Beer is malt, hops, yeast and water. Those four ingredients offer endless possibilities for creating unique beers.“Developing a beer is a creative process, but it also requires a scientific approach,” says Joakim Eneqvist, who is one of three head brewers at Gotlands Bryggeri.
The key is to find a happy medium between off-the-wall and down-to-earth, he explains.
“You need someone who knows when to really go for it and when to stop and think,” says Joakim.
For Johan Spendrup, who is both head brewer and Managing Director of the brewery, developing a beer is an art.
“It’s an art in lots of different ways. All art comes from the heart, that’s what we do here,” he says with emphasis.
He finds inspiration everywhere and is always open to new influences.
For Johan, beer and food are intimately linked.
“I often get inspired when eating out at restaurants,” he says.
There’s a story behind every beer. Wisby Stout was born out of Johan’s love of shellfish.
“I wanted to make a stout that went really well with shellfish,” he explains.
Once he has the idea, work starts on finding the right components to give the beer exactly the right character. Sometimes the process is very quick, while other times it takes longer. Johan’s years of experience as a head brewer have given him a feeling of how to achieve the desired result.
“You remember what works and what doesn’t,” he says, pointing to his head and closing his eyes.
“You think ‘when I did that it turned out like that, so I need to do this for it to turn out like this.’ And I encourage my head brewers to work in a similar way,” he says.
A lot of the malt that we use, particularly for our Bulldog beers, is grown on Gotland, which gives the end product a particular character. Then there are the different varieties of hops and different types of yeast culture. But there’s one other ingredient. Without the high mineral content of Gotland water, our beers wouldn’t taste the same.
“Gotland water is really important,” says Johan.
Inside our little brewery with its two large copper brew kettles, there’s a strong smell of boiled potatoes. That’s because of the sulphur compounds being boiled off from the wort. Brewing technicians Christian Hederstedt and Patrik Tunberg look very much at home as they go about their duties in the brewery. They check sugar levels and read measuring equipment.
“It’s very much about having a feel for things. You use both your eyes and ears,” says Christian.
He and Patrik receive a recipe when one of the head brewers decides how a new beer is to be brewed.
“We basically make sure it becomes a beer,” says Christian, while cleaning a filter that the beer passes through before being collected in vats and bottles.