ales - Juleol - sparkle on Norway's holiday tables
Norway - and indeed most of Scandinavia - people celebrate the Christmas
from early November on through the New Year.
a monumental labor to prepare for the holidays in Norway, perhaps
because there are so many parties. Some
families go to three or four Julebord parties in a night, just to
satisfy their social duties.
makes it all the more sociable is the traditional Juleol, the winter
ale rolled out in honor of the season's solstice.
before the current craft brewing movement inaugurated the calendar
of seasonal brews, Norwegians celebrated the solstice with special
dark ales, brewed with extra malts for sheer alcohol strength, were
first brewed by pagans. The Gulatingslov, one of the first Norse legal
codes written in the 8th century, included a chapter on brewing beer
for the midwinter festivities in January. Norse gods such as Odin,
Frey and Njord, received their due revelries in the form of beery
Middle Ages, the brewing business became more tightly regulated -
as the Church gained its ascendency. For example, a farmer who did
not set aside his very best grain to make the Juleol could lose his
farm to the king and the Church. Now, since Norwegian law links taxation
to the strength of the alcohol, the most robust of the Juleol ales
command up to 30 percent in taxation.
the best-known breweries in Norway, the Aass Brewery of Drammen, exports
its Juleol. Terje Aass, the managing director and sixth generation
family to represent the brewery, explains that the dark Juleol is
brewed according to strict lagering - and in fact lagers for a full
three months for its smooth, rich flavor.
old-fashioned Norwegian herring salad with an Aass Juleol -
(8 ounces) prepared cream and onion herring
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup finely minced red onion
Fresh ground pepper to taste
ingredients together in a glass bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours before
serving. Good with crispy onion flatbreads.
version of this article first appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,