Documentary film (29min)
THE MASTER BREWER is a magical comeback story about Leo Andelin, who in 1963 developed the most famous food of Finland – Lapin Kulta beer. A boy from a working class family in remote Tornio, Leo grows up to become the humble gentleman of beer, who passionately nurtures his “northern beer flower”. Leo’s life’s work is destroyed in 2010 when the time-honored Tornio brewery is shut down by the global beer giant Heineken. Local returnee Kaj Kostiander flies to the rescue of the old beer Jedi, who passes on his wisdom to the younger man. A record-breaking crowdfunding campaign and hunt for the original beer yeast follows. And, like a real-life fairy tale, a golden reward awaits Leo and Kaj at the end. Uplifting and beautiful, THE MASTER BREWER shows how people living far from the centers of global power can still survive and prosper with ingenuity, perseverance and authenticity.
When I read in 2017 from Lapin Kansa newspaper master brewer Leo Andelin’s life story, I was surprised to find out that Leo’s amazing story had not been made into a film before. We both live in Tornio in Finnish Lapland, on the opposite sides of the great Tornio River. I felt obliged to make a documentary film about Leo. The local film crew from Lapland started working on the film with special connection and passion.
Storytelling in The Master Brewer advances as Leo’s bitter sweet journey to the abandoned Tornio brewery grounds. Most of the filming locations were demolished just weeks after the principal photography was completed in 2020. During an extensive archival research, I was lucky to find a lot of never-before-seen high quality photos and films about Tornio brewery over the years.
The film is a classic David vs. Goliath story. Anyone who has experienced great losses or been an underdog, should be able to identify with Leo’s unexpected comeback in his golden years. The Master Brewer is a film about honoring and preserving traditions in an era when global market economy destroys many important local histories and customs.