Larsblog - beer

When did people start reusing yeast?

You often hear people say that "before Pasteur nobody knew about yeast," and that using yeast is a fairly modern invention. This is something even microbiologists believe. For example, the landmark family tree of yeast (Gallone et al 2016) paper came to the conclusion that the two big families of beer yeast (Beer 1 and Beer 2) both derive from a single ancestor around 1600 CE. But people have been using yeast deliberately much longer than that. ...

Read | 2018-04-29 13:42 | 20 comment(s)

Roaring the beer

The first time I heard about it was in Telemark (southern Norway), where Halvor Nordal said that one of his neighbours used to sometimes heat the beer very briefly in a saucepan before serving it. His neighbour thought it made the beer taste fresher. I mentally filed this under "Weird, unexplained things" and just left it there. For a few years. ...

Read | 2018-04-21 22:45 | 7 comment(s)

Mead: a Norwegian tradition?

Most people think of the vikings as big drinkers of mead, and believe that Norway has a long and strong tradition for mead-making. I used to think the same, until I started looking into traditional farmhouse brewing. There were lots of descriptions of how people brewed on the farms all over Norway, but nothing at all about mead. ...

Read | 2018-04-15 12:16 | 5 comment(s)

Koduõlu, portrait of a style

We visited quite a few brewers on Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, and Muhu, and tasted a good number of different koduõlu, so it's time to summarize all that to make a proper description of a style that has barely any documentation in English at all. For those who have not followed the blog: we are talking about koduõlu, the traditional farmhouse ale from the large Estonian islands in the Baltic. ...

Read | 2018-04-05 18:55 | 2 comment(s)

Brewing koduõlu on Hiiumaa

On Hiiumaa we drove off the ferry, then a couple hundred meters up the main road, turned off, and within a few minutes we were outside the house. We were there to brew a koduõlu, an Estonian farmhouse ale, with Paavo Pruul, who runs a small bed & breakfast. We parked outside the guest house, where the wooden brewing vessels were standing right outside the door. It turns out Paavo's brewery is actually in the guest house. ...

Read | 2018-03-11 15:06 | 8 comment(s)

Aarne Trei, a koduõlu veteran

From the previous stop we drove just a few kilometers, to meet brewmaster Aarne Trei. I'd really been looking forward to meeting Aarne, because for a couple of years I'd been reading and re-reading the only piece of documentation I could find on koduõlu, a report from a Finnish home-brewer who visited Saaremaa in Estonia in 1995. One of the brewmasters he met and interviewed was Aarne Trei. ...

Read | 2018-02-18 11:45 | 3 comment(s)

Pihtla, a farmhouse brewery on Saaremaa

Koduõlu is one of the few farmhouse styles that you can actually buy right now, thanks to the commercial brewery Pihtla Õlleköök, in the village of Pihtla on Saaremaa island in Estonia. They make a number of beers, but the star is undoubtedly their koduõlu, called Pihtla Õlu. As far as I know, that's the only koduõlu that's easily available at the moment. It's even served in Tallinn, at Põrgu, and maybe other places, too. ...

Read | 2018-02-13 16:02 | 2 comment(s)

Meelis Sepp, maltster and brewer

From Setomaa we drove right across all of Estonia to the west coast, then took the ferry over to the island of Muhu. From there we took the bridge over to the island of Saaremaa, the second biggest island in the Baltic, after Gotland. Saaremaa is famous for its farmhouse brewing, in a style known as "koduõlu", meaning "home beer." We have an appointment with Meelis Sepp, a farmer and brewer in Kõrkkula, in the south-western part of the island. ...

Read | 2018-01-28 13:57 | 4 comment(s)

Taarka Tarõ: A Seto restaurant

From the festival in Värska we drove on lonely forest roads to Obinitsa. The landscape here is mostly thick forest, with the occasional field here and there. At Obinitsa is a museum of Seto culture, and our main destination for the day, the Seto restaurant Taarka Tarõ, which is named after famous Seto singer Hilana Taarka. ...

Read | 2017-11-12 11:32 | 2 comment(s)

Seto kingdom day

In south-eastern Estonia, and across the border in Russia, lives the Seto people. They have kept many of their ancient traditions, and one of them is the traditional farmhouse brewing. Every summer they arrange Seto Kingdom Day, a kind of fair celebrating their traditions, and of course they serve traditional Seto koduõlu as part of it. So in the summer of 2016 we attended the festival to see what their beer was like. ...

Read | 2017-11-05 10:36 | 2 comment(s)

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