I’ve had a can of Nordic Swell in the Frigidaire since February, but I’ve been a bit intimidated by the 9-percent ABV. Turns out it was a limited edition. It’s May now, so you might have trouble finding it in stores the farther you are from DuClaw’s Maryland home base.
The big selling point for Nordic Swell is the Norwegian yeast called kveik. Brewers in Norway have passed down their yeast through the generations, so genetically, it’s branched off from the rest of the world. Some of the differences are technical – like faster or hotter fermentation – but some stand out in the flavor. Kveik supposedly tastes more tropical or orange with hints of gingerbread or clove.
The aroma on the pour is surprisingly not that hoppy. You mostly get the fruity, sweet malt. It’s very orange copper in the pint glass with an every-so-slightly amber head. The first sip does have a bit of that hoppy resin bitterness, but it’s carried away by the sweet and the malt.
It’s a bit thick, sweet but not cloying. As I read the label, there are three honeys in there (wildflower, clove, orange blossom) as well as chamomile tea. That 9-percent ABV doesn’t come off as “hot.” I’d say everything is working in balance so it’s not too sweet or too bitter, too heavy or too floral. It might be better enjoyed on a Maryland winter than a warm Florida spring, but that was DuClaw really wanted in the first place, wasn’t it?