Friday, September 29, 2017

Ölbeat 305: Einstök Icelandic Toasted Porter

Brewery: Einstök Ölgerð
Country: Iceland
Style: Porter
Abv: 6,0 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a large fluffy tan head. Aroma has salty roast, grainy malts and rye bread. Taste starts with bitter charred roast. Charred malts and bitter cocoa take over with some salty espresso on the side. Towards the end the charred bready malty main flavour gets some salty roasted caramel and bitter dark chocolate side tones. Aftertaste has dry roasted malts and bitter espresso.

Rich and very roasty Porter. Charred malts dominate with caramel, chocolate and coffee joining the bitterness on the background. Excellent brew from Iceland.


The previous beer from the brewery took us to the world of vikings. Now the Icelanders are stuck with the theme. This time the brew is slightly darker, and so is the music.

Amon Amarth: Guardians of Asgaard (YouTube)

From the 2008 album Twilight of the Thunder God, the song was written by Amon Amarth.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Skitbit Sep 2017: Hartwall Lahden Erikois IPA

Brewery: Hartwall
Country: Finland
Style: Session IPa 
Abv: 4,7 %
What about the beer?
Colour is golden yellow with a large white head. Aroma has lemon, grapefruit and mild fruity notes. Taste starts with very mild citrus. Nothing special or nothing ordinary - except the waiting for something to replace the thin watery malty flavour - takes over. Towards the end there's faint grapefruit bitterness and some malty sweetness. Aftertaste has mild pine and harsh cardboardy citrus bitterness.

Harmless, tasteless and forgettable Session Ale. Baa-ad watery stuff, ugly caricature of a hop-driven brew. This would probably go ok with some spicy food since its flavour could be enhanced a bit, but I would prefer a usual lager after sauna to this. As a beer, this didn't have any on- and only some off-flavours, so it's 0 points for the macro brewery and relegation to the 5th division. It'll take some time for me to pick anything from Hartwall again.


Things are going shitty in Lahti, Finland. The city is running out of good breweries - Teerenpeli is at its best mediocre and the others are bad or out of business. There aren't too many good pubs around - actually none. The music from the Chicago of Finland is worse than shit, the following example is a fine example of how bad things can go without good beer around.

Arttu Lindeman: Läikkyy (YouTube)

Published as a single 2016, the song was written by DJ Fresh and Diplo as Earthquake (and copied later by a bunch of incompetent d**kheads for this song).

Friday, September 22, 2017

Ölbeat 304: Sori / AF Brew Midsummer Melancholy

Brewery: Sori Brewing / AF Brew (in Russian)
Country: Estonia (Russia)
Style: Imperial Porter
Abv: 11 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with a small beige head. Aroma has milk chocolate, coffee, vanilla and gentle roast - a scent to drown into. Taste starts with sweet and gentle vanillaish roast. Sweet chocolate, bitter black coffee and boozy roast take over. Towards the end sweet chocolate liquor with vanilla and coffee gets on top, while smoothly bitter roast lingers in the background. Aftertaste has dark chocolate, sweet vanilla and gently bitter alcohol warmth.

Delicious dessert Imperial Baltic Porter. Chocolate, vanilla and alcohol rule with their sweet and gentle grasp. Coffee and roast surrender and accept the supporting role. The result is a superb and beautiful brew. Even though - or maybe just because - the beer was enjoyed a month ago, at the edge of ending summer.


Since everyone knows the obvious choice for this brew, I included it below the actual choice. The obvious choice clearly lost the duel, due to this song's dark power that I associate with the brew. 

Paradise Lost: No Hope in Sight (YouTube)

From the 2015 album Plague Within, the song was written by Nick Holmes and Greg Mackintosh.

The Obvious Choice

Almost too clear first choice for the brew, but in my opinion much too light slow disco song for a heavy beer. Melancholy is simply deeper than plain sadness. 

Lana Del Rey: Summertime Sadness (YouTube)

From the 2012 album Born to Die, the song was written by Lana Del Rey and Rick Nowels.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ölbeat 303: Põhjala Cellar Series: Pime Öö Islay BA

Brewery: Pôhjala
Country: Estonia
Style: Imperial Stout
Abv: 13,6 %
What about the beer?
Colour is black with no visible head - just thin beige halo. Aroma has syrupy malts, sweet roast and fruity booze. Taste begins with sweet boozy roast. Sweet chocolate roast and peaty-smoky booze take over with dark fruits and malts lingering in the background. Towards the end strongly sweet peaty malts and boozy dark grapes step on top of bitter whisky smoke. Aftertaste has sweet booze-soaked raisins, malty chocolate and spicy alcohol.

