The Yeast Family Tree Grows

A few years ago I wrote about the groundbreaking study (Gallone et al 2016) that for the first time gave us an idea of how the different types of brewers yeast are related to each other. It was progress in genetic technology that made the study possible, and in the years after more studies have come out, giving us an even better picture of the family tree of yeast. So I figured it was time for an update. ...

Read | 2021-10-26 10:39 | 7 comment(s)

What makes kveik a super-yeast

When Richard Preiss first started studying kveik his former thesis advisor at the University of Guelph, George van der Merwe, told him that it was a "super-yeast" because of its speed and stress resistance. The lab that van der Merwe heads at the university has been investigating how yeast responds to stress for many years, and that made them extra excited about kveik. Since kveik was so robust, maybe it knew some special tricks for handling stress? ...

Read | 2021-08-01 13:49 | 14 comment(s)

Finlandia Sahti

Finlandia Sahti is a commercial brewery making sahti way out in the Finnish countryside, roughly midway between the towns of Pori and Tampere. It's really a farm that's been turned into a commercial brewery by installing a brewkit and setting up a small bar. We park in the yard, where we're met by Petteri Lähdeniemi, the brewer and brewery owner. (This was part of the Finnish sahti expedition of 2018.) ...

Read | 2021-06-27 12:17 | 1 comment(s)

The Blog as a Book

A good while ago some reader suggested that I should publish this blog as a book for people who want to actually read through the whole thing in sequence. And it's not a bad idea, because finding the beginning and then stepping through it, skipping the stuff that's not about farmhouse ale, is a little awkward. But back then I didn't really have time for it, so I didn't do it. ...

Read | 2021-06-19 14:01 | 13 comment(s)

Brewing with Olavi the champion

We drove along dirt roads through seemingly empty forest for half an hour, the dust curling lazily behind us. Eventually we turned onto a road with a sign saying Viherojantie, "Viheroja road." That meant we were getting close, because we were going to brew with Olavi Viheroja, who lives on the farm with the same name, and the road was named after the farm. (This was part of the Finnish sahti expedition of 2018.) ...

Read | 2021-05-22 13:26 | 4 comment(s)

Farmhouse yeast: what do we know?

There's a lot of excitement over kveik at the moment, but kveik is only one kind of farmhouse yeast. The other kinds have so far been very little known, and so I thought it was time to take a little look at the bigger picture. ...

Read | 2021-02-06 20:33 | 16 comment(s)

At the Sahti Academy

One of the most notable stands at the sahti championship belonged to the so-called Sahti Academy (Sahtiopisto), an association of sahti brewers in the small town of Isojoki, who have joined forces to promote their sahti brewing heritage. The day after the championship we paid them a visit. (This was part of the Finnish sahti expedition of 2018.) ...

Read | 2021-01-11 19:53 | 4 comment(s)

The true meaning of Christmas

People often lament that we need to pay more attention to the true meaning of Christmas, but I don't think they mean the same thing as me when they say that. In English there are two words for Christmas. The first is the obvious one, meaning "the mass of Christ", the celebration of the birth of Christ. The second word, yule, derives from the original pagan feast which the church later co-opted, turning it into Christmas. Since it's the original one, of course that is the real feast. ...

Read | 2020-12-15 19:50 | 11 comment(s)

The sahti championship in Karvia

A large, empty sports field, with some cars parked round the edge. That really was what we were seeking in Karvia, a village way out in the Finnish countryside. The nearest town of any size was Pori, about 80km to the southeast. The field was the site of the annual Finnish national championship in sahti brewing. We had decided to stop by, because it seemed like a great opportunity to try a number of different sahtis. (This was part of the Finnish sahti expedition of 2018.) ...

Read | 2020-09-27 10:21 | 2 comment(s)

The great Finnish sahti expedition

As farmhouse ale styles go sahti is quite well documented in print, but if you really want to understand a kind of beer there is no other way than to go there. You need to taste the beer, see it brewed, talk to the brewers, see the places, and get a sense for the whole community of brewers and drinkers. And since I'd never done that for sahti I knew that some day I would have to make a major trip to Finland. In 2017 Martin Thibault and I decided the time had come, and started preparing for a trip to Finland. ...

Read | 2020-09-20 10:56 | 3 comment(s)

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