Monday 17 February 2014
No thanks becomes yes thanks
Sahti. I read about this kind of beer in Michael Jackson’s books at the end of the 1990s and also in his What’s Brewing column — to be honest it was not a kind of beer I really wanted to try. Juniper berries — I only used them in cooking with venison; various cereals, no or few hops, baker’s yeast, little carbonation. No thanks. Times have changed and nowadays I love Gose, lambic and gueuze and the only Grodziskie I have had so far was also rather pleasing. So when Sharp’s Stuart Howe told me he was going to Finland and did I want anything bringing back I suggested a Sahti, which he duly returned with and here is Finlandia Sahti Strong. It’s cloudy in the glass, hazy, misty, a scene from The Fog though maroon red in colour. There’s a sweet banana nose, a yeastiness which is reminiscent of a strong bottle-conditioned Belgian brune or maybe it’s a sticky cherry-flavoured dessert wine. The palate is a multi-layered mixture of rye bread, some spiciness (all-spice or even a hint of cinnamon), cough sweets, stewed bananas, and a cherry brandy-like stickiness; as I take more swigs I’m going to suggest an alcoholic cough mixture that’s been filtered through a machine that adds a vinous character; meanwhile it’s a very fast finish that leaves a skin of stickiness on the tongue. The carbonation is low and slow. It’s a very rough-edged beer, a wiry, badly behaved terrier of a beer, though not without appeal. It is not a polished beer and the fact that it’s in a plastic bottle suggests a homespun or home brew character perhaps. It’s interesting and irrational in its appeal and yes I would drink this again. No thanks becomes yes thanks.