Sweet, boozy and smoky Imperial Stout. The Islay whisky comes out as recognizable peaty smoke and alcohol that wraps around malty sweet roast and fruity flavours of the basic brew nicely. Really slow, complex and extremely enjoyable Imp. Aging could round the sweet and boozy edges a bit, but nevertheless this is powerfully beautiful show from Põhjala again. Had this at Kaisla, Helsinki, since didn't have the patience to wait it to hit the monopoly selection (if it ever actually does...).


The song has probably no other similarities with the beer except the darkness. This is one song that just had to be connected with a strong black "drownable" brew:"We build cathedrals to our pain / Establish monuments to attain / Freedom from all of the scars and the sins / Lest we drown in the darkness within." I think this one fits the description.

Machine Head: Darkness Within (YouTube)

From the 2011 album Unto the Locust, the song was written by Robert Flynn, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ölbeat 302: Reittausblogi Höyrysavu - Homebrew

Brewery: Reittausblogi (in Finnish) - Homebrew
Country: Finland
Style: Smoked Bock
Abv: 6,5 %
Won't find this @RateBeer

Continuing from where we were left last time, it's time for the other beer in Harri's delivery. Have to say in this post - if it hasn't become obvious - that from the Finnish beer blogs available, Reittausblogi shows most diversity when it comes to showing knowledge and dedication to beer. I mean the product, not the bullshit around it. The know-how and the experience in brewing, sharing the recipes, the homebrew reviews, the sahti knowledge... and still some exceptionally thorough reviews of commercial beers on the blog.

That would be something to admire... if only he lived elsewhere than Rauma. As all the Finns know, there's a long feud between the city of Pori and the medieval dwelling of Rauma. This shows up especially in the world of sports. Whatever the ball game, there's always a rivalry. In Finland's national sport Finnish baseball, the ladies club Pesäkarhut in Pori fights for medal position every season - and in Rauma the women have surely tried bats, balls and mitts on, too. In football, the European version, the clubs in Pori, Jazz and Porin Pallotoverit, have won some national titles in the past - and in Rauma they know that the ball is round and it's not allowed to touch it with your hands (unless you're a goalkeeper, but that's yet something to be learned in Rauma). In ice hockey, the Pori club Ässät won its last championship in 2013 - while in Rauma they know that you're supposed to skate with skates but using the stick and controlling the puck is still challenging. ;) Get the picture?*

Before we get lost in labyrinth of common knowledge, let's get back to the beer...

Before the review let's give the word on the brew to the brewer himself:

Reittausblogi Höyrysavu (Smoked Bock)
Smoked Bock, 6,5% abv

This is a new recipe I created past summer. A Smoked Bockbeer aimed for the märzen season. It is fermented with a lager yeast, but in low ale temperatures (18 degrees) - so basically it could be considered as a steam beer also, but I prefer smoked bock. Lagers are fermented around 10 degrees normally, but I don't have the equipment for that. The name in finnish. "Höyrysavu", literally translates as "Steamsmoke". For this beer I tried to get a good malty body with clean fermentation aromas, tasty smokiness and balanced hop bitterness. Simple, drinkable stuff for the long and cold autumn ahead. I added some juniper from my own backyard to the end of the boil for some "house flavour".

Malts: Weyermann Beech Smoked Barley Malt (GER), Chateau Munich (BEL), Weyermann Caraaroma (GER)
Hops: Sladek (CZE)
Spices: Juniper twigs with needles, no berries
Yeast: Mangrove Jack M54 California Lager

What about the beer?
Colour is ruby brown with a finger-thick natural white head. Aroma has smoked meat, roast bread and malts. Taste begins with bitter, cured ham flavoured smoke. Meaty smoked caramel malts take over with roasty and spicy side notes. Towards the end slightly wood-flavoured smoky-roasted bitterness gets on top. Aftertaste has strong smoke, roasted bitterness and spicy malty dryness.

Strong and delicious Smoked Bock. Smoke is powerfully present throughout the show. Behind the spicy flavours - effect of the juniper, perhaps? - is a solid malt base. Seems that Harri has hit as near to an authentic Bamberg smoked beer as possible. I would call this a success. Yes, this is definitely a success. Thanks and a big hand for this treat to the neighbour rival, too.

Brewer's Choice

Harri's arguments for the choice are short but profound: Cash, barbeque hut, peace, smoked beer.

Johnny Cash: Heart of Gold (YouTube)

From the 2003 box set Unearthed (Disc 2 - Trouble in Mind), the song was written by Neil Young.


