Pyynikin Brewing Company: Stirring up the beer scene
Text: Jo Iivonen | Photos: Pyynikin Brewing Company
Craft beer is now everywhere, but not many breweries can boast of the world’s purest water and Arctic rarities as their raw materials. Even fewer manage to maintain a garage-like edge while delivering double-digit growth, award-winning products and even an IPO. Pyynikin Brewing Company delivers on all fronts – with a pinch of distinctively Finnish madness thrown in for good measure.
Growing consumer thirst for all things artisan has fuelled-up demand for an alternative to the names that dominate the banners at football stadiums, but what exactly is the recipe for success in craft beer? “We’ve always focused on innovation, quality and top-notch ingredients,” says Tuomas Pere, head brewer and co-founder of Pyynikin Brewing Company, an award-winning brewery based in Tampere. “But we want to do so without being too serious.”
Maintaining a tongue-in-cheek attitude through the thick and thin of a company’s formative years is one thing. Doing so while simultaneously securing double-digit growth in a saturated marketplace is an altogether different beast. “There’s this thing about Finnish madness, a quirky type of creative drive,” Pere offers by way of explanation as to how the company has become a serious contender for the spot of Finland’s fifth or sixth largest beer label without becoming too corporate-like.
Nowhere is the drive more apparent than at the brewery’s own venue in Tampere. In fact, this is where the whole story began in 2012, when Pere, together with a group of friends, decided to start a gastropub. In addition to a restaurant serving up the label’s liquid concoctions and innovative grub to match, there’s a cinema and an in-house sauna where visitors get to experience a truly Finnish concept: beer-infused sauna vapours.
“We’re building up our offering on the experience front in particular,” Pere says. “Our Beer Sauna concept is pretty unique, and we’re focused on adding more experiences within the coming months.” Tickets to the experiences are available as a one-off, or beer lovers have the opportunity to become shareholders with unlimited access. This has made shareholding a popular gift as well.
The aim of the IPO and a round of crowdfunding is to fund the company’s growth strategy. With some 6,000 private investors already on board, the listing has hit a sweet spot among beer aficionados across borders. However, Pere is keen to highlight that the company is also actively on the lookout for a larger investor partner with expertise, to bring the next stage of growth into fruition.
The focus on community stems from deep-rooted traditions. Pere, who himself hails from a family with centuries-long brewing traditions, thinks that the world at large has yet to wake up to the full potential of the phenomenon. “That’s part of the reason we decided to go public at this point in time. We know there’s demand for authentic experiences that tie up really well with our brewery function, and we’re looking to build on that notion.”
Yet it’s the company’s beverages that act as a bedrock for the whole business. Take Mosaic Lager, for one. Having claimed the top spot at the World Beer Awards in 2017, the lager is now available on supermarket shelves in over 15 countries. It appears that Pyynikin may have been ahead of the curve, with lager now experiencing new-found interest after an era more dominated by darker ales, stouts and IPAs. “The single-hop recipe that we use makes Mosaic really stand out,” Pere says.
But Mosaic is far from the only product that has won praise in international awards. In fact, Pyynikin has claimed the top spot in World Beer Awards for three years in a row. In addition to beer, Pyynikin has a selection of spirits, soft drinks and a new long drink created with the in-house gin, which is playfully named Payday Craft Gin, in reference to the distilling division’s prohibition-era roots.
Being based in Tampere, surrounded by Central Finland’s pristine lakes, Pyynikin is blessed with some of the purest water sources on Earth. Ingredients from Finnish nature are not limited to water, however. “We like to experiment with ingredients like Nordic berries, as well,” Pere says.
Traditionally considered a male domain, the beer scene has shifted and women are driving a lot of the innovation. This has provided close links to the use of pure, Arctic ingredients for Pyynikin products. “Women tend to be more health conscious and interested in these types of fusions,” argues Pere.
Craft breweries have driven innovation ever since President Jimmy Carter deregulated the sector in the US in the 1970s. Legislation remains a key driver of success even today, according to Pere. Smaller players cannot compete against global conglomerates on a volume basis, but they remain a key driver of innovation and employment within the community.
About Pyynikin’s IPO:
— Share price: €125
— Staff: 35 full-time staff, 50 per cent of them women
— 2019 production volume: Two million litres
— Best seller: Mosaic Lager
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