Sunday, 24 July 2011

Waiting for sahti

My latest piece of brewing research had a couple of inspirations. In the always excellent Radical Brewing a traditional ale from Finland called Sahti gets a mention. This is an unboiled ale strained through juniper branches, commonly made made at home using bakers yeast and a proportion of rye malt.

The second inspiration came from closer to home. Not having any juniper branches I went to my local home brew shop to get some juniper berries instead. Quite coincidentally, over a gin and tonic that afternoon, the lovely Lisa piped up that a beer flavoured with juniper could make a refreshing summer drink. It occurred to me that tweaking my sahti would be just the ticket.

As I didn't want to make murky shite that would go off quickly I'd already decided I was going to boil my sahti. To make it refreshingly summery I dropped the gravity down to 1.040 (making it around 4% ABV) and included some Bobek hops, added after the short boil, for a bit of lemon flavour to go with the juniper.

As the hops and berries were steeping in the hot wort an incredibly spicy smell came off, which didn't really come through into the finished beer. Lacking any bittering hops it's light and refreshing with a hint of lemon, but without the astringency I associate with rye beers. My mum was quite taken with it when she visited the brewery but if I was to do it again I'd probably beef it up, maybe try it as a spicy Winter drink rather than a refreshing Summer drink.

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