Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ölbeat 245: Thisted / Mikkeller Beer Geek Limfjordsporter

Brewery: Thisted Bryghus (in Danish) / Mikkeller
Country: Denmark
Style: Baltic Porter 
Abv: 7,7 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a large beige head. Aroma has ash, charcoal and espresso. Taste begins with heavy ashy-charcoaly and bitter roast. Ashy and smoky dry malts take over with bitter burned bread flavour. Towards the end burned malts get espresso and liquorice tones. Aftertaste has extra dry smoky charcoal roast and bitter coffee.

Heavily ashy, smoky and bitter Porter. Both the roast and the bitterness go through the roof in this one. The flavour is powerful and intense. Raw and violent in a good sense. It's clear that this divides drinkers to lovers and haters. I liked it a lot, but love didn't start easy.


The choice was made between two songs with the same name, one from David Bowie and the other from Faith No More. But it wasn't tough: Bowie's hit from 1980 still didn't hit the spot - Major Tom simply sucks. Instead, Faith No More's Album of the Year gets its second entry to the blog, which is simply great.

Faith No More: Ashes to Ashes (YouTube)

From the 1997 album Album of the Year, the song was written by Jon Hudson, Mike Patton, Mike Bordin, Billy Gould and Roddy Bottum.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ölbeat 244: Põhjala Mel Gibson

Brewery: Pôhjala
Country: Estonia
Style: Scotch Ale
Abv: 12,2 %
What about the beer?
Colour is dark coffee brown with a tiny tan crown. Aroma has chocolate, caramel, vanilla and liquor. Taste begins with strong booze-coated caramel malts. Vanillaish caramel and sweet milk chocolate take over with spicy-oaky liquor and hints of coffee and smoke. Towards the end both coffee and sweet liquor strike through with some bitterness lingering in the back. Aftertaste has sweet fruits, mocca chocolate and spicy alcohol.

Multigrain (barley, oats, wheat and rye malts used) Scotch Ale aged in Highland and Islay whisky barrels. Result is a strong and delicious hour-sipper. Sweet chocolate and caramel come out beautifully under the whisky coating. Spices and bitterness are also present. Barrel-aging seems to be Pôhjala's favorite art.


Why would anyone name a Scotch Ale after an Australian actor? Since there has to be a reason, we have to look at the actor's filmography. Mad Max? No. Lethal Weapon? No. How about directing The Passion of the Christ? Jesus. No. The only logical answer has to be his most awarded film to date: Braveheart. This Gaelic folk song named after the movie was supposed to be the film's theme song, but was dropped out of the soundtrack for some reason or another.

Clannad: Croí Cróga (YouTube)

From the 1996 album Lore, the song was written by Ciarán Brennan.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ölbeat 243: Thornbridge Valravn

Brewery: Thornbridge Brewery
Country: England
Style: India Black Ale
Abv: 8,8 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a overflowing tan head. Aroma has mild roast, liquorice and slightly sweet fruit. Taste starts with biting roasty bitter citrus. Piny-grapefruity bitterness and heavy roast take over with salty liquorice. Towards the end roasted liquorice and sweet orange get added to the flavour. Aftertaste has bitter grapefruit, dry roast and a snap of alcohol.

Smooth Imperial India Black Ale. Bitter fruits and liquorice-flavoured roast get joined deliciously. Finish shows the strength of the brew gently. Worthy big brother to great Wild Raven.


The Danish mythology behind the brew's name caught me this time. According to one folklore, when the ravens ate the remains of a dead king or chief on the battlefield, they became valravne, ravens with supernatural powers and human's intelligence. An electric folklore band from the Faroe Islands adopted the creature's name and performed mythical Scandinavian music from 2005 to 2013. This is just one song from the band's second album.

Valravn: Sjón (YouTube)

From the 2009 album Koder på snor, the song was written by Valravn.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ölbeat 242: Pühaste Patt

Brewery: Pühaste
Country: Estonia
Style: Porter
Abv: 6,6 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a large beige head. Aroma has sweet roasted malts, vanillaish chocolate and coffee. Taste starts with roasted liquorice. Bitter roasted malts and dark chocolate take over. Near the finish vanilla-spiced flavours get mixed to the dark chocolate. Aftertaste has dry charcoal and bitter cocoa.

