Home » Craft Beer in Finland: Haapala Brewery in Vuokatti

Craft Beer in Finland: Haapala Brewery in Vuokatti

by Paola Bertoni
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The only existing brewery in the Vuokatti Sotkamo area is the Haapala Brewery. It produces incredible seasonal and sustainable beers, mainly with local ingredients. Their beers represent the Kainuu region with a unique taste, while labels are reminiscent of the Vuokatinvaara hills and the Finnish raw materials behind each beer.

Haapala Brewery: Kainuu’s first craft brewery

Haapala Brewery, which opened in 2018, is the first brewery in the Kainuu area, which includes Vuokatti, Sotkamo and Kajaani. A vast area in central Finland that can now boast a special local beer production with a unique and intense taste. A beer that smells of rural Finland and that you can only find here and nowhere else in the world.

How Haapala beer is brewed

The essential ingredients for making beer are barley, malt and hops, which in themselves are not at all alcoholic but become so through the fermentation process. The steps to create a tasty craft beer, followed by the Haapala Brewery, involve fermenting the barley grains and cooking the wort before removing the formed sugars.

The added ingredients give the beer its flavour and make craft beers unique. For example, the darker the malt, the more it colours the beer; very little is needed to produce a black beer. On the other hand, the addition of hops at the beginning of the boiling process regulates the bitterness of the beer.

Haapala Brewery uses different types of malt and tries to use only local products. The brewery grows part of the raw materials used in beer production. The most surprising aspect is that all steps in craft beer production are done by hand!

Raw materials for the production of Haapala craft beers from Vuokatti Sotkamo, Finland
Raw materials for the production of Haapala craft beers from Vuokatti Sotkamo, Finland

The beers of Haapala Brewery

Haapala brews classic and local seasonal beers, some with Finnish berries personally harvested by the brewery owner. Among the Haapala beers, you can also find delicious honey beers, fruit beers, beers enriched with pine needles and rye beers, all equally delicious.

Classic beers are brewed and sold all year round. Of these, the most popular is Vuokattinvara, named after the hills around Vuokatti. The labels are immediately recognisable and represent the beauty of the Kainuu region in a minimal and modern style. For example, the blond beer Jatkonvaara, an ale with a malty flavour, has a beautiful label with hills and lakes.

More stylised is the beer created to celebrate the 103rd anniversary of independent Finland. Initially named 103, the number increases yearly, while the label combines Google’s search trends for the year. The search engine results are a perfect representation of that year’s history.

Hiukan Helmeilevä beer, on the other hand, is an easy-drinking golden ale with a balanced taste. At the same time, Korpikuusen Kuiskaus and Riuskasti Rukiinen are reminiscent of English beers. The first is a pale ale with the addition of pine needles to give a Finnish twist to a British classic.

The second is an IPA (India Pale Ale), the British beer brewed for export to India. Again, the Haapala Brewery took a classic beer and added a Finnish twist with rye.

Beers produced by the Haapala Brewery in Vuokatti Sotkamo, Finland
Beers produced by the Haapala Brewery in Vuokatti Sotkamo, Finland

Haapala Brewery: from private home and school to brewery and restaurant

The Haapala Brewery’s building dates back to 1868 as a private home. It was a primary school from 1904 to the next seven years. At the time, teachers inhabited the back rooms. The dining room was instead divided into two parts to accommodate the classes.

For a time, the Haapala Brewery in Vuokatti also housed a branch of the Sotkamo Savings Bank. Only in the 1920s did it become an accommodation facility, housing a pub and rooms for the builders of the new railway line between Vuokatti and Nurmes.

Maintaining, like many businesses in Finland, a family dimension, the old building was renovated and became a B&B and restaurant before starting the brewing adventure. The brewery’s owner is a great beer enthusiast who can involve you in brewing. Combining a brewery with a B&B and restaurant added a unique feature to the facility.

Paola Bertoni at a beer tasting at the Haapala Brewery in Vuokatti Sotkamo, Finland
Beer tasting at the Haapala Brewery in Vuokatti Sotkamo, Finland

Beer tasting at the Haapala Brewery

You can try Haapala Brewery’s beers during a restaurant meal or with a beer tasting. I took a guided tour of the brewery when travelling to Vuokatti. After learning about the brewing process, you can enjoy the delicious seasonal beer from the fermentation tank.

Contact Haapala Brewery directly to visit the brewery or have a tasting experience. The website is in Finnish, but they all speak English too, and if you send an email, they will answer you quickly.

The experience was exciting because this is the only craft brewery in this part of Finland, the Kainuu region that includes Kajaani, Vuokatti and Sotkamo. I was amazed to see such a small operation where the brewery owner does all the brewing herself. It is, therefore, a truly artisanal product, as well as one with a unique taste.

Haapala Restaurant & Brewery
Haapalantie 3, Sotkamo

If you’re a beer enthusiast, you should visit breweries during your trips. And if you have yet to try Finnish craft beer, go without any doubts for this unique and delicious experience and share your thoughts in the comments.

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