Those of you who understand some Norwegian will have no problems deciphering the title of this blog post, whereas those of you who don’t may think I’ve gone mad. What is he on about, this weird blogger from the northern lands who has settled amongst the Germanic peoples in the centre of Europe? Well, dear bleaders (that’s blog readers in one word to save time, but since I have to then spend dozens of words explaining what the heck it means then perhaps it would have been better to write it out properly in two words in the first place), it will all be revealed in due course. Read on, and ye shall learn.
My last blog post was a big rant about the forthcoming Norwegian election. Well, the election came, said “screw you, Norway!”, and left. As predicted, a large number of parties are now represented in the rather modest parliament building in Oslo known as the Storting, and, as also predicted, they all still hate beer. The only interesting thing is that the on-going negotiations to form a government between four parties covering the political spectrum from around the middle to pretty right-wing, involve the party that hates beer the most and the one that hates beer the least. I suggested that they resolve their differences by having a giant beer drinking competition, but apparently they don’t take an emigrated Norwegian who blogs in English from Germany seriously, despite all the dozens of readers of his blog.
Anyway, back to the title. “Alt for Norge” is actually the Norwegian King’s slogan, and most gullible Norwegians (i.e. most Norwegians) are lead to believe that it means something like “Everything for Norway”, seemingly not very contentious for someone who’s the nominal head of state and descends from a long line of Brits, Danes and other non-Norwegians. The problem is that I have, since deciding that beer is the greatest drink on the planet and moving to Germany, discovered the truth about the slogan: it actually translates as “Alt for Norway”. And we’re not talking about any old “alt”, we’re talking about the famous beer from Düsseldorf: Alt, which is short for Altbier. Clearly, what the Norwegian king really wants is for the Düsseldorf breweries to export more of their stuff to Norway. And, to be fair, who can blame him?
I’ve briefly mentioned Altbier before in my now legendary blog post about Cologne. As I mentioned there, a very strong rivalry exists between the people of these neighbouring cities along the Rhine, especially when it comes to beer. Order an Altbier in Cologne and you’ll end up in the Rhine with something heavy tied to your feet. Order a Kölsch in Düsseldorf and you’ll end up on the train to Cologne, and by “on the train” I mean on top of the train with the overhead wire around your neck. It’s not the type of mistake you make twice.
|Füchschen - "small fox" - a very nice, tasty Alt.|
Personally, I like them both – of course I do. Both are top-fermented, so in English terms that means they’re ales, and both tend to be served in rather small, straight glasses when you order them in the pub. However, that’s where the similarities end, because while Kölsch is light in colour, slightly fruity, hoppy and supremely refreshing, Alt is fairly dark, malty, full-bodied and supremely satisfying. The two beer styles are, in other words, very different indeed, even though they originate only a few dozen miles from each other.
Düsseldorf has, just like Cologne, a bunch of brewery pubs in the city centre where you can try the local specialty, and these tend to be a lot better than the stuff churned out by the big breweries that have been bought out by you-know-who (no, not Voldemort - the other, more evil one). To truly enjoy Altbier, you have to either get a good friend from Düsseldorf to bring a few bottles along, or simply go there yourself. Düsseldorf may have a really funny name, especially since “dorf” means village, but it’s a nice enough city with an old town, a great big river, a dodgy airport and a lot of pubs. When you’re wandering around looking for good beer, you may want to look for “Füchschen”, “Uerige” and “Schumacher”, all of which are very good and currently well represented in my fridge, unlike the political parties of Norway.
|Uerige Alt - darker and maltier than Füchschen, and my favourite.|
I don’t know which of these pubs is the Norwegian king’s favourite, but I guess it can’t be that hard to figure it out – just look for the old geezer sat in a corner having a great time with a crown on his head and a couple of discreet body guards. Thinking of our dear king, I am certainly of the opinion that Norway should ditch democracy and its overpopulated parliament and reinstate the good old absolute monarchy. Then, instead of the large number of crappy political parties in the Storting, there could just be one hell of a party with loads of beer. The king could then change his slogan every week or so – “Kölsch for Norway”, “Pils for Norway”, “IPA for Norway”, and so on – and I think it’s safe to say that the general population would be a lot hoppier than what’s currently the case. On this hopful note I shall once again bid you farewell and wish you all a fantastic time in Düsseldorf, and please give my beeriest regards to the king when you bump into him. Skål!