Nice and soft Porter. Dark chocolate dominates, roast plays the bass and bitterness gives the drum beat. Wasn't the freshest batch, so there was a watery mouthfeel. Good brew from Estonia, still.


This was almost purely a choice by the name. The Estonian word 'patt' means sin. But since the Estonian brewery was nearly new to me, I chose a song from a Swedish hard rock band that had been hiding from me before.

Sparzanza: My World of Sin (YouTube)

From the 2009 album In Voodoo Veritas, the song was written by Sparzanza.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ölbeat 241: Ôllenaut Suitsu Porter

Brewery: Õllenaut
Country: Estonia 
Style: Smoked Porter
Abv: 5,4 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a medium tan head. Aroma has fireplace smoke, charcoal roast and some malty hints. Taste begins with intense burned smoke. Smoke and charcoaly roast take over with some dry bitterness. Towards the end malty and roasty bitterness gets mixed to the flavours. Aftertaste has roasted bitterness and malty sweetness.

Tasty smoked Porter. Strong smoke in the start rounds up nicely to roasted malts and bitterness. Fine brew from Ôllenaut once again.


For some reason, I had to get a Pearl Jam song to be paired with this one. The calmness after the start encouraged me to choose a ballad instead of aggressive grunge. Probably a love song fits the beer, I don't know. The reason has vanished into...

Pearl Jam: Thin Air (YouTube)

From the 2000 album Binaural, the song was written by Stone Gossard.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ölbeat 240: Sonnisaari Humalaja

Brewery: Sonnisaari
Country: Finland
Style: India Pale Ale 
Abv: 6,7 %
What about the beer?
Colour is hazy golden orange with a large white head. Aroma has orange, grapefruit and pineapple. Taste begins with spiking citrus. Bitter grapefruit with stingy pine and sweet orange takes over. Near the finish orange and grapefruit bring out a storm of citrus. Aftertaste has citrus bitterness and piny dryness.

Deliciously hopped India Pale Ale. Fruits and bitterness come on powerfully but smoothly. Every sip seems to strengthen the leading flavours. I prefer the bottled version against the tap (Cafe Rooster visit). Clearly one of the top IPAs from Finland now.


So, the name of the brew is a word game with 'humala' (Finnish for hop) and 'Himalaja' (Himalayas). Since it's clearly an American style brew, some good blues rock seemed appropriate. Then Mr. Bonamassa offers a song that describes how it is to have a microbrewery in Finland, I presume. If it's not climbing and "pounding the hammer between steel and stone" every day, it's surely not a bed of roses either.

Joe Bonamassa: Mountain Climbing (YouTube)

From the 2016 album Blues of Desperation, the song was written by Joe Bonamassa and Tom Hambridge.

Ölbeat 239: Vakka-Suomen Prykmestar SavuVehnä (4,5 %)

Brewery: Vakka-Suomen Panimo (in Finnish)
Country: Finland
Style: Smoked Ale
Abv: 4,5 %
What about the beer?
Colour is murky brown with a huge quickly dissolving natural white foam. Aroma has tar, meaty smoke and sweet wheat. Taste begins with smoky malty bite. Smoked meat flavoured malts take over with slight sweetness. Near the finish tar, sweet malts and gentle fruity bitterness get on top. Aftertaste has tar-flavoured and bittersweet malts.

Tasty smoked and light ale. The combination of smoke, tar and wheat malts works, even though the flavour has lost its freshest edge. Pretty good mild Bamberg imitation from Vakka-Suomen Panimo.


"Drink a little drink / Smoke a little smoke". I hear someone asking about the connection between Finnish Bamberg-style brew and American cannabis-favouring(!) country(!!) rock song. The answer: none. Ok? Just sit down, relax, drink a little smoke and feel good.

