Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Travel: Have a pint of GPA (that’s Goose Poo Ale) on a trip to Finland’s microbreweries

© Press Association ImagesHistoric Fiskars village
Historic Fiskars village

A brewer could be offended if someone described the taste of their creation with a certain four-letter word. But for Ant Brew’s Kari Puttonen, it’s a compliment.

Part of a limited-edition collection called Wasted Potential, his quirky imperial stout features a bizarre and unexpected ingredient: goose poo scraped from the streets of Finnish town Lahti.

“Everyone hates the mess geese make,” he explains, when we meet at the company’s brew house and bar, “so we wanted to do something useful with it.”

The headline-grabbing beer joins a collection of inventive brews – made with weeds, moss and discarded citrus fruits from cocktail bars – all launched last year when Lahti was named European Green Capital 2021.But creating concoctions with unusual ingredients is nothing new in Finland. Nordic cuisine champions ingredients foraged from forests or plucked from the sea, making use of what nature has to offer at close hand.

Yet although a culture of brewing beers has been bubbling away since the 19th Century (records suggest it was made even earlier), the trend for microbreweries has only taken off in recent years.

The team at Fiskars Brewery

There are now more than 100 independent outfits in Finland, utilising some of the world’s best ground water, filtered through gravel in the last ice age. And despite tight regulations regarding alcohol being in place, beers, ciders and wine are shaping a gourmet scene attracting more visitors to the country.

A one-hour drive west from Helsinki, Fiskars village, in Raseborg, was founded in the 17th Century as a centre of iron production. From the mid-1980s onwards, artists, creatives and entrepreneurs moved into the empty red brick buildings, breathing a new lease of life into the withering, forgotten community. Fiskars Brewery is one of those businesses, based here for the last nine years.

Co-founder Jari Leinonen takes me on a tour of the building, where a sweet scent of fermenting yeast clings to metal tanks. They’ve made beer with yarrow, rosehips, berries and chaga mushrooms to create “a taste of the forest”.

An artery running through the centre of Fiskars, the river has always been an important gathering place.

On a walk along banks lined with ash, oak and linden trees, guide Tula Kleiman points out Pesula, a café-bistro on a spot where women once met to wash laundry. Today, says Tula, domestic duties have been honed into weekly knitting classes – although all sexes take part.

© Press Association Images
Ant Brew’s Wasted Potential beer is created using goose poo

Challenging stereotypes is all part of modern Finnish culture – and that also applies to the drinks industry. Just outside Lahti, a two-hour-and-20-minute drive north-east from Fiskars, in the small village of Miekkiö, Ainoa Winery is run by American David Cohen and his Ecuadorian wife Paola. An enthusiastic amateur winemaker in the US, David switched to using berries due to EU regulations on making grape wine in Finland.

Starting out with a few crates of berries from Helsinki market, he began experimenting with different flavours: lingonberries were tricky to ferment, strawberries tasted like old jam, but cloudberries worked.

One of the biggest challenges he faced, however, was snobbery. In the early days, after offering free samples of his wines to buyers, he was disappointed to discover nearly half of them turned him down.

“When you give free alcohol to Finns and they say no, you start to worry,” jokes the former engineer, who only gave up his day job a couple of years ago. Persistence paid off, however. Ainoa’s wines are now stocked at Michelin star restaurants.

“People are starting to appreciate berry wine and the concept of what’s possible in Finland,” says David, sipping a glass of Sametti blueberry dessert wine, a perfect match with Manchego cheese.

He’s right. Fuelled by enthusiasm and adventure, anything is possible here.


Fiskars-based brewery Fiskarsin Panimo uses natural ingredients. One example is their Kaksi Kotia Vailla Humalaa – wild herb gruit, no hops at all! All the wild herbs are foraged from nearby forests and used to season and sour this beer.


Regent Holidays ( tailor-makes trips to Finland. An eight-day foodie eco-explorer group tour costs from £1,620pp (two sharing), incl. flights and meals.