MartinT (10014) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - AUG 23, 2016
UPDATED: AUG 8, 2017 There is a lot of Koduõlu brewed on the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, but most of it is out of reach to passersby. See Pihtla ratings for the available versions. The rest must be gotten through contacts. This is true farmhouse ale; it is brewed for people’s homesteads, haymaking, Midsummer Day, Christmas, their neighbor’s wedding, etc. Some Koduõlu, like Meelis Sepp’s, a cow farmer on Saaremaa, is a true masterpiece. Frothy feel, banana esters, bread dough, fresh juniper greenness, alcohol warmth and dangerous drinkability. 4+ stuff. There is no actual smoke in here by the way, only the illusion of it because of the constant contact with wooden tuns and juniper branches.larsga (7602) - Oslo, NORWAY - AUG 20, 2016
For the one at Tihemetsa Talu, in Nasva
My Bottom Line:
Bananas, apples, bready yeast and rich cereal proteins are met by alcohol heat in this compelling traditional Koduõlu.
Further Personal Perceptions:
-A tower of foam slowly dips into the murky pale blond.
-This is quite drinkable because of the natural carbonation.
-Juniper adds a touch of greenness in the back.
-Banana esters are quite dominant.
-Think of a Heller Weizenbock without the cloves and high carbonation, and you’ll be close to imagining what this tastes like.
At their restaurant in Nasva, Saaremaa.
Huge offwhite head. Very pale yellow opaque body. Grainy mealy fruity aroma. Sweet fruity orangey taste with mealy grainy herbal notes. Mid-to-full body. Mild, flattish, mealy mouthfeel. Dryish mealy banana aftertaste with green papery notes. Some fusel alcohol, and green apples. Rough notes of boiled juniper. I don’t taste the alcohol much, but feel it after a while, so this is probably strong. It felt like the beer got rougher as I drank it. (Pitcher of indeterminate size at the restaurant.) suurjuust (3607) - ESTONIA - AUG 22, 2015
This one is for a beer from Kihnu, a gift from martjoobolut, thanks! The bottle has gone flat, so no head, the beer itself is hazy light brown. The beer has gone sour, so the nose is sour, slightly malty and musty, vaguely fruity. Flavor is also sour and vaguely fruity, a bit bready and reminds me of kvass. Sour, but really drinkable. martjoobolut (4820) - Tallinn, ESTONIA - AUG 17, 2015
Tried various versions over the years. The latest one was at Kihnu and it fell into thin, watery and sour category, but was still very drinkable on a hot summer day. Marduk (8061) - Reval, ESTONIA - MAR 15, 2015
I think Marduk basically covered everything about "koduõlu" what needs to be said. The only thing I would like to add is that you may meet koduõlu version called "taherber" (sometimes also called "naiste õlu" - women’s beer), which is basically a session (very low ABV, light, thin etc.) version of koduõlu, made after koduõlu from the 2nd boil of the same malt (hence the low alcohol percentage). Traditionally taherber was often served to farm workers (including woman and children) during the workdays, since koduõlu was too strong to drink during work.
I’ve had more than tens of different versions of Koduõlu in my life. Note: although Saaremaa koduõlu is most well-known some other counties (for example Seto and Hiiumaa) can produce same quality beer by using slightly different approach.
Senka (1082) - Tallinn, ESTONIA - DEC 23, 2014
Classic koduõlu is light brown to dark amber color. Doesn’t have to have frothy cap, but way too often froth is all you get. Pouring out from the tun requires time and patience. You can accelerate froth transformation to liquid form by adding a little piece of butter. It has no effect on taste, but magic happens.
Aroma is mostly farmhouse-like. Lots of bready notes, rye, in some cases juniper, wort and slight sourness might appear. Also banana, sweetness and faint raisins. Alcohol is usually hidden.
