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Estonia’s distinguished brewery bought by one of Finland’s largest craft beer companies

An agreement has been made for the purchase of the Haljala brewery in north-eastern Estonia. The brewery will be owned by one of the largest Finnish craft beer companies Pyynikin which has been operating for only eight years but is growing very fast. With the new brewery, the Finnish company hopes to significantly increase its annual production.

The beer factory in Haljala, Lääne-Viru County, is the third-largest in Estonia in terms of production volume, as well as capacity and the roots of the brewery date back to 1975. At the time of Estonia’s restoration of independence in 1991, brewery was formed into AS Viru Õlu and before the purchase had been owned by the Danish listed company Harboes Bryggeri A/S for almost 30 years.

At its best the brewery’s capacity of production has been 20 million litres of beer a year. The total capacity is 30 million litres, including soft drinks, juices, and RTD drinks. The acquisition will turn the Haljala brewery into an important supplier in the process of exporting Pyynikin Brewing Company’s products abroad.

The acquisition of the brewery is based on an agreement in which Pyynikin’s shareholder Samu Saarikoski acquired the brewery’s property and equipment and leased it to Pyynikin Brewing. Saarikoski is strongly committed to the operation of the brewery and its development.

Tuomas Pere, the founder of Pyynikin said that he is delighted with the acquisition of the new production site. “This is a happy day for Pyynikin. We have had production problems for a long time, and we can finally meet the demand. Therefore, this is a significant step for us and the fans of our beer. It is important for us that additional capacity for production was found nearby and Haljala Brewery has a great history. Finland’s large beer lovers’ community has around 10,000 shareholders and we look forward to offering Estonians an opportunity to participate as a member of this family,” he said to Invest Estonia. Also, in addition to exports, Pere hopes to have a strong presence in the Estonian market.

The impact on local community

For Pyynikin, the acquisition of the brewery means a rapid doubling of the number of employees working at the Haljala plant. The initial plan is to hire 20 people locally in Haljala, to reach the production goals for the first year. Pyynikin is aiming for strong growth in the Estonian production and once the factory is operating at full capacity, more people will be hired.

Pilvi Hämäläinen, the Director of Business Development in Finland for Invest Estonia also shares her excitement about the collaboration. “I am very happy that the traditional Haljala brewery got new owners from Finland. It was our pleasure to support them through the process and to help the investment to land smoothly in Estonia. It is a great example of a new investment from Finland to Estonia where the company has production facilities on both sides of the Baltic Sea, thereby supporting the growth of the whole group and at the same time contributing greatly to local communities,” she said.

The modern brewery and a wide range of beverages

In addition to the brewery’s properties and equipment, the acquisition deal includes four hectares of land, a state-of-the-art laboratory and transportation equipment.

In recent years, Harboe had renewed almost the entire production of the Haljala brewery. The old lager brewery has been transformed into a modern brewery suitable for producing Ale beers, in addition to Lagers. The new equipment enables the use of various forms of packaging, such as glass and plastic bottles, as well as the dispensing of beers into kegs.

The production and packaging line for PET plastic bottles was already installed in 2003. Haljala was the first Estonian beverage manufacturer to receive the ISO 22000 standard related to food safety in 2010.

Pyynikin has plans to renew the kitchen as well as the refrigeration systems in the next few years. Additionally, the state of the buildings will be improved in accordance with the condition survey. The good condition of the laboratory and excellent quality of the water sourced from the depth of up to 180 metres enables the production of a wide variety of drinks.

A new destination for Estonian beer tourism

The municipality of Haljala and the brewery are very well connected and are only about 90 kilometres from Tallinn. Nearby are the popular tourist destinations of Lääne-Viru County, Lahemaa National Park and Vihula and Sagadi manors.

There are hopes that the local brewery will be an attraction that is reflected in the tourism industry. As soon as Estonian Covid-19 restrictions allow, the taproom and beer shop will open next to the brewery in Haljala. Pyynikin already has popular taprooms in Helsinki and Tampere and the goal is to attract tourists also to the Haljala beer estate in the future.

Deliveries of the first soft drinks made in Haljala to Finland have already started this week. Products made and packaged in Estonia are marked separately to indicate that these are made in Haljala. Cheers to more great projects!

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