San Francisco Brewery Releases Saaremaa Ale (4)
ERR News wrote about new local craft beers last week, but missed one from an internationally well-known brewery on the other side of the world that got its start in rural Saaremaa.
Last week, California's Anchor Brewing Company anounced Saaremaa Island Ale, a medium-bitter pale ale that was fermented with a yeast culture from a live beer the company's brewmaster was served in a small bar during a visit to the island.
"My wife and I were out in the countryside and I asked for a local draft and they gave me this beer," said Mark Carpenter in a promotional video. "In Estonia, they're perfectly happy to sell you beer to go, like a growler." The beer was unfiltered - and thus, "I had the yeast!"
He "smuggled" some out of Estonia in hotel shampoo bottles. Natural yeast strains can't be owned or patented, so theact didn't fall under industrial espionage, but airport securty was the biggest obstacle.
Carpenter likened Anchor's finished beer more to a Belgian ale than a British or German one but said it was unique to itself, and credited the yeast for the flavor.
Saaremaa Island Ale is the second limited-edition "Estonian beer" - the first being Baltic Frontier, a sea-buckthorn-infused bitter made by To Øl.