was beer.
What beers do you brew regularly?
Personally I do not have time to brew much any more. There is the occasional brew during summer or Easter, when the brewers are on vacation. Other than that, most time is spent at other task, like quality control, product development and upgrading/improving various procedures and equipment.
Nøgne ø makes the following beers regularly: Bitter, Havrestout, Brown Ale, Wit, Blonde, Citra Single Hop IPA, AkuAku Lemongrass ale, Pale Ale, IPA, Porter, #100, #500, Imperial Stout, Imperial Brown Ale, Tiger Tripel, Saison and Brun.
What special/seasonal beers do you brew?
Underlig Jul, Julesnadder, God Jul, Sunturnbrew, Bohemian Pilsner
Where do you think the future of brewing lies?
The future of brewing is in good beers made with focus on quality and craftsmanship. People understand that these products should be respected.
This is in contrast to industrially made products which nobody care about and everyone wants to pay as little as possible for.
Do you bottle/keg/cask your beer?
Initially we started with an all bottle conditioned portfolio. Now we have some products which are too strong to bottle condition, as the yeast becomes quite unpredictable above 10 percent alcohol.
We also keg on disposable keykegs. Most of these are keg conditioned. The key kegs are fantastic. We believe that the use of these is an advantage for the environment, as it can be recycled 100%, and we do not have to ship steel kegs in return.
Occasionally we do cask condition our ales, but only upon request from our customers.
What is you proudest moment in brewing?
It makes me very proud when we get emails, phone calls and letters from people who wishes to tell us how much they appreciate the beers we brew. That shows that we are having an impact on people’s lives. That we are doing something good.
Do you have any brewing regrets?
Actually, No! Because all mistakes I have done(there has been many!)have been extremely educational.
What is your brewing ambition?
To make the majority of the population in Norway to understand that pasteurized, filtered, underhopped lager beer is the inferior drink. That one day people will understand that beer is as versatile, complex and rewarding to drink as wines. What was last beer you drank?
What is your favourite hop and why?
Hmmm….This is a tricky question to answer!!!!!
Generally I think I would say Cascade. Fresh and citrusy. It can be subtle. You can make it aggressive. It goes with most beer styles.
But I love the spiciness of Columbus as finishing hops (i.e. in whirlpool). It gives a unique complexity.
What is your favourite beer/food combo?
Beer and cheese. Rich Belgian ales, dark or light. Strong malty British ales as barley wines, old ales or strong browns and porters with Stilton, Gouda and Chevre. If you add some walnuts and pickles, then it is 100% perfect.
Do you have a Brewing hero/inspiration?
There are so many. For so many different reasons.
But I guess Fal Allen and Dick Cantwell who started the Pike Place Brewery, and John Maier from Rogue are a true inspiration. They have been in the brewing business for a long time, and still they are 100% dedicated to brewing. They are still totally hands on. No desk , suit or commercial jobs for them. But brewing and dedication to flavours.
If you could brew one collaboration beer with someone who would it be with and what would it be?
I wish I could brew an unfiltered and unpasteurized IPA with some large brewery as Carlsberg or Anheuser Busch. Not because I want to rub shoulders with the big guys but because I want to reach out to a large audience.
Which beer do you wish you had brewed?
Maybe some complex imperial stout, like Bell Expedition Stout or Oscar Blues Ten Fidy.
How do you spend your time when you aren’t brewing?
When I am not brewing, I am either working for the brewery by my laptop computer, or doing my other job which is as an airline captain on Boeing 737s. The only time I can relax is when I visit my second home, which is on a beach in Malaysia.There I do as little as possible. Such a contrast to my life in Norway!
If you could have one superhero superpower what would it be?
The ability to concentrate, have patience and focus. Both in an intellectual way and spiritual.
Do you have a website/twitter/blog?
Our website is www.nogne-o.com. There you will find links to beer blog, sake blog, facebook and twitter.
Anything else you want to tell us?
Maybe that we at Nøgne ø are working on keeping the playful spirit we had when we started. It takes an occasional battle against the beancounters, but we are still committed to keep the non commercial mindset.
Big thanks to Kjetil for filling this in, I really enjoyed reading it and hope you do to.