Saturday 13th July 2013
This pub, in the Kamppi district, opened in September 2008 and I last visited the city in June 2009, yet I cannot explain why I didn't drink here, so this was a first-time visit. Glancing to the blackboard with the available beers I must say I was impressed by the number of local offerings. Outside there was a terrace on the pedestrian street, that even at 22.00 was noisy and crowded. Remember this is the time of year when it doesn't get dark until after midnight and the northern sky stays light all through the very short night. The Finns really do party at this time of year and who can blame them when winter days are so short and hardly see any light at all.
I walked into the pub and down a few steps and noticed the bar to my left. The ceiling at the front of the pub is quite high and the large windows let in a lot of light. There is a small seating area to the right of the door and in the middle is a wide spiral staircase to the upper floor. I didn't investigate this but I understand it is more of a lounge bar. To the rear of the main level there is a lot of booth-type seating but with no windows and only artificial light, I much preferred the front of the pub near the bar. Downstairs there is a further bar that has more of a music feel about it.
I looked up at the board with the beer list and noticed that I had quite a good choice so got stuck in. The first beer on the list was a mystery: Oma Olut Onni (5.2%) which translates very roughly as "you make your own beer luck", whatever that means! Its provenance is unknown. Next was Amerikanon Serkku (American cousin), made by the Rekola Panimo of Mäntsälä, which is about halfway between Helsinki and Lahti. I tried it and liked it a lot. Then there was Malmgärd ESB (5.2%) from a brewery based on a country house estate in the south of the country. They use their own barley to make malt.
There was also Plevna Vehnä (5.0%) a wheat beer from the Plevna brew pub in Tampere. Please see a separate article regarding this excellent establishment. From Helsinki suburb of Stadin there was Stadin Panimo New Zealand Pils (5.3%). All the way from Godby in the Åland Islands out in the Baltic Sea, was Stallhagan Blueberry Ale (4.6%) and from Nokia, near Tampere, there was Nokian Panimo 66 American Pale Ale (4.2%). In addition to all these there was Laitila Lager, Karjala and Lapin Kulta from the large national brewers.
I also had a small glass of the Stadin New Zealand Pils which was nicely bitter but a bit unbalanced. Thanks to the helpful barman I was able to have tasters of Malmgärd ESB (nice) and the Nokia American Pale Ale (exceptional). In addition to all this there were two draught ciders, both from small brewers known mainly for their beers. From Vakka-Soumen Panimo of Uusikaupunki on the Gulf of Bothnia there was Uudenkaupungin Omena (4.5%) which roughly translates as New Town Cider. Closer to home, from a small island in Helsinki bay there was Tin Soldier's Black Apple Cider (7.5%) from Suomenenlinnan Panimo.
They also served Sahti, the ancient style of beer made on farms in southern Finland. For a full explanation of this beer please see the separate article on Bryggeri Helsinki.
They also major heavily on bottled beers. A lot of these are the normal international selection that you can find in any good beer bar. However, nearly all of the producers that supply the pub with draught beer also supply a large variety of bottles.
There are also some other breweries represented and one that caught my eye were three bottled beers from the Rousel Brygghus. This small brewery is located near the town of Rosala on the island of Rosalalandet which is where the Gulf of Finland meets the Gulf of Bothnia. This amazingly isolated little brewery supplies three beers to the pub: Rousal Ale (5.7%); Rousal Bock (7.6%) and Rousal Pils (4.6%).
Finally, a comment about the rather strange name: I have tried to translate it but have failed, although I can tell you that Villi means wild. And, although it states Beer House on its signage, it also has a Finnish name that translates as "Finnish Beer Restaurant Villi Wäinö". This pub is close to the Railway and Bus stations so there's no excuse to miss it, should you be in the city.
Suomalainin Olutravintola Villi Wäinö, Kalevankatu 4, Helsinki 00100. Tel: 010 3872 350
Open: Monday-Tuesday 14.00-02.00; Friday 14.00-04.00;
Saturday 12.00-04.00; Sunday 12.00-23.00
The pub is less than five minutes away from Helsinki Rail and Bus stations. The area is well-served by several tram routes and the Metro at Central Station and Kamppi.