With a name like Sahti, and it's the traditional farmhouse ale of Finland, made with rye malt and juniper berries. The result is a beer that is definitely different, and I hope it stays around for the summer.
What is it? Sahti Finnish Farmhouse Ale from and boiled them in spice bags. After cooling, they were held in suspension in the fermenter. They stayed suspended in the beer like large tea bags for about a week. Manning describes one of the effects of juniper as "a tangy gin-like aroma that complements the rye."
Sahti is expected to be on tap at Vintage Brewing Company through most of the summer. It sells for $4.50/pint or $10/growler (plus deposit) and finishes about 5.2% ABV.
- Aroma: Light yeasty nose with a hint of fruity spiciness to come.
- Appearance: Hazy, orange-copper with a medium, bubbly, tan head.
- Texture: Medium-bodied and bubbly.
- Taste: An interesting spicy yeastiness with a mild, dry hoppiness that seems to change over the course of enjoying a full pint.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Spicy, crisp and dry, making it a refreshing summer brew.
Glassware: Vintage serves its Sahti in a standard bar pint glass. I much prefer a tall and slender Frankfort Stein with its heavy clear glass and handle. That type of vessel keeps the beer cold while handling it. The tall and somewhat narrow stein with its angled glass also shows off the beer's brilliant orange-copper color.
Pairs well with: Vintage's version of Sahti has sharpness with a dry finish from the rye malt. It'll make a great beer for cheeses, especially those with a bit of musty flavor, like blue, or the sweetness of an aged Emmenthaler.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: Sahti is a beer to serve cold, and the colder the better, to bring out its fruity sharpness, dryness from the rye malt, and the piney tones of juniper. I was pleasantly surprised that its flavor changes dramatically with the serving temperature. The spices in particular come out as the beer warms. You'll find that no one sip seems the same as the last.
Overall, Sahti is light, crisp with fruity and spicy tones. All that makes it a great summer lunch beer and one well suited for salads and light entrees. I might be caught up in the novelty and the history that makes this Vintage brew unique. However, I also like it because it is indeed something very different. While other beer makers seem to be ramping up their production of the expected hefeweizens and wit beers for the season, Vintage is taking a chance to dedicate a tap line to a beer that isn't an average summer brew. This shows dedication and creativity on the part of Scott Manning. Give it a try. You'll be surprised how this beer tastes on a hot day in the sunshine.