Panimoravintola Plevna

Where was I? Oh yeah, Tampere, Finland. I arrived on a Wednesday, saw a few sites, walked around town, and then went to Panimoravintola Plevna, a brewpub founded in 1994 in one of the old Finlayson cotton mill buildings. After sitting down at the bar, I found out their Siperia Stout had that day just won Best Beer in Finland 2015. I considered that a good sign. One of the women working there was surprised to learn I’d be in town until Friday. “There’s nothing to do in Tampere,” she said. I asked her for some suggestions, and the first few things she mentioned I’d already checked out that afternoon. Hmm. It was a good thing Plevna had enough beer on tap to keep me busy for the two nights I’d be there.

Three half-pours at Panimoravintola Plevna

Three half-pours at Panimoravintola Plevna — Tampere, Finland

    Rob’s Picks

  • Dark Lager / Plevnan Tumma – 5.6% – Roasty, chocolate malts. Quite smooth. Little bit of dark chocolate bitterness on the finish.
  • Bock – 6.6% – Sweet, but not too sweet. Caramel and brown sugar, but not too strong. There’s a softness to the malts. Very light herbal hoppiness.
  • Wheat Beer / Plevnan Vehnäolut – 5% – Clove/banana aroma. Big clove flavor all the way through. Light banana. Underlying breadiness and spiciness.
  • Rauchbier / Savuolut James – 5.2% – Smoky aroma. Big smoky flavor. Sort of like Laphroaig as a beer. Caramel maltiness, smooth. Really light hint of floral hops when it warms.
  • Little Black Number / Pikku Musta – 3.8% – Light, dry, roasty with a bit of dark chocolate, and a sweet zing. Kind of like a dark mild but sweeter.
  • Siperia Stout – 8% – Big creamy stout with thick chocolate, coffee, roasty maltiness and an underlying citrus edge. Long lingering flavors.
  • Mosaic Weizen / Vehnä – 5% – Clove, banana aroma. Not as strong in flavor as their regular wheat beer – integrates nicely with the tropical fruit hoppiness. Light spiciness towards the finish. Pretty cool flavor mix.
  • JFK – 5.5% – American pale wheat ale. Clove, banana aroma. Interesting floral, clove, banana flavor mix, with some spiciness, too. Supporting caramel malt. Not the best, but pretty cool and unique flavor mix that makes you think.
    The Rest

  • Pils Luomu – 4.7% – Light and bready, with a hint of lemon. Light herbal finish with some bitterness. Pretty standard.
  • Severin Extra IPA – 5.9% – Floral aroma and flavor. Caramal and roasty malts. Fairly bitter finish. Bit too malty for my tastes.
  • Brewery Mead / Plevnan Panimosima – 5% – Big honey aroma. Quite sweet. Honey, citrus, lemon. Alcohol edge. Underlying light floral flavor.
  • Plevna’s Cider / Plevnan Omenasiideri – 4.5% – Sweet and apple-y. Pretty crisp and a bit dry, but too sweet for me.
  • Plevna’s Cider / Plevnan Omenasiideri Extra Dry – 4.5% – Cloudy. Not nearly as sweet as the previous cider, but has a bit of funk and tartness. Not a bad thing, but surprising and a bit odd. Dry tart finish.
  • Plevnan Stout – 7% – Dry stout. Dark chocolate, coffee, plus some roasty malt, but there’s a certain odd sweetness lurking about. Lingering dark chocolate flavor and bitterness.
  • Cotton Ale – 4.7% – Pale ale. Floral and citrus aroma and flavor, with underlying caramel malt. Some tropical hop flavor, too, and finishes dry and tannic. A little flat, though. Could be really good with some carbonation.

On Thursday, I slept in, did some leisurely sightseeing, then ended up at Plevna again. Have to say, Tampere isn’t the most exciting place, but it’s a relaxing visit and there’s plenty of beer at Plevna to slake your thirst for a night or two.