Since the brew is clearly German style smoked beer that rocks, it doesn't give too many options. And let's say that Harri seems to have a taste for heavy music, so this is partly a tribute to that direction, too. 

Accept: From the Ashes We Rise (YouTube)

From the 2014 album Blind Rage, the song was written by Peter Baltes, Wolf Hoffmann and Mark Tornillo.

* As everyone knows, I'm not from Pori, so I don't consider this kind of opposition funny at all. But in the blog, I take a daily 15-minute break from making fun of people living in Pori, so it was the other town's turn to be laughed at. Basically, the people in Satakunta region are all the same, despite the tribes here are pretty talented in finding differences when there are none.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ölbeat 301: Reittausblogi IPA 2017 - Homebrew

Brewery: Reittausblogi (in Finnish) - Homebrew
Country: Finland
Style: India Pale Ale
Abv: 6,2 %
Won't find this @RateBeer

(I don't usually write intros to Ölbeats but this and one upcoming post will be well-argumented exceptions.)

Around three-four weeks ago when the blog was slowly reaching the milestone of 300 Ölbeats, I seriously thought of writing a couple of  "Best of the Pest" posts and throwing in the towel after that. The time to keep up posting to the blog has been limited lately, and running again and constantly around 50 beers behind in the posts seriously bugs me. And there will be less time for the blog in the future, since I've found the interesting and important world of coaching kids to play volleyball.

At the same time with these deep thoughts running through my head, the fellow blogger Harri Metsäjoki from Reittausblogi, asked via Twitter whether I would like to have a taste of a couple of his homebrews, one being this IPA and another being a smoked bock that will be in the blog later. As a serious master of homebrewing Harri surely mastered the timing of his offer. Totally astounded, I pushed the thought of quitting the blog aside - "Let's think about that again at 400..." - and answered: "Hellyeah." Couple of weeks later I had a mysterious package in my shaking hands. Last Saturday, ) September 2017, I took the bottle from the fridge and poured it into the glass...

But before the review let's give the word on the brew to the brewer himself:

Reittausblogi IPA 2017
India Pale Ale, 6,2% abv

This is my first homebrew recipe from back in 2013. This summer I wanted to be a little nostalgic so I brewed another batch with a recipe very similar to the first one, just slightly more hops and I used Citra instead of Centennial, because Centennial was out of stock.

I will not lie a lot if I say this recipe is one of the most brewed homebrews in Finland. I wrote the first easily understandable, but thorough, homebrew instructions in Finnish and they became a huge hit, maybe even being a somekind of spark to the current homebrewing wave that is sweeping over Finland. Along with the instructions came this recipe and a lot of people would start their homebrew careers with it. It is still unbelievable and crazy how popular it became and how popular it still remains.

The beer itself is a classic West Coast Style IPA with balanced hoppiness. Malt base is 100% finnish Sahti Malt from the Viking Malt company. Sahti malt is a barley malt mixture with roughly 90% of Pilsner malt and 10% Dark Ale malts. The exact mixture is a secret that the malt house will not share. Sahti malt is sold in 25 kg bags in local supermarkets and is therefore very cheap and the easiest malt to get hold of. And quite well suited to brewing IPA, at least in my opinion.

Malts: Sahti Malt
Hops: Herkules (GER) for bitterness, Cascade (USA) and Citra (USA) for aroma and dry hopping.
Yeast: Safale US-05 (clean fermenting american ale yeast)

What about the beer?
Colour is hazy dark orange with a two-finger thick white head. Aroma has grapefruit, orange and mango. Taste begins with smooth piny fruity bitterness. Bitter grapefruit juice and sweet caramel malts take over with spicy piny side tones. Towards the end bitter pine and sweet citrus get mixed with the grapefruit, while caramel malt retreat to the background. Aftertaste is smoothly citrus fruity and biting piny bitter.

Great and flawless India Pale Ale. Grapefruit clearly leads the game, pine bites in just the right way, fruity sweetness gets nicely through and malts support the game beautifully. The brewer himself has once told that CCCCC IPA was the original brew's role model - there surely are differences in the taste but both are excellent West Coast IPAs. Truly a homebrew worth the rep. This was a privilege. Huge thanks to Harri and Reittausblogi! We'll continue with the bock later.

Brewer's Choice

According to Harri, this great song from the toughest album of 2017 matches his homebrewing hobby well: old equipment, no automation and digital meters. The only digital instrument used while brewing is the kitchen scale.

