500ml brown bottle purchased for me some time ago by Sam.
Pours a dense, still, very cloudy brown colour, that comes across more as murky than hazy. Head is almost non-existent, and what minor ring forms on the pour dissipates very quickly. Lacing is non-existent. Carbonation is non-existent. It looks still and rather unappealing.
Nose is extremely sour. Not to overstate the fact, but this is clearly infected. It has an overly tart vinous character that smack of bready red wine—the kind of thing you'd get from a goon bag, at best. Some very faint juniper characters come though, slightly woody and sharp, but they don't explain the otherwise vinegary characters in the aroma.
Taste is similar, and more strongly pronounces the infection. It's very, very tart—sharp, biting and vinegary, with a faint herbal tone that maybe suggests the juniper. This is probably characterising the traditional form of the sahti, which would almost certainly have been infected by wild yeast, bacteria and everything else that was around. But it's untamed and also no particularly pleasant.
Feel is stripping and sharp. Bite from the acidity, plus a lack of body otherwise. Not great.
Maybe this is what a sahti was like in 3000BC, as they claim on the label. But right now, it's clearly what you'd get if you add no hops, and have a dubious sanitation regime. It's extremely tart and unrefined. It lacks that control that would have maybe made it interesting, and instead just rides the infection to wherever it might go.
73 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Royal Albert Hotel. This is an "Australian Sahti", brewed with Australian native spices.
Pours a pale amber hue, with a frothy small head of off-whbite, that leaves sheeting lace. Carbonation is very fine, through a body which has a little weight to it. Looks good.
Nose is great. There's some classic hef-like Sahti yeast notes of banana and bubblegum, but cleaner and sharper. It's then stabbed with herbal notes: wattleseed, coffee, crushed thyme and caraway bread. Very interesting.
Taste is similar. There's more aniseed this time, with some tarragon and pepper. There's a long palate, with some of the clovey bite of the yeast. Finish is short; punctuated and cut by the spices. The feel is actually slightly too smooth—it's almost flat. With the spice, and bit of pep and effervescence would help it.
Overall, though. This is a really interesting brew, done very nicely and pleasingly unique. I love breweries doing stuff like this—it's not crowd-pleasing, it's not pandering, but it's fascinating. New England Brewery are really doing some interesting things lately.
59 / 100
A sahti brewed with rye and botanicals, with the emphasis on Juniper. Tried on-tap at GABS 2014 in Melbourne.
Pours a dunkel-brown colour with a fair amount of hazing to it. Head is a pale beige colour that leaves a firm, solid crest as it goes down, with some definite lacing. Body is quite solid, and leaves pretty fine carbonation in its wake as it's tilted. Looks good.
Mild sweet aromas dominate the beer, with a wheaten biscuit character noticeable from the start. The sweetness sticks around but something (possibly the botanicals) gives it a distinct suggestion of thinness. It's not bad though.
Light mild entry on the palate, with a little tartness and spicy fruit coming through towards the middle. The sweetness appears towards the middle-end, and doesn't back down, leaving a long linger of sweetness that makes it feel slightly unbalanced. Feel is full as a result, but I'm not sure that's an asset right here.
Overall, it's okay—the sweetness really sticks around when you don't want it to, but there's certainly some interesting stuff going on. At the very least, it's another beer that proves once again (after Divine Manchu last year) that Young Henry's don't do GABS by halves. And that's a great thing.
73 / 100
Pours a very dark umber colour, with beige head that's nice and dense but sunk to a modest film. Lace is clingy and dense but not majorly sticky. Looks good. Looks very good.
Smell is an odd one. Intense sweetness with bits of spice. Vegemite and sultana sweetness combine with black pepper, orange peel, molasses and, at the back, a wild raspberry lactic tartness. Very intriguing, and plenty to like.
Taste is really quite bizarre, but, again, lots to like. Starts quite dark with plummy and raisiny character, develops quite a fresh, fruity tartness midway. More sultanas and a touch of grapefruit and fig jam on the mid. Hint of spontaneous fermentation on the back, but also just a yeast extract stickiness and some mild plum fruit. Dark and mysterious, fruity palate, similar to a bad Oud Bruin, only better, with more complexity and more to like.
