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Working men's royal brews

- More about beer in Finland

Apart from being a regional capital, Jyvaeskalae itself is an industrial town, known for paper mills and the manufacture of guns.

In the town centre, a working men's club is now a brew pub.

In the central northern England of my youth, working men's clubs had concert rooms. This one is more grandly deemed a theatre, Teatteri.

The building, a curious compact of Italianate and modernist, was designed in the mid 1920s by the celebrated Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

Now it has stained glass windows on beer themes, and a brewbouse by Prince Luitpold, and unfiltered lagers under the name Mestari Panimo (Masterbrew).

There is a beer cellar called Alvari and a restaurant, Elissa.

I sampled a light malty, golden lager called Vaalea (Pale), at 45 per cent alcohol by volume, a more toffeish Tumma (Dark), with some apple fruitiness, at 5 per cent, and an amber, creamy Maerzen, also at 5 per cent.

In the more easterly regional capital Mikkeli (St Michael), a garrison town, I visited another small brewery, called Naapuri (Neighbour).

This is in a pub in a parade of shops just outside the town centre.

Owner Pertti Oksa is a long-established publican, who studied brewing at an agricultural institute in Finland. his brewbouse is a tiny (200 litre) system made by the Finnish company Tankki.

His beers include Rokram Pils, with a very good hop aroma and flavour, and a dry finish; Toiwo (hope), a smooth, lightly malty, dryish, Vienna-style lager; and Woima (Power), a toffeeisch, chocolatey brew loosely modelled on Staropramen Dark.

Rokram Pils was named after a radio station after a visit by its star deejay, and this is clearly a youth-oriented pub, cluttered with automotive memorabilia as well as breweriana.

Traditionalists may wince, but I was impressed to see a pub in a far corner of Europe offering its own tasty beers - 12 draughts (from Velké Popovice lager to St Louis Kriek); and 201 bottles (including the rare Flag Porter).

I also wish more British pubs had such a knowledgeable bar staff.

Published Online: APR 21, 2000
Published in Print: FEB 1, 1997
In: What's Brewing

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