In our March 2023 Ale Odyssey box, we are showcasing some modern beer styles from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway – countries that have been brewing for thousands of years. Although the boozy pastry stouts we’re featuring are quite different to traditional Nordic beers, there are still many Norse farmhouse breweries in the region that have been handing recipes down since the age of Vikings.
The Vikings were skilled brewers who loved to feast, party and drink! Beer was not just a beverage to them, but a crucial aspect of culture and tradition. They even had a god of brewing, Aegir, who was renowned for throwing numerous parties for the other gods and providing what we all dream of: bottomless horns of ale.
During their voyages between the 8th and 11th centuries, Vikings would often bring spices, herbs, and hops back from distant lands to flavour their beer. Most of the Viking brewmasters were women, using their own household recipes of grains, hops and spices, and brewing over open fires, giving it a smoky flavour profile.
The brewing of beer began to decline when Christianity made its way into Scandinavia in the 11th century. This foreign religion discouraged excessive drinking, and beer brewing was even banned in some areas. Fortunately for our tastebuds, traditional Nordic farmhouse ales continued to be brewed in smaller communities throughout the region.
These days, Nordic beers have a wide variety of styles. From traditional farmhouse ales that still use kviek from 1000 years ago, to pastry stouts, smoothie sours and fresh IPAs inspired by modern craft beer, Scandinavia is a must-visit for all beer lovers.