This week’s brew is the place where nostalgia meets curiosity meets circumstance…
Nearly 30 years ago, my wife and I had the (mostly) good fortune to help chaperone a school trip to the then Soviet Union. The most interesting place, and the one I remember best, was Tallin, Estonia – yes, it was still under Soviet domination but there was a definite air of “we’re not really like the rest of them”… a very European/Scandinavian city, in my view. While there, I did get the opportunity to try a local beer of sorts, more or less like a Finnish Sahti (which I also got to try for the first time a couple days later, in Helsinki, on our way home…) – a smoky, rye-influenced pale ale with a definite “evergreen” aroma and tang… I never wrote down the name of the brew, and it passed into a file in the back of my brain…
Fast forward about 25 years – looking for a recipe online to make another attempt at my own Sahti (0 for 4 at that point, I was…) I encountered the name “Koduõlu” – the description sounded a lot like the beer I remembered from Tallin… further research, a sketch of a recipe, but I couldn’t seem to find the right yeast and I never got around to brewing it.
Within the last year, we at the Lebanon Brew Shop have started carrying yeast cultures from The Yeast Bay – among which is one called “Sigmund’s Voss Kveik” – well, I try just about every new hop, malt, yeast etc. that I carry so I wanted to figure out the best way to feature this yeast in a brew – turns out to be a northern Scandinavian/Baltic farmhouse yeast – single strain of Saccharomyces – and lo and behold, one of the recipes online associated with it was a Koduõlu… I modified the recipe I found slightly to reflect more of what I remembered from my tasting way back in ’88, and am, so far, pleased with what it has begun to resemble…
Koduõlu (3 gallons, all-grain)
- 5 lbs. Schill Kölsch malt
- 1 lb. Caramel Rye malt
- 1 lb. oak-smoked wheat malt
- 10 – 12 thin juniper branches (fresh-cut)
- 1 tbsp. Columbus hop pellets (14.5% aa)
- Yeast Bay Sigmund’s Voss Kveik yeast
- 1/2 cup corn sugar (for priming)
- 1/4 cup dried juniper berries (optional)
Boil 1 cup water, add Columbus hop pellets. Set aside.
Crush and mash malt (7 lbs.) in 18 quarts of water at 155°F for 90 minutes.
Add juniper branches to bottom of lauter tun and pour mash on top. Let settle 10 minutes, then runoff. Recirculate the first 6 or 7 quarts – it will be very cloudy.
The original recipe, and what I read about this beer, indicate it is not boiled. I couldn’t deal with that so I did bring it to a boil for 5 minutes to at least pasteurize it. After boil, add the hop tea.
Chill to 75°F, pitch yeast.
Ferment at 65° for 7 – 10 days, rack to secondary. Bottle after 10 – 15 days, priming with corn sugar. If you desire more “evergreen”, steep the juniper berries in the water you boil for the priming sugar… Drink fresh.