Baltic Beer in the 21st Century: what’s next for Estonia?

Baltic Beer in the 21st Century: what’s next for Estonia?

Estonia, like many countries across Northern Europe, has a long history of home and farmstead brewing. A few hundred years ago, it was due to poor sanitation in drinking water (the buzz was just an added bonus!) but as commercialisation began, brewing became a huge industry.

The two biggest Estonian breweries to come out of commercialisation are Saku and A. Le Coq. Each brewery produces a variety of styles and share about 90% of the beer market in Estonia. Much like Australia, this large portion of the commercial market is owned by foreign companies. Also much like Australia, these foreign owned businesses are contributing to the rise of locally owned and produced craft beer in the country.

In 2011, the craft industry really started to take off when Põhjala began its journey to become one of the highest rated breweries in Estonia (sitting in second on Untappd, just behind Pühaste; the other Estonian offering in this box). Bringing in Chris Pilkington from Brewdog in Scotland, they released their first beer (an imperial Baltic porter called Öö) to the market in 2013. In 2015, they organised the first of an annual craft beer festival held in Tallinn and have helped support the industry grow to about 25 microbreweries dotted across the country today.

Estonia’s craft beer scene is very reminiscent of where Australia’s was 15 years ago. The future looks promising, with more and more microbreweries and brewpubs cropping up, poised to shape the nation’s beer culture in exciting ways. We can’t wait to see what comes next! Terviseks!

Photo by @pohjalabeer

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