As far as celebrity and comestibles go, Michael Jackson, who passed away in late 2007 after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease, defined an entire genre. He was the Alice Waters of ale, the James Beard of beer, or as I prefer to call him, the King of Hop. Particularly in the 1980s and 90s, no single person did more to champion the brewed beverage served by the pint, can, or bottle.
And that guy could get around. Traveling far and wide from his native Yorkshire to catalog, classify, and compare beers, he wrote the proverbial book on the subject while contributing articles to newspapers and magazines in the process. Since I was on my way to Scandinavia when I learned of Mr. Jackson's death, I decided to visit the Norwegian establishments listed in his Pocket Guide to Beer. I'd been to Norway twice before, but this time I convinced myself that I had a new purpose.
The recommendations he gives in the guide indicated to me that he hadn't ventured much beyond the capital, which was OK, because retracing his footsteps would then be that much easier. Disappointed to find that the Studenten Cafe was now a Hard Rock Cafe, I kept walking and ended up at Lorry, one of the oldest restaurants in Oslo.
"The Aass is done," a large bartender informed me, referring to the draft line, so I opted for the dark, toasty Mack Bok (6.5% ABV) followed by a similar Frydenlund Bok (6.5% ABV). Pairing nicely with my reindeer burger and lingonberries, each bottle was 53 kroner. But the service didn't impress me nearly as much as their eclectic decor. Chock-a-block with "antiques" from Europe, Asia, and Africa, Lorry also claims to have Norway's largest collection of stuffed animals. Because who hasn't wanted to dine under a taxidermic giraffe? The real reason to go, of course, is the beer list: nearly two dozen Norwegian brews appear alongside a range of styles from 26 other countries.
A short distance away on Bogstadveien, the Oslo Mikrobryggeri may be a more exciting destination for beer nerds though; it's the city's only brewpub. During my visit they were pouring a Pils, a Steamer, a Bitter, a London Porter, an Imperial Stout, as well as a Sesongøl. The pub opens daily at three except Saturdays when they welcome imbibers at 12 p.m. sharp. If you arrive in the afternoon as my friends and I did, you'll have the place to yourself, which means unhindered access to their "flavoursome ales and stouts" to quote from Mr. Jackson's description.