Bit foamy and dry in the mouth, feels maybe both over-attenuated and over-carbonated.
An off-beat, quirky brew, but very charismatic. If this beer approached you at a party, you'd be worried it might suddenly pull you into the bushes and rape you with a banana, but at the same time you'd be secretly wishing it would, too.
83 / 100
Served to me blind by @LaitueGonflable.
Deep, but relatively light-bodied dark brown colour, with a firm and full head of fine mocha foam. Lacing is full and persistent. Body is, as I said, relatively light, meaning the colour and the depth both give a sense that it's not going to be really as dark as you think. Not a bad look all up.
Nose is undeniably odd. Very sweet, with twinges of fresh, bright or fruity aromatics. Initially, I said "sultanas and dish detergent". It has a sweet, dark fruit, but also a pungent and redolent citric character to it. It's an odd mix. As it warms, deeper and fuller characters of oak, vanilla and even some dark chocolate come through. But there's always that odd fruity lightness about it that makes it very odd indeed. If nothing else it's extremely interesting.
Taste is spicy and dark, but with a lightness that stops it from getting too sweet or too acrid. Light berry characters on the front, before the lightly roasted grainy character comes through to have a crack at cleaning up. Very light finish, giving it an almost pilsner or lambic crispness on the back. It's so weird, but that makes it so unique, and I'm a sucker for a unique beer.
Wow. What a crazy brew. The only thing that I compare it to is a black Sahti I've had from Finland, with its mild acidity, crazy fruit characters and very off-centre and very unique characters. I love it.
Enjoyed at 10AM on a Sunday morning.
Pours a bronzey golden colour, clear body, mild bead. Head is modest, little more than a film of whispy foam. Nice, sticky lace though, on the plus side. Not bad, but alright.
Smells...interesting. Oddly metallic with some burnt wheat notes and overripe fruit - cherry and plum notes mostly. Strong grainy sweetness that doesn't quite sit right with the sour pungency. Intrigued, but not really enthused.
Tastes similar, I guess. Very malty with an odd white peppery note on the very front that gets a lot of molasses notes together with that quite metallic bitterness that builds with each gathering moment. Has its crescendo late-mid where it's quite coppery with an undertone of overripe plum. Decent brown sugar sweetness provides some balance, but then the flavours disappear and leave an unwanted grain notes on the back which is slightly insipid and yeasty. The finish here is the best part, mildly sweet but bold, if it only lasted longer.
A bit thin on the front, but in the mouth there's a fullness. The texture is a bit effervescent, although it leaves well enough.
Yeah, I couldn't attack too much of this, and not just because it's 10AM.
Purchased in the US and cracked open with @laituegonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a very clear and bright orange colour, slightly burnished, with a fine but light head of white bubbles. Lots of body to it, which means it forms some pleasant static carbonation when swirled. I like the colour - would have expected a sahti to be cloudier, but otherwise, looks pretty decent.
Nose is slightly metallic and phenolic. Some organic hints giving rise to a kind of honey-fermentation character, and a bit of gin-like spice. Smells of chemicals and booze for the most part. Often you get a whiff of that, but this is overdone.
Taste is very light on, really. Initial metallic sharpness dies off almost immediately, leaving a subtle bitterness and a bready yeast note on the back. Some hints of phenolics throughout, and there's still that chemical note coming through for the most part, leaving some green organics in its wake.
Feel is remarkably light and empty, given the look of it. Smooth enough: it feels like silky water.
Eh. Not really that interesting, and I feel a Sahti needs to be interesting in order to be good - they just have an oddness to them that rankles unless they have complexity to keep you interested. This one's very much the worst example I've tried, both other examples had oddity, but complexity and balance.
This one's surprisingly bland.
77 / 100
Pours a deep earthy red colour, dark brown but with cuprous tinge around the edge. Head is ochre and consists of large bubbles, thin crown retaining. Lace is disappointing, but notwithstanding, looks like a nice sweet, heavy beer.
