So far, the craft beer advent calendar has been rather impressive this year. The first two beers have been quite good and I’ve been really enjoying learning about the breweries from which they come. Having traveled a lot in Europe it’s neat to see beers from those regions and think back to myself at that time.
Yesterday’s IPA was quite interesting and, while I don’t really seek out IPAs that much anymore, I did enjoy it. My father sent me a few IPAs from the Maritimes, so I am looking forward to trying those out as well. Today though we have a beer that comes to use from Lahti, Finland. The third beer is Teerenpeli’s Laiska Jaakko (Lazy Jacob) Organic Dark Lager.
Established in 1995 as one of Finland’s first microbreweries, Teerenpeli is today one of the few original microbreweries still in operation. This is a testament to their focus on using locally sourced Finnish malt and fresh Salpausselkä ground water. With a mission to use these fresh raw materials and never add any adjuncts to their beers, Teerenpeli’s mission is create real and exciting experiences for their customers.
The original brewery was located inside Teerenpeli restaurant in Lahti. Originally brewing on a 60 litre brew house, they were able to upgrade to 250 litres in 1997. Now, they began to produce ciders as well as beers. In 2002 they moved to the Restaurant Taivaanranta in Lahti. They purchased a new 1,500 litre brew house that was in the dining room of the restaurant. They constructed an area for fermentation together with a brand-new visitors’ center was built in the cellar of the restaurant. The old 250 litre brewhouse was relocated to Restaurant Teerenpeli Kamppi in Helsinki and is used to brew specialty beers.
In 2009, answering the demand for their products, Teerenpeli built a brand-new brewery building in the Lotila industrial area in Lahti. The fermentation capacity was increased and a bottling line was added. This enabled them to increase sales to the retail market and also to other restaurants. Today, they produce around 500,000 l of beers and ciders for customers around Finland.
So, dark lagers are really separated into multiple categories. While there are two “Dark Lager” categories in the BJCP guidelines, there are also Schwarzbiers and Dunkels that can fall into this category as well. This beer is classified on sites like “ratebeer” and “beeradvocate” as a “dunkel” and so I’ll explain that style. I also want to go over the “dark lager” styles as well. You can read about Schwarzbier here.
There are really two varieties of Dark lagers. International dark lagers are darker and somewhat sweeter versions of a pale lager with a little more body and flavor. Like their pale cousins, they have restrained bitterness which leaves the malt as the primary flavor element of the beer. This gives the opportunity for a brewery to really highlight some of the malts they might choose to use and in this case, gives us a chance to taste some of those Finnish malts.
Historically International dark lagers are darker versions of a breweries standard pale lager. They are designed to appeal to a broader audience and are usually subdued in their flavor profiles to be more widely appealing. Typically, with less flavor and richness when compared to a Munich Dunkel or a Schwarzbier. These types typically use adjuncts which leads me to believe the beer we have today is more likely in the style of the second type of dark lager.
Czech Dark Lagers are a rich, dark, and malty version of a Czech lager with a roast characteristic that can vary depending on the brewer. Malty with a complex flavor profile and varying ranges of hoppiness, this provides a lot of variation in interpretation. Originally brewed by U Fleků brewery as far back as 1499, other small and new breweries are more often now brewing this style of beer.
This style of beer is the Czech equivalent of a dark lager ranging in flavor from a Munich Dunkel to a Schwarzbier, but typically with greater malt richness and hop character when compared to these other two styles.
A Munich Dunkel is represented by depth and richness of the malts that are used. Deeply toasty and bready, often with chocolate flavors but never harsh, astringent or roasty. Dunkels are very well balanced malty beers that are easily drinkable but still carry good flavor. Some unfiltered versions of this beer from Germany can taste like liquid bread. This is typically not found in the exported filtered versions of this beer.
The classic brown lager style of Munich which developed as a darker, more malt-accented beer than other regional lagers. While originating in Munich, the style became popular throughout Bavaria (especially Franconia). Franconian versions are often darker and more bitter.
I’m interested to see what this beer tastes like, so let’s get to it.
Appearance – Dark reddish brown with a quickly fading off-white head.
Smell – Smells of toasted bread, slightly nutty with subtle chocolate and a little bit of smokiness in the mix as well.
Taste – Tastes slightly smokey with some mild bitterness, chocolate, and roasted malt.
Mouth feel – Coarse medium body with an almost effervescent carbonation. Subtle bitterness on finish and a slightly metallic after taste.
Overall – Overall this beer is a decent dark lager. It has some subtle bitterness and a good malt flavor profile that includes smoke, chocolate, and roasted malt. Falls more into the Dunkel category.
Do I like it? – This wasn’t bad. It had more going on for it than I would have expected. Certainly, an easy drinking beer that brings some good flavours to it as well.