Historical Beer Sahti

27. Historical Beer: Sahti

Overall Impression:
A sweet, heavy, strong traditional Finnish beer with a rye, juniper, and juniper berry flavor and a strong banana-clove yeast character.

Aroma:
High banana esters with moderate to moderately-high clove-like phenolics. Not sour. May have a low to moderate juniper character. Grainy malt, caramel, and rye in background. Light alcohol aroma. Sweet malt impression.

Appearance:
Pale yellow to dark brown color; most are medium to dark amber. Generally quite cloudy (unfiltered). Little head, due to low carbonation.

Flavor:
Strong banana and moderate to moderately-high clove yeast character. Moderate grainy rye flavor. Low bitterness. Fairly sweet finish. Juniper can add a pine-like flavor; juniper berries can add a gin-like flavor; both should be complementary, not dominant. No noticeable hop flavor. Moderate caramel flavor but no roast. Multi-layered and complex, with kind of a wortiness that is unusual in other beer styles. Not sour.

Mouthfeel:
Thick, viscous, and heavy with protein (no boil means no hot break). Nearly still to medium-low carbonation. Strongly warming from the alcohol level and young age, but often masked by sweetness.

Comments:
The use of rye doesn’t mean that it should taste like caraway (a dominant flavor in rye bread). The use of juniper berries will give a flavor like gin (similarly flavored with juniper berries). The juniper acts a bit like hops in the balance and flavor, providing some counterpoint to the sweet malt.

History:
An indigenous traditional style from Finland; a farmhouse tradition for at least 500 years, often brewed for festive occasions like summer weddings, and consumed within a week or two of brewing. A similar tradition exists in Estonia, where the beer is known as koduolu.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Malted barley along with malted and unmalted grains, often rye. Low hops. Juniper boughs used for lautering (traditionally in a hollowed-out log), but often producing a juniper/berry character. Often uses top-fermenting baker’s yeast in a fast, warm fermentation (German Weizen yeast is a good substitute). Not boiled; a long mash steep is used, with a separately added hop tea.

Style Comparison:
Strong resemblance to Weizenbocks, but sweet and thick with a rye and juniper character.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.076 – 1.120
IBUs: 7 – 15
FG: 1.016 – 1.020
SRM: 4 – 22
ABV: 7.0 – 11.0%

Commercial Examples: Now made year-round by several breweries in Finland.

Historical Beer Roggenbier

27. Historical Beer: Roggenbier

Overall Impression:
A dunkelweizen made with rye rather than wheat, but with a greater body and light finishing hops.

Aroma:
Light to moderate spicy rye aroma intermingled with light to moderate weizen yeast aromatics (spicy clove and fruity esters, either banana or citrus). Light spicy, floral, or herbal hops are acceptable.

Appearance:
Light coppery-orange to very dark reddish or coppery-brown color. Large creamy off-white to tan head, quite dense and persistent (often thick and rocky). Cloudy, hazy appearance.

Flavor:
Grainy, moderately-low to moderately-strong spicy rye flavor, often having a hearty flavor reminiscent of rye or pumpernickel bread. Medium to medium-low bitterness allows an initial malt sweetness (sometimes with a bit of caramel) to be tasted before yeast and rye character takes over. Low to moderate weizen yeast character (banana, clove), although the balance can vary. Medium-dry, grainy finish with a lightly bitter (from rye) aftertaste. Low to moderate spicy, herbal, or floral hop flavor acceptable, and can persist into aftertaste.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to medium-full body. High carbonation. Moderately creamy.

Comments:
Rye is a huskless grain and is difficult to mash, often resulting in a gummy mash texture that is prone to sticking. Rye has been characterized as having the most assertive flavor of all cereal grains. It is inappropriate to add caraway seeds to a roggenbier (as some American brewers do); the rye character is traditionally from the rye grain only.

History:
A specialty German rye beer originally brewed in Regensburg, Bavaria. Never a widely popular style, it has all but disappeared in modern times.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Malted rye typically constitutes 50% or greater of the grist (some versions have 60-65% rye). Remainder of grist can include pale malt, Munich malt, wheat malt, crystal malt and/or small amounts of debittered dark malts for color adjustment. Weizen yeast provides distinctive banana esters and clove phenols. Light usage of Saazer-type hops in bitterness, flavor and aroma. Lower fermentation temperatures accentuate the clove character by suppressing ester formation. Decoction mash traditionally used (as with weissbiers).

Style Comparison:
A more distinctive variant of a dunkelweizen using malted rye instead of malted wheat. American Rye Beers will not have the weizen yeast character, and likely more hops.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.046 – 1.056
IBUs: 10 – 20
FG: 1.010 – 1.014
SRM: 14 – 19
ABV: 4.5 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Thurn und Taxis Roggen

Historical Beer Pre-Prohibition Porter

27. Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Porter

Overall Impression:
An American adaptation of English Porter using American ingredients, including adjuncts.

