This month interview is with the Nøgne Ø, a micro-brewery from Norway. Nøgne Ø is Old Danish for "Naked Isle". The beernut tasted some of their beers a while ago and found them very good. I haven had none yet, but I will do my best to get some, even if it means I have to travel to Norway, which might be a pleasant journey. But before that we meet Kjetil Jikiun, founder and brew master of the Nøgne Ø brewery, and ask him some questions about his brewery.
Nick: Hello Kjetil, thanks for taking time to answer some questions. You have the 10th anniversary this year, 2012. I suppose the celebration is on its way?
Kjetil: There is not much time for celebration, I am afraid. We were all gathered to eat sheep heads a couple of weeks ago though!
Nick: Sounds like a great party. With how many people did you start the brewery?
Kjetil: At the start there were me and Gunnar(who got out after a few months). Roger took over with his wife but left after half a year. Then Tore and Cili got in and has stayed ever since. The brewery was run by owners and their families until 2006. We all had proper day jobs but run the brewery during evenings and weekends.
Nick: You basically started with one other man. Many micro-breweries start with that combination. How many people are involved in the brewing process now? What are their jobs?
Toa, brewer and chef.
Brock, sake and beer brewer.
Ingrid, trained brewer from Heriot-Watt.
Edvard, production manager and brewer,
Alf Reidar, cellar man.
Sigbjørn, Thomas, Ruben and Morten, bottling crew.
Nick: That’s a difference to where you start from. I guess output has risen as well. What’s your annual output?
Kjetil: We did 7000 hl last year (2011). It is likely that this year will end somewhere between 10 and 13 000 hl. Growth rates have been ridiculous the last few years.
Nick: Wow, that’s a growth rate of nearly 100% within 5 years. What’s your best seller?
Kjetil: IPA and Wit.
Nick: Seems like IPA is still selling well everywhere. I personally prefer Wit to IPA. The last one I had was in Brussels. I also bought an organic beer there. Do you produce organic beers? Or are you planning to do so?
Kjetil: No. At this stage we do not have time! We do not know what the future will bring.
Nick: I have notice a brewing event which will take place every year in your brewery. Will there be a home brewers day at the brewery this year?
Kjetil: Of course, it took place the last Saturday in January, as it always does. This time it was fully booked after 13 minutes!
Nick: 13 minutes, that’s incredibly fast. You probably have to run a second one per year. Seems like a high demand on your brewery and your beers! But there is not only beer. You are doing sake as well. Why sake? What’s the idea?
Kjetil: Sake has such wonderful flavours. That is why. We are drawn to all good things in life!
Nick: Cheers! That’s great. Perhaps you might have heard of the Kiuchi Brewery, Japan. They are a micro- brewery producing sake and beer as well.
We reached the end of the interview. Last question: What are your plans for the future?
Kjetil: Staying alive and doing fun and creative stuff. Growing at a rate of almost 100% is very demanding. We need to make sure that our employees enjoy working with us and stays. While at the same time our customers should find us interesting to pay attention to.
Nick: May your wishes come true! Thank you very much Kjetil.