"Global warming beer made from melting ice caps."
I read the headlines scattered around the Internet: Some Danish guys are making beer in Greenland — from Arctic ice that predates the Industrial Revolution, ergo, pollution — and the buzz is huge.
When I first heard about Greenland Brewhouse's new beer, I was ready to give it the Chuck Palahniuk award for achievement in sardonic product. But all the stories seemed to be Frankensteined together from very few facts. Instead of contributing to the game of telephone, I decided to e-mail their brewer, Rasmus Broge, with a few questions.
He described the procurement of water more succinctly. The beer is not made from polar ice-cap sweat. That's the media bastardization of what the brewery calls "melted inland ice." After snow falls, more glacial ice forms on inland ice masses. The pressure knocks off chunks of ice on the edge of these glaciers, into the inland waters. These icebergs are the water source of the beer, not melting ice. The bergs are towed to the brewery for melting.
The water is pure, but so is distilled. Broge vouches for the virginity of his water, which he says has been frozen for at least 2,000 years. "Breweries around the world can filter their water first, but they will lose 30-60 percent of the valuable water by doing so." He points to other beer niches where water plays an important role in quality. "The Czechoslovakian beer culture would not be the same if it was not for their pure and soft water," he says.
The brewery rests in Narsaq, a small town 390 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The Kalaaleq, or native Greenland people, have welcomed the brewery and the opportunities it offers, Broge says. "The local community is hard hit by fishing quotas, so this new project will with time be good for the city. We also supply the fishermen with an extra salary when they deliver ice to us. The harbour guys are also very fond of us, as we are their biggest customer this year."
Greenland Brewhouse's beer takes inspiration from modern American beer culture and English tradition. Broge says they make a pale ale with a flowery hop profile that leans toward Sierra Nevada in style and a brown ale that is lighter and smooth like Newcastle, but with a flavor boost of hops for added aroma and soft bitterness. Their home market will be Denmark, and the brewery plans to maintain "micro" status, setting their maximum yearly production at around 100,000 gallons. That means you're not going to see Brewhouse beers in your local refrigerator case anytime soon. But with the first release selling stronger than expected, the brewery is carefully considering its next step.
"With all the people contacting us from around the world right now, we are discussing which markets to supply. We have to take it all step by step so that we do not die in our success (do not know if you use that term)." Oh yes, Rasmus, I think we know what you firstname.lastname@example.org