Larsblog - beer

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)

"Kveik" - what does it mean?

I've been writing about kveik for about four years now, and that word, which seemed so crystal clear to begin with, is now beginning to confuse people. So, let's see if we can set things straight. That's not easy with a word that's already in active use around the globe, but let's at least try. ...

Read | 2017-10-29 11:26 | 13 comment(s)

A family tree for kveik

In 2016 I was contacted by Canadian researcher Richard Preiss. He wanted to do research on the kveik cultures I had collected, and after a while we agreed to set up a collaboration. Since then I've been sending a part of every farmhouse yeast I collect to Richard, and he has been keeping me up to date on his findings. Since this was ongoing research I haven't revealed his findings, but now a paper by Preiss, Tyrawa, and van der Merwe has been submitted to a journal, and everything is out in the open. ...

Read | 2017-10-06 10:02 | 9 comment(s)

Emil Chr. Hansen and the yeast revolution

In the late summer of 1883, disaster struck at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen. The beer started smelling off, and had an unpleasant bitter taste. The dreaded "yeast sickness" had hit Carlsberg, a heavy blow to brewery owner Jacobsen, who used to boast that Carlsberg had never had this problem and were still using the original yeast Jacobsen brought from southern Germany four decades before. ...

Read | 2017-09-10 14:05 | 7 comment(s)

Pasteur and the beer of national revenge

Pasteur was already a scientific icon when he decided to work on brewer's yeast. He had done revolutionary work on wine-making, dairy production, silk worms, and important theoretical work in chemistry and biology. His reason for taking up work on beer was rather surprising: he wanted national revenge over Germany. Germany attacked France in July 1870, causing his only son to enlist and interrupting construction of Pasteur's laboratory. ...

Read | 2017-09-03 13:40 | 5 comment(s)

Farmhouse ale festival 2016

Last year the first ever festival wholly dedicated to farmhouse ale (I think), Norsk Kornølfestival 2016, was held in Hornindal in western Norway. "Kornøl" is the local name for farmhouse ale, so the name really means "Norwegian farmhouse ale festival," and that's what it was. ...

Read | 2017-08-12 14:21 | 3 comment(s)

A family tree for brewer's yeast

I wrote a series of blog posts on the family tree of yeast, starting at the very top and continuing all the way down to the family of yeast species. The story doesn't end there, however, because within the species of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ale yeast) the different strains form a family tree of their own. However, when I wrote those blog posts in 2015 the shape of this tree was poorly understood. ...

Read | 2017-08-08 09:09 | 8 comment(s)

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