Bock’s Corner Brewery

After Stockholm, I headed north, visiting a few towns before reaching Umeå, where I took a ferry across the Baltic Sea to Vaasa, Finland. Went straight to the visitor info office to find out about rooms, restaurants, and breweries, and the women working there were very helpful. So, after walking around town and having a good dinner, I headed to the recently opened Bock’s Corner Brewery, which was about a 15-20 minute walk from my room. They’re in an astonishingly beautiful old building that used to house Bock’s Brewery, which closed in the 80’s. The new owners have sunk a lot of money (or so it looked) into renovating the space and buying a shiny new brewhouse. Lots of old stone, wood, and brick. There’s a pizza oven, too, but they still seemed to be testing out recipes when I was there. They even roast their own coffee.

no bock that day at bock's corner

Amazing ambiance at Bock’s Corner — Vaasa, Finland

    Rob’s Picks

  • Pils – 5% – Grassy, sweet aroma. Grassy, bready, honey, touch of lemon flavor mix. Hint of bitterness on finish.
  • Dunkel – 4.9% – Caramel, biscuit, and toast maltiness, with very light coffee. Also hint of bitterness on finish.
  • Weissbier – 5.3% – Clove, light banana, to a spicy finish. Light underlying breadiness – not as much as I expected, but works well.
    The Rest

  • Pale Ale – 4.7% – Almost tea-like aroma. Caramel, light biscuit, and herbal flavors with an odd, underlying almost-sweetness.

The full names of the beers were all of the format Bock’s Pils, Bock’s Dunkel, etc. Made me wonder if they’d come out with a Bock’s Bock. So right after typing that, I checked Untappd, and yes, they do now have a Bock’s Bock. That makes me happy.

Monks Café & Brewery

There aren’t too many breweries in Stockholm that are open to the public. Not counting Omnipollos Hatt (it’s their taproom, and they have no brewery), I only found two, Monks Café & Brewery, which seems to be the oldest Stockholm microbrewery, and New Carnegie (English-ized name), which I visited at the end of my trip. There’s also Stockholm Brewing, but unfortunately they’re not open to the public, unless you happen to show up when the brewer has the door open and he’s got some free time. Anyway, the brewing setup at Monks Café is somewhat small, what looked like a four barrel brewhouse and four one-barrel fermenters. They have another restaurant and brewery, Monks Porterhouse in the Old Town neighborhood, that makes mostly stouts and porters, but it seemed to be closed during the summer for some reason. They have food here, as well, but it’s kind of expensive. Didn’t want to pay $23 for a veggie burger, so I got a cup of nuts instead, putting off dinner until later.

monks cafe tasters

Taster flight at Monks Café & Brewery — Stockholm, Sweden

    Rob’s Picks

  • Nelson IPA – 6.1% – Citrus and subtle tropical fruit over caramel. A bit muddled, but very drinkable.
  • Mango IPA – 6.5% – Mango and citrus, light caramel malt, nice bitter finish. Easy drinking.
  • Calyptra – 9.4% – Belgian IPA. Banana and clove, coriander, spiciness, with some citrus on the back end. Bit of an alcohol edge. Fun mix of flavors. Kind of reminds me of a tripel.
  • Orange Ale – 6.5% – Belgian ale. Light orange flavor mixed with some bubblegum and clove, with light lingering funk. Better than it sounds.
    The Rest

  • Svea IPA – 6% – Floral aroma. Light floral flavor with some citrus. Some caramel, honey, and breadiness to a light bitter finish.
  • Black IPA – 7.3% – Weird. Sweet, with some bubblegum, and not much hop flavor. Finish is fairly roasty with a little chocolate and coffee, after the sweetness subsides.

I tried all six of their beers that were on tap (they had a lot more in bottles), and the woman working there said they usually have more, but it was summer. Puzzling. The café location is not in a touristy neighborhood, so maybe all the locals were off traveling instead? Maybe beer tourism isn’t a big thing in Sweden? Maybe she just wanted me to leave? No idea.


In the neighborhood just south of Stockholm’s old city exists the so-called Bermuda Triangle, a trio of bars in fairly close proximity to each other where if you start drinking in one it’s very likely the rest of the your night will mysteriously disappear. Two vertices of the triangle are the bars Akkurat and Oliver Twist, and the third changed somewhat recently (sorry, Bishop’s Arms) to Omnipollos Hatt, the flagship bar and pizzeria of Stockholm-based gypsy brewer Omnipollo (though I learned that in Europe gypsy brewers are sometimes referred to as phantom brewers). I ended up at the Hatt several times during my stay in Stockholm, and, fortunately, I was able to emerge from the Triangle with material for this post intact because of my obsessive note-taking. I’m using the term “flagship” here a little loosely — while it’s the first bar they’ve opened, the space is pretty small. They have a varying line-up of about ten of their beers flowing, with an occasional guest tap.