Eric Church: Smoke a Little Smoke (YouTube)

From the 2009 album Carolina, the song was written by Eric Church, Jeff Hyde and Driver Williams.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ölbeat 238: Oakham Ales Green Devil IPA

Brewery: Oakham Ales
Country: England
Style: India Pale Ale
Abv: 6 %

What about the beer?
Colour is clear light yellow with a medium-sized white head. Aroma has fresh lemon, sweet orange and pineapple. Taste starts with bitter twist of citrus fruits. Tart lemon and bitter grapefruit take over with oily malty body. Towards the end some sweet orange is added to the fruity bitter-turning flavour. Aftertaste has sour and bitter citrus with malty dryness.

Excellent citrus-packed English IPA. Aroma promises fruits and taste delivers. Lemon, grapefruit and touch of orange come through. Really fresh experience.


Am I the only one who thinks it may seem disturbing that many breweries name their brews with a connection to the Lord of the Underworld? I don't think it is disturbing, but some people probably get disturbed. Well, probably they already are if their world is shaken with what's on the label. Right. Enough crap. Let's bring couple more devils to the arena.

The 69 Eyes: Devils (YouTube)

From the 2004 album Devils, the song was written by Jyrki Linnankivi, Pasi Moilanen and Arto Ojajärvi.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ölbeat 237: Victory Art Brew Black Sails IPA

Brewery: Victory Art Brew
Country: Russia
Style: India Black Ale
Abv: 6 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small tan head. Aroma has citrus scent, mild malts and some stuffiness. Taste begins with roasty grapefruity bite. Bitter citrus with roasted malts takes over with hints of liquorice. Towards the end pine gets mixed to the fruity bitterness. Aftertaste has distinctive grapefruit bitterness and roasty malty dryness.

Nicely growing India Black Ale. Aroma gives zero, at first the taste is missing. Slowly and calmly the pirate ship gets its sails up and the strong flavour - fine match of roast, grapefruit, malts and liquorice - shows up. In the end, tasty stuff from the Moscow brewery.


The brew is clearly pirate themed, so what are the choices other than pirate metal? Probably several, but for the fun and contrast of the idea, I paired the brew with a song by this Scottish "folk power metal" band. Hope I won't get keelhauled.

Alestorm: Black Sails at Midnight (YouTube)

From the 2009 album Black Sails at Midnight, the song was written by Christopher Bowes and Tim Shaw.

Ölbeat 236: Stallhagen Vienna Lager

Brewery: Stallhagen (in Swedish)
Country: Finland
Style: Amber Lager/Vienna
Abv: 4,5 %
What about the beer?
Colour is bright golden yellow with a small vanishing white head. Aroma has grainy malts, true barley scent. Taste starts with malty-fruity bitter bite. Bitter, wholegrain-bready malts take over with a hoppy side tone. Near the finish the malts get sweeter and the bitterness is enhanced with a fruity kick. Aftertaste has sweet and bitter malts with lots of grain.

Fresh and easy Lager. Grain and malts are present the way they should. Nothing remarkable but nice and very drinkable beer.


There's a chance that I picked something too noble to be paired with this brew. On the other hand, there aren't any high expections either to drink too many fine brews from Austria or be sipping them in the country's capital. Anyway, liked the brew, like the song, and that's a match.

Ultravox: Vienna (YouTube)

From the 1981 album Vienna, the song was written by Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billy Currie, and Midge Ure.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ölbeat 235: Pyynikin Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Brewery: Pyynikin Käsityöläispanimo
Country: Finland
Style: Imperial Stout 
Abv: 13 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small beige head. Aroma has chocolate, sweet coffee, roast and a drop of bourbon vanilla. Taste starts with sweet malty chocolate. Sweet coffee, dark chocolate and spicy roast take over with a boozy layer on top. Towards the end sweet chocolate-spicy liquor and roasty bitterness rise up. Aftertaste has bitter roast, sweet chocolate and gently spicy bourbon.

Wow. We've reached the point where beer turns to art. Fantastic Imperial Stout! Beautiful balance between bourbon barrel aging and sweet chocolate-coffee flavours of a great standard impy. Growing bitterness decorates the artwork. Pyynikki brewers truly show the divinity of craftsmanship with this one - top 2 Finnish beer. Huge thanks to Tampere!


