History of beer in Estonia
Estonia has a long tradition of brewing, as beer was preferred to water before the advent of sanitation systems. Even as today it remains some farm brewing tradition especially in the island of Saarema, with local styles like Koduõlu or Taluõlu, that could be related to modern sour/wild ales. Homebrewing heavily decreased with the arrival of industrial beer, with the establishment of the famous A. Le Coq brewery, when the market became predominantly flooded with pilsner style lagers. The craft beer movement didn't arrive to Estonia until the early 2010's with the arrival of Põhjala—the first craft brewery to put Estonia in the map, especially with their reinterpretation of Baltic Porter—and recently many others breweries are emerging in the scene, like Pühaste, Lehe, Tanker or Õllenaut.
Brewers from Estonia
Põhjala was founded in 2011 by four Estonian brewers, soon joined by Scottish brewmaster Chris Picklington. Chris met the founders when Peeter and Gren were making an internship at Brewdog. After that, in 2013 they released their first commercial beer—Põhjala Öö. They spent some time working as contract brewers, until in 2014, they opened their own facilities in the Nõmme neighbourhood, South of Tallin. Their best rated beers are heavy imperial and baltic stouts, with a strong focus in barrel ageing.
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Pühaste is an Estonian brewery founded in 2016 by Eero Mander, a former homebrewer, and co-founders Üllar Kaljurand and Lauri Eidermann. Before that, Eero parntered with another Estonian breweries as Põhjala and then Lehe, Õllenaut and Tanker, producing a series of gypsy brews in order to fund his brewery. The name Pühaste means holy in Estonian, and it's the name of the village where Eero started brewing, fifty km away from their current location in Tartu, a town famous for being home of the historical Le Coq brewery.
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Sori Brewing is a Estonian brewery founded by Pyry Hurula and Heikki Uotila. They both had experience as homebrewers in their home country Finland, and knew each other in a meeting of the academic beer society in Finland. Due to the strict alcohol regulations there, and after raising 500.000€ in a crowdfunding—one of the biggest in Europe when it comes to breweries—, they decided to move to Tallin (Estonia) to start the brewery in an old Soviet era factory building.
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Tanker brewery was founded in 2014 by Jaanis Tammela and Ryan Suske, first as a gypsy brewery and then in 2015 they adquired their current facilities. Both Jaanis and Ryan had experience as homebrewers, having brewed in Jaanis garage for a while. They started brewing professionally when they met Ants Laidam, who already had established Tanker brand for gypsy brews, and after purchasing the previous equipment by Põhjala Brewery Currently they are the most important craft brewer in Estonia and they recently opened a taproom in Tallin, called Uba ja Humal.
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