Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Sunday, January 15, 2017


I have become obsessed with Norwegian farmhouse brewing, as documented by Lars "not remotely an arsehole" Garshol on his blog.  I'll write about it another time, but for now I just want to observe an overlap with another obsession of mine, World War II.  The Germans invaded Norway during WWII for strategic reasons.  The Norwegians had built a hidden torpedo station at an old naval base on the Oslofjord, allowing them to sink a large German battleship and delay the invasion.  The Norwegian government was therefore able to escape with its gold to England.  During the war, the Norwegian resistance was courageous and effective.

Anyway WWII comes up a couple of times on Lars's blog.  Here's a remarkable passage, in which Lars is talking to a Norwegian man who brews traditional farmhouse beer, and who is describing his experiences during WWII:

"We brewed from the light grain [lettekonnjet]," Rasmus says. I guess this needs some explanation. In the old days, before the time of purebred genetically identical seed grain, people sorted the grain, setting aside the heaviest grain for seed grain, and for brewing. The lighter grain would be used for bread, and, if there was enough, for animal fodder. But Rasmus is saying they used the light grain for beer.
"Why," I ask. He shrugs and says, "we couldn't afford anything else." Which figures. 1941 was not exactly a year of plenty in wartime Norway. I remember my grandmother saying my father as a baby, in 1945, ate ashes in the fireplace because he was so hungry, and the ashes contained fat. So brewing from the heavy grain would have been too extravagant, I guess. But people still brewed.
It's amazing to me that Europe managed to move on after the war.  Of course, eating ashes from a fireplace is relatively benign, as far as memories of the Nazis goes.  But it still seems like something that would stay with you.  And so many people had vastly worse memories—Londoners could remember the blitz, and of course pretty much all of continental Europe could remember the Third Reich's atrocities.  Meanwhile if my father had been so hungry he had to eat ashes, I think I would harbor resentment for my whole life.


Blogger Zed said...

I thought you liked smoky stuff

11:05 AM  
Blogger James said...

As Nirvana would say, "Choking on the ashes of her enemies..."

12:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home