Sahti

Sahti is a Finnish ale brewed using juniper branches. Buhner writes that "juniper is the most ancient herb in use in traditional beer making in... the Scandinavian countries, and its antiseptic or preserving properties predate the advent of hops." To make juniper beer in the traditional manner, a crosswork of straw and juniper branches is laid at the bottom of a lauter tun. In another kettle, barley is mashed for anywhere from 1 hour to several days, depending on the brewer. Once the wort is drawn off the mash, the remaining grains are transferred to the juniper-filled lauter tun. The wort is added to some more water then poured very slowly over the grain-covered juniper branches. The juniper acts to not only strain the wort of excess particles but also add flavor and color to the wort. The final wort is the fermented, bottled and conditioned before being enjoyed. Different brewers have different practices as far whether the mash water or wort should be boiled or not. Practices differ by region. This process can be adapted to modern homebrewing set-ups as seen below.

Ingredients:

  • 11 pounds malted barley

  • 1 pound malted rye

  • 8 gallons water

  • juniper branches (with or without berries)

  • yeast

Instructions:

  1. Submerse malts in cold water, mix the malts then cover all to rest overnight.

  2. Boil the remainder of the water.

  3. Slowly add the boiled water mixing well until the mash reaches a consistency similar to that of porridge.

  4. Add the remainder of the water and allow the mash to rest for 1 hour.

  5. Pour off the clear wort and bring it to a boil, then add the porridge, mix well and allow the grains to settle.

  6. Pour off the clear wort and repeat the above step 4 more times.

  7. During the final boil, place a layer of rye straw (cleaned with boiling water) on the bottom of a lauter tun.

  8. Also during the final boil, prepare juniper extract by boiling the juniper branches.

  9. Once the final boil is complete, dump the porridge on the straw in the lauter tun.

  10. Pour the boiled wort on top of the porridge allowing it to flow through and directly into a fermenter.

  11. Pour the juniper extract through the lauter tun as well into the fermenter.

  12. When the wort has cooled, pitch the yeast and allow to ferment for 1 week.

  13. Rack to a secondary and continue fermentation until complete.

  14. Prime, bottle and allow to condition before drinking.

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