Bog Myrtle by the Lake and Brewers Who Grow Barley

Bog Myrtle by the Lake and Brewers Who Grow Barley

During summer many Finns spend some time at cottages close to nature. I too spent ten days by a lake, and it proved to be a very productive time. There in the summer cottage I finished the story Brewing Norwegian Farmhouse Ale in Hornindal from my road trip to Norwegian farmhouse breweries in June 2017.

From the summer cottage I drove to a very interesting new craft brewery Takatalo & Tompuri in south-east Finland. The founders Mikko Suur-Uski and Juha Kokkala grow their own barley and brew fine lagers from it. The barley is malted in 50 ton batches at the Viking Malt in Lahti, 150 km from the brewery. The brewmaster Mikko also smokes some of the malt at the farm, and I got plenty of excellent New Nordic Beer material which I will publish later.

Another interesting side track happened on a fishing trip by the lake. I found an island full of bog myrtle, the popular spice of ale before hops in the Middle Ages. This wasn’t just a coincidence, as I have been gathering data about pre-hop medieval ales and scanning areas of Finland where bog myrtle grows. In August, I will begin the test brews of historical gruit ale with bog myrtle and yarrow.

In July, I compared fresh Finnish and Norwegian baker’s yeast for brewing sahti. Suomen Hiiva’s fresh yeast is what most sahti brewers use and Idun blå is popular among farmhouse brewers of Norway. Both made a genuine sahti, but there were several remarkable differences. This was a highly interesting test  which I will document later at Brewing Nordic.

At the moment I’m preparing for the National Sahti Competition held 5th of August in Janakkala. I’m representing my hometown Jyväskylä, and this year I’m competing with extremely fresh eight days old sahti. The competition is also a good opportunity to tell sahti folks about Norwegian farmhouse ale and serve them Stjørdalsøl, which I brewed from the malts from Stjørdal and kveik from Hornindal.

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