Hanging out at the bar at Hashigo was doing my addled brain some good, so I stayed for another. Dom, the owner, had had his wedding party that night as so was in with a crowd for a few afters and he was having one of these while I was having my ‘Black Magic’.
I still can’t properly pronounce the name of the brewery, but it seems to go something like “Nurgh Nuh”. My militant Mongrelism / proud Cosmopolitanism usually leads to a certain savviness with these things, but these Nords have so far beaten me; I ordered by pointing, instead. For shame.
It’s not my first of their beers, either, compounding the embarrassment of not being able to actually vocalise their name. Scotty and I ordered one on the Malthouse tab when we were there on our staff party day nearly exactly a year before (one of many discoveries of Rather Spookish Timing made while scanning the pages of Diary One, last night). That was an ultra-weird thing called ‘Sahti’ — packed with juniper, honey and whatnot; fermented with three yeasts; made with a mash of several grains. It was awesome, in the literal sense. Well, Scotty and I thought so. We are big fans of the Weird. Everyone else thought it was several bridges too far. To each their own; more for me.
Contrary to the appearance caused by that and even the mere name of this, Nøgne Ø do also produce a lot of non-bizarre beer also; I just haven’t had any yet. I guess the more-whacked-out stuff just catches my attention, and that of the people in the import-export game, more readily.
But anyway, this isn’t overpoweringly strange. The lemongrass is fantastically fresh in the nose, and provides interest-maintaining herby edges to the flavour. It’s probably unfair to compare across vast temporal distances (especially with my half-useless memory, no Diary entry to point to, and the possibility that it’d been neglected and forgotten in the Malthouse fridge for too long), but I massively preferred this to ‘Taiphoon’, a likewise lemongrassy golden ale from England’s Hop Back Brewery. ‘Aku Aku’ just rode that difficult line of weird-but-not-too-weird very well. The important core of “tasty golden ale” was still there, it just has some well-chosen background music playing as it does its thing.
Verbatim: Nøgne Ø ‘Aku Aku Lemongrass Ale’ 2/3/11 4.5% on tap @ HZ $11 Dom himself just had one too; today was his wedding party. These guys give me pronunciation headaches, but I like their stuff, especially the weirds. Their Sahti (sp?) was awesomely odd, this is sedately so. Nice warm gold, lemongrass easy on the nose, and in the nice mild [body] (not “thin” in the pejorative). Gentle herby edges. Enough to be interesting. Recognisably just a nice light golden ale at heart. In a good way.