Homebrew Recipe: Ghost of Karelia Sahti

Key points for key pints

Homegrown hops. Finnish farmhouse brewers would have used whatever was growing in the neighborhood; a low-alpha, noble-type variety like Mt. Hood, Liberty, Hallertau, etc., would be ideal. Barring that, whole-cone Saaz or Tettnang will do nicely.

Mash low and long for fermentability. Maximizing the amount of short-chain sugars in the wort will help us achieve maximum ABV in minimum time—which is kind of the point for a party beer with a short shelf life, right?

Boil or no boil? We’re going to incorporate a very short boil just for the sake of microbial stability, but if you prefer to go full Finnish, proceed from mash directly to cooling and pitching.

Plan for lots of krausen. A blow-off hose or oversized fermenter will be our friend.

To the homebrewery

Note: these steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process. Refer to the instructions for your brew system and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.

Prep

1. On brew day, collect two gallons of strike water in your kettle and heat to approximately 160°F.

2. Mill the grains, or have it done for you at the shop.

Mash & sparge

1. Fill the mesh bag with the milled grains, hops, and juniper berries. Immerse the bag in the water and stir or swirl to achieve a uniform temperature of 148–149°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes.

2. When the mash rest is complete, remove the bag (you can wring out the grains to recover more wort if you like) and discard the spent grain, juniper berries, and hops.

Boil

1. Bring the wort to a boil and blast some Sibelius. Boil the wort for 10–15 minutes, then shut off the Sibelius and the stove.

2. Cool it!

Fermentation and beyond

1. Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch yeast.

2. Aim for a fermentation temperature of 68°F, and let the temperature free-rise during active fermentation.

3. When active fermentation subsides or stops, rack to a secondary fermenter and let the green sahti rest for seven days at 55°F.

4. Package and carbonate lightly (if desired).

5. Consume your sahti right away with friends and family.

Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it.


Like this recipe? You can find it and 63 other witty and detailed homebrew recipes in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” In each recipe, Dawson includes suggestions on how to modify and customize each beer, along with all-new essays on Malt, Hops, Yeast, and Water, giving readers critical insight into the building blocks of every successful brew. On sale now for $24.95 at mashmakerbook.com.

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