Brewing and Beer Traditions in Norway

Odd Nordland

Book cover

This book was a little disappointing to me, especially after the odyssey I went through to obtain a copy of it. It’s out of print, not available used on Amazon, I couldn’t find it in Norway when I was there in March (!), and the NY Public Library’s copy is only available for on-site use! Hell, I even had to create an entry for it on Goodreads. Luckily I was able to get a copy on interlibrary loan through NYU.

I got interested in it because of several mentions in the book “Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers,” a tour de force of quirky arcana about non-mainstream brewing traditions. The author of that book approvingly quoted several interesting passages from Nordland about the spiritual beliefs of old-time Norwegians surrounding the brewing process.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for anyone who hasn’t gone to great lengths to get the book), the references in SHHB basically cover all of the interesting material from BBTN. Vast swathes of the book are taken up with meticulous documentation of minute regional differences in specific items of brewing equipment. It very much reads like a PhD thesis, which I believe it was. Although Nordland does uncover some interesting things, he doesn’t seem to have the talent for telling a good story, so all of the information he painstakingly gathered reads like painstakingly gathered information rather than an overarching narrative.

My Goodreads rating: 2 stars