A world class brew I wish the world would know about requires to be paired with a song by a world class rock band I wish the world would know about. Forgetting the borders, politics and shit. "Save yourself now / You've got a mind all of your own." Powerful, aggressive and beautiful from the beginning to the end - like the beer. To be perfectly honest, I think Cold Kingdom are much closer to the goal, so there's the challenge to Pyynikki brewers: get there first. And no, Diablo is not my thing.

Cold Kingdom: Let It Burn (YouTube)

From the 2015 album The Moon and the Fool, the song was written by Cold Kingdom.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ölbeat 234: Hiisi Pirunpelto

Brewery: Panimo Hiisi (in Finnish)
Country: Finland
Style: Dunkler Bock
Abv: 6,5 %
What about the beer?
Colour is dark brown with a small tan head. Aroma has sweet bread, syrupy malts, dark fruits and raisins. Taste starts with bitter grainy malts. Dryish and grainy and bready malts take over with a hint of bittersweet fruits. Towards the end malty sweetness, dark fruits and gentle bitterness get through. Aftertaste has bitter fruits, dry malts and alcohol warmth.

Malty and tasty Bock. Malt dominance is broken a bit by fruity and bitter flavours. Didn't taste the sauna stove stones used in brewing process, though. How would a hot olivine-diabase taste, anyway? Let's leave that for you to try, dear reader.

This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2017.


Of course, Hiisi guys gave their own music recommendation - Howlin Wolf's Built for Comfort - which is a rather fine Chicago blues track. But as usual, I don't mind brewer's choices but I don't necessarily follow them either. And since sometimes I just pick the song right from the name of the beer, here we go again...

Kotiteollisuus: Pirunpelto (YouTube)

From the 2002 single Routa ei lopu, the song was written by Kotiteollisuus.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Skitbit Mar 2017: Saimaan Home Brewer's Special Copper Mallet Red Ale

Brewery: Saimaan Juomatehdas
Country: Finland
Style: Amber Ale
Abv: 5,9 %
What about the beer?
Colour is thick brown with a large tan head. Aroma has caramel malts, sweet berries and spicy citrus. Taste starts with dry bready malts. Bready malts take over with vanishing fruity bitter flavour. Towards the end the bread gets sweet. Aftertaste has dry malts and bitter fruity pine.

Well, wasn't that monotonous. Dry malts and some malty dryness after that. If this brew really was made after the winner recipe of a home brewing competition, either the scaling went wrong or the judges were stoned. Let's say I've had only a few worse non-alcoholic "house brews" than this.

This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2017.


Probably this brew was actually top of the art, and I'm too uncivilized to show appreciation. The same goes with me and avant garde style music. Some other people take it as musical geniousness, I consider it crap. Copper mallet is a kind of a hammer, and the band, "The Hammers of the Underworld", fits the theme perfectly. Anyway, here goes - neither the brew nor the band will be missed from my behalf.

Alamaailman Vasarat: Vasaraasialainen (YouTube)

From the 2003 album Käärmelautakunta, the song was written by ?.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ölbeat 233: Nokian Keisari One-Off Nunna

Brewery: Nokian Panimo (in Finnish)
Country: Finland
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Abv: 8 %
What about the beer?
Colour is thick dark brown with a small vanishing natural white head. Aroma has sweet dark berries, caramel malts, alcohol  and yeast. Taste starts with sweet bitter fruits. Caramel-chocolate malts and dark fruits take over with a bitter boozy kick. Towards the end sweet berries and caramel rise with yeast and bitterness. Aftertaste has sweet dark fruits and lasting warming alcohol.

Good Belgian Strong Ale. Shows the best sides in the start - lots of malts, fruits and a nice kick of alcohol. As bottle gets emptier, the booze kick in the face and covers other flavours. Nevertheless, nice to see Nokian Panimo brew something "not for supermarket shelves" and do well.

This beer was part of Alko's Finnish microbrewery craftbeer selection in spring 2017.


Looked for some religion-themed songs for the brew and Sunday service. What I found was: bollocks. Naming a Belgian style beer with a church or an abbey reference has to have consequences. So, after picking a masculine match for the Pope, this fits the femininity of a nun likewise. Someone might ask suspiciously what's the connection between a nun and singer Wendy James. That's a very good question.

