Wooden Pickle Brewing: Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend Preparations

Finally! Finally, TCBW is here! The actual event takes place May 3rd-4th, but my preparations already started when the beer list was released. Like last year, I will attend the festival both days. If I’m able to keep the same pace as in previous years, I will get to try around 70 beers over the two day period. That may sound like a lot, but at the same time, it also means I will not be tasting around 320 beers! That’s hard to accept for someone on my intelligence level.

Last year I rated all beers prior to the event, to make sure I didn’t miss any of the more interesting ones. This year I decided to take it up a notch, and also divide all beers into categories, in order to get category specific rankings. It took me awhile to do (In Excel), but I did learn a few interesting things along the way:

  • 49 Breweries will serve 391 unique beers over the two days
  • 27% of the beers are IPA’s of some sort
    • According to the descriptions, there are 27 different styles of IPA’s at TCBW
      • Only three of 109 IPA’s are brut IPA’s.—  Makes you wonder if the fad is over already or if it’s just a coincidence.
    • 40 of the 49 breweries are serving at least one IPA
  • 25% of the beers are sour or wild ales
    • 37 of the 49 breweries are serving at least one sour or wild ale.
      • It should be mandatory to label kettle sours as kettle sours, not just sours.
  • 21% of the beers are stouts
    • Only four of the 83 stouts being served are not categorized as imperial stouts.
    • Stouts have an average ABV of 11.8%
    • Mr Anderson, an imperial stout by Anderson’s brewery, has an ABV of 21.9%, which is the highest ABV of any beer at TCBW
    • 39 of the 49 breweries will serve at least one stout
  • I spend too much time doing non value added things
  • 4% of the beers are lagers, including 5 traditional pilsners, 3 bock’s, 2 dry hopped pilsners, 2 India pale lagers , one helles and one schwarzbier.— 
  • Only two traditional Belgian ales are being served at the event. A Belgian golden strong by Bagby and a tripel by Oedipus.
  • There is not a single traditional hefeweizen or wit beer at the event.—  Brouwerij de Molen has an imperial barrel aged hefe coming in at 9.2% ABV though.
    • Beers you are more likely to find than a traditional hefe include:
      • Blueberry Frozen Yoghurt Ice Cream
      • Mixed Fermentation Sour Rice Wine aged on Mulberries & Dates
      • Imperial Salty Caramel Cookie Dough – Double Coffee Fudge – Chocolate Milk – Hazelnut Butter – Vanilla Cocoa Crumble Brown Ale
  • Only one red ale is being served at the event; a collaboration between Stone and Lambrate. They added hibiscus & orange peel to the beer so people wouldn’t get bored drinking too much ordinary red ale.
  • Lindheim Ölkompani is pouring one cider on Friday. It sounds pretty interesting actually; a Bourbon BA spontan cider
  • One of the breweries serving at the event, Stone Brewing Berlin, will not exist anymore by the time of the event. Stone will sell their Berlin Brewery to Brewdog 30.4.2019.
  • Apparently To Öl has trademarked their brett strain, or how should one interpret this description: Farmhouse IPA co-fermented w/ To Öl Instant Crush Brettâ„¢.
  • Two Breweries are serving only one single style of beer:
    • Fuerst Wiacek from Germany will serve 8 IPA’s, while
    • Loverbeer from Italy will serve 8—  sour/wild ales

My own list

For sure, I will lose the list at some point during the evening. Probably sooner than later. But at least last year, I ended up having pretty much the same beers I originally planned, just by winging it for most of the evening. When all other plans go out the window, I still tend to stick to my main strategy, which is focusing on what each brewery does best. If I feel like having a sour beer, I’m not interested in a one-off sour beer by some brewery known for hazy IPAs. I will most likely head towards Loverbeer or some other brewery who specializes in sour beers.

I rated all beers on a scale from 0-5, based on how interesting they sounded to me. Many numbers will change along the way, but my initial rating gave the following result:

  • 30 beers got a 0 rating
  • 12 beers got a 1
  • 99 beers got a 2
  • 138 beers got a 3
  • 78 beers got a 4
  • 39 beers got a 5

If I can handle about 70 beers, I can basically have all 5’s and almost half of the 4’s. This already makes things a lot easier. The 5’s are also spread between the two days and the four servings quite nicely. Eight breweries have more than one beer with a 5 rating:

  • Loverbeer (ITA)
  • Other Half (USA)
  • Põhjala (EST)
  • Amager Bryghus (DK)
  • Bagby Beer (USA)
  • Cigar City Brewing (USA)
  • O/O Brewing (SWE)
  • Coppertail (USA)

If you see a dude with long grayish hair hanging around these breweries, come and say hi.—