Paul Arney, owner and brewer of the Ale Apothecary in Bend, has made a kuurna, a hand-carved wooden trough used for brewing a traditional Finnish beer called Sahti. It was first brewed over 400 years ago, usually using a juniper tree. The kuurna acts as a lauter tun, a vessel used to separate the liquid wort from the mashed grain as it runs through a filter of spruce branches.
Guide to photographs:
1. Arney walks along the spruce tree just felled in his backyard by his friend, Jonah Gladney, right, while measuring how big a section he will use to create the kuurna. Arney estimated the spruce tree at roughly 85-100 feet tall, and after a quick count of the rings, close to 200 years old.
2. He uses a chainsaw to cut a wedge out of the spruce tree so he can begin forming it into a kuurna.
3. Arney lifts the center piece out of the log so he can continue hollowing out and smoothing its interior.
4. He uses woodworking tools to chisel out the inside of the spruce tree.
5. Arney checks to see if any water is leaking from the underside of the kuurna as a friend fills it with water during a test run outside the brewery.
6. Arney gathers fresh spruce branches in the woods behind his home and brewery west of Bend. The branches are then used to line the bottom of the kuurna to help filter the mashed grain from the liquid wort.
7. After laying the branches in the bottom of the kuurna, he will add malted grain to begin the mashing and lautering process of brewing. Hot water and malted grain are added on top of the spruce, and the resulting liquid, known as wort, is boiled and then put into a barrel to ferment and age, eventually becoming beer.
8. He pours wort over the grain bed in the kuurna to recirculate the liquid through the grain.
9. Arney sniffs a sample of the wort he created in his spruce kuurna. After fermentation, the wort will become beer. Arney will age his Sahti, which he is calling Sahati, for around 6-9 months in oak barrels in his brewery west of Bend.
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