Turku – mediocre beers?

On our way back to Denmark we had a short stop in Turku, Finland. It was as super hot Finnish summer day, when we arrived in Turku. We dropped off our bags at the AirBnB place and went out to explore Turku. On our way we stumbled across Panimoravintola Koulu where we had lunch and a beer. Panimoravintola Koulu had a very nice beer garden in which we enjoyed beers and burgers. I could imagine this being a busy place in the evening and the beer I had was nice. If the pilsner I had was the image of the rest of the Panimoravintola Koulu beers, then this brewery/brewpub is worth another visit.

Being in Turku only one day we moved on to see some of the local sights. Before returning to our airBnB we went to another bar – The Old Bank. The Old Bank is an old school pub with an extensive selection of bottled beers. The beertender tried to guide us in choosing the right local beers. We ended up with a raspberry sour from the Turku based Kakola Brewing Company and a dark lager from the small Finnish brewery Takatalo & Tompuri. None of the two beers were impressive, but that could either be because of us choosing badly or simply mediocre beers. I can’t tell… If forced to choose I would go for the raspberry sour.

The Turku beer scene may very well be bigger than this, but this was what we managed to try before we had to move on and go to Stockholm, Sweden. See you!

Mikkeller Helsinki and more

Helsinki and more than one great beer bar is only a two hour train ride from Tampere – that’s where we went. We had a plan to visit Mikkeller Helsinki, Sori Tap Room and what other craft beer places that we found interesting. In between the visits we went to Saint Petersburg, Russia and Tallinn, Estonia. The theme for our beer bar visits in Helsinki seems to be something like black, hoppy and sour beers – not the worst in combination with sunny Finnish summer weather.

The first place we went was a bar called Ølhus København. Being Danes the name intrigued us and we had to check out the beer selection. We went to Ølhus København in the afternoon which ment that there was plenty of space for us to choose beers and where we wanted to sit and enjoy our beers. The selection of beers was nice with Amager Bryghus among them, but we settled for a straight forward Finnish porter with nice bitterness and a fair amount of roasted malt flavors – a tasty Finnish porter. The beer was Helsinki Portteri by suomenlinnanpanimo. We enjoyed the porter on the deck in front of the bar – a nice and quiet place with a relaxed atmosphere, which seems to be the Finnish way dealing with the realities of life. We went on with the realities of being tourists and went on to see some more sights and find other places to enjoy more beers.

Drinking beer and sightseeing makes you hungry at some point. When hunger struck we went for burgers at Gastropub Stone’s. The selection of burgers was something like nine or ten different ones. The ones we chose were tasty and paired with the selection of beers Gastropub Stones was a nice place for dinner. To accompany the beers we ordered a filght of four beers – a lager, two fruited sours and an IPA. All the beers were quite tasty and was great company for the burger. If you want to read more about the beers we had, this is the place to look.

Next day we went to Saint Petersburg, Russia by train. Beer was not a big part of this part of the trip, but we had some okay local lagers (Learn more about the beers here and here) where we had dinner. Saint Petersburg is definitely worth a visit just to experience all the great places you may have heard of like the the Winter Palace for instance. Following the days in Russia we returned to Finland and Helsinki and had more great beers.

Back in Helsinki we went for a bar that I had read quite a lot before we went to Helsinki. Sori Taproom had made hopes high that the beers would be great and I wasn’t disappointed in any way.

Sori Taproom is definitely a great place if you want to taste beers from all around the world. We decided on flights of four tasters to try as many of the great beers from the 24 taps as possible. The beers are very reasonably priced Finnish beer prices regarded. A flight of four beers from any of the taps was 20€ and a flight of five Sori Core beers was 20€ too. We ended up tasting nine different beers all-in-all – We had to flights of four, but they made a mistake when pouring the second flight and decided to give us the extra beer for free – Great move! The resulting nine beers were of all colors and styles from pale yellow to pitch black, session IPA to bold imperial stouts, fruity and sour to black and bitter. If you want to know more about all of the nine beers you have to look at this Instagram post. It’s really hard to point out one beer as being better than the rest, but Speedway Stout Vietnamese Coffee by AleSmith was an absolute hit eventhough it was a hot summer day (Every day is a stout day…). The Nightman Leaveth by Odd Side Ales – a super smooth and velvety creamy imperial stout with just about the right amount of rye whisky and vanilla – was the right beer to end the session. Odd Side Ales was unknow to me before this beer, but it’s a brewery that I have to explore some more. If The Nightman Leaveth is one in a line of beers at the same level, Odd Side Ales could be a favorite brewery in the future.

