My favorite type of ales are Farmhouse Ales. Brewed after the summer, they’re very carbonated with a spicy and fruity flavor. Bittering varies but it’s usually on the light side of the IBU scale. In France they’re called Saisons and a year ago I brewed a nice one (more on this later). These ales are always well received and experienced by non-beer lovers as well. Imagine my surprise when I found out about Farmhouse Ales in Norway.
My wife and I love to travel. In recent past vacations we’ve been exploring more of Europe and visiting places the both of us have never been. We’ve never made it up to the major Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway, or Finland, but we got a taste of Iceland a few years back. We did that IcelandAir layover for a few days and explored the southwestern portion of Iceland by car. It was a lot of fun and the beer was unique in its taste. Those beers were clean but mild hopped and spiced, something I was not used too. I thought making a hombrew like this for the winter would a be great thing so I started scanning for recipes online. I then stumbled across the Brewing Nordic website. I found a great article by the Author Mika on how the make a great Norwegian Farmhouse Ale. My interest was piqued so I read on. The ingredient list is pretty straightforward except for one thing. Mixed in with the usually Pilsner Malt, Hops and Yeast, there are Juniper branches. Yes, they lauter through Juniper branches to infuse the wort with a Juniper taste and smell. It was liking making Gin but for Beer! The other interesting part was that no one measured any original (OG) and final gravities (FG), they had no idea how strong their Farmhouse Ale got! I also loved the photos of how the made the Ale and how it was ‘protected’ during fermentation. After reading that article I gained an appreciation for how each village or town has their own customs and norms. How this particular Farmhouse Ale will undoubtedly be brewed completely different in the next town, and so forth. You’d never know unless you went there and sampled the local flavors!
One of the great things about traveling is that you get to learn a lot about a country’s culture. You get a crash course if you stay in a small town or village somewhere. Of course you can visit a big city like Paris and learn of the French culture but I’m of the opinion that the out of the way places are the best. In southern Germany from my ancestral village is a small brewery. They only make a few lagers (one is a Pils and my favorite) and they only sell locally. You can’t get this beer anywhere else in the world, just there! If we stayed in Frankfurt or Munich, we’d of course drink great beer but we’d have missed this unique brew. The fact that it’s scarce and only found in the local area makes the Taubertal so much more inviting. It’s like a hidden gem. The moral of this story is get out and explore. The next time you’re traveling and in a strange place, don’t go to the big restaurants, go find that out of the way cafe or town. Sample the local brews and don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path. You might thank me for it one day.