Rumours about an extinguishing Hiiumaa beer tradition are highly exaggerated. Kassari Puhkekeskus has revived the local beer production to our grandpas’ knowledge.
“Wine brewed from barley,” is what Herman I, the bishop of Ösel-Wiek, said about the beer he received as tithe in 1284. When did this gods’ drink first arrive to Hiiumaa, is unknown. Legend says, however, that the Saaremaa hero Suur Tõll gave half a stoup of beer to his brother Leiger for the Hiiumaa cabbages in his wedding soup. People from Hiiumaa had hoped for a full stoup, of course. But what can you do!
Earliest knowledge about beer making comes from convents and mansions. On Hiiumaa, too, in 1660, beer was produced in at least two mansions – Kõrgessaare (Hohenholm) and Putkaste (Putkas). In the 17th century, beer cereals were exported even: 888 barrels in 1673 and 984 barrels in 1674.
It’s not impossible that landlords drank beer brewed in their mansions from the tall bubbly glasses of Hüti glass factory.
Little is known about home beer traditions. Yet, still only a hundred years ago, every Hiiumaa and Kassari household knew how to make beer. And everyone knew exactly whose beer made you more drunk and whose beer helped to last. When a beer only made you more thirsty, it was said the brewer had used sea water. That a finger tip of salt makes beer only better, is a known fact. Back in the day, strong home beer was made only for Christmas and important family events, such as weddings and funerals. In the 19th century, beer brewing opportunities and drinking traditions were widespread in the islands and no fair or holiday went by without it. Here and there, beer was made also for haying time and rye harvest. Before, taherpill – a lighter beer made with daff, or root beer were more normal on those occasions.
Already then it sometimes probably happened that a child asked their father, full of surprise, “Why is your belly so big? Is it from beer?” “No, it is for beer,” answered the father then.
It is said that all good beers taste to barley malt and hop most of all. On Hiiumaa, juniper has an important role, too, and yeast, malt baking, plus the skills of the brewer. Sometimes bog-myrtle, wild rosemary or wormwood, aspen bark, yarrow, mint and other plants have been added to the beer. Women’s beer has honey for a sweeter taste. In the beginning of the 20th century, a normal brewing process yielded 150-300 litres of beer. Earlier, the lowest yield had even been 300 litres.
On Hiiumaa, in Kassari, you can enjoy fresh beer straight out of the barrel at the Hiiu Brewery with dried or smoked flounder as a snack to go with it. Our brewery has collected all historical beer tricks and traditions with the teachings of our neighbours and villagers and put it to use to make beer as crafty as a Hiiumaa man with his jokes. Next to beer tasting, the brewery also offers an overview of the history of the local beer, its traditions and processes.
One thing is for sure – Hiiumaa beer leaves no beer friend indifferent!
Ask for a group offer for the Hiiumaa Beer Story.
We also offer lunch and dinner catering for groups.