Transvision Vamp: I Want Your Love (YouTube)

From the 1988 album Pop Art, the song was written by Nick Sayer.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Ölmönger Special: Interview with Sami Keinänen from Hops United

As some - probably most - of the readers know, Finland is a country where you can buy beer with higher than 4,7 % abv only from the national monopoly Alko or from restaurants with serving licenses. It's also legal to order beer from a European online store when we're talking about distance sales: the store organizes the delivery and pays the customs and taxes to Finland. But. Most - I could say almost all - online beer stores abroad only pay the taxes to the country they operate from, not to Finland.

Except one: Hops United in Tallinn, Estonia. The reason behind the exception is that there's a Finn working behind the virtual desk, Mr. Sami Keinänen, Chief Beer Officer of Hops United. Shortly the idea is to sell beer online, deliver it to the nearest R-kioski of the customer and pay the taxes to Finland. The online store started in the end of 2015 and the collection is growing all time. I had a pleasure to meet Sami in person shortly in November and later interview him make by e-mail.

But enough with prologue - from now on I ask some questions and Sami tells the story!

* * *

Hello, Sami! What is your story, in general and concerning beer? How did you end up starting Hops United?

Born and raised in the Arctic Circle in the 70’s. My first experience with beer was in the late 80’s. (Sorry, now you know. I’m sure you knew already.) And there weren’t too much to choose from. All lager, lager, lager. I remember trying different brands, Lapin Kulta, Karjala, Koff, whatever there was available. It was all rather terrible to be frank and I figured beer is just not my thing.

And it was like that until I travelled to Ireland in ‘93 and got in touch with local bitter and real ales. I really liked that and I still enjoy a pint of bitter a lot. I’m a big fan of British pub culture as a whole and actually ended up living in the UK for couple of years, not too far from Young’s Brewery in Wandsworth, London.

Anyhow, fast forward, couple of years ago, we had just finished a wine shop, Vino Nostrum, at a company I used to work at. I figured we might as well create a webshop for beer since I have some experience with online shop, some experience with beers and branding. Although I’m by no means a beer expert. In addition, I’m family man with small kids, who enjoys having a good bottle of Russian Imperial Stout in the evening. There was a problem to be solved.

What's the business idea of Hops United? How does it differ from the other online beer shops?

To begin with, we’d be Finnish company, but as you know, that’s not possible. Our idea is all about the easiness. There are so many choices people need to make on daily basis and we figured that buying beer should be made easy. I’m not saying we’re necessarily there yet. Also, of course, we wanted to provide a sales channel for Finnish craft beer, since it is somewhat tricky to sell your beer in Finland.

Hops provides beer cases like playlists, you do not need to be an expert with IBUs and whatnot. Case of good beers delivered to home door or alternatively to the nearest pickup point (R-Kioski at the moment) in Finland. I feel very much we’re like an independent record label, against all odds. At least in a sense we’re not doing this for the money, and for sure: no one is getting paid 40k a month. This is not a primary business for any of us — at least not at the moment.

Speaking of which, there’s Finland and Finnish alcohol monopoly… where to begin? Many companies go to Estonia in order to avoid Finnish taxation. We are actually the opposite. We pay all the taxes to Finland and we had to go Estonia in order to do so. And this is something what people do not understand. I wouldn’t understand it myself to be frank. We pay exactly the same taxes like Alko does, therefore we really can’t compete with the price. We have a warehouse in Estonia, but if you want to legally sell alcohol to Finland, you need to pay the local taxes.

Lastly, we really take customer care seriously and I’d say we’re doing pretty good job there.

Sami at Õllenaut brewery in Tallinn

The company operates from Tallinn, Estonia and has great Estonian breweries and beers in the selection. Which Estonian breweries would you still like to add to the selection, if there are any?

Obviously Põhjala and Sori would be great additions, maybe some day. We’ve recently added heaps of Pühaste beers of which I’m personally very happy about. Vaat, Tanker, Lehe, Purtse, Anderson.. There are plenty of interesting players in Estonian craft beer scene.

What else than Estonian beers are essential or special in your selection, breweries or beers that really stand out? By the way, is Bell's Brewery in the selection permanently for now? Both Two Hearted Ale and Expedition Stout are top of the art brews and not too easy to get elsewhere, so thanks.

