Herbs in Norwegian farmhouse ale

If you look at books on herbs, and even quite a few books on traditional brewing, it seems like just about every herb known to man has at one time been used in brewing. Which, given how many people were brewing over how long a period of time, might well be true. However, if you try tracing this information backwards to see what it's based on, you draw a blank. The only thing you see are these endlessly repeated assertions that such and such a herb was used in brewing. How reliable is that? ...

Read | 2015-04-13 12:25 | 8 comment(s)

Craft beer comes to Lithuania

I was invited to the Žmogšala beer festival in Vilnius to present my book on Lithuanian beer, but the flight times meant I had to spend a long weekend. I decided this was a good time to bring some of my friends who were curious about Lithuanian beer, so Knut Albert, Geir Ove, and brother in-law Hans Christian joined me. And since I now know a few people in Vilnius I planned to meet a few of them as well. ...

Read | 2015-04-06 15:10 | 2 comment(s)

Hunting in the library

Ever since that first trip to Lithuania I've been trying to understand what it is that makes these beers so different, and how they are brewed. As I've written many times, that's a very difficult challenge, and the first break was my first roundtrip of Lithuanian breweries. The second was being given a history of Lithuanian beer, which unfortunately was written in Lithuanian. ...

Read | 2015-03-17 11:03 | 4 comment(s)

Understanding farmhouse ale

Somehow, the idea that farmhouse ale is a style of beer that began in "France and Belgium in the late 19th and early 20th centuries" has gotten traction. Many people have begun thinking of farmhouse ale as either saison or biere de garde. Which is strange, because this is bit like saying cheese is Danablu, and it began on a Friday afternoon in Denmark in 1953. So I guess the time has come for some clearing up. ...

Read | 2015-03-10 19:08 | 7 comment(s)

Up and coming beer destinations?

The subject for this month's The Session was: "What are the up-and-coming beer locations that you see as the next major players in the beer scene?" Well. I couldn't really leave that one unanswered, although for regular readers I suppose the answer is not exactly going to come as a surprise. Obviously, Vilnius. I mean, really, how could it not be? ...

Read | 2015-03-06 18:04 | 1 comment(s)

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 | 13 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)

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