Finland: The Land Of Fine Beer

October 12, 2012

Prykmestar Vehna
Coming back to Finland for a second time was absolutely awesome. I remembered the country being fantastic, but this time it really knocked my socks off…and my taste buds duly followed. Not only is the countryside beautiful, the people friendly and helpful, but the beer is outstanding! Our first pit stop on a rainy day exploring Helsinki was the great Latva bar. As we were between lunch and dinner, Andrea, Kyle and me had the whole place to ourselves and the beers on tap and in the bottle were about to get a workout. We actually returned there the next day because we just “happened to be in the area”.

Prykmestar Vehna

Prykmestar Vehnä at Latva in Helsinki

My first discovery at Latva was the Vakka-Suomen panimo (brewery) and the delicious wheat beer on tap called Prykmestar Vehnä. I truly love wheat beer and this did not let me down. At a very drinkable 4.5%, I could’ve happily drunk these all day, but I wanted to try the many other types on offer.
I finished this particular day with the Prykmestar (gotta love that name) Savukataja in the bottle. This 9% dark beer was my favourite in Finland until I tried one more by this same brewery in Turku: the Prykmestar WehnäBock from the Cosmic Comic Cafe is a dark wheat beer with a bock twist, as the name suggests. If porter was my discovery from last year’s world travels, then bock is a type of beer I want to really get to know next. So drinking such a combination was a marvellous lesson in itself; 6.2% and it won the Suomen Paras Olut (Finland’s Best Beer) award in 2012.
huvila x-porter
Back to Helsinki and in between the Vakka-Suomen varieties, I had the Huvila ESB. Now Extra Special Bitter is a beer not to be reckoned with. It generally packs a punch with a smack-in-the-face to welcome you and then a delectable sipping quality. After three or four pints, you are rockin’! The Huvila variety (5.2%) was indeed that, but of course I only had time for one. I also tried the Huvila X-Porter (7%) at the cool Alvar bar in Turku and this was truly fantastic. I mentioned my love of porter and this was the perfect evening drink before heading home.
  stadin panimo american pale ale
Two other panimos we sampled in Helsinki were Malmgårdin and Stadin. Andrea had the Stadin American Pale Ale (4.5%) and I had the Malmgårdin Belge (8%). IPAs are all the rage in Norway and I love them, but there’s just something about American pale ales that gets me excited. And the Belge was sweetly satisfying in a Finnish homage to the best of all beers – Belgium.

I’ll conclude with another superb drop that I had at the Cosmic Comic Cafe: the Stallhagen Baltic Porter. This 7% beer is nicknamed the ‘Pig & Rooster’ and really hit the spot. Stallhagen describes their beers as “Hand-Made Slow Beer” and whatever their process, it works. Obviously I only barely touched on the many panimos across the country, but I was very happy with the quality of boutique beer and I know that we’ll be back to Finland someday soon.

What’s your favourite Finnish beer?

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  • Krista

    I’ve never tried Finnish beer before, but your recommendations sound fantastic!! I don’t suppose you can find them in Australia, eh? :-)

    • John

      Thanks Krista! Unfortunately, there’s more chance of finding the Wizard than Finnish beer in Oz.

  • The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    Gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever had Finnish beer before! I think the closest I’ve come is Swedish. I’ll have to keep this in mind! We do love a good brew!

    • John

      Then you won’t go wrong with any of these delightful Finnish drops! Enjoy.

  • Jeremy (TheTravelApprentice)

    I have great memories of drinking loads of Karhu III… I had others too but this one was the go-to beer for me when I was there… I used it as a chaser when drinking shots of Minttu and Salmiakki… the Fins know how to drink and I can’t blame them so much great product there… I loved drinking in Finland lol… the Land of Fine beer and more!

    • John

      Karhu is interesting with its different “number” types. I tried a couple of them, but these mentioned here were more my style of beer. Loved the bear logo, though. Finland sure is a rockin’ place!

  • Agness (@Agnesstramp)

    Wow, you had a lot of pints there heheheh weren’t you tipsy while writing this post :)? I’m not a beer lover, but wine… hmmm why not :) How’s wine over there?

    • John

      We went to one awesome wine bar in Turku, but other than that we mostly drank beer. They also have a special “Long Drink” in most pubs, but I never tried it.

  • Stephanie – The Travel Chica

    I don’t know anything about Finnish beer! Love the variety of styles and rich color. They look delicious even in the photos.

    • John

      Thanks Stephanie! If you like the varieties of Patagonia beer, then I’m sure you’d love these too.

  • Cheryl Howard

    So here I am drinking wine, and now you’ve made me want to switch to beer! I love the sounds of “hand-made slow beer” and hope to try it for myself someday.

    • John

      I’m glad I could be of service then, Cheryl! Wine’s good, but beer is better :)

  • Adrian

    I was unaware of the unique identity of finland as the Land of Fine Beer. Till Now I have tasted Only English Beer. I would love to taste the Finish bears as well.. the look of the beer is quite attractive. Thanks John.

    • John

      You’re welcome, Adrian!

  • Charu

    Finland and beer? I wouldn’t have guessed. I’m always in the market for a good Pale Ale! Lovely pics!

    • John

      Thanks Charu!

  • Ali

    Beer is still not my first choice, but I’m starting to like it more and more. I definitely prefer local beers to mass brewed ones, so this sounds really great. Andy would definitely love to try some (if not all) of these beers!

    • John

      Ali, I love boutique and craft beers! It’s great to try the local spin on the different varieties. Get stuck in!

    • inspiringtravellers

      We enjoyed talking beer with Andy when we met – when we finally all catch up together again we’ll have to turn you into a beer lover 😉 John even got a champagne loving friend to enjoy one – there is a beer for everyone and you probably just haven’t tried the right one yet =)

  • Emily in Chile

    I had no clue Finland did beer, much less good beer. I’m glad you were able to enjoy some of them!

    • John

      Thanks Emily. I think they like their spirits too, but we stuck to beer and more beer!

  • Natasha von Geldern

    Good to read another beer post from you John! These do look outstanding.

    • John

      Thanks Natasha!

  • Ayngelina

    I have a few Finnish friends and they always complain about the cost of living there, how did you find it?

    • John

      Well it was a bargain (and much better food) after coming from Norway. But I do believe it’s one of the more expensive countries using the Euro.

  • Kyle

    Bacon Beer!!!!

    I loved Latva. And did not love whatshisface who couldn’t even say goodbye to us. And I thought we were FRIENDS.

    • John

      Yep Kyle, the bacon beer’s the second photo. Too bloody right – he loved us then left us alright!

  • Erik

    I’ve really been loving all of your posts on Finland. It’s one of those places highest on my to-do list, I seem to always be scared away by the prices of Scandinavia in general, though.

    • John

      Thanks, Erik! It ain’t cheap, but Finland really is a great place. You won’t go wrong!

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