Taste varies, but have to be with wheat and bready notes. Almost always full body. If it tastes thin and watery and sour your example is not good one. Alcohol level is usually from 6,5-10%. Some farmers might drown a bottle of vodka into the barrel so these might be even as strong as 12-13%. Vodka doesn’t ruin the taste although it makes it more alcoholic (surprise!). But be careful, this extra vodka in beer multiplies your headache/hangover next morning by factor of hundred.
If you ever visit Hiiumaa, Saaremaa, Seto, Võromaa this is must try drink. You cannot go more local than that. Ask locals who is the best brewer in area and do your shopping there. But be careful, it’s a sneaky drink :) After one you crave for second, after second one you want third one, after third one you sleep like a baby :) Cheers!
This is a place holder for all the "käsitöö" beer from the Saaremaa. My first encounter with this magical beverage was in 11th grade (16 y.o.) - My Estonian language teacher brought a sample for us to taste. I was shocked and repulsed by it. Ages later I sampled various examples on the island from different brewmasters. Pihtla is a good example, that is quite easy to find. It can be soft and gentle, and the next day it is rough and kicking. On a hot summer day - 1 glass is usually enough. FatPhil (16647) - Tallinn, ESTONIA - JUL 24, 2011
This is a placeholder for a summary of *34* different koduolu beers from the Saaremaa Homebrew festival. Need to transcribe my tasting notes.Every farmer and brew will be named ... However, in the absense of that, they were all pale and very cloudy. Juniperiness ranged from mild to extreme. Sweetness and underattentuation again ranged frm mild to extreme. And yes, by underattentuated to the extreme, I mean it makes me wonder how many *hours* it had been fermenting. Thick and sweet. 34 of them was quite a struggle! SaintMatty (7439) - Uppsala, SWEDEN - JUN 25, 2008
UPDATED: MAY 5, 2011 1.2 litre plastic bottle hand bottled and brewed by Mr Uustal on Saaremaa (Thanks :) ) - Hazy and cloudy orange in colour. Medicinal and slightly smoky aroma with a hint of dried apple and some spice along with some juniper. The taste is fairly sweet at first with the apple featuring again. There is also a noticeable smokiness to the taste with a slight hint of smoked bacon. The medicinal elements feature in the aftertaste along with juniper and a slight hint of orange. It definitely reminds me of sahti but is noticeably different. A very good example of this style and I am intrigued to try more. Cletus (6355) - Connecticut, USA - SEP 1, 2007
Thanks to my cousin for tracking this rarity down for me when on vacation in Estonia and convincing a local inn keeper to bottle some up. PET bottle hand bottled by some inn keeper in Estonia. Pours yellow and opaque with no head to speak of and only a few sparse hints of bubbles around. Smells metallic initially with some smoke and juniper dominating everything else. The smoke reminds me of a campfire about to go out and I’m guessing comes from the hand kilning my cousin told me this particular brewer takes pride in. Flavor was very smokey initially, though that quickly faded with some apples and more metal coming through. Some hints of citrus emerges as the beer warms, but it’s there as a backdrop and far from dominant. I almost missed it entirely as the other flavors dominate this beer. Mouthfeel is very thick like oil. Finish is light with some gin like touches. While I can see the parallels between this and sahti and even gotlandsdricke, this is a very distinct beer that, despite it’s smokiness was very palatable and distinct. I’m definitely going to have to decipher the recipe my cousin brought back for me and attempt to make some of this so I can try a fresh sample. Unique would be an understatement for this. TBone (17783) - Pori, FINLAND - JUL 30, 2007
Handbottled from cask (different producer than Taako)
Hazy yellow color, no head. Aroma of smoke and juniper with light citrusy notes. Mouthfeel is flat. Flavor starts acidic with citrus dominating. Then in the finish it has juniper and tar. Aftertaste has spices and bitterness. Extremely drinkable despite of usually 6-8 % alcohol. Not as sweet as many of Finnish sahtis, so there is clearly own "sub style" for koduõlu. Now just to get more ...