drinking at the hatt

Pre-pizza beer at Omnipollos Hatt — Stockholm, Sweden

    Rob’s Picks

  • Bacchanale – 6% – Saison. Lemon peel, light coriander, some graininess, with light floral hops and light bitter finish.
  • Leon – 6.5% – Belgian pale ale made with champagne yeast. Caramel with hint of banana. Light breadiness as it warms. Floral, herbal hop mix. Pretty smooth, with a dry finish.
  • Fatamorgana – 8% – Solid balance of floral, caramel, citrus, with a hint of honey on the finish.
  • Noa Pecan Mud Cake – 11% – Imperial stout. Chocolate and pecan aroma and flavors. Kahlua flavor, as well. Very smooth. 11% is hidden very well. Dark chocolate bitterness with alcohol edge on the finish.
  • Zodiac IPA – 6.2% – Light and somewhat creamy with fun lemon flavor. Light floral aroma and flavor. Very drinkable.
  • Magic #90000 – 8% – Blueberry, pecan, almond, vanilla smoothie IPA. Sounds awful, but quite good, as it turns out. Blueberry, tropical fruit aroma. Definitely smooth, with blueberry and tropical fruit flavors prominent. Vanilla pretty subtle but there. Not getting much nuttiness but maybe it blends in with the vanilla too well (or maybe it’s the other way around).
  • Magic #4:21 – 6% – Double raspberry vanilla smoothie IPA. Raspberry and tropical fruit aroma and flavor, with a bit more emphasis on the raspberry. Pretty smooth, with very subtle vanilla. Interesting raspberry tartness and citrus peel bitterness on the finish.
  • Fruit Tap 2: Lemonade – 6% – Pale ale sour. Fun lemonade flavor with medium-big sourness. Underlying bready base. Some floral hops, too, that go well with the lemon.
  • Omniprairie – 10% – Milk chocolate salted caramel stout. Collaboration with Prairie Artisan Ales. Smells like chocolate cake. Rich, creamy chocolate flavor and mouthfeel. Caramel comes out on finish, with a bit of salt at the very end. Dessert in a glass.
    The Rest

  • Perikles – 4.2% – Light, lightly bready, hint of lemon, light grassiness, not much hops. Surprisingly light.
  • Magic #4:20 – 5.2% – Vanilla waffle wheat. Light vanilla, not particularly waffle-like. Sorta bready. Hint of lemon. Lightly bitter finish. Pretty much a regular pils.

Oh yeah, their pizzas are quite good, too. If you’re ever in Stockholm, I highly recommend checking out the Triangle (at your own risk, of course).

Nordic Vacation

The next eleven posts will all be from my three week trip to Sweden and Finland (and a day-trip to Estonia) in August 2015. It was a relaxing but interesting vacation, and that was what I needed at the time. In addition to all the usual sightseeing, I found some cool bars and breweries, and after visiting the Omnipollo bar and pizzeria, I finally came up with a blog rule for gypsy brewers. If they have a flagship (or original) bar that serves a bunch of their beer, then visiting it will be sufficient for a blog post. (I put in the flagship/original requirement because Mikkeller has a bunch of bars around the world, but then they announced they’d be taking over the old AleSmith brewing equipment and space, and so soon they will have an actual brewery to visit. But I’ll keep that wording anyway. Why not.)

So yeah, posts on four breweries in Sweden, six in Finland, and one in Estonia coming up. I’m still debating whether or not to do a compendium post on beers I tried from breweries I didn’t visit, but I probably won’t. No need to create more work for myself. Aside from doing more travel and visiting more breweries, that is.

Big Block Brewing

I’d been meaning to bike to the Sammamish plateau and visit Big Block Brewing (their Twitter account has more up-to-date info) but kept putting it off in favor of shorter or less hilly rides. So when they announced they’d be closing the taproom in the residential garage that still houses the brewhouse in advance of re-opening it in a more conventional location, it motivated me to make the trek out there and experience the original setup. I went on a really hot July day, though, and the unshaded, south-facing trail up to the highlands was pretty draining. But I made it, and spent some time re-hydrating in the warm garage with a few regulars. Nice vibe there, and I’m looking forward to checking out the new taproom, which is located along East Lake Sammamish Parkway (and is more convenient for biking).

blocklets of beer at big block

The original Big Block Brewing taproom in the owners’ garage — Sammamish, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Kolsch – 5.1% – Honey, light herbal hops. Not quite as light on the tongue as I expected but quite drinkable. Light bitter zing on finish.
  • Chocolate Porter – 5.8% – Good chocolate flavor. Fairly creamy. Lingering chocolate and coffee flavors with some dark chocolate and coffee bitterness.
  • IPA – 5.8% – Citrus, earthy aroma and flavors. Some herbal hop flavor, too. Solid caramel base. Light bitter finish.
  • “Big Woody” Oatmeal Stout – 8.5% – Creamy, with chocolate, toffee, coffee, and caramel flavors. Alcohol edge.
  • Mosaic Pale Ale – 6% – Fairly assertive tropical fruit, touch of sweetness. Underlying caramel malt. Citrus peel bitterness.
    The Rest

  • Raspberry Blonde – 5.2% – Raspberry flavor from start to finish. Underlying breadiness. Easy drinking.