Accept: Analog Man (YouTube)

From the 2017 album The Rise of Chaos, the song was written by Accept(?).


Encouraged by the brewer, I jumped right out the digital period to the time of classic rock. Since the beer was the first new Finnish IPA for me that truly rocked in a relatively long time - couple of months, at least.  

Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll (YouTube)

From the 1971 album Led Zeppelin IV, the song was written by John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ölbeats at 300 by Tags: Country

Celebrating the 300 Ölbeats and an uneven number of other stories, Skitbits and stuff, I decided to stop for a moment and look back at the blogposts. How have I spent the virtual space of the blog? What countries and breweries have had the questionable honor to be present on the blog the most? Which artists have gotten the most playing time at the blog?

Have I been unjust towards others - whether we talk about, for example, the styles in beer or music? Well, of course I have: I like IPAs and barley wines more than, say, wild ales and dubbels. I like Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin more than Finnish evergreens and the crap they call Suomirap.

First in the line are the countries of the beers' origin.

In a stat post you just got to have a histogram, don't you?
First of all, since I don't have a scientific mind or a statistical memory I was surprised of how few countries' beer I have reviewed. The total number of countries is 18. I thought that from the 300 Ölbeats and ten-something Skitbits would include brews from at least 20 countries. But I was wrong. One huge surprise in the countries completely missing from the list is Czech Republic - not one brew from the country that is one of the best known beer countries in the world. I even started drinking beer years ago with Urquell, Budvar and Krusovice. Shame on me! The Irish beers are completely missing, too, but do they really have something else than Guinness? Of course they do, just have to find them.

Another surprise was how unevenly the amount of different beers is divided between the countries. Only Italy, New Zealand and Russia have just one Ölbeat on their belt, other countries have two or more. Spain, Sweden, Poland and Iceland have less than five Ölbeats each. Scotland, Norway and Belgium are 8th, 9th and 10th with 10, 9 and 8 beers, respectively. Denmark is 7th with 16 Ölbeats, while Germany and Netherlands share the 5th place with 18 brews both. These forementioned countries cover roughly only one third of the beers reviewed.

England comes 4th with 24 brews - no surprise, since breweries like Thornbridge and Buxton aren't considered hostile visitors at the blog. United States gets the bronze in the contest - the availability of American brews has gotten better in Finland. The growth in the number of microbreweries in Estonia - and probably my fandom towards a couple of breweries there - gives the country the 2nd place in the contest so far. Estonian, American and English brews make approximately one third of the blog's stories.

Number one shouldn't be a surprise to anyone: Finland. All in all, this is still a Finnish beer blog and most of the beers available in Finland are Finnish. That's the simple reason for the bright yellow jersey in this phase of the race.

However, I think that only one third of the beers in the blog are from Finland. Almost all Skitbits are Finnish, I've reviewed parts of two Alko artisan spring selections of almost ten beers each and I have considered The Flying Dutchman a Finnish brewery. So there is a base for even higher number of Finnish beers. But there aren't. Probably because in this phase of my hobby I'm still curious and willing to taste foreign beers two times as often as Finnish beers.

And this blog isn't a website that exists mainly for promoting the export of Finnish quality brews. Why? Well, that's a good question. Probably since I'm perfectly unwilling to do that kind of shit without decent contract and paycheck.

The best from the biggest

So, what are the three best Finnish beers in the blog so far. We'll have to shortlist first because there have been dozens good ones from Finland. Let's pick the winning trio from these ten:
In the end, the choice was easy. The lucky three winners, in the order of Ölbeat number, are:
From left: Mufloni CCCCC IPA, Malmgård Barley Wine and Pyynikin BBA Imperial Stout
Mufloni CCCCC IPA got to the podium because of consistency. I've found some differences between the best and the good batches, but it's always a sure, fresh and solid choice.

Malmgård Barley Wine is one of the rare Finnish barley wines and according to my taste, after some maturing, the only really delicious one that has been well available. Have to admit that the first contact wasn't unforgettable but the second one over half a year later was.

Pyynikin Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout strikes directly to the perfect button of a fan of impies and bourbon. Both the beer and the barrel show up in the beautiful flavour. Excellen from the tap, too.

Ölbeats as they were


Guns N' Roses: Paradise City (YouTube)

From the 1987 album Appetite for Destruction, the song was written by Guns N' Roses.

Malmgård Barley Wine

Nightwish: The Islander (YouTube)

From the 2007 album Dark Passion Play, the song was written by Marco Hietala and Tuomas Holopainen.

Pyynikin Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Cold Kingdom: Let It Burn (YouTube)

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