You very welcome, we are equally happy about Bell’s, and especially their Expedition Stout is also personal favourite. Our selection relies on local breweries and Estonian importers. I’m especially happy about our Belgian beers selection. There are gems like Westvleteren 12 & 8, Orval, Rocheforts and other classics. They never let you down, nor they never go out style. We’ve imported some Finnish craft beers but it’s a bit too expensive I’m afraid. I really hope we are able to do that more in the future. Oh, and Ola Dubh. Blimey!

How did beers from The Flying Dutchman end up in the selection? Got the first contact to the brewery through Hops United - that's why I'm asking.

We have a mutual friend with Ronald de Waal who mentioned that he's back in business, so we had a pint together and had a really nice evening. Everything went super smooth and within a week we had a first batch of Flying Dutch on the shop. If all the business would be as easy as it is with The Flying Dutchman..

...and Sami at Tanker brewery in Vaida.

Can we expect changes in the selection or in the way that Hops United operates in the near future? Can you tell us about them?

The biggest update is the Finnish language version which we are releasing in the near future.

One of our biggest challenges is that majority of the people think what we do is illegal. It’s not - unless they change the law in order to "protect people". I hope it helps to communicate these things also in Finnish.

There will be more collection points available, currently we have all the R-kioskis around Finland which is already pretty good.

I would like to order 12 great different beers from Hops United. Recommended by you. Today. What would you put inside my box?

Excellent question! Pühaste Dekadents, Pühaste Humalakoda, Ola Dubh 18, De Dochter van de Korenaar Embrasse, Victory Art Brew Ivan, Mikkeller Beer Geek, Tanker/Van Moll Animal Instinct, Bell’s Expedition Stout, Õllenaut Turbahunt, Rochefort 6, Vaat Jailhouse, Õllenaut Wahtula… a quite stoutish case. Ask me again tomorrow - it'd probably be quite different.

What are the best things in your job as the Chief Beer Office of Hops United? What's worst?

It’s probably easier to start with the worst. Majority of what I spend my time with has to do with bureaucracy, accounting or some sorts of IT-issues. And I’m afraid I’m not the best at accounting. Excel is not really my cup of tea. We report the amount of alcohol in centilitres to Finnish customs every month and there’s are divided into different categories based on the annual production of a respective brewery. It’s a bit of kerfuffle and I know breweries have had their share of bureaucracy. You really need to be passionate about beer and stubbornness helps.

The microbrewery boom started in Finland and Estonia at about the same time not long, just a few years ago. What are the biggest differences in the environment, where the breweries work, and in the beers that they produce? How would you compare the national and international success of Finnish and Estonian breweries?

I think people are quite like-minded in both sides of the Gulf of Finland. Most of the people are in it for fun, some people are more serious and business oriented than others. Generally speaking, Estonian breweries tend to be more internationally oriented than Finns. Generally. Of course Põhjala has been massively successful and the success has helped others well.

Quality control at the warehouse...

There's been a great change in the beer scene in the big picture during the last ten years. In Finland, we run a bit behind as usual, so the boom has been on like three years. Can you tell us something about your thoughts on Finnish beer culture? Where are we now? Where should we be in, say, 2020?

My two cents. We have over 100 breweries at the moment, which is still less what we had in the early 20th century, but only a few will become business as such. But maybe that doesn’t matter, people having fun brewing beer. I think there’s a lot who consider it as a hobby. A bit like playing in a band. And punk band to be more specific, everyone can join, no previous experience required. I reckon that’s culturally interesting.

I’m hoping microbreweries will bloom in 2020. Hops shortage and market price might have an affect on this however. We need more hop farmers. Business-wise, things are getting more serious all the time, like in any business area, which is wild wild west at first. Major breweries will keep on acquisitioning small ones and we’ll see more consolidation. Not sure how much this will happen in Finland.
Finnish alcohol legislation is under reform that will go through in spring 2017. If the reform will go through as planned, changes include e.g. that beers and other alcohol drinks with max 5,5 % abv can be sold in grocery stores and microbreweries can sell out their beers with max 12% abv from their own premises. An honest opinion: what's wrong in Finland's alcohol politics? Is there something good?

