Cycling Cicerone Flies Out

The Cycling Cicerone is heading abroad. I'm trying out this new business credit card account and going on a work trip! Onward to Iceland, Ireland, and Norway. Ireland is known for Guinness but frankly not much else. Iceland and Norway have no well-known beer history at all. I define well-known as "known by me," obviously. It's time to change all that! For the next few weeks I'll be travelling abroad for the second time as the Cycling Cicerone. The first time was to Chile, whose beer scene leaves a little to be desired. I don't blame them, they are kinda wine country and have that going for them pretty strongly. Now I'm heading North and completely overshooting the renowned beer countries of Belgium, Germany, and England to go to the land of Viking Beer, so I did a little reading.


I give Norway a hard time. They are just kind of late to the craft beer game. They've been suffering from the same big brewery consolidation that wrecked American craft brewing after prohibition and are only just now coming back. Only two breweries own 85% of the market. Ringnes and Hansa Borg: the Budweiser and Coors of Norway. Literally the next biggest brewery is a proportionately Sam Adams sized place limping along with what's left. Their word for Micro Brewery is Mikrobryggeri, which I am excited to see I will be able to recognize wherever I go.


Iceland is also in a recovering beer phase. After a brutal prohibition in 1915 that lasted until 1935 when the Spanish got pissed that no one was buying their wine, and that wasn’t fully repealed until 1989 (yeah, basically yesterday), Iceland has been going through the same craft beer revolution we had going on here fifteen years ago. They've been doing good work to get out from under the heel of big lager. Between here and Norway, I can't wait to get my hands on this old Viking tradition that has been making it's steady resurgence!


Ireland has Guinness and I'm not sure I need say more than that. It is the best, and really the only brewer of Dry Irish stout, one of only a couple breweries that can claim complete ownership of a style. The others are California Common beer, also known as Steam Beer, which can only be brewed by Anchor, and real Pilsner which can only be brewed by Pilsner Urquell in Pilsen. Ireland does also have a few craft breweries emerging, but it's even more recent than Norway and Iceland! Back in the early 19th century there were hundreds of breweries, but by the 2000s, there were only 12. These days it's on the rebound. Looks like I might still need to do some digging to find what I crave.


Btw, if you are wondering where the rest of the Burke Gilman multipart post is, it's on it's way. In the meantime check my Instagram for updates on my trip!