Larsblog - beer

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)

Hunting Lithuanian white whales

On the morning of the second day of the Lithuanian brewery tour 2015 we stopped by a small and little-known brewery called A. Grigonio. It's literally just a few hundred meters from Jovaru Alus. As far as I know, it's a farmhouse brewery in the same vein, but I never got to see it. Vidmantas said the owners were not at home, and so a tour wasn't possible. ...

Read | 2016-09-28 14:54 | 1 comment(s)

My book on Norwegian farmhouse ale

Yesterday I finally got a copy of my new book on Norwegian farmhouse ale. I've written books before, but this one is different. So many emotions, such hopes and dreams, now suddenly materialized as a lump of pulped wood and glue. It's been my baby for a long time, and now it's suddenly going to be flung out to the public. ...

Read | 2016-09-17 12:03 | 26 comment(s)

Kupiškio - underground brewers

Eventually we ran out of breweries to visit in Pakruojis, and started discussing where to go next. I told Vidmantas I've always wanted to visit Kupiškio, but he didn't want to go there. I explained that the very first Lithuanian beer I had was from them, and it really blew me away. It's what really kicked off my interest in Lithuanian beer. Vidmantas looked at me queerly, then said, "well, let's try," and started the car, heading east. (This is part 7 of the Lithuanian brewery tour 2015.) ...

Read | 2016-09-11 13:41 | 5 comment(s)

Analysis of farmhouse yeast (kveik)

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim started doing research and courses on brewer's yeast a little over a year ago. I figured this was good timing, and asked them if they wanted to do research on kveik (Norwegian farmhouse yeast). The answer from professor Per Bruheim was immediate. Yes! They would love to have some Norwegian yeast to work on. So I've been sending them all the yeast I could get my hands on. ...

Read | 2016-09-06 16:30 | 18 comment(s)

Davra

About a kilometer from Jovaru Alus, in Pakruojis itself, lies another brewery, called Davra. The moment we pull into the brewery yard I see that this is something else entirely. We're looking at a modern brewery building, not a barn, and clearly much larger than the farmhouse breweries we've been visiting. We're met by two men, probably father and son, in modern business suits. These are the owners, ready to take us on a tour of the brewery. (This is part 6 of the Lithuanian brewery tour 2015.) ...

Read | 2016-08-28 14:12 | 2 comment(s)

Jovaru Alus

As a favour to me Vidmantas had left the most interesting brewery as the last of the day, so that we could spend more time there. We stopped the car in the yard between the brewery/barn and the house, and got out, to be greeted by angry barking from a tiny little dog tied to a doghouse made from a wooden beer keg. Another dog, looking exactly like it, came to peer at us curiously, but didn't bark. Then the brewer herself, Aldona Udriene, came out of the house to greet us. She immediately explained about the dogs. The one chained up was the "angry dog". He doesn't like visitors, but the other dog was the "good dog," which is never rough with anyone. (This is part 5 of the Lithuanian brewery tour 2015.) ...

Read | 2016-08-21 14:14 | 14 comment(s)

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