Plans and Goals for 2020

Plans and Goals for 2020

At the moment my mind is bursting with new ideas for writing, brewing and beer research. Hopefully, some of these ideas will take BrewingNordic into new interesting directions. To give you a glimpse of the future I’ll now list my plans and goals for 2020.

At the end of February, I had the opportunity to visit Voss in Norway. This small municipality in western Norway is known as one of the main areas where farmhouse yeast kveik is alive and kicking. I was there at a kveik seminar where Vestnorsk Kulturakademi announced its project for getting kveik listed as Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage. I learned a lot about kveik, juniper, and local farmhouse beer vossaøl. I’m going to write at least one BrewingNordic story about Voss and the material will show up in several other stories as well.

Making juniper infusion for a Norwegian farmhouse ale in Voss
In Voss I got an excellent stock of photos about Norwegian farmhouse brewing. Here Dag Jørgensen of Voss Bryggeri warms by the juniper infusion kettle.

In early March I gave a course on medieval and Viking Age brewing in Pirkkala, Finland. This was a hands-on brewing course with emphasis on using kveik and maintaining a kveik culture. The course was sold out and I was very pleased with it. The course enforced the idea that I should write more practical brewing instructions. 

Currently, I’m writing a practical user guide to kveik and other farmhouse yeasts. I will publish this next BrewingNordic, but it will take time because it is such a large topic. In fact, it seems that I have to divide the guide into two or more stories.

In the meantime, check my latest story Brewing Sahti At the Ale Apothecary from my trip to the USA last summer. I think this story demonstrates well how sahti can be brewed outside of Finland. Do not forget my report from the Norsk Kornølfestival 2019 either. I plan to go there also next October if the pandemic is over by then. 

Concerning research, these are now my top priorities:

  • Lars Marius Garshol has pushed me to dig Finnish ethnographic questionnaires dealing with farmhouse brewing, and now I should have time for it. Earlier I have referred to ethnographic studies that rely on these old questionnaires but now I should examine this data first-hand. Perhaps the most important questionnaire is from 1958 and it probably contains around 2000 pages of responses from farmhouse brewers. I just have to wait for traveling to become normal again, because I need to visit archives in Helsinki. 
  • Malting with traditional farmhouse methods has been my dream for years. I hope that this year I can realize that dream. The first experiment will be to malt in a traditional Finnish smoke sauna. I have preliminary agreed on a co-operation with a local sahti brewer. 
  • Brewing beer as it was brewed a thousand years ago, with wooden vats and hot stones, has been my long-term project for a while. Last year I bought a wooden tub and kuurna for lautering. Now I only need to acquire a few buckets and scoops before I can start test brews. 
  • I have written about taari and kalja type of farmhouse ales of eastern Finland (see Viking Age Brew or Small Beer Called Kalja) but many aspects still remain a mystery. I hope that the questionnaires together with brewing tests will shed a light on this topic. 

Other activities include:

  • I’m planning to create a Finnish-language version of BrewingNordic. The English and Finnish sites would be far from identical. My idea is to have only some of the crucial stuff in Finnish, and then transfer some writings from my Finnish beer site that now feels outdated. Although I usually introduce myself as a beer writer, my most popular writing ever is cider-making instructions in Finnish (over 50,000 views annually). 
  • I have started to learn video making. For some things, video is a far better media than plain text and photos. I’m also collaborating with video professionals but I need to have basic skills to make short clips myself. 
  • I’m now learning Swedish for two hours a week. This seems to be the only new year’s resolution ever that I can keep. My goal is to be able to read Scandinavian texts and communicate better when traveling in Scandinavia.  

For brewing, I don’t make tight schedules because it is my way to relax. Likely I will brew several batches this spring and I have some ingredients to test, such as Yeast Bay Simonaitis yeast and pale ale malt from a Finnish craft malthouse, Pehkolan mallastamo. 

At the moment the coronavirus pandemic affects only a little my life. Working from home and spending a lot of time at home is completely normal for me. When I was writing Viking Age Brew I was pretty much like in quarantine for half a year to finish the manuscript. But that’s enough about the pandemic. In this site, I intend to keep your thoughts away from miserable or boring things. Kippis (cheers in Finnish)!

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