Smell is sweet and quite boozey. Very like a fortified wine, with dark raisins and cherry hints. Lots of molasses and just that smell of toasted sugar. Yes, very pleasant indeed; the right amount of sweetness for a strong, sweet beer without going overboard.
Taste is also quite sweet. Strong and syrupy with molasses, brown sugar and caramel, and a strong hit of vanilla beans. Yeah, very sweet but with a good cocoa hit towards the back as well, and overall a very dry palate and feel. Syrupy on the front, but almost grainy and dessicated on the back. Good flavours though, sweet and nutty and a nice boozey hit as well. Good vibe to it.
Yeah, heavy, but it has all the right flavours and in good proportions. An interesting style to which I have no comparison point, but it's a nice beer anyway.
79 / 100
This one fizzled in my luggage on the way back from the US, seemingly losing a third of its volume into my suitcase. Looks like it was just pressure related, however, as I successfully uncapped it with a decent fizz, and there's plenty of carbonation still visible. Lucky save.
Pours a very rich and thick deep brown-mahogany colour, twinges of red to it. Head forms languidly through the dense body, a large-bubbled crown of speckled yellow-white. Minimal lacing, cloudy body. Looks very heavy, rich and sweet. I love it.
Nose is very deep and sweet, with hints of pepper and resiny bark. The juniper is noticeable here, giving a slight bite that almost resembles turpentine. Sweet, sugary caramels are dominant though, and the juniper merely cuts through them like hops would cut through a good double IPA. Lovely.
Taste is smooth and rather sweet, with a cleansing bite on the back, which is like hops, but completely unlike hops as well. The cleansing bitterness is reminiscent of it, but the flavour is very different. Sharper, more woody and resiny. For some reason, I think of describing it as "echoey" - the bites of bitterness seem to reverberate bit by bit. The sweetness is still here in abundance, but it's a deep dark malty bitterness, with the spice of pumpernickel rye bread coming through as well.
Feel is smooth and rich.
Very interesting brew. I've not had a dark sahti before, but I can see now that it works. Sahti seems like such an odd style to me, but every time I have one I get more and more enamoured with it.
80 / 100
Bottle purchased from New Beer Distributors, New York.
Pours a turbid, deep cloudy gold colour, with a filmy head of white foam, that only survives as a thin collar around the edges. Lacing is pretty nice, but I kind of expected an odd brew. The cloudiness is quite extreme, and the body looks pleasantly thick and heavy. Overall, a very pleasant looking brew.
Oh yeah, very odd nose, but I do remember similar spicy notes on the only other Sahti I've had the privilege to taste. Lots of vanilla flower, honey, slight spice of crushed undergrowth, big banana phenols and crushed marrowbone characters, mingling with sweet notes of spiced tea - notes of cardamom and fresh cut fennel. Such a wonderful melange of odd flavours. I love it.
Taste is quite similar, extremely smooth, with the sweet notes of vanilla and banana/clove present on the fore, followed by a striking phenolic bitterness rising out of the back, possibly the juniper, or perhaps the tannic notes of the tea making themselves felt. Overall, it's extremely fresh and clean, smooth and buttery in places, and exceptionally drinkable - rather reminiscent of a good hefe, in fact. Really extremely tasty.
It's hard to rate a style of beer of which I've had (now) a total of two examples. It's exceptionally drinkable and really very, very unique, and I find it hard to separate this from the Nogne O/Dugges collaboration. I think this is probably slightly lighter on the juniper bite.
Otherwise, this is a really drinkable and extremely enjoyable brew, cementing Sahti as a style for me to seek out and enjoy. I only hope the style enjoys more of a revival - it really is a tasty and unique category of beer, and this one is a lovely example.
76 / 100
Thanks again to BA lacqueredmouse for this one.
Pours a yellow-tinged (as in, bright) orange colour, opaque really, with large cloud, some light coming through the bottom. Head is modest but retains well, leaving a thin wispy cloud, and some nice trails of sticky cream-coloured lace. Pretty darn good.
