Brewing Beer at Cafe Proviant

Last week, myself and M attended a beer brewing course arranged by our friends at Yelp Sweden. I am always intrigued about the making of things, a supply chain specialist as I am, so we were quite excited about the event. The course was arranged at a small brewery and pub, Cafe Proviant in Stockholms Kungsholmen. It is difficult to write about beer brewing in a short way, so this will more be a description of our day on the course instead of a manual on how to make beer (for that you need to attend Cafe Proviants course).

I was not sure what to expect from the course. Would we be brewing ourselves or would it be more like a lecture? It was closer to the latter, as we sat around a big table following closely as the brew-master, Roger, guided us through every step. He started with introduction of the art of brewing and the ingredients. Glasses of sample ingredients were circulated around the table followed by the mixing of malted barley with the 68 degree (C) hot water. The first tasters of Cafe Proviant Ale were served as Roger shoveled the ingredients into the boiling pot.

Cafe Proviant interior

Inspecting the ingredients
Inspecting the ingredients
The Brewmaster evaluating his work at Cafe Proviant
The Brewmaster evaluating his work at Cafe Proviant

After the first steps we had some waiting time (approximately 90 minutes). The staff kept us entertained with some more sampling of beer and tasters from their menu. We had cheeses with some sea buckthorn chutney, a soft pretzel with ramson butter and grilled green asparagus with a few different sauces. All wonderful dishes alongside beer. Especially the ramson butter has stayed with me as one of the days favorites. Time just flew by as Roger told stories of beer brewing while waiting and circulating the beer in the pot. More beer was served as tasters: Pistonhead cascade lager, Poppel American Pale Ale, Södra Maltfabrikens IPA, Paulander Hefe-Weissbier and Saison 1858 Brasserie du Bocq. A wonderful range of Cafe Proviant favorites. My favorite, or perhaps the biggest positive surprise was the fresh Saison. Perhaps I will not down a bottle of it (as the bottle is a 0.75l), but it is a wonderful option to have on the table instead of wine on a hot summer day.

After some more cooking more ingredients, the hops are added to the mix. As the heat builds up there is a wonderful aroma of rye bread taking over the room. It reminds me of the Finnish sauna when mixing some beer with the water (old Finnish tradition). We waited, tasted some more beer until the cooking reached a 100C. Meanwhile Roger kept the stew circulating and guarded that no ingredients were clumping up.

Hopps at Cafe Proviant
Hopps at Cafe Proviant
Beer selection at Cafe Proviant
The beers we tasted in height order
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Griller green asparagus with dip
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Inspecting the color of the beer

Beer brewing is a time consuming exercise, so we did not have time to finish all the initial steps before we ran out of time. I can see M eyeing the equipment and sizing it whether it would fit into our apartment. If we would have a bigger home I would also be delighted to have one. However, right now, we both figure that it is better to buy our beer instead of making it. In around four weeks time we can return to Cafe Proviant and try out the beer “we made”. A fun two hours with interesting information, great people and a reason to come back again. For all you beer enthusiasts out there, Cafe Proviant is definitely a place to visit.

Wineweek 26: May Moments in Stockholm

May is always a confusing month in the Nordic countries. You are on the doorstep of summer, however there is still a cold wind reminding you that you are not there yet. This morning I woke up to a cold looking rain that is showing no sign of stopping. So this might be one of those days that I just stay inside. But there is much work to do. We are holding our open house tasting in a weeks time and we want everything to be ready for the new collection: samples, accessories (like coolers and spit buckets), not to mention the information on our webpage. This long weekend we have updated our webshop and it looks awesome! Much better than it did before. We work with a free online platform, Tictail, so there is so just so much one can expect. However functionality-wise, it’s nice and simple, and it works (as opposed to not working).

Optimists enjoying the weather in Stockholm
Optimists enjoying the weather in Stockholm
Cherry blossoms in Stockholm
Cherry blossoms in Stockholm

The wine week has been pretty awesome as well! We were on the Viking Line ferry on Thursday for one purpose and one purpose only, to buy wine. We had read up that the collection was decent and prices very good for the wallet. Also a friend of ours tipped us off that there are often other bottles there as well, not mentioned in the online catalog. The ferries traffic between Stockholm and two big cities in Finland, Helsinki and Turku. We hopped on a boat going to Turku, hopped off on Åland (and Island between Sweden and Finland) and boarded the boat going back. This took all day, however in the end it was worth it. I will write a separate post on shopping on the boats, but in short, it was a gold mine. The name behind the Viking Line wine selection is Essi Avellan, Master of Wine and undoubtedly the most recognized wine-personality in Finland. The tax free shop did not offer much on the shelves, but when we asked around for a few bottles we had read were supposed to be there, the staff dug them up out of the storage. Also, the Food Garden, the a la carte restaurant, had it’s own little wine boutique selling some very nice grower champagnes. These bottles were on no list, and we were lucky to be there a week after the storage had been filled up. That evening we disembarked Viking Amorella with 10 bottles of bubbly of the likes of Selosse, Agrapart & Fils, vintage Charles Heidsieck etc. It was not a cheap trip, but all bottles ranged between 20-40% cheaper than what we would have been able to buy them for on land.

Another interesting event this week was yesterdays beer brewing. We were invited by Yelp to a small event at Cafe Proviant, a brewery and a pub here in Stockholm. We followed as the brewmaster, Roger, introduced the equipment and the ingredients, and prepared the beer for brewing. We saw all the steps to making beer while sampling the pub selection of drinks and food. A very nice venue and a fun event. I could imagine this being something fun for a birthday (or bachelor) party. I am slightly worried though as I saw M eyeing the equipment with that look of “if we just had an extra room…”. Although, it would be quite fun having your own beer. We could call it the Beercurious.

The fine wine shop on Viking Grace
The fine wine shop on Viking Grace
The Brewmaster evaluating his work at Cafe Proviant
The Brewmaster evaluating his work at Cafe Proviant

Next week will be exciting. I am looking forward to seeing how our new collection will be welcomed and of course how sales start of. We have also set up a few new payment options that will hopefully be nicer for the customer. Earlier, we have only had an option of either bank transfer (an old fashioned invoice) or credit card via PayPal, which are both slightly annoying. For using PayPal, one needs to create a user account and that just seems like a waste of time for making one payment. So we hope that this results in a better shopping experience. We have also made some summer-packages for people to stock-up for their cabin or boat. It really feels like that the business is starting to take off.

That is it for this Wineweek! Hopefully summer will arrive soon to bless the terrace-season (for real). Next week, I will be writing quite a lot about our new selection, introducing the wines that we have spent so much time on finding. In a few weeks we will also be heading for a short trip to Shanghai, which I am sure you will hear much about.