Anyone familiar with traditional Latvian farmhouse brew? (Mājas alus)

I’m happy, surprised and puzzled now - my first Latvian farmhouse beer. I didn’t even know those existed. As in Estonia it was “commercialy available” at a fair. This one I bought at the The Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia (on the fair The 48th Latvian Folk Applied Arts FAIR
Tried a Google search and found some pages, but just in Latvian it seems…
Surprisingly smoky, reminds me of peat - some herbal notes too, not sure if it’s juniper? And fair amount of sweetness too - wonder if there is honey added too?
Well, just curious if anyone has any information - certainly interesting and quite brew - and rather different from anything I’ve tried before… :thinking:


It would not supprise me if this is something @larsga knows the most about.

Try that book, not read it myself yet, but heard good things about it.

Very cool find! There is still a living tradition of farmhouse ale in Latgale. I never heard of these guys before, but this sounds very much like real traditional Latvian farmhouse ale. The farmhouse ale in Latgale seems generally to be made with smoked home-made malts, and these guys seem to be in the right spot for that.

Peat seems very unlikely as a fuel. People seem only to have used that in places where there wasn’t enough wood, like Orkney, west Jutland, and way out on the Norwegian coastal islands. I know there is a guy in nearby Berzpils who uses alder, so that could be it. It has a very characteristic aroma, but hard to describe. Not like oak or beech at all, though not very like peat, either, to be fair.

They may have pasteurized the beer and then added honey. Some of the Lithuanian farmhouse breweries do that.

Thanks a lot for the tip, @nilsas! I need to take a closer look at this, and perhaps travel there.

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Thanks! Just difficult to pinpoint the smokey notes - not the bonfire or bacon type at least, that’s for sure. The whole thing just took me by surprise. Much more interesting and tasty than expected. I just regret now that I didn’t take the kvass as well.

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What you call the bonfire/bacon type is probably beech. That’s what’s used in Schlenkerla, for example.

Interesting and tasty: anything made with traditional malts is likely to blow the ball out of the stadium. People who know how to malt well generally make fantastic beer.

And, yeah, I’m sure the kvass would have been really interesting, too. Far and away the best kvasses I’ve had are the traditional ones. The commercial stuff is almost like a parody.


google connects ‘Kolnasata’ to Berzpils via these links:āta-dainis-rakstiņš-alus-darītājs/5182044c498e180ef9f6bb4a/photos

Damn - I’d love to pop down there, cool find indeed.

Yeah, that looks like a really, really interesting place to visit. I didn’t realize before, but it’s the same guy: Dainis Rakstiņš. He even has his own farmhouse yeast (about which we know very little at the moment), so that should be a seriously interesting beer.

I just searched for something relevant and it turns out that’s the same larsga :smiley:

I’m also not familiar with Kolnasata but my best guess is that wood flavors will have been imparted by cask aging or even cask fermenting?

The high sweetness is typical and without it you’ll see that it’s actually somewhat sour rather than neutral. You can find something like that here

The most well-known “farmhouse” (commercial) ale is probably which is only unfined but you can find it on draught somewhat easily

Good luck!