Deep inside the coal mines at Svalbard, there is a floating treasure maturing inside oak barrels, unlike any other beer from Svalbard Brewery.
Outside the mine, on the sky above Longyearbyen, delicate sunrays are streaming over the golden, desolated landscape, all around the clock. Here, the midnight sun rules from April to August, and softly restores life to everything that has been frozen through the polar nights. A mild summer breeze is carefully stroking downwards the Advent Valley, melting the permafrost’s top layer, in order for the red herring to spread its purple petals over the mountain side. Here, by the edge of the North Pole, you can barely feel the sun at your chins – even during the summer.
Maturing with historical breeze
Deep inside the mines, it is cold and dry. While the outside temperature is reaching 10 degrees during the summer, and sinks to biting 30 minus degrees during the winter, the temperature inside the mines always stays right above the freezing point. The darkness is pervasive and all-consuming. Just tiny stripes of lights from the mining helmets, hits the black coal veins across the mine tunnels, millions of years since the plant residues saw the light last time.
Once upon a time, this area was located further south, and was home to enormous swamp forests and dinosaurs. The slow wandering by the continental plates, brought the area north and pressed the deposits into coal. The mines, which has made Svalbard into a home for thousands of people through generations, has now seen a new day.
The perfect balance
Deep inside the mines, the barrels are standing in rows. Inside them, a brand new beer series is maturing. The conditions for the maturing process is perfect. It is dark, cold and the humidity is stable. The barrels are made of American oak, and they once contained of Bourbon whisky. Slowly, but steady, the characteristic aroma is leaking out of the barrel walls, mixing itself with water, malt and yeast.
The brewery master is making regularly trips inside the mines, to tap small samples from the barrels. The maturing requires vigilance. The taste of oak and bourbon should not dominate the brew, but give it a balanced impact. The result is completely different from everything else Svalbard Brewery has made before.
Brings new life into the mines
For over 100 years, Svalbard was a gold mine for coal extraction. Already during the 17th century, whalers discovered pieces of coal in the river tenants, and they understood that the ice cold area carried a salute and highly priced energy source, for both private homes and the industry. When the first coal mines opened in the end of 19th century, there was almost a gold rush at Svalbard. The clean coal heated thousands of homes, and contributed to speed up the industry and prosperity development all over Norway.
Once, the mine entrances was located all across the mountain sides at Svalbard. Now, Gruve 3 is the only mine still running. The traditional operation of Gruve 3 was shut down 25 years ago, and it is now home of the development of a new treasure; beer maturing. The completely new beer series will only be produced in 4000 liters at a time, and will be matured on different types of barrels each time. The series contains everything the brewery stands for; to combine old craft traditions and story telling with desires for new taste experiences.