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A fish beer, anyone? The Finnish brewery that went green

A fish beer, anyone? The Finnish brewery that went green

| Text: Bengt Östling, photo: Cata Portin

Beer and the environment might not be obvious bedfellows. But the little brewery Ant Brew in Lahti uses waste products that would normally have been thrown out in order to create new and exciting beers.

The beer series “Wasted Potential” was created while Lahti was European Green Capital in 2021, and now includes more than ten different brews. Some of them are:

  •  Dumpster Diver is brewed with orange peels from a local juicer's stall. 
  •  Wild Bunch is flavoured with various weeds.
  •  Herbal Hipster is spiced with local herbs.
  •  Boreality Check uses various lichens from the North.


Everything can be recycled. Their Goosebumps beer uses aromas from goose droppings, which is normally seen as a nuisance in Finnish fields and parks. The droppings are gathered from one of the city parks which hosts a large number of geese. 

None of the alternative ingredients are put directly in the finished beer. The goose droppings are dried and hygienically boiled before being used as a raw material during the smoking of the malt. The aroma and taste are said to be deep and full.

Beer with a message

The brewery’s innovation is used as an example of Lahti’s open-minded green solutions, with a focus on circular economies of many hues. Making goose droppings beer does not have any considerable economic effect, but the beer carries a message, argues the brewery; everything can be used again, and old ingredients do not need to go to waste.   


Kari Puttonen balances on a ladder among Ant Brew's beer tanks.

Their newest beer will be released this spring. It will be brewed using dried swim bladders from roach, a small freshwater fish that is not normally used for food in Finland.    

The fish beer carries its own message. Lahti is situated on the shores of the Vesijärvi lake, which was still heavily polluted in the 1970s. The roach used to be the only fish that survived in the dirty, algae-infected lake.


Today the water has been cleaned up and it is again possible to use its natural resources. While parts of the fish can be used for brewing beer, Lahti restaurants can once more serve fish based on local catches from the nearby lake. The hope is to reintroduce a variety of fish in lakes near Lahti. 

The clearance of the Vesijärvi lake also became a starting shot for the drive to make Lahti the 2021 EU Green Capital. This year, Grenoble takes on the title, and in 2023 it goes to Tallinn.


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