Beer is perhaps one of mankind’s oldest fermented beverages. Sometimes called natures “Perfect Food”, beer has been documented as far back as the 5th millennium BC. Beer is produced from cereals containing sugars, and as ancient man advanced from hunter-gathers to farmers and herdsman and domesticated cereal, the popular beverage began its long history. But the ancient beer did not ape the product we all know today. In the beginning it was more of a gruel, very thick and sweet. It took many thousands of years of trial and error for it to resemble the drink we know today. In fact beer was so important that many cultures used it in religious practices.
Beer remains today one of the world’s most popular fermented beverages, and over time, many countries have become famous for their beers…Germany, with its Reinheitsgebot, or “Beer Purity Laws”, England, Ireland, Belgium and many other countries have become world leaders for the beer they brew and beer lovers around the world consume millions of gallons annually. So anytime a new and unique beer becomes available, the beer drinkers of the world take notice! Case in point…The Einstök Ölgerd. In Icelandic it means “Unique Brewery” and this is the story of how a brewery 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in the fishing port of Akureyri, Iceland was founded by Californian Jack Sichterman and partner David Altshuler. Originally, Jack and David visited Iceland to explore the possibility of creating a luxury water brand. Jack, having worked with breweries including Miller and Tsingtao, fell in love with Iceland and felt that its water was, ideal for brewing beer with or as he put it…”God put this water on earth to brew beer with!” Yet, at the time, in 2009, the country was not producing any craft beer, only standard, big brewery lagers. Despite this they found a brew master named Baldur Karason, considered by many to be a beer genius and the most accredited brewer in Iceland.
“Baldur the Brewmaster” has created for Einstök five amazing beers…Icelandic Pale Ale, toasted Porter, Arctic Berry Ale and Doppelbock. The fifth brew is the heart of this article, Icelandic “White Ale” And it is this beer that is the talk of the town among beer lovers. Until recently Einstök was only available in Iceland, the United Kingdom, Florida and California. As a testament to its quality and popularity, the beer is now also available in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. When it was first launched in October 2014, Einstök White Ale on draft was only available in Iceland and at Norway’s Pavilion in Disney’s EPCOT Park, which remains the number one single sales location for the beer in the world.
The story behind this is pretty amazing, much like the beer itself. I had a chance to talk with one of the Cast Members of the Norway pavilion and he imparted to me the whole yarn. Norway, among the rest of the Scandinavian countries is not well known for their beers, unlike Germany or England. And the only beers offered at Norway’s Pavilion were Carlsberg beer (Which is brewed in Denmark) and Bud Light. “We knew we wanted to expand our Norwegian beer offerings”, he stated. “After searching for about a year, a distributor informed us about the new product becoming available”. “We ordered the four bottled beers and when the brewery produced 200 barrels of the White Ale, we purchased the whole lot.” He continued…”The Pavilion originally had an exclusive on the draft Icelandic White Ale, and the only place you could get it on tap was from the cart outside, next to the Stave Church” The beer is so popular among the Guests, it is selling as fast as the small brewery can produce it.
The Pavilion started offering the beer at the cart the second week of this year’s Food and Wine Festival, starting on the 26th of September. The beer is not advertised, but is showcased by the Cast Members by word of mouth. The beer is such a rabid favorite that at one point, it sold out and the Pavilion had to wait 9 days for another shipment from Iceland! The beer is brewed in Iceland, placed in shipping containers to the Port of Miami, and on a refrigerated train right to Disney. The Cast Member also stated that…”All five beers are available at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in bottles, but again, the best place in the country to get the White Ale on draft is from our cart”
I got a chance to sample this new offering and it most definitely lives up to its hype. I have always loved the German beers, and any beer drinker knows that Beers from Deutschland are very robust and strong. And that is why I am impressed with this new Icelandic White Ale. The beer is first and foremost very refreshing. It has just the right amount of hops, but it is not a light beer. You taste the hint of the spices, coriander and orange peel; it has a pale, light color, but is robust enough to satisfy any beer lover! I can understand why it is so very popular.
So if you are a beer lover, and wish to engage a different beer not readily available in the USA, on your next trip to the World, head over to Norway and grab a brew that I believe the Vikings would be proud of!