Larsblog

Vilnius: a beer guide for the impatient

My guidebook to Lithuanian beer has all the detailed information, but for those who are going to Vilnius and don't want to read 100 pages of detailed text, there isn't anything available now. So I thought it might be useful to gather the most important information in one place. To keep this piece manageable I have had to leave out lots of interesting stuff even though some if it is big enough to deserve full blog posts of their own. There really is that much going on in Vilnius. ...

Read | 2015-03-04 15:26 | 0 comment(s)

What is it that ferments lambic?

As everyone knows, lambic is fermented by "wild yeast and bacteria". But what does that actually mean? What yeast? And what bacteria? This is not an easy question to answer, but last year a study attempting to answer this was published. The results are interesting in several different ways, so let's take a look. ...

Read | 2015-02-20 11:00 | 8 comment(s)

Nordic grog

The origins of beer brewing in Scandinavia are lost in the mists of pre-history, and today we have very little evidence of how it began. We do know a little, however, mainly from archaeological excavations, and what little we know is both interesting and surprising. ...

Read | 2015-02-09 20:44 | 2 comment(s)

Norwegian craft beer 2014

It's time for the annual statistics post where we look at the development of Norwegian craft brewing in numbers. Unfortunately, unlike in the US, the Norwegian brewer's association does not produce official statistics, so complete sales figures are not available, but there are a few useful figures we can look at instead. ...

Read | 2015-01-19 21:03 | 0 comment(s)

The Campaign Against Raw Ale

It's April 5, 1780, at "the usual time in the morning". In the upper lecture hall of Åbo Academy, Carl Niclas Hellenius is preparing to give a talk. He is a researcher in natural history working at the Academy, and about to present the results of his investigation into "the brewing methods of the Finnish commoners". We know this, because his treatise has been preserved, and is today the oldest known description of the brewing of sathi. ...

Read | 2015-01-13 18:34 | 2 comment(s)

Process or ingredients?

Recently there have been a whole range of initiatives in Norway to develop beers that are more truly Norwegian. One is the Scandinavian project for New Nordic Beer, but there are also a few research projects run by Bioforsk, Østforsk, etc. Common for all of these is a focus on finding local ingredients, in part by exploring the local farmhouse brewing traditions. I think this is not the most interesting approach. ...

Read | 2015-01-04 14:44 | 0 comment(s)

The solera paradox

After I wrote about the ever-lasting Christmas beer, I read on the Wikipedia page for solera that soleras are used for vinegars, too, and some Italian producers then report the age of the entire solera as the age of their vinegar. The logic being that (a) "Italian labeling laws permit blended vinegar to be labeled with the age of the oldest vinegar in the blend" and (b) consumers are impressed. I woke up the next morning wondering ... what age should they have put? That is, if I were writing the law, what would I require them to state on the labelling? ...

Read | 2014-12-24 14:41 | 5 comment(s)

The ever-lasting Christmas beer

In the early 17th century, walloon smiths were famous for their ironwork, and the Swedish kings therefore invited them to settle in Sweden. A substantial number did, but quickly found that they did not like the Swedish beer. Instead, they preferred the walloon type of beer, which from the description sounds similar to Flemish red or oud bruin. One style seems to have been "Maastrichts oud", which was lightly soured by cellaring in wooden barrels. ...

Read | 2014-12-21 11:51 | 5 comment(s)

Brewing stones

The year is 1851. Sociologist Eilert Sundt is walking across a field in Hedmark, central Norway, when he notices a pile of stones. They catch his eye because they look peculiar. They're small, about the size of a fist, with obvious signs of burning, and they have been chipped and cracked somehow. He asks a farmer working nearby what the stones are.
"Brewing stones," says the farmer.
"Brewing stones?"
"Yes, boiling stones."
"Boiling stones?"
"Yes. They were used for boiling in the old days, when people didn't have metal kettles."[1] ...

Read | 2014-12-09 21:04 | 11 comment(s)

Truly local beer requires a beer culture

I expressed concern that beers are becoming more similar all over the world, even though there people who are trying to develop genuinely local beers, by exploring local ingredients and practices. As Martyn Cornell argues, it's hard to develop this into something genuinely local in a world where any ingredient can be exported anywhere. And, I might add, where everyone is eagerly copying everyone else. ...

Read | 2014-12-02 20:58 | 6 comment(s)

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