Estonian Koduolu
Homebrewing in Estonia, Part 1

The Finnish Homebrewing Association (FHA) arranged an excursion to Saaremaa island in western Estonia in mid August 1995. This document describes what we found there during the 2.5 day visit.

Estonian Koduolu (Kodu = home, olu = beer) has certain resemblance with Finnish Sahti and Swedish Gotlandsdrickan. All three are primitive beers brewed with the old fashioned way. The ingredients are malt, hops, baker's yeast and water. In Finland and in Sweden it's customary to introduce also juniper twigs to the recipies. These top fermenting beers are usually quite strong, original gravity lies between 1.080 and 1.120.


We first visited a country house which was the "brewery" of the village. We met the old brewmaster and his grandson who was currently learning to brew Koduolu under the supervision of the old master.

It was interesting to find out that the farm grew barley itself to brew Koduolu. The crop was malted at the farm on the floor in the garage. In the attic of the brew house there was a drying chamber for germinated malt. Thereafter the dried malt was crushed and mashed with infusion method.

The brew house (note the second-hand stainless steel vat waiting to be installed. The farm's own barley is germinated on the garage floor.
The drying chamber in the attic of the brew house. The malt is dried with hot smoke obtained by burning wood below the chamber. The floor is perforated so that smoke can meet the moist bed of germinated barley. The malt mill for removing the rootlets and/or crushing malt.
The wooden brewing tubs. Mash tun.
Open fermentation in wooden tubs. Fresh Koduolu was served in two liter tin mugs with lightly salted boiled beans.
The old brewmaster himself. The young brewmaster.
The representatives of FHA taste Koduolu in a flourishing hop orchard about ten meters from the brew house. Hop wines and the brew house in the background.

(C) Ari Järmälä, 5.9.1997 -------------------------- Continue to Part 2.