Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

One Last Beer in Tallinn

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Grog.

Photographed in Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia.

Image: GrrlScientist, 22 July 2009 [larger view]. (raw image)

All hail to the mighty beer, brewed in the original style, using ingredients that approximate (as closely as possible) what was originally used. My beer had a distinct cinnamon flavor.

As you can see below, the table was outdoors under a large tent, and entertainment included waiter watching, people watching and live music. Here, you can see the waiter adding some finishing touches to a few meals before serving them to hungry patrons. Unlike my experience in America (where I waited tables for a time to work my way through school), the waiters and waitresses in Old Town were respected and very well-treated, they obviously loved their jobs and they had to be very well-educated to have these jobs. Every waiter(ress) was at least tri-lingual and were typically well-traveled.

Estonian waiter.

Photographed in Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia.

Image: GrrlScientist, 22 July 2009 [larger view]. (raw image)

The live music was performed by three local women who were dressed according to the local 12th Century customs, playing traditional instruments in a way that closely mimics what is known for that time period.

Estonian Musicians.

Photographed in Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia.

Image: GrrlScientist, 22 July 2009 [larger view]. (raw image)

These musicians were “fluent” on each others’ instruments, and changed instruments often. I wasn’t sure why they did this, but it was interesting to see.

Estonian Musicians.

Photographed in Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia.

Image: GrrlScientist, 22 July 2009 [larger view]. (raw image)

Okay, tell me that this woman (below) isn’t a cutie, I dare you. She spied me with my camera, trying to capture a picture of her, and the sweetest, shyest smile crept over her face .. I worried I was distracting her from her work, so I put my camera down and later resumed photographing her when she wasn’t looking. But this picture, despite its blurriness, is the best one I snapped of her because it is so genuine.

Estonian Musician.

Photographed in Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia.

Image: GrrlScientist, 22 July 2009 [larger view]. (raw image)

Despite the excellent entertainment, my companion and I still managed to indulge in silliness. I have a dozen or so images that are variations on this theme (below), and have no idea how many my companion has of me that are like this.

Goofing around with digital cameras.

Photographed in Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia.

Image: GrrlScientist, 22 July 2009 [larger view]. (raw image)

Comments

  1. #1 apikoros
    August 26, 2009

    When you say “original style” do you mean it is bittered with spruce oil? Many northern beers were, as hops do not do well that far north.

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    August 26, 2009

    ya know, that is possible. i do recall the beer as being extraordinarily un-hoppy, although the beer did not seem very bitter, either. kinda like mead without the strong honey flavor. since i am a fan of hoppy beers, it took some getting used to.

  3. #3 doug l
    August 26, 2009

    Aweright! Brewskis and burgers circa 1169! And an all girl rock band! There’s something about women musicians…maybe it has to do with band camp. Anyhow, best trip to Estonia ever!It really got my medieval mojo goin’.
    As a notorious hopp head, and having had numerous experiences with spruce tip beer before, I think I’ll stick with Sierras or one of the other fnne resiny aromatic est coast hopps infused brews. .i

  4. #4 Lassi Hippeläinen
    August 27, 2009

    Actually hops grow quite well even in southern Finland. Not the quality of Saaz, but good enough for domestic use. There even used to be a medieval law that required each house to grow a certain amount of hops, so that the king’s soldiers would have a guaranteed supply of beer wherever they went.

    We are of course talking about top-fermented beer, or ale. Lager wasn’t invented until 19th century.

  5. #5 Sander
    August 27, 2009

    Like Lassi said, hops grow well in Estonia – and the law he mentions is Reinheitsgebot, or Bavarian Beer Law (Wikipedia). In times, wild rosemary was also used instead of hops – I’ve tried that myself once – home brewing traditions are strong in Estonia – and the result was different, but very interesting.

    I am glad you had a chance to visit Tallinn – although a majority of interesting places are outside Tallinn. Hopefully you will be able to come again at some point.

  6. #6 Lassi Hippeläinen
    August 27, 2009

    “…and the law he mentions is Reinheitsgebot, or Bavarian Beer Law”

    Sorry, no. I was refering to the Swedish laws about mandatory hops cultivation since 14th century. Finland was part of Sweden until 1809. There probably were similar laws also in Estonia, at least during 17th century, when Sweden in its prime ruled all coasts of the Baltic.

    Having ale for for the soldiers was important, because plain water spread diseases. It wasn’t until 19th century when the reason was discovered, especially by Louis Pasteur: in the brewing process the water was boiled, which killed microbes. And hops kept them away from the ale.

    The Reinheitsgebot is about brewing ale, not about growing hops.