Sori Taproom is surely a craft beer bar that deserves it’s reputation as one of the best in Helsinki. I would very much like to go there again some day. Staff is very friendly and helpful in choosing beers and the atmosphere is nice both inside and outside. Only downside might be quite a lot of noise from the traffic when sitting outside close to a main tram line and a congested road.

Being in Helsinki three times during the summer and living in hotels only a few hundred meters from Mikkeller Helsinki left us with no choice but going there more than once.

Mikkeller Helsinki is one of the newest additions to the Mikkeller family and is well in line with the relaxed atmosphere that has characterized all the other Mikkeller bars I have visited. The last time we were there we had a chat with the manager who was a really nice guy. We talked about the beer scene in Finland and Denmark and the great things about this new bar in Helsinki. He told us one thing that surprised us a bit – summer is kind of low season in Helsinki because people are out in the country visiting their cottages and camping by the numerous lakes. We were surprised because it seemed like there was a lot of people all the places we went in Helsinki.

If you want to know more about the beers we had at Mikkeller Helsinki, please take a look at these instagram posts: First visit. Second visit.

This is all for now – next post will be about places to drink great beers in Tallinn, Estonia – See you!

Great choices in Tampere, Finland

Tampere is a nice place to be and we chose to stay another day to get a better feeling of the city. People in Tampere seems friendly and the city itself feels welcomming and open to new people. This is definitely a place I could spend time again. On this second day in Tampere we decided to go to a few places and settled on the world’s highest gravel ridge, a TV-tower and a few beer bars. Gastropub Nordic and Plevna was our bar choices.

The first bar ve went to was Plevna. Plevna is a brewpub in the old cotton mills of the Finlayson company in the heart of Tampere, Finland. The Plevna brewery was established in 1994 long before any craft beer revolution had hit Finland. In some ways the interior actually looks like the restaurant and brewpub is way older than that. Not that it’s worn down or anything like that. The style of the decorations is just very old fashioned. Don’t be fooled by this – the beers are quite tasty! We went for a flight of three tasters. The first three tasters were:

1) Simcoe APA – a very tasty Simcoe forward APA. In my world this was a very classic American pale ale with an evident bitterness and a nice hop flavor. This well made beer was a very good beginning and brought hopes up for the next beers.

2) Mummon Mustaherukkasiideri – This was a thirst quenching blackcurrant cider that brought memories of my grandmas tasty lemonade. Again quality in my glass was nice.

3) Mörkö MM – a very soft and smooth feeling with a sort of rye bread feel to it hit my mouth with this dark lager – another tasty beer.

When drinking the first three beers we read about the other Plevna beers and found out that more than one of the beers have been awarded medals through the years. Great excuse to try some more of them. Second flight which contained two of the awarded beers was:

1) Pikku Musta – a nice Czech style dark lager. Pikku Musta was crisp with evident bready notes and a nice bitterness. This is much how I like my dark lagers.

2) Plevnan Weizenbock – huge banana flavors and great wheat notes in a not too sweet weizenbock. Weizenbock is usually not my style of beer but this one is tasty. What I liked about this beer was that it wasn’t cloyingly sweet, which is what often makes me choose other beers than weizenbocks – actually all kinds of bock! This weizenbock had been awarded as beer of the year in Finland a year or three ago. I understand why. It’s a weizenbock that you can actually drink a pint of without a sugary stickyness being too much.

3) Siperia – a kind of classic imperial stout – Awarded as Finlands best beer four years ago…I think I know why! A firm but not over-the-top bitterness, nice roasted malt flavors and chocolate and coffee notes. This is a tasty beer. It’s very nice for once to have a well executed imperial stout that’s not loaded with adjuncts or aged in all kinds of barrels. Not that I don’t like those pastry stouts or barrel aged monsters, but this is what an imperial stout was before the age of adjucts hit us.

All of the beers at Panimoravintola Plevna(Pictures here) followed a long and hot day of walking to the top of the world’s highest gravel ridge and back down again. The view from the top of the ridge was amazing. You were really able to see all the lakes north of Tampere surrounded by absolutely insane numbers of fir trees.

Well…back to the beers and Panimoravintola Plevna. Siperia – the old school imperial stout was my favorite beers of the six we had. If you want rustic charm and great locally brewed beer. Panimoravintola Plevna is definitely worth a visit.

This was not our last stop in Tampere. From Plevna we walked across the river and into a side street to Gastropub Nordic, where we had some more beers and something to eat.

