Larsblog

Svein, maltster and brewer

At first glance it looked like any house in the area, a two-storey wooden house. At second glance, there was something odd about it. There was no garden, and very few windows. It looked oddly functional, and not very homely. Sure enough, Roar pulled the car off the road, parking right in front of the house. So this must be a såinnhus (malt house). (This is the second part about the Stjørdalen visit in January 2016.) ...

Read | 2017-03-19 11:17 | 9 comment(s)

Stjørdalsøl — the tasting

During our 2014 farmhouse ale expedition, Martin and I visited Stjørdal, a region in Norway famous for the many farmhouse brewers who still make their own malts in the traditional way. Roar told us that on December 26th there was a beer tasting at a cabin in the woods where 40-50 different beers were served. In fact, there were other tastings at different cabins, too, and he thought the total number of beers on offer might be as high as 200. ...

Read | 2017-03-09 14:58 | 4 comment(s)

The juniper mystery

When I started looking at farmhouse ale back in 2010, one of the first things that struck me was that nearly everyone seemed to be using juniper. That was unexpected, since the beer literature generally has very little to say about juniper. Now, six years later, I'm beginning to realize that the international beer community has somehow managed to miss a huge story here. ...

Read | 2017-02-02 09:43 | 16 comment(s)

The yeast scream

A strange custom they have in Stjørdalen in Norway is to scream into the fermenter as they pitch the yeast. The brewers claim they do this so that the beer will be strong, and people will be cheerful when they drink it. This might sound like a tall tale, but it really is true. The local radio station in Stjørdalen even had a competition over which brewer had the best "gjærkauk" (yeast scream). ...

Read | 2017-01-25 16:58 | 11 comment(s)

Norwegian farmhouse ale styles

People are confused over what to call Norwegian farmhouse ale and what styles there are. So this is my attempt to clear things up as far as I can. This blog post is about the beers as they are today. The past is much more complicated, and I've covered it earlier. ...

Read | 2017-01-19 19:23 | 14 comment(s)

Gotlandsdricke - an overview

A lot has been written on Gotlandsdricka, but the writers generally call it "an ancient beer" or "indigenous beer" and variations on that theme. Nobody seems to have realized that it is of course a farmhouse ale. Farmhouse ale was made all over Sweden until it was replaced by modern commercial beer. Except on Gotland, where the farmers never stopped brewing it. Eventually it came to be seen as something unique to Gotland and part of the Gotland identity, but that's a recent development. ...

Read | 2017-01-08 13:24 | 4 comment(s)

A maltster on Gotland

While on holiday on Gotland I saw a note on a poster about an open farm and something about malt being made. There was a phone number, so I decided to call. Yes, the voice at the other end said, he made malts, but not the traditional way. His neighbour did, however. Sure, I could come visit, and if his neighbour was home we could see his malt house. ...

Read | 2017-01-01 14:02 | 5 comment(s)

A brewer on Gotland

Last summer, the family holiday included a visit to Gotland. I, of course, immediately started plotting to meet a farmhouse brewer. I began by emailing every single source that might lead me to one. This was a slow and uncertain business, but eventually I had a number of leads, all of them pointing to a single person: Anders Mattsson in Hablingbo, on the southern part of the island. ...

Read | 2016-12-27 13:09 | 9 comment(s)

How stone beer was brewed

It's only the last few centuries that metal kettles have become something that most people could afford to own. So how did people brew beer without a metal container to heat water in? One well-known solution was to heat stones in a fire, and then throw them in the liquid to be heated. I've written before about the archaeology of brewing stones, but archaeology can't tell us how people used the stones. So how did people actually brew with hot stones? ...

Read | 2016-12-18 12:47 | 6 comment(s)

Norwegian brewing processes

I've collected enough evidence now that I'm beginning to get a picture of farmhouse brewing as it was practiced in Norway in the past. However, to understand how people brewed we have to start with the geography, because that determined everything else. The brewing was a tradition descending in unbroken line from the Stone Age to the present. There were lots of changes on the way, and these were transmitted from village to village. When you look at the resulting patterns on a map it's obvious that the geography was tremendously important for what influences went where. ...

Read | 2016-12-11 20:01 | 9 comment(s)

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