Wrap-up of 2020 and Plans for 2021

Wrap-up of 2020 and Plans for 2021

It’s time to wrap up the past year and plan the future.

In 2020, my beer writer’s highlight of the year was certainly a trip to Voss in Western Norway. I was there in February just before the pandemic began to spread. In Voss I learned a lot about kveik and traditional Norwegian farmhouse ale, vossaøl. I also got lots of good photos that are now an integral part of BrewingNordic’s imagery.

After this trip, I was confident enough to write a long-planned practical guide to kveik. This thorough guide is divided into four parts:

Practical Guide to Kveik and Other Farmhouse Yeast: Introduction
Practical Guide to Kveik and Other Farmhouse Yeast: Fermentation
Practical Guide to Kveik and Other Farmhouse Yeast: Reusing and Maintaining Yeast
Farmhouse Yeast Descriptions

Because of the visit to Voss, I was able to replicate vossaøl’s unique flavor at my home brewery. The practical brewing tips are documented in this article:

Heimabrygg, Vossaøl, Hardangerøl and Sognøl – The Farmhouse Homebrews of Western Norway

In 2020 I also finished documenting my Viking Age Brew & Brew Beer Like a Yeti Book tour (with Jereme Zimmerman) to the Pacific Northwest USA in 2019. The final piece was our commercial sahti collaboration brew in Bend, Oregon:

Brewing Sahti at The Ale Apothecary

Maria Markus from Media Road Service kindly edited this video from our fun brew day.

Other noteworthy activities in 2020 were:

  • I malted a small bach of barley with traditional farmhouse methods and brewed sahti from self-malt malt for the first time. 
  • I founded the Finnish-language site fi.brewingnordic.com to promote traditional farmhouse ales and home brewing.
  • I gathered traditional wooden and metal brewing gear. Now I have a full brewing setup for Viking Age, Iron Age, and medieval brewing demonstrations.
  • I gave a one-day course on historical brewing techniques for homebrewers and Viking Age / medieval enthusiasts.
Mika Laitinen at Voss Folkemuseum in Norway
Without the trip to Voss my kveik guide would have been less grand and I would have skipped writing about western Norwegian farmhouse ales. Here I’m posing at the Voss Folkemuseum. Photo by Lars Marius Garshol.

Brewing Nordic in 2021

For years I have blended traditional and modern brewing techniques for my house beers and now I have decided to document these techniques and recipes. I brewed plenty of tasty and unique beers that aren’t yet documented: juniper beers, rye beers, raw ales, and ales with vossaøl-techniques. This will be the main theme of Brewing Nordic in 2021.

Another important topic will be eastern Finnish and Karelian farmhouse brews, taari and kalja. I will also continue experimenting with traditional malting, and I plan to build some kind of small combined malt and brew house into my backyard. Historical brewing sessions with traditional wooden gear will show up in Brewing Nordic Facebook and Instagram. I have planned videos of historical brewing and some other stuff too.

In 2020 I planned to go to The National Archives of Finland to research ethnographic questionnaires dealing with farmhouse brewing. I postponed this task because of the pandemic. I won’t be visiting the archives in Helsinki soon but perhaps later in 2021.

Ingredients and equipment for brewing taari farmhouse ale
I have brewed Karelian farmhouse beer taari four times and now I’m beginning to understand how this probably extinct ale should be brewed. I will publish the brewing details in 2021. Photo by Mari Varonen.

Brewing Nordic Statistics

In 2020 visits to brewingnordic.com grew 50 % from the previous year. Now the site has typically 1500–2000 visitors per month. 44 % of the visitors are from North America and around 40 % from Europe. 15 % of the readers are from the Nordic countries. A large share of readers are from Britain and Germany but the readership is considerable in many other European countries too, for example in France, Italy, Poland, The Netherlands, and Russia. It is fascinating to see how international the community around Brewing Nordic is. Surprisingly many readers are from the other side of the globe, for example from Australia, Brazil, and Argentina.

My book Viking Age Brew book has sold around 2000–3000 copies which is less than I expected. I’m OK with little income from the book sales (that was as expected) but I’m hoping that the book makes an impact on the beer culture. Beer writing is a hobby for me and writing merely funds this hobby. Hopefully, the book will gradually find its way to brewers and people interested in how beer was brewed in the past.

Readership of brewingnordic.com in 2020.

Brewing Nordic Facebook account has settled to around 1400 followers while the Instagram account is approaching 1000 followers and growing. I’m keeping Facebook very information-oriented and almost solely dedicated to beer and brewing. On Instagram, I’ll occasionally share also glimpses of my non-beer life as well as sceneries and culture from the Nordic countries. My Twitter account has been merely an outpost for announcing my main writings. I also have a few videos on Brewing Nordic’s Youtube account.

The featured image of this post shows the magnificent Hardanger Fjord which I saw on a day trip from Voss.

2 thoughts on “Wrap-up of 2020 and Plans for 2021

  • December 30, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for all the information you share Mika! It is fascinating and very informative. Best of luck with your plans for 2021. Cheers!

    • December 31, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks Johann! I try to keep this site fascinating and informative in 2021 too.


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