Since traveling abroad is not made too easy at the moment, and me and my friend had some days off, we decided to see a new city here in Finland. Thus, we made a weekend trip to Jyväskylä and I saw the opportunity to sample the university-town’s growing craft beer scene.
Our first stop was at the brand new taproom of the local craft beer celebrity, Panimo HIISI. The location was perfect, being near the bus station, where we had just arrived. The taproom is situated in an industrial-looking red brick building in Jyväskylä’s harbor area and I can imagine the location to be optimal for hosting events in the summer, as the bar is on the side of a big square. In fact, in summers since 2016 (excluding 2020) one of the most well-known craft beer festivals in Finland, OlutSatama (”Beer Harbor”) is being organized on that very square. It seems likely that there will be a strong connection between this bar and the festival in the future.
Stepping into the bar gave away the atmosphere and the type of bar it is instantly. Metal and hard rock music, which were not exactly aligned with my friend’s taste, was playing. The lightning was slightly dim and the walls were decorated with street-art-style paintings, that I was told have been painted by a local graphic artist whose name I unfortunately forgot.
Getting greeted by the staff with big, beautiful beards made me feel at home. We ordered some lunch and, naturally, the guy at the bar asked me if I wanted something to drink with it, and, naturally, I said yes. I was delighted that the bartender was self-motivated to explain their current beer menu to me without me having to ask. In addition to just the basic info, which I would’ve known by far, about the beer style, he went a bit more in-depth describing the flavor profile of the beer and how one of their more experimental beers was made. He seemed knowledgeable about the beers and motivated towards his job, which I think are the few most important qualities in a bartender, and experiencing such good service put a smile on my face.
My friend was shocked to see me order not one, but two beers at lunch. It was something unforeseen for her, being from a culture where the people have a weaker relationship with beer than here in Finland.
The lunch was inclusive of a salad buffet and a starter soup, both of which were delicious and made us look forward to the main course even more. I was trying to resist the temptation to taste my beers too much before the main course came. I failed.
From what I can remember about the beers I had there, since this post is written months later, they were both very enjoyable. Their ”Otus” Rye NEIPA was tasty, with a pleasant fruitiness that you’d expect from the style, complimented by some spicy notes from the rye used in the beer. The more experimental of the two, ”Rahko” red wine sour, was an interesting beer to try, and, even if I usually don’t enjoy sours too much, quite pleasant.
The main courses, overcooked pig cheeks braised in red wine, arrived not too long after ordering them. Pork cheeks were, and still are, quite unfamiliar to me and my friend as a dish, so it’s hard for me to say whether they were well-done or not. It was very tasty at least and both of us pleasantly surprised by how delicious the food was. Paired with the beers, especially the red wine sour, the gastronomic experience was taken to a new level.
After the plates were emptied and the waiter/bartender came to pick them up, asking how the food was, I chatted with him for a bit. Of course, I complimented the delicious food and beers, but also asked for recommendations for beer places in Jyväskylä. I was surprised to get so many recommendations from not only him, but also his colleague that he asked. From the more ”underground” places such as ”Explosive Bar”, which I unfortunately didn’t get to visit, to more classic ones such as ”Harry’s”, they listed all the places of the town to get quality beer from.
They also explained to me about their new smart projector—them being probably the only bar in Finland to have one—, dishwasher that they drove hundreds of miles to get for cheaper, paintings on the wall made by a local artist, and some of the stories around their beers, based on ancient Finnish mythology and folklores. This might seem weird to anyone reading this, but I was genuinely interested and appreciated the trivial facts about the place.
I also asked them about the yearly sequel to their ”Ikiiurso” BA imperial stout lineup, one of my favorite beers, and they revealed that they are working on not just one, but probably two new variations. I don’t remember exactly what they revealed to me, and I don’t know if they would be delighted of me sharing their ”secret”, if it is such, but I think they said to be looking forward to expriment with double barrel-aging. Definately looking forward to that!
Overall, our visit to HIISI Taproom & Restaurant was successful and enjoyable. The food and beer, that we chose the place for, were delicious and went beyond our expectations. The atmosphere of the bar was cozy and fit the brand and concept of the brand new restaurant. Service was some of the friendliest I have experienced and I really enjoyed the chat we had with the guys after lunch.
I would definitely visit HIISI Taproom again for lunch, dinner or just drinks and would recommend it to anyone visiting Jyväskylä!