What’s wrong with Finnish alcohol politics? That’s a big question.

The 0.8% raise seems to be the root of all evil to come in the future. I simply don’t believe in monopoly model. Every country has alcohol related problems and it’s always a small minority of people who cause majority of the issues. Also in Finland, whether we have monopoly or not. And even, if we’d go back to prohibition era, we’d have alcohol related problems. Quite likely even more then.

Monopoly or prohibition won’t solve these issues. I don’t want to glorify alcohol, but wherever there’s people, there’s bound to be problems. Mystifying alcohol will only make it worse. But as said, this is a big issue. I'm not at all denying alcohol related problems, I’m questioning the means. The discussion about alcohol is mostly discussion about alcohol related problems. There’s so much more.

There's an ongoing marketing war both globally and locally between micro- and macrobreweries. What do you think of it?

I’d say that’s a “good war”. Brewdog was absolutely spot on with their “beer market is sick and we’re the cure” mission. Now obviously they have become one of the big ones and they need re-position themselves. Supporting local food and beer, is a megatrend that’ll hopefully continue in the years to come.

...and random picks from a happy customer's last order.

An easy question to a good friend of great beer: what is your favorite beer? Why? Ok, let's make it less impossible: name the top three of the last two months.

Not easy at all. Frankly I do not consider myself as a beer expert. To me it’s very much the same as in music. It really depends on the mood, company I’m with, weather, etc. Generally speaking I’m very much of a Imperial Stout guy and you can’t go wrong with Trappist beers. For now I list these 3:
  • Pühaste Dekadents
  • Rochefort 10
  • Tanker/Van Moll Animal Instinct

Let's play a little. If you had to pick any beer style for a Hops United's own brand beer, which would they be? What would you expect from the taste? Could this beer really be available in your online store someday?

Most likely barrel-aged Imperial Stout. I like simple ingredients and when you get that first sip of great brew and it kicks in, I feel very much alive. It’d be something like that. For sure, it’d be great to have on our store!

Final question: what song would you name the one that matches Hops United?

Tom Waits: I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.

We'll play the song. Thanks for the interview, Sami!

* * *

So, this far I've reviewed a bunch of beers ordered from Hops United, for example:
... and of course, the goodies from Bell's Brewery: Two Hearted Ale and Expedition Stout.

There'll surely be more to come. Meanwhile - go shopping and enjoy!


A voice soaked in bourbon, hanged in the smokehouse and ran over with a car? Well, who could disagree. But there's certainly a hook in Waits' voice.

Tom Waits: I Don't Wanna Grow Up (YouTube)

From the 1992 album Bone Machine, the song was written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ölmönger Special: Beer Hunter's, Pori, 24 Feb 2017

What? Restaurant Beer Hunter's 
Where? In Pori, Finland.
When? On Friday, 24 February, 2017. Between 6 and 11 p.m.
Why? It was the gentlemen's evening out. 

"Sometimes a man feels lucky." No, that's not the sentence for anyone's wedding day or a phrase to say on the morning of one's 50th anniversary. The words don't describe the feelings that buzz around romantic or marital relationships, getting children and finally kicking them out of the house or attending the funeral of your father-in-law... or wait... No. A man feels lucky when he gets a chance to have a pint, two or many in good company.
Bar from outside. Notice surrounding the East German style architecture.
And that's the way it was last Friday. Me and my buddy - two married guys with children - had a rare chance to step out of the role of father and husband for couple of hours. Started our journey in the heart of the Finnish West Coast Pearl at around 5 p.m. First at Blind Burger with fine burgers. Then around 6 p.m. entered the Pori pilgrimage site for beer lovers.

Restaurant Beer Hunter's - as well as the brewery of the same name - is led by brewer Mika Tuhkanen. Both the restaurant and the brewery were founded in 1998. The original brewery is still in function at the restaurant premises but used mainly for special batches. The larger brewery that lies in Herralahti - couple of kilometers from the center - was started in 2014 and it's used for brewing the main commercial products (like CCCCC IPA) of the brewery.