Nose is quite funky with a lot of spice on there. Hints of banana cake are very prominent - sweet, slightly tart, but a really big whiff of nutmeg, ginger and clove. In fact, nutmeg is all over this. It smells like my mother's delicious spice biscuits. Slight capsicain aroma, like really hot chilli funk, at the back. I fucking love this nose. It's full of divergent, complex aromas, all of which I love, and it just makes me want to sit here and sniff all night.
Taste is also very nutmeggy - lots of pleasant, sweet spice, mixed with pleasant banana esters, some light leather, five spice, some clove, anise and maybe some citrus as well lingering behind. But ultimately a big mélange of spice. Lots of sweetness as well, with a slight bite at the back - more tart than bitter - but yeah, it starts sweet and the spice just comes along to complement it. I think it could use more funk, because the sweetness becomes a bit overpowering the more you drink, and makes it a little bit insipid. Fairly good texture in the mouth, although it feels too thin for what it's trying to do.
Very pleasant, but it's too sweet basically, and makes you wish it were more wild and gruff, because that would make it magnificently sexy. It's like making love to Anne Baxter while fantasising about Bette Davis.
79 / 100
Pours a very cloudy apricot orange colour, with a really lovely fluffy head of fine and silky white foam. Lacing is good. Looks still and bulbous in my tulip glass, not very active, but not bad. In fact, it looks very thick. I have to say I heartily approve.
Fair bit of honey, with a very fragrant, probably hoppy, but given the style possible not, character. Something rich and organic as well, not dissimilar to a Belgian yeast note. Almost a smoky character coming through as well. Lots of slightly unusual characters. Not as insanely bizarre as I'd expected from my first Sahti experience, but enough oddities in the aroma to keep me guessing.
Taste is particularly odd. There's certainly more of the honey note, and the gin-like juniper note is present in a sharp pinpoint at the very back. Otherwise, the palate is full of bursting malt and light phenolic alcohol - to my mind, quite reminicent of a dry Belgian pale ale. There's just enough bitterness to tip it out of the true Belgian style profile, and the character of the bitterness is slightly different to hops, but it's very subtle. Some light citrus comes in late as well, like orange peel. Nice. Note a huge note from the rye, although there is a depth to the grain character. Mouthfeel is particularly smooth. All up, this is a very tasty brew, and a wonderful uniqueness.
A very pleasant, refreshing and surprisingly drinkable brew. I particularly liked the thickness in the body, which just makes you have to appreciate all the different flavours as you chew your way through it. You know, I was expecting to say something akin to "not a beer for everyday", but I certainly could drink this everyday. It really is terribly pleasant, and not nearly as confronting as I'd been led to believe.
Pours an opaque yellow-orange colour, huge, mindfuck haze as thick and impenetrable as the mists from Hades. I mean it basically looks like homebrew trub, except for a decent - but thin - off-white head. Retains at about 1/4 inch thickness, leaves a bit of lace but not a lot. Light bead as well. Looks like a fascinating, organic drop.
Nose has a lot of hop and a fair amount of tropical fruit; pineapple, passionfruit as well as grapes. Slight hint of a herbal character and some fresh tobacco as well. Perfectly decent nose, smells fresh and pleasant.
First flavour is a distinct vanilla on the front of the palate, very sweet and descends into a fruity mélange with orange and pineapple flavours, then a very hoppy mid-to-back, quite bitter but not insanely so; it's noa stringent but has a fair amount of fresh-cut grass character and some mildly herbal phenols. Quite a lot of dryness from the quite citric acidity as well. To be honest this strikes me as having a very orange juice character, but with a distinct alcohol hit at the back.
Feel is a bit thick for my taste, it's really quite flat but very syrupy. A lot of texture, maybe too much, and a little bit drying.
This is definitely a unique drop, definitely has an odd flavour to it, almost tastes darker than it looks, and feels a little unbalanced. Maybe I should say it just feels untamed, but it's absolutely worth a drink.