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Larsblog - beer



Personal blog of Lars Marius Garshol.



 



Emil Chr. Hansen and the yeast revolution

2017-09-10 14:05:00 CET

In the late summer of 1883, disaster struck at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen. The beer started smelling off, and had an unpleasant bitter taste. The dreaded "yeast sickness" had struck Carlsberg, and this was a heavy blow to brewery owner Jacobsen, who used to boast that Carlsberg had never had this problem and were still using the original yeast Jacobsen brought from southern Germany four decades before.



Pasteur and the beer of national revenge

2017-09-03 13:40:00 CET

Pasteur was already a scientific icon when he decided to work on brewer's yeast. He had done revolutionary work on wine-making, dairy production, silk worms, and important theoretical work in chemistry and biology. His reason for taking up work on beer was rather surprising: he wanted national revenge over Germany. Germany attacked France in July 1870, causing his only son to enlist and interrupting construction of Pasteur's laboratory.



Farmhouse ale festival 2016

2017-08-12 14:21:00 CET

Last year the first ever festival wholly dedicated to farmhouse ale (I think), Norsk Kornølfestival 2016, was held in Hornindal in western Norway. "Kornøl" is the local name for farmhouse ale, so the name really means "Norwegian farmhouse ale festival," and that's what it was.



A family tree for brewer's yeast

2017-08-08 09:09:00 CET

I wrote a series of blog posts on the family tree of yeast, starting at the very top and continuing all the way down to the family of yeast species. The story doesn't end there, however, because within the species of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ale yeast) the different strains form a family tree of their own. However, when I wrote those blog posts in 2015 the shape of this tree was poorly understood.



Dånnåbakken såinnhuslag

2017-05-07 14:55:00 CET

They call themselves Dånnåbakken Såinnhuslag, the group of 4-5 brewers and malters who share one brewery and malt kiln. From the outside the house looks like someone's home, except it's too small and doesn't have enough windows. Inside, the malting part of the house is bare and functional, but the brewery is more homely, with a kitchen and a table for gatherings. (This is the fourth part about the Stjørdalen visit in January 2016.)



Where the mayor makes his own malts

2017-04-30 11:36:00 CET

When Martin, Amund, and I were invited to visit Roar to explore the local beer style stjørdalsøl Roar figured that he might as well make use of the three visiting beer "experts," and have us do a set of talks for the local home brewing association. Which we of course happily agreed to do, even though this is an association at least as much for modern home brewers as for the traditional brewers. (This is the third part about the Stjørdalen visit in January 2016.)



Svein, maltster and brewer

2017-03-19 11:17:00 CET

At first glance it looked like any house in the area, a two-storey wooden house. At second glance, there was something odd about it. There was no garden, and very few windows. It looked oddly functional, and not very homely. Sure enough, Roar pulled the car off the road, parking right in front of the house. So this must be a såinnhus (malt house). (This is the second part about the Stjørdalen visit in January 2016.)



Stjørdalsøl — the tasting

2017-03-09 14:58:00 CET

During our 2014 farmhouse ale expedition, Martin and I visited Stjørdal, a region in Norway famous for the many farmhouse brewers who still make their own malts in the traditional way. Roar told us that on December 26th there was a beer tasting at a cabin in the woods where 40-50 different beers were served. In fact, there were other tastings at different cabins, too, and he thought the total number of beers on offer might be as high as 200.



The juniper mystery

2017-02-02 09:43:00 CET

When I started looking at farmhouse ale back in 2010, one of the first things that struck me was that nearly everyone seemed to be using juniper. That was unexpected, since the beer literature generally has very little to say about juniper. Now, six years later, I'm beginning to realize that the international beer community has somehow managed to miss a huge story here.



The yeast scream

2017-01-25 16:58:00 CET

A strange custom they have in Stjørdalen in Norway is to scream into the fermenter as they pitch the yeast. The brewers claim they do this so that the beer will be strong, and people will be cheerful when they drink it. This might sound like a tall tale, but it really is true. The local radio station in Stjørdalen even had a competition over which brewer had the best "gjærkauk" (yeast scream).



