In collaboration with Kallio Artisan Brewery
Alko* has a relatively short, but all the more welcomed tradition of releasing a collection of mostly Finnish hand made special beers every February and this year we got a chance to get a bit more acquainted with Lura, the Finnish-Italian craft beer made as a collaboration with Birra Amiata & Kallio Artisan Brewery. I got the privilege to write this article about it, so here’s what I think:
First of all the bottle looks really happy and light, reflecting a spirit of friendship in the pictures and design of the etiquette. Also the sheer size of the bottle (750ml) supports the same idea; this is meant to be shared.
To the nose Lura is very fruity, I mean very fruity, closer actually to a dry British cider than a beer, in my opinion anyway. But the taste, that’s the fun part! I live and breathe on special beers, and I love to explore new things in beer making. However, way too often one has to use an excessive amount of effort to find the flavors from the beer even to a point where you can’t distinguish whether it is actually a real taste of let’s say apricot you are experiencing, or just your mind playing tricks, because you read it from the bottle that it should taste like apricot. Well, that is not the case with Lura. You really don’t need to search for the flavors; they’ll find you. That is especially true with the juniper and mirth. What strikes me the most with Lura, though, is that despite its very strong taste, it never feels like out of hand, but is perfectly controlled and wonderfully balanced through and through. Everything just happens with a greater volume (and that’s by the way the Italian in him.)
The alcohol percentage is 7%, so it’s a bit high, but doesn’t affect to the taste. The bottle also states that the optimal temperature for the beer is between 6-12 Celsius. I found it better closer to the 12. The brewers further recommend the beer to be enjoyed with dried reindeer heart. Challenge accepted. I’ve dried meat myself many times, but never made it out of heart before. Since reindeer doesn’t actually grow in Oulu, I decided to use cow hearts (I don’t know if here I should use the word beef, but it just sounds a bit odd, “beef hearts” I mean, come on), and it worked very well too. If you want to make this perfect companion for Lura yourself, you can apply the principles in here, just note that the heart takes longer than normal meat to get ready.
Lura goes well together with many foods; we tried tried it with whitefish, and that was very good. Just remember to put enough salt and pepper and squeeze some lemon on top, then it will work perfectly.
We changed few emails with the makers and they suggested also to try it with cheeses. We did that, and it works particularly well with harder cheeses, but I found almost sinful pleasure when tasting it with goat cheese and crackers; that brought up completely new flavors from the beer, especially the creaminess in the aftertaste.
The taste in Lura is so powerful, that you can actually make a great difference when you use it in cooking to season the food. In the following articles we’ll give you 2 recipes in which Lura plays a vital role, so stay tuned and sign up for the newsletter, if you haven’t already done so.
*To our readers outside Finland it might come as a surprise, that in here you can buy alcoholic products, that have alcohol over 4,7%, only from a government-owned company called Alko, which has a complete monopoly by law in Finland. The same company has existed since the prohibition ended in 1932. If you visit Finland, you might find alcoholic beverages very expensive (a bottle of wine for example is usually 3-4 times the price in central Europe). Briefly put, the reason behind this is of course the importing expenses but mainly the government’s policy trying to make people drink less by putting a high taxation on alcohol products.