Larsblog - beer

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 | 2 comment(s)

A small dictionary of Finnish drinking words

You know how the Inuit supposedly have dozens of specialized words for different kinds of snow? It comes as no surprise to people who know the Finns that they have lots of specialized words for different kinds of drinking and alcohol. Here is a little dictionary of these drinking terms, collected on an expedition through the Finnish countryside in the summer of 2018, hunting for Finnish traditional farmhouse ale, sahti. ...

Read | 2020-08-16 12:22 | 2 comment(s)

Olga's beer

I had been googling "landøl" to see if it really was the name for Danish farmhouse ale, when I stumbled on a recipe for it. The recipe came from Olga Hansen at the farm Nøddebjerggård on Møn. "Huh", I thought. "That's very specific. Let's try tracing her." I tried googling various combinations and suddenly found that they'd brewed farmhouse ale on the same farm in 2017. So of course I called them, and asked if I could come visit. (This was in July 2018.) ...

Read | 2020-08-09 14:38 | 9 comment(s)

What counts as a farmhouse ale?

The most common question I get in interviews is "what do you consider to be a farmhouse ale?" and since the answer is a little involved I decided to write it up more fully. There is a fairly clear-cut definition, but it takes a little explaining. ...

Read | 2020-07-26 14:52 | 15 comment(s)

Does bread yeast exist?

The title makes it sound like I've lost my mind, because of course bread yeast exists. You've all seen it sitting on supermarket shelves. But I've started to wonder whether what's sold as bread yeast really is a separate kind of yeast, or whether they're just brewer's yeasts that have changed profession. ...

Read | 2020-05-04 16:15 | 20 comment(s)

Figuring out how to brew keptinis

I visited Vikonys in Lithuania and saw how the Lithuanians there brew keptinis. The basic idea is straightforward enough: do a normal mash, then bake the mash in a huge Lithuanian duonkepis oven to get caramel flavours by toasting the sugars in the mash. This is an important idea, because it's a completely "new" type of brewing process that creates flavours you cannot make with normal techniques. ...

Read | 2020-04-12 12:20 | 25 comment(s)

East of the mountains: gong

I got the tip-off from Jørund Geving, a farmhouse brewer in Stjørdal. He'd gotten into a random conversation with a farmer from Ål in Hallingdal, who said there were people there who still brewed. That's in eastern Norway, so that was remarkable news in itself: a new brewing region! But then he dropped the real bombshell: these guys had their own yeast, which they called gong. ...

Read | 2020-04-04 13:11 | 13 comment(s)

When not brewing Christmas beer was illegal

There really was a time when not brewing Christmas beer in Norway was not just illegal, but even punished harshly. I realize this sounds like a tall tale, but it is documented far beyond any reasonable doubt. Which is of course quite confusing. Why was the law like this? That's quite a complicated question, it turns out. ...

Read | 2019-12-07 17:02 | 13 comment(s)

Muri: A Mystery Solved

I wrote about the Muri mystery and how I didn't think we'd ever solve it, but yesterday I got an email out of the blue. Kristoffer Krogerus had noted a new paper on Saccharomyces eubayanus (one of the two parents of lager yeast) where the researchers had sequenced the genomes of a number of commercial brewing strains. He downloaded the data and took a closer look. ...

Read | 2019-09-12 08:51 | 6 comment(s)

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