|Brewery:||Dogfish Head Craft Brewery|
|Appearance:||Cloudy & Pale Golden-Orange|
|Aroma:||Reminiscent of Belgian Tripel with Notes of Banana & Clove|
|Flavor:||Interesting Clove; Clean Astringency; Hints of Sweet Banana|
|Pairs With:||Soft Ripe Cheeses, Roasted Duck or Venison|
Everyone knows of Dogfish Head Brewery, either because of their strange name, their beer, or the Discovery TV show Brew Masters; which, sadly only ran 5 episodes before being cancelled. They are known for high hop IPA’s, dabbling in some strange brews, and trying to re-imagine some ancient beers to be enjoyed in the modern age. The one I have set to review this week is one of those in the “Ancient Ales” series.
Sahti is a Finnish beer dating back to the 9th century. This beer uses juniper as part of its flavor profile. Juniper branches are placed in the bottom of a kuurna, (a mash tun traditionally made from an aspen log that has been hollowed out) and the beer is filtered through the juniper twigs. The malt bill is usually a single light malt with, possibly, some rye added and very little if any hops. The yeast would have been just a baker’s yeast. Over time the strain most used has become associated with the brew, imparting clove and banana-like characteristics to the beer.
Traditional Sahti is said to be turbid and full-bodied most likely due to the poor flocculation of the baker’s yeast and an abundance of proteins that would not be present if a standard wort boil was part of the brewing process. Instead of boiling, the traditional process uses hot rocks to add heat to the mash. This practice causes the malt to caramelize around the hot stones adding a caramel and burnt sugar flavor to the beer. So, there’s a little bit about traditional Sahti, time to see how Dogfish Head measures up.
The first thing you notice about Dogfish Head’s rendition, beyond the little girl riding the reindeer with a tea pot in one hand and a glass of beer in the other, is the name… uummm “adjustment”. They’ve added chi tea to the brew and changed the name to reflect this addition, cleverly I might add, to Sah’tea. Neither the label or website says anything about using juniper twigs in the mash tun, but juniper berries sourced from Finland are used, can’t get much closer to the beer’s roots then that.