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Gotland malt gives Bulldog its character

Gotland malt gives Bulldog its character

A narrow gravel path leads to Torbjörn Hansson’s farm in Alva on southern Gotland. Clouds of dust across the farmyard are picked out by the spring sunshine and a few chickens cluck contentedly around the buildings, where sacks of Crystal 100 malt are stored. It’s this malt that gives Gotlands Bryggeri’s Bulldog beers much of their character.

Torbjörn Hansson has owned the farm where he grew up for 30 years. For the past year all the crop-growing has been managed by his nephew Tobias.
“Me and Tobias have been working together. He’s been here for 10 years,” says Torbjörn. 
Tobias Hansson never had any doubt he’d be a farmer. As a boy he used to get a lift home to the farm on the tractor and had decided early on to follow in his parents’ footsteps. 
“I wanted to be involved. I’ve never considered doing any other job,” he says. 
He studied agriculture at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp. He then worked on various farms in southern Sweden, but Gotland was calling and he wanted to return home.
“I like the environment here and the peace and quiet. But it does vary. In the summer, when the tourists arrive, it gets pretty busy, but then it’s quieter in the winter,” says Tobias. 
He now grows 260 hectares of cereals in and around Alva. He leases most of the land from his parents and Torbjörn, but he also owns some of the land himself.



A few years ago Torbjörn started growing barley for the malt for Gotlands Bryggeri. Tobias has carried this on and has learnt what it takes to grow a good malt barely. 
“It mustn’t contain too much protein,” he says, explaining that there are particular varieties of malt that are more suitable.
It’s generally pretty dry on Gotland, which could lead to the protein content being too high. This can be offset by watering, but not too much.
“You need to strike a balance between producing a large harvest but one that’s good quality. You have to have a feel for it,” says Tobias.
But all farmers are at the mercy of the weather and the uncertainty of the seasons. “It’s 80 percent luck and 20 percent experience,” laughs Torbjörn. 

Sat at Torbjörn’s kitchen table, the two of them talk quietly, often pausing to reflect. Tobias says it can get a bit lonely as not many of his contemporaries have chosen to go into farming. 
“You don’t get many farmers these days,” he says. 
But he’s never regretted his choice of profession. 
“It’s hard to put into words, but I enjoy the freedom. The fact that it’s down to the work you put in,” he adds. 

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