Finns love their beer. A sure sign of the arrival of spring is students, dressed in overalls and white caps, drinking pints of beer in beer gardens and on terraces.
The Finnish brewery industry is a global trendsetter in more ways than one. For instance, environmental awareness in our brewery industry is top of the line, as evidenced by innovations such as recyclable beverage containers.
Beer is a fine example of eco-friendly products in the beverage industry. Energy-efficient manufacturing processes, efficient use of raw materials, and reuse of the brewery industry’s side-streams are all standard procedure in Finland. VTT and PBL Brewing Laboratory, a laboratory owned by the Finnish brewery and malt industry, have been working together on these issues for decades, and the work is not done yet – research continues.
At VTT, we provide our customers with access to our wide competence pool comprising a number of technologies to help them reach their sustainability targets and create innovations and forerunner technologies. The brewery industry is a fine example of how an industry sector can improve process efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint.
When enjoyed responsibly, beer is an excellent beverage for social occasions and for tastings. In Finland, the most popular type of beer is made with bottom fermenting yeast, which produces a light beer known as lager. Finns have honed the manufacture of this beer style to perfection. However, Finland has recently seen a true beer culture revival with the emergence and growing popularity of microbreweries. Many of the bigger breweries have tapped into this trend and introduced a wide variety of unusual and interesting beers.
The other Nordic countries were slightly ahead of us with this new beer culture movement, but we are starting to catch up. Today, consumers demand more than just the regular lager – they also want fruity Belgian-style beers made with top fermenting yeast (ale) or crisp, slightly bitter American-style ales.
The different beer styles provide countless varieties of flavours, smells and colours. Beers are not much different from wines; you can enjoy and taste beers of very dissimilar characters.
Our drinking culture seems to be moving in the right direction –away from binge drinking – not least thanks to our brewery industry.
So, let us all celebrate the First of May in a civilised fashion with a glass of wine or sparkling wine, beer, or mead. I personally intend to fill my glass with Finnish beer. Fruity, with hints of citrus fruits.
VTT Research Scientist, Editor in Chief of the Mallas & Olut magazine, and a beer aficionado