Sunday 21st July 2013
This is the latest addition to Helsinki's blossoming beer drinking scene. The centrally-located brew pub opened in late May 2013 and just two months later BeerVisits is on hand to give you a report.
It is located just off the Senate Square and is a stone's thrown from the market on the harbour side. The main entrance is rather unprepossessing yet, as you penetrate further into the pub it just gets bigger.
I thought it a bit strange that the name was part Swedish and part Finnish. Maybe they use the Swedish Bryggeri instead of the Finnish word Panimo to attract Swedish travellers who alight from the gigantic ferries that arrive in the harbour, a short distance from here.
The first room you enter is a beer-bar decorated in modern minimalist style and this is where I settled. I glanced at the beer menu. There were three from the home side and these were: Bryggeri Pils (4.5%), Wheat (5.0%) and Transatlantic Ale (4.4%), a Pale Ale using both English and American hops. I passed on the Wheat beer and had the other two. The Pils I liked, being a good example of the German style. The Pale Ale was exceptionally good, possessing just the right amount of bitterness for my taste. The Pils and the Wheat are regulars and there is normally one or two special / seasonal beers in addition, see below for more details.
There are normally three guest beers and when I visited these were Prykmestar Suvi (4.5%), a smoked beer from Vakka-Suomen Panimo of Uusikaupunki, which is to be found on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. I could also have had Plevan Dry Stout (7.0%) from the brew pub in Tampere which I visited earlier that week, please see separate article. There was also Keisari Elo Wehnä IV (5.3%) from Nokian Panimo of Nokia, near Tampere. Karhu III from a large national brewer was also available, the less said the better.
Although the pub had only been open for two months, its German brewer Matthias Hüffner has already created a number of notable special beers such as Manta Mild Ale (3.5%); Altstadt Helsinki (5.0%), a Düsseldorfer Altbier; Pormestari (6.0%), an American IPA; Red Ale (5.6%) and Summer Ale (4.6%) in the Golden Ale style.
He has also produced Transatlantic Ale (4.4%), an English-American Pale Ale and a Weizen (wheat) (5.2%). All of the beers are made with Finnish Malt but of course, the hops are imported.
I could not leave the pub without tasting a Finnish speciality; Sahti. This is an ancient style of beer that has its origins with farmers. In fact, some is still produced in the home. It is often brewed privately for country weddings, christenings and the like. Nowadays it is also made commercially and a few breweries specialise in it.
It is brewed with a mixture of barley, wheat, rye and oats. The fermentation is made with bread yeast and sometimes bread itself is used to start the process. The beer is flavoured with Juniper berries and the mash is filtered through a trough-like vessel called a Kuurna.
Traditionally, no hops are involved so preservation is very important and as soon as it has fermented out, it has to be kept cold. So, it is kept in plastic containers that come out of the fridge in pubs. Of course, in the past it would have brewed in the autumn and then preserved in ice or snow.
I noticed that they had Sahti from the Lammin brewery, produced in the town of the same name, so I ordered a small (0.3l) glass. It is rather flat with a mid to dark brown colour. The flavour is overwhelmingly dark bread and biscuits. I quite like it and always make sure I have some when I'm in Finland.
However, it is quite hard to find and is often unadvertised, I often think that they don't want you to have it, in case you don't like it. It would typically be around 8% so has to be treated with caution. Please note that the word Nauti! on the glass of Sahti shown in the photo above means Enjoy!
Between beers I went for a look around the pub. Apart from the smallish room I was in I noticed an outside patio drinking area. There are stairs leading down and I could see the brewery on the left side of these. At the bottom there was a huge room with a bar on the left side.
I was quite amazed as there is no inkling that the pub is so big when you come through the front door. The brewery comes from the well-known manufacturer Kaspar Schultz of Bamberg, Germany.
I cannot comment on the food but I did like the beers so would commend this pub to you should you be in the centre of Helsinki.
Bryggeri Helsinki, Sofiankatu 2, Helsinki. 00170. Tel: 0102 352 500
Monday-Thursday 11.00-24.00; Friday-Saturday 11.00-02.00; Sunday 12.00-24.00
As the pub is situated just off the Senate Square (Senaatintori) it is located right in the centre of the city. Nearby tram routes are 1, 3B, 3T, 4 and 4T. The Suomenlinna Ferry is around five minutes away.