The Lerwick Brewery has teamed up with the University of the Highlands and Islands to develop a new beer. Kjøl, pronounced ‘chill’, has been created to celebrate the annual Bergen to Shetland yacht race which takes place from 24 to 29 June. The event, now in its 29th year, sees around 200 competitors sail from the Norwegian city to Lerwick in up to 40 vessels.
Academics from the university’s Centre for Nordic Studies worked with brewery staff to investigate the feasibility of the new product and used their expertise to help develop its branding.
The project is part of a wider collaboration between the organisations to create a range of beers inspired by events which attract visitors to the islands. The initiative is being supported by funding through Scottish Funding Council’s Innovation Voucher Scheme. Administered by Interface, the scheme encourages higher education institutions to work with small and medium-sized enterprises to develop new products and services.
Silke Reeploeg, a staff researcher at the Centre for Nordic Studies based at Shetland College UHI, is leading the project. She explains: “Centre staff have a history of sharing our knowledge to support inward investment and business growth. For this project, we’re keen to help Shetland’s youngest brewery explore the potential of expanding its market with a new range of niche cultural products which will be of interest to local, national and international markets.
“We saw the race as a great opportunity to develop the first new product. We wanted the branding to reflect the shared maritime culture of the Northern Isles and Scandinavia. Members of the race organising committee and Lerwick Boating Club put forward suggestions for the name and we decided on ‘Kjøl’, the Norwegian word for the keel of a boat. We wanted something nautical that would relate to the ‘Norwegian-ness’ of the event and ‘Kjøl’ worked on all these levels.”
Lerwick Brewery manager, Rhanna Turberville, said: “Lerwick Brewery has always been passionate about its Shetland heritage which, of course, is very closely linked with Norway and this beer is designed to exemplify that closeness. Made with Cluster hops and Shetlandic water, Kjøl will be a bright golden lager with floral and fruit notes. We hope the beer will provide the competitors with a refreshing taste of the north after a hard day at sea and we’re looking forward to working with the Centre for Nordic Studies to create more innovative products.”
The Bergen to Shetland race is being organised by the Norway’s Hordaland Sailing Association. Espen Sandøy, chair of its Shetland Race Organising committee, welcomed the new beer saying: “Since the first race in 1986, thousands of crewmembers have crossed the North Sea as participants. It’s great to now have a unique local product associated with the races in Shetland - I look forward to trying it!”
Kjøl will be on sale in Shetland during race week and across Scotland and, possibly, the rest of the UK thereafter. It will also be available through Lerwick Brewery’s online shop.