In the past people used to drink a lot low alcohol beers. These small beers were consumed by pints as part of the daily diet. Fermentation was just a preservation method with hardly any intoxicating effects.
Very little is written about these small beers, perhaps because of their ordinary humdrum nature. However, from the perspective of beer history small beers are extremely interesting. In some areas, such as eastern Finland, domestic small beers have been brewed relatively recently in a very archaic manner, resembling surprisingly the beers of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Finnish small beers are no longer made in the most traditional way, but luckily the ethnographers documented fairly well the old brewing methods. My latest story Small Beer Called Kalja is an overview to what I have found from ethnographical texts so far. This is just a first scratch on a very complex surface.
The header photo is taken from my first attempt to brew ancient kalja. I will return to this topic when I have more brewing experiments under my belt.
Last May in Copenhagen in the New Nordic Beer seminar I met Claus Christensen from Munkebo Mikrobryg who had isolated his house yeast from bees. He poured me an ale fermented with the bee yeast and told me how the yeast ended up from a bee to the beer. You can read this cool story here: Beer Yeast from Bees.
This story opens a whole new Modern Brews section in this site, where I will be exploring the present and future of Nordic beer.
The Introduction to the Nordic and Baltic Farmhouse Ales is now complete. The new sections deal with history, what to expect when tasting these ales, where these ales can be sampled, and how they should be stored. The history turned out longer than would be needed for an introduction, but since many readers seem to be interested in archaeology and history, I thought to put my theories to the test.
The next story will concentrate on modern Nordic brews, but later this year I will write about how to brew these farmhouse ales.
The first part of the Introduction to the Nordic and Baltic Farmhouse Ales is now ready. It contains some basic concepts along with geography, ingredients and brewing practices. Within two weeks I will add a second part containing history and some commentary about the taste and availability of these ales. I plan to keep this introduction as simple and short as possible, but this is a really multifaceted topic, spanning a lot in time and space. The introduction is in its own page, and comments directly related to the content would be best placed on that page.
The cover photo of this post shows the folks of Lapin Voima putting up a brewing show at the Turku Medieval Market 2016. The photo was kindly provided by Sami Brodkin.
The Brewing Nordic site in now up and running. The actual brewing content is still absent, but let me introduce the structure of this site.
My background and philosophy of the site is explained in the About section. This News section is just for informing about new content, which will appear in the pages of Farmhouse Ales and Modern Brews (yet to be done) sections.
Since northern European farmhouse ales will be the core content, I will write next an introduction to these ales. I may not make it this week, as I need to gear up for the Finnish National Sahti Competition on Saturday 6th of August. This year the competition is held in Sastamala, Finland about 200 km from my hometown Jyväskylä. I’m traveling there, not only with the sahti I’m entering to the competion, but also with some test batches of farmhouse ales for the fellow brewers and audience to taste. In the meantime, you can watch an amusing video from the last years competition.