Denver, CO

Smoky the Beer: Denver brewery creates rare Norwegian smoked beer

Brittany Anas

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A glass of Stjørdalsøl, a rare and smoky beer that's now on tap at Our Mutual Friend Brewing in Denver.Brittany Anas

By Brittany Anas / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) If you’re a beer lover, you’ve probably sampled everything from funky sours to bitter IPAS. But have you ever tried a super smoky beer?

Our Mutual Friend Brewing (OMF) in Denver has introduced a rare ale known as Stjørdalsøl, a smoky 9 percent ABV brew.

This slow sipper was inspired by a trip to Norway that OMF brewer Jan Chodkowski took with Josh Cody of Colorado Malting Company a few years back.

For this take on the Norwegian-style beer, Colorado malt grown in the San Luis Valley is smoked for a day over European-sourced alderwood, which gives the brew an intense smokiness.

This winter, the unique beer is available on tap and in four-packs of 16-ounce cans at OMF, 2810 Larimer St. in Denver.

“I would say it’s a really approachable beer,” Chodkowski says. “It’s intense, but it does have some delicious Coca-Cola, licorice and coffee notes that can back it up and make it enjoyable on a cold, winter night.”

Those who give it a try may also pick up on some toffee and dark fruit attributes.

But what’s hard to miss is the aroma, which is so strong on the nose it will remind you of a backyard barbecue.

The Nordic tradition of homebrewing

This style of Nordic brewing originated in Stjørdal, a small municipality in Norway that has a high concentration of malthouses and homebrewers. Traditionally, Chodkowski says, Stjørdalsøl is enjoyed on Christmas Eve.

The beer is special for a couple of reasons: It’s a Nordic tradition that’s passed down from generation to generation. The smoked beer is also hyper local, and its high ABV puts it above the commercial limit for production in Norway.

Chodkowski says he thinks that OMF is the first brewery in the United States and possibly the world to brew and can Stjørdalsøl.

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Our Mutual Friend brewer Jan Chodkowski was inspired to make the smoky Nordic beer after a trip to Norway in 2017.Our Mutual Friend Brewing

History of smoked beer

It’s likely some of the very first beers were smoky in nature, Chodkowski says. Before there were commercial technologies for brewing beer, it was much easier to dry and malt barley over open flames.

Smoked porters and German-style lagers known as Rauchbiers are among the more well-known beers in today’s smoked genre.

If you want to tip-toe into the world of smoked beer, OMF also has a lighter, 5.4 percent ABV Clemens Smoked Lager. It’s a nice warm-up for the Stjørdalsøl.

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Brittany is a journalist in the Denver metro area with more than two decades of writing and editing experience. She covers travel, restaurants and other lifestyle topics.

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