On Wednesday Lumia and I went for the SOPP, the Finnish Small Brewery Festival. We arrived at about 20:00 o'clock and luckily we found Pekka and Tomi waiting in the queue. The queue, actually two of them - where very long. According to Google maps about 120 meters. We found ourselves right in the middle and enjoyed a lovely summer day moving towards the entrance with a speed of approximately 1 meter per minute. Shortly before 21:00 o'clock we got on the red carpet, finally, and after buying a glass for 3 € also inside. I complained a little about the pretty stupid organization. Who wouldn't expect a lot of people looking for beer at a nice summer day, anyone? But let's forget about the hour in the queue.
Upon entrance they offered a brochure, basically a list of all breweries and their beers. Those list was really helpfully to get started. But with which beer do we actually start? I let Pekka and Tomi decide. That made the first beer the Mälli Sour from Sonni Saari. With our beers grabbed we walked around the festival until we found a bench in front of the Fiskarsin Panimo, and as I started with a sour I continued with another one, because frankly speaking, I personally had enough of this IPA, APA, PPA, SPA and whatever PA there comes. So, the second one was the Sour Head Apricot from Cool Head Brewing.
We had some good chat about "our" beers and Tomi showed me his ratings on Ratebeer.
While tasting all these beers and writing my notes for the reviews and the flavor profiles I got hungry. Luckily Kaisa bought some vegetarian food before which was delicious, so Lumia got me some of the same stuff. After late dinner I took a second strolll, made the way to the glass cleaning and back and tried to buy a Hulluus Mustikka Sour from Hiisi Panimo. But unfortunately their cooling system had a break down and therefore they only had the beer from Donut Island on tap. As I never heard of Donut Island I started a chat with the guy behind the bar and asked for the flavor profile. I had to admit: he sold me on it. So, the next one was the Sour Hopzz.
When something goes wrong.
While I was nipping on the Sour Hopzz I was telling Pekka about the difficult in getting a Pilsen type beer right. I basically pointed out that you can't hide anything, no false rests, no wrong temperatures. The Pilsen type is unforgiving. So I made my way for another brewery to check on of their Pilsen beers. With the glass filled with beer I came back to the table and as soon as I set down I noticed something totally odd: BUTTER. Not good, totally not good. I looked at Pekka and said: "Diacetyl". I took a small nip and there it was: a completely off flavor profile. The hops where hanging in the air, the body thinner than water, nothing matched up. Basically the worst Pilsen beer since years. And as it was a prophecy when I spoke about the Pilsen beer it seems to be fulfilling itself.
I took the beer and went back to the brewery and asked the guy at the tap if he is the brew master. He said he is. I introduced myself as a VLB master brewer and told him about the diacetyl. He answered that they had a diacetyl rest. I told him that I'm trained on finding off flavors and that their Pilsen was totally off. He said nothing further, so I left my glass with them and went away telling him that this is shit. I expect brewers that can't admit failures at least to switch into customer handling and hand me over one of their other beers.
More Finnish craft beer please
When I was back at our table I told the story. Tomi offered me a nip of his beer (decent one!) so that I could end on a high note.
I'm looking forward for the next years SOPP. Hopefully better organized and no queue at the entrance.
After the SOPP is before the SOPP, so I'm again on my way of exploring the Finnish brewing culture and looking for outstanding Finnish brews!