My route back from the BBB garage took me to the newly upgraded portion of the East Lake Sammamish bike trail, and it was beautifully done. Can’t wait for the rest of the trail to get the same treatment. And having their taproom so close to the trail creates more brewery bike ride options.

Hellbent Brewing

I was in the mood for a slightly longer Seattle bike ride and so headed north to Hellbent Brewing, just a couple blocks north of the Lake City Way Elliott Bay Brewpub. Didn’t know too much about them except the head brewer had worked at a few other breweries, and, well, I have to say I was pretty impressed with the what they’ve done. Hellbent is in a former machine shop that’s been totally redone, with a nice long bar, lots of taps (some their beer, the rest other local brews), a view into the glassed-off brewhouse with lots of big, shiny new stainless steel equipment. There’s a better view of it, too, from the second floor, which also has a pool table, dartboard, and Big Buck Hunter. Lots of big screen tvs, a nice patio, plus food trucks pretty much daily. They went all out opening this place.

hellbent tasters

The road to Hellbent Brewing is paved with good fermentation. Ha! — Seattle, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Olympic Hills Spring Ale – 5.4% – Herbal and earthy hops, light biscuit malt, and some bitterness on the finish.
  • Funky RED Patina Red Ale – 5.3% – Caramel and biscuit malts with light herbal hops. Good mix.
  • First Born IPA – 6.5% – Big grapefruit and citrus, light piney hops. Bit of tropical fruit, too. Solid underlying caramel.
  • Moon Tower Stout – 6.4% – Smooth coffee and chocolate with some dark chocolate bitterness.
    The Rest

  • Fresh Hopped Pale Ale – 5.8% – Piney, minty, some grassiness, with caramel base. Somewhat bitter finish. Bit of sugary sweetness as it warms.
  • Jasmine Wheat – 5.1% – Sweet start, with a bit of bubblegum. Herbal and light earthy hops, touch of spiciness, to light bready and jasmine finish, with light bitterness.

This was my first time biking to Lake City Way. Pretty nice nine mile ride. Looking forward to doing it again.

Counterbalance Brewing

It had been a couple years since a new brewery opened in Georgetown, but Counterbalance Brewing finally put an end to that dry spell. So on a particularly hot summer day I hopped on my bike to pay them a visit. I’d worked up quite a sweat by the time I got there, and since the taproom was surprisingly quiet I was able to sit next to the fan while re-hydrating with the taster tray.

duck duck beer

Taster tray at Counterbalance Brewing — Seattle, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Counterbalance IPA – 6.1% – Smooth, with big tropical fruit and light earthy hops. Good caramel malt backbone.
  • Kushetka Imperial Stout – 8.9% – Coffee/chocolate aroma and flavors. Sweet molasses, too, with a bit of a dark chocolate bitter finish. Creamy mouthfeel.
  • Pogo Duck ISA – 5% – Light, with earthy hops and a little bit of sweetness. Subtle underlying caramel.
  • Maibock – 5% – Caramel and light biscuit maltiness. Some herbal hops. Pretty smooth. Nice mix of flavors.
  • Summer Wheat – 5.5% – Tropical fruit hop flavor, light underlying breadiness. Hint of bubblegum sweetness, with mellow bitterness on the finish. Unfiltered.
    The Rest

  • Abigale Blonde Ale – 5.2% – Sweet bubblegum, some herbal hops, bitter zing on the finish. Bit of lemon. Very slight breadiness.
  • Bad Wolf Dark Ale – 6.7% – Dark reddish-brown color. Roasty, light coffee/chocolate maltiness. Citrus and herbal hop edge. Interesting but a little too sweet for me.
  • Storm Cycle CDA – 7.5% – Collaboration with Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery. Chocolate, coffee, light roasty maltiness. Herbal hops. A bit creamy mouthfeel. Molasses on finish. Interesting.

