In the north of the country of Norway, by this time of the year, the sun makes an appearance for approximately four hours a day. It's not surprising, then, to find that Norwegians place a bit of attention on distracting themselves with wintertime holidays and seasonally appropriate libations, with the Norwegian brewery Nøgne Ø involved in making (at least) two holiday-themed beers. Beating back the potential doldrums of a long, dark winter, along with it the doldrums of tiresome, schmaltzy Christmas brews, they not only produce a Winter Ale ("God Jul") but also this one, the Peculiar Yule ("Underlig Jul"), a distinctively Norwegian take on the theme of winter warmers.
Gløgg, the Nordic take on mulled wine, is a comforting, bone-warming concoction spiked with cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, citrus, and sometimes even almonds and raisins. The Nogne folks have captured this spirit in a beer meant to be enjoyed with holiday cookies, like fattigmann and goro, by fusing the above spice bill with a 6.5% dark ale. It crackles with strangeness, as unlike most holiday ales, the hops are present enough to provide a bitterness that bounces off the spices without allowing for the pervasive sticky sweetness brewers sometimes feel the need to allow, as if the cookies had already been blended into the glass. Not here, an adult beverage worthy of being enjoyed with or without the accompaniment of sweets, perfectly suited to fend off the polar night. Dry, vinuous, and peculiarly pleasant.