“The Golden Gates of Sigtuna” is a journey to the history. Here, in Estonia, we have our indigenous brewing tradition, that is one of the oldest living brewing traditions in Europe. Our “Saaremaa koduõlu” is more than thousand years old continuous tradition and its secrets have been handed from father to son for tens of generations.
Brewing is living tradition, and it’s changing all the time. We wanted to go far back in time. Around 1000 years or so. We asked Arvet and Alo from Pihtla brewery to assist us in this tricky road.
Pihtla brewery has been carrying independent craft brewing for decades. With legendary islander grit and tenacity, they have been brewing their beer through difficult times since restoration of independence. So it started. They took a bag full of Saaremaa juniper and 27 eight of brewery experience and came to Keila. To explore the history of brewing together.
Nowadays, brewing with hot stones happens only in folk tales. In old times it was the only way to get mash to the temperature necessary for brewing. Iron vessels were rare, small and very expensive. It’s unlikely that there was kettle large enough to fit decent brew. As an extra benefit - hot stones give distinct smoky and caramel flavor to the beer.
Instead of hops, we used meadowsweet and wormwood. These are just sidekicks, as central star of this beer is juniper.
Wars and occupations have been hard for Estonian brewing tradition. There are no known yeast strains survived from our ancient times. We borrowed yeast from Norway. They had their farmhouse yeast strain isolated and made available for rest of the brewers. Fermentation itself happens in open oak barrel fermenter.