Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nøgne Ø: Two Captains – Still Defying the Laws of Gravity

If you’ve read some of my previous posts here, you might remember coming across a rather brief review of Two Captains, an outstanding double IPA brewed by Nøgne Ø. After recently drinking a bottle that’s been cellaring for some time, I realized that my previous post really failed to do justice to Nøgne Ø’s Two Captains. So, typed up a new and more detailed review about the product as a whole. Indeed, Nøgne Ø’s Two Captains definitely falls within my top-ten list of favorite double IPAs, and if you try it, I think you will understand why.

The typical first encounter with Nøgne Ø’s Two Captains will immediately confront the distinctiveness of the company’s bold orange “Ø” surrounded by a white label attached to a half-liter brown bottle. Stamped with the same “Ø”, the cap is as distinctive as the label. For those of you unfamiliar with Scandinavian languages, the “ø” or “slashed o” as it is sometimes called, is a letter reserved for the Norwegian and Danish alphabets. Ø is used to represent close-mid front rounded sounds (the closest English comes to this is the vowel sound in bird, although that ‘s still pretty far off).

Compared to the raw simplicity and austerity of Nøgne Ø’s other labels, the “Ø” on the Two Captain’s label is juxtaposed over a late 1940s to early 50s American piston engine fighter plane – the F-82 Twin Mustang. At first glance, it looks like two planes, but as shown in the picture to the right, the F-82 is actually two P-51 Mustangs joined together in a rather successful effort to build a long-range escort fighter at the end of World War II. One might think that “Two Captains” is a reference to the twin boom plane illustrated on the label. However, both the name and the label are references to Jan Halvor Fjeld, an SAS captain who originally concocted this brew, and Kjetil Jikiun, Nøgne Ø’s head brewer as well as a captain for SAS – hence not just one, but two Captains.

In my opinion, Nøgne Ø probably brews Norway’s most exiting line of products, although Ægir and Kinn are close rivals. Hailing from Gimstad, which is a coastal town on the southeastern tip of Norway, Nøgne Ø produces about 17 year-round products, including Two Captains. Adding to this another dozen or so seasonal and specialty beers, each with a ceaseless array of well-balanced subtle and aggressive qualities, yields a rather long list of top-notch brews. And Nøgne Ø Two Captains is emblematic of the brewery’s attention to both subtly and aggressiveness, with the balance in favor of the aggressive side of beer.

Life in the glass begins with the aggressive head that just keeps defying the laws of gravity, and a wonderful copper-colored appearance so characteristic of robust double IPAs. The three-finger head is fluffy, rocky, and well retained, giving way to a tight and sticky lacing matrix. Two Captain’s aroma is complex and – aside from the florally and hoppy scents – sort of hard to pin down at first. Faint earthy smells accompany the scents of orange and maybe peach. The aggressive scents of pine and grapefruit predict the rather bitter taste to come. In short, Nøgne Ø brewed some serious nose candy with this one.

With an 8.5 percent ABV, the taste of Two Captains continues to show this ale’s aggressiveness, revealing a mixture of flavors that closely match the aroma. Tropical fruits, especially lemon and grapefruit, are prominent and nicely supported by sweet malt and caramel. The faint alcohol taste is more prominent as the temperature warms a bit. This thing is hop heaven and, at 100 IBU’s, it’s amazingly bitter. That said, Two Captains has a bitterness that lacks the burning sensation that one gets from other similarly styled ales: The bitterness here is smoother and more elegant.

Overall, Two Captains is as aggressive as the two Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 engines that powered the some of the earlier F-82s. While the malt presence is perhaps a bit too forward for a double IPA, the malt clearly adds to the beer’s smoothness and complexity, making it one of the most tasty double IPAs around.

Nøgne Ø, Two Captains on
Nøgne Ø, Two Captains on Beeradvocate
Nøgne Ø, Two Captains official site

Image credits
Cardinal Pub
Kjempetorskens Øl Blogg


  1. Two Captains, welcome back! Simply put, AN fantastic beer! IBU 100 is not to be taken lightly :)

    1. Indeed. One of my favs and glad to have one more in the cellar. Thnx for reading

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Herlig øl! Anmeldte den selv i dag. Hadde jeg likt IPA like godt som røykøl, porter og stout så kunne den nok ha fått en toppkarakter! :)

    1. Ja, ikke Sant! Er din anmeldelse på internet?

      Takk for innspillet!

  4. Hi! Your review is very timely as I noticed Two Captains in my local beer shop just last week. I have been an admirer of Nogne O since tasting their Porter about a month ago and have since devoured their Imperial Stout; 2 staggeringly good beers! I have a bottle of God Jul Porter waiting to be drunk and I think I'll soon be adding Two Captains to the collection as I love a good overhopped IPA. Great in depth review by the way.

    I'm looking forward to your review of Tusker lager as I tried a bottle very recently (my first African Beer) and thought it very characterful for a lager.

    Ps. Thanks for joining my blog.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Tusker...well, I must admit that I'm perhaps a bit less fond of it, mostly because I found it lacking in taste when compared to the Safari or Kili. But, I have a bottle here at home, and will wait to review it until I've sampled that one as well. I'd be interested in your comments on the review.

      Also, thanks for posting a link to my page. I did the same for you.

  5. Very interesting beer this one, It's unusual and not unpleasant, and as part of the new me I'm willing to try anything and everything. I've found though that my taste for mass product has waned and I'm all over jaded about "domestic: and "faux import" beer (ef Heiniken/ Stella)


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