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Valhalla Brewery, a far-north success story


The Valhalla Brewery, on the remotely situated Shetland Islands, has been Britain’s most northerly brewery for seventeen years. The brewery is on the island of Unst. The unique flavour of Valhalla Brewery’s beer comes from the extremely pure water and the barley they use. An ancient variety with the name ‘Bere’, it is grown on the island, and it’s what gives the beer its characteristic slightly bitter aftertaste.

Sonny, the owner and head brewer, discusses his beers: ‘We’re proud of our ingredients and traditional brewing methods. We use milled “Bere” barley and whole hops as well in our beers, for the flavour they provide. We’ve chosen a traditional and natural brewing method. We regularly send our beers to festivals and the response to the quality and taste of our products is always enthusiastic, and so we’ve won several awards. We’re still proud of the award from the Worcester beer festival, where we ended up first ahead of 174 other competing beers.’

The Valhalla brewery aims to grow- and not only from increasing sales and production of its traditional beers. The brewery attracts many tourists, some of whom come especially for the beer. ‘We recently moved to a larger building,’ says Sonny, ‘so now we can easily increase production, and we can also accommodate larger groups of visitors. We also have a brewery shop in our new building where we offer an assortment of our products.

‘We are currently exporting to Norway on a small scale. Our experiences there have been very good, and we are now looking to other countries. From our initial contacts, things look very promising indeed. These clients appreciate our unique beers and background, and they put quality first. And we need that, because as a small northerly island, we usually have higher transport costs for the beer and some of the ingredients.

‘We chose KeyKegs primarily for our exports. The cost of transporting stainless steel kegs back and forth was simply too high. KeyKeg is also much more environmentally friendly, especially compared to bottles. Our beers in KeyKegs stay good much longer after broaching than they do in steel kegs. That makes them a good choice for bars wanting to offer a larger range of beers. KeyKeg will enable us to expand our exports easily and quickly. Filling KeyKegs is also much easier than with steel kegs, and they make it easier to keep the process sterile. That's a huge plus point.’

Valhalla produces six different beers of its own, but also brews special beers on request.  They recently made some excellent beers for the ABC brewery in Norway.

If you're coming to Shetland soon, we can heartily recommend Valhalla’s SIMMER DIM, with its slightly bitter aftertaste from the Shetlands’ own ‘Bere’ barley.

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