Half of the tap row from the left...
... and the other half from the right.
The restaurant went through a major change in the winter-spring 2016: the tap line was completely renewed. The amount of taps was increased from X (a few, five, less than then, who cares?) to 24, of which 15-16 are changing craft beer taps. The amount of brewery's own products on tap has seemed to vary between four and six. In addition, there is a decent collection of bottled beer available. As a whisky bar, Beer Hunter's has even more to offer. But that's another story.

One thing that didn't change was the genuine pub style. Even though one can get sour beers, sometimes even on tap, the restaurant hast been decorated either with cheap bling or with artificial second-hand barn furniture. It's a cozy suburbian bar style pub with a beer lover's selection.

But enough with the advertising - back to the business! 

Let's start with the Beer Hunter's own Mufloni brews - from tap of course.

Mufloni Savuportteri (@Ratebeer)
Colour is black with a two-finger thick natural white head. Aroma has meaty smoke and roasted malts. Taste starts with a smoky bitter bite. Intense smoke and roasted malts take over with nice bitterness. Near the finish smoke gets sweeter and roasty bitterness comes through. Aftertaste has roasted malts and smoky bitter dryness.

Mufloni Tripel (@Ratebeer)
Colour is hazy orange with a small white head. Aroma has pineapple, orange and yeast. Taste begins with yeasty and fruity wheat malts. Yeasty sweet malts and sour citrus takes over with gentle bitterness. Near the finish sweet yeasty citrus fruits get on top. Aftertaste has bittersweet citrus and yeasty dryness.

Both Mufloni beers were between good and excellent. Savuporter had the qualities of both well-smoked beer and thick roasted porter. Tripel seemed to be traditional abbey brew with a citrus-flavoured hop twist.

Then to the guest taps - one Scottish and one Belgian beer, please! 

BrewDog Self Assembly Pope (@Ratebeer)
Colour is black with a small tan head. Aroma has strong perfumeish coconut and chocolate - like a liquid Bounty bar. Taste starts with bittersweet coconut and cocoa mix. Sweet coconut-chocolate and bitter roast take over. Near the finish spicy coffee and vanilla get mixed to the flavour. Aftertaste has sweet coconut, roasty bitterness and alcohol warmth.

Rodenbach Alexander (@Ratebeer)
Colour is hazy red with a huge natural white head. Aroma has heavy sourness, cherries and yeast. Taste begins with sour berries. Sour cherry juice takes over with slight bitterness. Near the finish cherry sweetness gets through. Aftertaste has sweet-sour cherries.

Mmm and grrr. Whereas BrewDog SAP surprises with a tasty imperial porter with almost artificial coconut-chocolate-vanilla coating, Rodenbach Alexander really disappoints with pretty one-sided less sour and more sweet cherry juice. Well, I'm not the best friend of fruit or berry sours, so don't take it personally.

In the end, we have couple of American bottlings.

AleSmith Old Numbskull (@Ratebeer)

Colour is beautiful dark brown with a thin white lace. Aroma has caramel, chocolate, nuts and sweet liquor. Taste starts with fruity sweet bitterness. Sweet rich caramel and milk chocolate take over with a bourbon boozy bite. Near the finish fruity bitterness and nutty vanillaish alcohol kicks in. Aftertaste has aged nutty bitterness and bourbon vanilla alcohol.

Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti (@Ratebeer)

Colour is black with a small vanishing beige head. Aroma has roasted malts, vanilla and chocolate. Taste begins with bitter oaky roast. Heavily roasted malts and vanilla-flavoured bitterness take over with dark chocolate. Near the finish cocoa and oaky flavours really get through. Aftertaste has bitter dark chocolate and roasty dryness.

Delicious finish for a great visit. Old Numbskull proved to be a barley wine worth every dime - soft but strong, probably aged for some time. Oak Aged Yeti showed the flavours of rich imperial stout - worthy older brother to the excellent standard version.


Classy visit with only one miss, which can always be thought as lack of my personal taste. Let's end the story with a couple of classic and timeless 60's rock songs. Just to avoid putting here crap they call "music from Pori". To be continued...

Del Shannon: Runaway (YouTube)

Released as a single in 1961, the song was written by Del Shannon and Max Crook.

The Who: My Generation (YouTube)

From the 1965 album My Generation, the song was written by Pete Townshend.