Norwegian farmhouse ale styles

2017-01-19 19:23:00 CET

People are confused over what to call Norwegian farmhouse ale and what styles there are. So this is my attempt to clear things up as far as I can. This blog post is about the beers as they are today. The past is much more complicated, and I've covered it earlier.



Gotlandsdricke - an overview

2017-01-08 13:24:00 CET

A lot has been written on Gotlandsdricka, but the writers generally call it "an ancient beer" or "indigenous beer" and variations on that theme. Nobody seems to have realized that it is of course a farmhouse ale. Farmhouse ale was made all over Sweden until it was replaced by modern commercial beer. Except on Gotland, where the farmers never stopped brewing it. Eventually it came to be seen as something unique to Gotland and part of the Gotland identity, but that's a recent development.



A maltster on Gotland

2017-01-01 14:02:00 CET

While on holiday on Gotland I saw a note on a poster about an open farm and something about malt being made. There was a phone number, so I decided to call. Yes, the voice at the other end said, he made malts, but not the traditional way. His neighbour did, however. Sure, I could come visit, and if his neighbour was home we could see his malt house.



A brewer on Gotland

2016-12-27 13:09:00 CET

Last summer, the family holiday included a visit to Gotland. I, of course, immediately started plotting to meet a farmhouse brewer. I began by emailing every single source that might lead me to one. This was a slow and uncertain business, but eventually I had a number of leads, all of them pointing to a single person: Anders Mattsson in Hablingbo, on the southern part of the island.



How stone beer was brewed

2016-12-18 12:47:00 CET

It's only the last few centuries that metal kettles have become something that most people could afford to own. So how did people brew beer without a metal container to heat water in? One well-known solution was to heat stones in a fire, and then throw them in the liquid to be heated. I've written before about the archaeology of brewing stones, but archaeology can't tell us how people used the stones. So how did people actually brew with hot stones?



Norwegian brewing processes

2016-12-11 20:01:00 CET

I've collected enough evidence now that I'm beginning to get a picture of farmhouse brewing as it was practiced in Norway in the past. However, to understand how people brewed we have to start with the geography, because that determined everything else. The brewing was a tradition descending in unbroken line from the Stone Age to the present. There were lots of changes on the way, and these were transmitted from village to village. When you look at the resulting patterns on a map it's obvious that the geography was tremendously important for what influences went where.



Hunting Lithuanian white whales

2016-09-28 14:54:00 CET

On the morning of the second day of the Lithuanian brewery tour 2015 we stopped by a small and little-known brewery called A. Grigonio. It's literally just a few hundred meters from Jovaru Alus. As far as I know, it's a farmhouse brewery in the same vein, but I never got to see it. Vidmantas said the owners were not at home, and so a tour wasn't possible.



My book on Norwegian farmhouse ale

2016-09-17 12:03:00 CET

Yesterday I finally got a copy of my new book on Norwegian farmhouse ale. I've written books before, but this one is different. So many emotions, such hopes and dreams, now suddenly materialized as a lump of pulped wood and glue. It's been my baby for a long time, and now it's suddenly going to be flung out to the public.



Kupiškio - underground brewers

2016-09-11 13:41:00 CET

Eventually we ran out of breweries to visit in Pakruojis, and started discussing where to go next. I told Vidmantas I've always wanted to visit Kupiškio, but he didn't want to go there. I explained that the very first Lithuanian beer I had was from them, and it really blew me away. It's what really kicked off my interest in Lithuanian beer. Vidmantas looked at me queerly, then said, "well, let's try," and started the car, heading east. (This is part 7 of the Lithuanian brewery tour 2015.)



Analysis of farmhouse yeast (kveik)

2016-09-06 16:30:00 CET

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim started doing research and courses on brewer's yeast a little over a year ago. I figured this was good timing, and asked them if they wanted to do research on kveik (Norwegian farmhouse yeast). The answer from professor Per Bruheim was immediate. Yes! They would love to have some Norwegian yeast to work on. So I've been sending them all the yeast I could get my hands on.