Stuart Forster reports from the Plevna brewery pub and restaurant in Tampere, Finland.
The sturdy wooden tables and my tall, half-litre of wheat beer suggest this could be a pub in southern Germany. Even the waitresses are dressed in Dirndl style dresses that wouldn’t look out of place in Bavaria. One serves me a plate of sautéed reindeer, a reminder that I am, in fact, sitting in central Tampere, Finland.
“If you like beer, you’ve got to visit the Plevna Brewery,” I’d been told when asking locals for tips on places to eat and drink in Finland’s largest inland city. It proved a good recommendation. On a cool, overcast day I’m glad followed the advice as the pub-restaurant has a cosy ambiance, a choice of hearty meals plus a broad selection of beers and ciders that are brewed on the premises.
India Pale Ale in Finland
In addition to pilsner, stout and India Pale Ale, the Plevna’s beer menu lists a number of brews that look interesting and worth tasting. If you enjoy unusual beers there are a couple here that you may well find exciting, notably the Czech-style dark beer, mead and Rauchbier James, one of the few examples of smoked beer brewed outside of Bamberg in Germany.
The beers are served in 0.25l, 0.33l and 0.5l measures. The smaller sizes make sense for sampling the brews, the larger ones are ideal for enjoying a beer once you’ve hit on one you like.
I’d long assumed that alcohol in Nordic nations is so heavily taxed that it’s prohibitively expensive. Half-litre measures of the beers rare slightly more expensive than an average British pint but by no means astronomical when compared to the beer prices in the city centre bars of Newcastle or Manchester.
The Manchester of Finland
In fact, Tampere is often compared to Manchester due to its industrial heritage. Red brick cotton mills were built by the Tammerkoski river in the nineteenth century. Towards the end of the last century changes in the world’s economy meant it was no longer economically viable to ship cotton to Finland for processing. Like so many former mills, factories and warehouses in the developed world, the Finlayson mills of Tampere closed to become offices and a centre for recreational and cultural activities.
The Plevna Brewery was established in 1994, taking the name of the Finlayson mill complex’s Plevna weaving hall. The hall was built in the late 1870s and named after the Balkan town at which a battle was fought during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. What has this got to do with Tampere and Finland, you might be wondering? In those pre-independence days it was common for Finnish men to serve in Russia’s Army.
Germany style cuisine and beer
Looking down the menu, I’m again reminded of a German beer hall. Schnitzel, sausages and pork knuckle all feature on the menu. As a visitor to Finland, and keen to sample regional cuisine, the dishes that catch my eye are the wild mushroom soup, Tamperelainen black pudding served with lingonberry (very similar to cranberry) and the reindeer.
Thanks to Christmas legends and the Bambi cartoon I’ll wager reindeer isn’t a dish that everyone will be willing to try. It’s gamey, lean and delicious. The locally hunted meat is served with mashed potatoes and a lingonberry jam the colour of Rudolf’s famous nose.
To wash it down I’ll go for a Severin extra India Pale Ale, a top-fermented beer that’s 5.9 per cent alcohol. Kippis as they say here in Finland for ‘cheers’.
The Plevna brewery pub and restaurant is at Itäinenkatu 8, within the Finlayson complex. It’s a popular meeting place and open seven days a week. Reservations are not normally necessary but you can make them on +358 3 2601 200.
Thanks for reading this post about the Plevna brewery pub and restaurant in Tampere, Finland. If you’re planning a visit to Finland’s largest inland city take a look at this article about things to do in Tampere.
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