Finnish your beer

Ahh … sahti . It’s like drinking a Christmas tree. F or those of you who may be rye-curious, here’s one way to craft a pint of piney cheer:

Kalevala Sahti: the recipe
(five gallons)

  • 9 lbs Munich 40 EBC
  • 9 lbs malted rye
  • 1 lbs flaked oats
  • 1 lb rice hulls
  • 1 oz Northern Brewer pellets (mash hop)
  • 2 lbs (approx) fresh, non-chemically sprayed juniper branches (watch out for Xmas wreaths, y’all)
  • Wyeast 1007

Kalevala Sahti: the process

Layered juniper branches over false bottom in mash tun; add grist, mash hops, and strike water.

Step mashed with rests at 90, 120, 150, and 160 F. Ran the wort off and let cool overnight (if it’s -20 F air temp, you’ll be authentically Finnish). Pitched yeast the following morning. Fermented at 68 F for about 8 days … then kegged. Yup, she’s boozy, yeasty, and ready to drink.

Kalevala Sahti: the tasting notes

Appearance – golden orange, turbid, dense white foam (we carbonated it more than is traditional)

Aroma – balance is way towards intense, pungent, resiny juniper (pine sap and needles) with spicy grain at the back

Flavor – more of that juniper character, strong in the front and tapering through the middle, grudgingly sharing room with bready malt, spicy rye and a suggestion of oats and alcohol. Surprisingly smooth and balanced for a beer of this gravity with nothing but mash hops. Prickly, piney evergreen tree in the aftertaste.

Body – oily and warming

Overall – not as unfamiliar or weird as it might sound … it’s not such a huge leap from Chinook and Simcoe to actual pine bough flavor. And definitely drinkable! Juniper does a nice job standing in for hops and offsetting the sweetness of a doppelbock-strength grain bill.

And finally …

Optimally enjoyed next to an ice floe in a t-shirt on a cold Minnesota day. Don’t forget to pour a little out for your homies in Lappland!

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