Gastropub Nordic is a light and inviting bar with a cozy and relaxed atmosphere and a more than decent selection of beer on tap. The owner/bartender was in the mood for a chat and turned out to be a very nice guy. We talked about the beer scene in both Finland and Denmark and about some ofthe beers that were on tap at the time. Center of the chat was the Drew Curtis/Will Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout 2018 by Stone Brewing. This amazing Russian imperial stout is loaded with great flavors of chocolate, bourbon, oak, coffee and possibly every great taste in a balanced barrel aged imperial stout. This stout is so much more than Siperia from Plevna that we had earlier on. Siperia was not bad, Drew Curtis/Will Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout 2018 is just so much more and really shows what skilled brewers can do if they know how to do adjuncts without overdoing them. I would really love to have a bottle or five of this super tasty beer in my basement to experience how it develops in the years to come. I’m sure that time will make this an even better beer.

Drew Curtis/Will Wheaton/Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout 2018 was not the only tasty beer we had in Gastropub Nordic. We also had beers from @cloudwaterbrew, @omnipollo and @amagerbryghus. To see what it was you can go to my instagram post about Gastropub Nordic. This place is definitely one that I would like to return to in the future – people, food and beers were all great.

This is all for now – when I’m back again, it’s places to drink great beers in Helsinki, Finland – see you!

Pyynikin Brewhouse – Tampere, Finland

After long day of traveling by boat and train from Åland we arrived in Tampere, Finland in the evening. Being a Saturday evening we were not ready to sleep early so we dropped off our bags at the hotel and went to Pyynikin Brewhouse and their big, but very cosy brewhouse and beergarden.

The Pyynikin beergarden was packed with people on this light and warm nordic summer night that invited to beers outside. Eventhough it was summer the inside was packed with people aswell. The beers were great and we enjoyed every bit of this place.

The four Pyynikin beers we enjoyed were:

1) American IPA – a very tasty and kind of old school american ipa, but with a rather low bitterness.

2) Rød Berliner – a raspberry berliner weisse. This one is a real thirst quencher with a balanced acidity and fruit addition.

3) Cloudberry Saison – a farmhouse ale with a very low, actually non-existing carbonation – very tasty beer.

4) Mosaic Lager – a super nice lager with very evident Mosaic hops.

Cloudberry Saison and American IPA are very recommendable beers and the other two were solid beers aswell Pictures of the beers and the beer garden can be seen here.

If you want to go to Tampere, Finland and Pyynikin Brewhouse my recommendation would be to go in the summer and sit outside to enjoy the great beers and the light in the evening.

More from Tampere, Finland will come in my next post – see you!

Åland and Stallhagen Brewery

Well arrived at B&B Stalldalen we found out that the nearby Stallhagen Brewery had a Texas barbecue buffet every Wednesday in the summer. We had to go there and try it out! The added benefit was that we could try some of their beers along with the very tasty food.

The four beers all from Stallhagen were:

1) Baltic Porter – Very nice baltic porter with hints of coffee, chocolate and a tiny bit of smoke.

2) US Red Ale – Tasty red ale with a satisfying bitterness and some fruity hop notes from a small amount of dry hopping.

3) Honungsöl – a kind of dry and rather refreshing honey beer.

4) Stallhagen New England IPA – Not very hazy and not very New England, but it’s quite okay for a sunny BBQ at the brewery.

All beers were well executed and tasty thou they may not be the most innovative beers out there. Pictures of the beers and the inside of the brewpub can be seen here

The next day we went hiking and when we returned to the B&B we decided to go to Stallhagen again for dinner and beers (Stallhagen was the only place nearby to eat) and once again we were satisfied with the food. The menu is different kinds of tasty Finnish food and very well suited for their tasty lagers of different kinds. Infact we were so satisfied with the Stallhagen Brewpub that we returned a third time.

The third and last visit at Stallhagen was on yet another warm and sunny Scandinavian summer evening. We had super tasty beer braised cheeks of beef and some tasty beers.

The three beers all from Stallhagen were:

1) Håppy Lager – Refreshing and thirst quenching hoppy lager with a nice citrusy hop note.

2) Twist & Stout – Tasty coffee stout that pairs very nice with beer braised cheeks of beef.

3) Dark Honey – Very forward honey flavors on a quite malty base – nice beer with beer braised cheeks of beef

Pitures of these beers can bee seen here and some pictures from the brewery shop and the brewpub are here.

Stallhagen Brewery (find it here) may be the only brewery on Åland but its definitely worth a visit.

This is all from these very friendly, tasty and beautiful islands – see you in Finland.