There are plenty of brewery stop options now for south end rides through Sodo, Georgetown, and South Park. The only drawback is the increased likelihood of spending most of the time drinking beer instead of on the bike. This is why I always seem to end up biking home at night.

Lucky Envelope Brewing

Ballard had ten breweries for a little while, then dropped to nine when one relocated to Magnolia, but Lucky Envelope Brewing brought the count back up to ten. Whew! I visited them twice on short bike rides around town, and then they won a GABF medal for their Helles Lager. Pretty surprising for a brand new brewery, but good for them. Their taproom has a nice open feel to it, there’s a good-sized patio for the warmer months, and occasional food trucks. In addition to their regular production equipment, they make use of a small pilot system to try out new ideas, so there’s usually some interesting one-offs on tap.

drink dr. lucky

Feeling lucky at Lucky Envelope Brewing — Seattle, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Schwarzbier Lager – 5% – Light on the tongue, with rich chocolate/coffee and roasty maltiness. Hint of spicy hops, and a bit of underlying lemon citrus edge. Goes right down.
  • Fog Dart Pale Ale – 5.4% – Mix of citrus, pine, earthy hops with underlying caramel. Nice lingering hop flavors.
  • ENIAC Mosaic IPA – 7.3% – Pretty smooth. Light citrus and tropical fruit hops, with light pine towards the finish. Underlying caramel sweetness.
  • Spanish Cedar ENIAC – 7.3% – Small batch. Pretty similar to the above ENIAC Mosaic, but with a bit more grapefruit and more of a rounder mouthfeel. Light woody finish, as well, and a touch of smoke.
  • British Stout – 4.4% – Chocolate/coffee and roasty maltiness with some underlying sweetness. Dry finish.
  • Two Pepper Pale Ale – 5.4% – Fog Dart infused with shisito and habanero peppers. Really nice pepper flavors but without too much heat, though it does build up. Malty backbone supports the peppers well.
    The Rest

  • Helles Lager – 5.3% – Herbal and spicy hops with light biscuity malt. Touch of lemon at the end. Fair amount of bitterness.
  • Thaiger Mom Tripel – 9% – Pretty sweet. Banana, bubblegum, some lemon, some lime. Some spiciness on the tongue. Too sweet for me.
  • Citra IPA – 7.2% – Floral, citrus, earthy hops with underlying caramel. Decent, but the hop mix just wasn’t my thing.

It seems like the ten Ballard breweries are doing pretty well — I guess the neighborhood hasn’t yet hit its brewery saturation point. Will be interesting to see how many more open there.

Chainline Brewing

One of three bicycle-themed breweries in the general Seattle area, Chainline Brewing opened in early 2015 along the Cross Kirkland Corridor rail-trail just north of the Google campus. Pretty sweet location, and the southern end of the CKC is just a few blocks from the new section of the 520 trail, so it’s a pretty easy bike ride, which will be even better when the new 520 bridge with its ped/bike trail opens. Nice interior, a great deck looking out onto the trail, room to grow, and periodic food trucks out front. Not sure if they let you ride the fat tire bike hanging on the wall, though.

links in the chainline

Sampler break at Chainline Brewing while biking the Cross Kirkland Corridor — Kirkland, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Bar Spin Brown Porter – 4.8% – Coffee, chocolate, caramel, with sweet brown sugar edge. Crisp and bright, with a hint of citrus.
  • Hardtail Pale Ale – 5.1% – Some honey sweetness, light biscuit, with a mix of earthy and floral hops. Touch of herbal, too. Light bitter zing on the end.
  • Trail Gnome IPA – 6.2% – Fairly sweet with honey and some caramel maltiness. Floral, herbal, and light earthy hops that blend well with the sweetness.
    The Rest

  • Cyclo – 6% – Oktoberfest/Märzen. Mix of banana, light clove, caramel, toffee, toast, and bit of brown sugar.
  • OTB White IPA – 4.8% – Over The Bars. Big floral hops, with some spiciness, light breadiness, bit of toast, and hint of lemon. Fairly bitter finish.
  • Big Wheel Session Brown – 3.6% – Sweet with roasty and brown sugar maltiness. Light citrus edge. Light smoke, as well, when it warms.
  • Recumbent Red Ale – 6.2% – Biscuit and caramel malts. Light floral and herbal hops toward the end. Decent lingering bitterness.

Gotta say, the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail just whets my appetite for the whole Eastside Rail Corridor that extends north to Woodinville and south through Bellevue and all the way down to Renton. Can’t come fast enough.

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