Estonia's Sori Brewing crowdfunded in 2014 and 2015 and has since become very well respected in particular for its hoppy IPAs and dark beers. We spoke to CEO and co-founder Pyry Hurula to find out what exactly they are doing right.

What makes Sori Brewing so great?

Your beer is amazing. What are you doing right?

Our team has done its homework. Our lead brewer (Heikki Uotila) is super talented and has a good understanding of all properties of the ingredients. Also, our team is full of academically-educated brewers putting their knowledge into use and sharing it with the rest of the team.

The main philosophy behind most of our beers is to make very balanced beers and yet to have some twist to make it a recognisable Sori beer.

What was the ethos behind the brewery when you started?
The idea behind Sori Brewing was to challenge the Finnish beer scene and its rigid regulation that was a troublesome environment for passionate brewers like us. We wanted to create world-class beers that people would want to drink across the world. Estonia provided us with a better overall environment to pursue that goal.

We see that people who enjoy our beer like playful beers that push limits, and not just executing basic styles made right. There were plenty of brewers already brewing superb Pils or Brown Ale, so our mission had to be something different. Based on that idea we came up with our slogan: Serious Beer for not so Serious People.

Pyry Hurula

You crowd-funded to get it started. As well as the money, were the other benefits?
Definitely one of the best aspects of gathering a lot of people around your thing is that you get motivated people to help you. We got a lot of good contacts through the crowdfunding investors that helped us, especially in the beginning. After that, they have been our family who faces our clientele as well. We are brewing for people, not for statistics or ratings.

What is the Estonian beer scene? What are its biggest influences?
The Estonian beer scene was pretty non-existent before the first wave of brewers started their operations. Now we have plenty of good brewers, but the home market is very small for everybody which is the main reason why Estonian craft beer is mainly an export product.

In Estonia, we would say that brewers are inspired by talented brewers around the world, as we need to look up to somewhere. If I had to raise three main points, it would be that in Estonia most brewers use American techniques in brewing, many are passionate about exotic ingredients, and overall people here enjoy dark beers.

Heikki Uotila

How have you managed to get a name for yourselves over in the UK? Was it always a plan to export?
Sori Brewing has been a couple of times in UK craft beer festivals such as London Craft Beer Festival and Bristol Craft Beer Festival. And for some reason, we meet a lot of our UK fans in the Netherlands and the Nordic countries as well. It seems that Sori Brewing has a lot of followers from the UK which makes us humble.

Our plan was to create interesting beers worth exporting from the beginning. It's a whole different game obviously, but it keeps it interesting for us.

You've started a barrel-ageing programme. What are your plans for this?
Our first barrels were freshly emptied Chianti Classico barrels from Candialle, Tuscany. We collaborated with a winery to create our Conca d'Oro barrel-aged Imperial Stout. After that thing escalated and we got hundreds of barrels more. Sori Brewing has released seven barrel-aged beers and planning to release five or six more this year.

Which one Sori beer should everyone try?
In addition to all our barrel-aged beers, everyone should try 'Dark Humor Club Bourbon Vanilla' Imperial Stout and of course everything from DHC series. It’s a multilayered stout with espresso, cacao and vanilla. Every sip reveals something new. Very balanced, nice big stout.

Any top tips for new breweries?
Stay brothers to fellow brewers, stay humble and never let success go to your head. Small brewers are always underdogs and there comes a day that you need all the friends possible. Most brewers came to this industry sharing the passion for brewing and craft, not just making money and brand. If you do things right, those two will follow.

How will Sori develop over the next five years?
Sori will release more and more barrel-aged beers, but also developing our range further. Becoming more accessible to people all over the world and hopefully, we can open some more restaurants. Steady growth with our eye on the product. Keeping on brewing serious beers for not so serious people.