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Finlandia Sahti, Finnish sahti label

Sahti is a traditional beer from Finland made from a variety of grains, malted and unmalted, including barley, rye, wheat, and oats; sometimes bread made from these grains is fermented instead of malt itself. Traditionally the beer is flavored with juniper berries in addition to, or instead of, hops; the mash is filtered through juniper twigs through a trough shaped tun called a kuurna in Finnish. Sahti has a distinct banana flavor due to the yeast. Sahti is a top-fermented brew (ale), and while baking yeast has been used traditionally, ale yeast may also be used in fermenting.

The end product is a cloudy, mildly alcoholic beer with yeasty and phenolic flavors and distinct taste similar to banana. Sahti is traditionally homebrewed but in recent years commercial versions have become available. Some are produced by specialist sahti brewers like Lammin Sahti, Krouvin Sahti, Joutsan Sahti and Finlandia Sahti (no relation to the vodka brand of the same name). Others are made by Finnish microbrewers such as Huvila and Stadin Panimo. Commercial Sahti usually has around 8 percent ABV. Due to its higher percentage of alcohol Sahti is only sold in pubs or state-owned Alko stores. Sahti has to be stored cold until consumption and is therefore not available in all Alko branches.

The etymology of the word sahti is not certain, however, experts believe that a likely root could be the Germanic word saf, which later on evolved to the Scandinavian word saft, meaning juice.

Within Finland, sahti has differing characteristics depending on which part of the country it is from. It is often known as Tavastian beer (well-known sahti areas, such as Sysmä and Lammi, are in Tavastia) but it's also made in Finland Proper and some parts of Central Finland. There is also related a beer on the Swedish island of Gotland (known as "Gotlandsdricke", "Gotlandsdricku" or "Dricku") and the Estonian island of Saaremaa (known as "Koduõlu" or "Taluõlu"). Every couple of years, there is a Juniper Beer-Brewing Championship for homebrewers of these three countries.

Finnish Sahti has TSG status in Europe[1].

Brewing process

Sahti gains its sweetness from mashing malts in hot water for several hours in a temperature between 50 and 80 degrees celsius. This transforms the starch in the malts into sugars in approximately four hours. After the transformation has taken place, the mash is cooked while removing the foam and then sieved through juniper twigs to produce the wort. Sahti can be flavored with juniper berries, hops, both or with nothing at all. After the wort has cooled the fresh yeast is added. This leads to the foam fermentation, which lasts for a few days. Foam fermentation is followed by the post-fermentation in a cool temperature for aproximately two weeks which clarifies the sahti (the yeast falls to the bottom) to produce a completed beverage. The post fermentation should also take place under slight pressure to allow for a small amount of carbonation so as not to expose the process to oxidation.

Commercial Finnish sahti brands


  1. ^ EU Profile-Sahti (accessed 07/06/2009)

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