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Tasting – Sahti

21/02/2015

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The traditional Finnish proto-beer, Sahti that I brewed for my mothers birthday was an interesting experiment. Since Sahti isn’t boiled it has to be kept in cold temperatures and it doesn’t keep as beer does. Some of it was drunk during the party by me and my little brother (everyone else seemed to think that it had too much flavour, A nice way of saying that they didn’t really like it) and most of the rest I gave away. My future father in law who has drunk Sahti many a times commented that it was really “smooth”. Given that he has the most experience with the drink I’ll choose to take that comment to heart and declare that I managed to brew a passable example of Sahti the first time around.

Appearance : A dark hazy body. No head (since it’s not carbonated) and there isn’t any lacing left in the glass as the level goes down. Not a particularly pretty sight to be honest. The colour could be lighter when compared to the examples I’ve tasted, I underestimated the impact of the dark rye malt.

Smell : The rye malt comes through in the smell, it reminds me of mämmi, another Finnish specialty, one even less pretty than Sahti… The other dominating smell is the juniper, it’s really strong in this example. As it warms up the banana smell from the baker’s yeast appears but it’s not as strong as in the versions I’ve drank before. Perhaps my fermentation temperature was too low for the flavour to develop. Not that I personally enjoy the banana aroma of some hefeweizens for example.

Taste : Semi-sweet taste of mainly rye malt. The juniper comes through in the aftertaste and strangely balances the sweetness in the same manner as hops does. I was expecting this to be much more sweeter but it’s nicely balanced (for my taste, I don’t enjoy overly sweet tastes). There’s definitely some yeast derived influence in there but I can’t really but my finger on it. Curious.

Edit : a friend of mine who is an experienced beer taster pointed out that the end taste is a bit short compared to a full strength Sahti (which is usually around 8-9%abv).

Mouthfeel : A thick mouth-feel, not surprising given the final gravity of ~1.020 and lack of carbonation. Not syrupy or viscous, just rich. Quite nice actually.

Notes/thoughts : A nice break in routine and an interesting experience, I really enjoyed brewing this. It’s hard to really comment on whether or not I made a good example of the style having drank Sahti just a few times before but some of the comments were encouraging. I have to say that the style isn’t something I’d enjoy drinking on a regular basis but for a fun experiment and experience it really fit the bill. Perhaps I’ll try that single infusion Sahti some day and experiment some more with the style. Oh, and no “traditional” stomach-aches or upsets, which was nice.

 

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