Aroma:
Base grainy malt aroma with low levels of dark malt (slight burnt or chocolate notes). Low hop aroma. Low to moderate low levels of DMS acceptable. May show low levels of caramel and biscuit aroma. No to very low esters. Light adjunct (licorice, molasses) aroma acceptable. Diacetyl low to none. Clean lager profile acceptable.

Appearance:
Medium to dark brown, though some examples can be nearly black in color, with ruby or mahogany highlights. Relatively clear. Light to medium tan head which will persist in the glass.

Flavor:
Grainy base malt flavor, with low levels of chocolate or burnt black malt notes, along with low levels of caramel, biscuit, licorice, and toast notes. Corn/DMS flavor acceptable at low to moderate levels. American hop bitterness low to moderate and American hop flavor low to none. Balance is typically even between malt and hops, with a moderate dry finish.

Mouthfeel:
Medium light to medium body, moderate carbonation, low to moderate creaminess. May have a slight astringency from the dark malts.

Comments:
Also sometimes known as Pennsylvania Porter or East Coast Porter.

History:
Commercially brewed in Philadelphia during the revolutionary period, the beer gained wide acceptance in the newly formed mid-Atlantic states, and was endorsed by President George Washington.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Two and six row malt (or a combination of both) are used, along with low percentages of dark malts including black, chocolate, and brown malt (roasted barley is not typically used). Adjuncts are acceptable, including corn, brewers licorice, molasses, and porterine. More historical versions will have up to twenty percent adjuncts. Lager or ale yeast. Emphasis on historical or traditional American bittering hops (Cluster, Willamette, Cascade), though finishing and flavor hops may vary.

Style Comparison:
Smoother and less hoppy-bitter than a (modern) American Porter, less caramelly than an English Porter with more of an adjunct/lager character.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.046 – 1.060
IBUs: 20 – 30
FG: 1.010 – 1.016
SRM: 18 – 30
ABV: 4.5 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples:
Stegmaier Porter, Yuengling Porter

Historical Beer Pre-Prohibition Lager

27. Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Lager

Overall Impression:
A clean, refreshing, but bitter pale lager, often showcasing a grainy-sweet corn flavor. All malt or rice-based versions have a crisper, more neutral character. The higher bitterness level is the largest differentiator between this style and most modern mass-market pale lagers, but the more robust flavor profile also sets it apart.

Aroma:
Low to medium grainy, corn-like or sweet maltiness may be evident (although rice-based beers are more neutral). Medium to moderately high hop aroma, with a range of character from rustic to floral to herbal/spicy; a fruity or citrusy modern hop character is inappropriate. Clean lager character. Low DMS is acceptable. May show some yeast character, as with modern American lagers; allow for a range of subtle supporting yeast notes.

Appearance:
Yellow to deep gold color. Substantial, long lasting white head. Bright clarity.

Flavor:
Medium to medium-high maltiness with a grainy flavor, and optionally a corn-like roundness and impression of sweetness. Substantial hop bitterness stands up to the malt and lingers through the dry finish. All malt and rice-based versions are often crisper, drier, and generally lack corn-like flavors. Medium to high hop flavor, with a rustic, floral, or herbal/spicy character. Medium to high hop bitterness, which should neither be overly coarse nor have a harsh aftertaste. Allow for a range of lager yeast character, as with modern American lagers, but generally fairly neutral.

Mouthfeel:
Medium body with a moderately rich, creamy mouthfeel. Smooth and well-lagered. Medium to high carbonation levels.

Comments:
The classic American Pilsner was brewed both pre-Prohibition and post-Prohibition with some differences. OGs of 1.050-1.060 would have been appropriate for pre-Prohibition beers while gravities dropped to 1.044-1.048 after Prohibition. Corresponding IBUs dropped from a pre-Prohibition level of 30-40 to 25-30 after Prohibition.

History:
A version of Pilsner brewed in the USA by immigrant German brewers who brought the process and yeast with them, but who had to adapt their recipes to work with native hops and malt. This style died out after Prohibition but was resurrected by homebrewers in the 1990s. Few commercial versions are made, so the style still remains mostly a homebrew phenomenon.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Six-row barley with 20% to 30% flaked maize (corn) or rice to dilute the excessive protein levels; modern versions may be all malt. Native American hops such as Clusters, traditional continental hops, or modern noble-type crosses are also appropriate. Modern American hops such as Cascade are inappropriate. Water with a high mineral content can lead to an unpleasant coarseness in flavor and harshness in aftertaste. A wide range of lager yeast character can be exhibited, although modern versions tend to be fairly clean.

Style Comparison:
Similar balance and bitterness as modern Czech Premium Pale Lagers, but exhibiting native American grains and hops from the era before US Prohibition. More robust, bitter, and flavorful than modern American pale lagers, and often with higher alcohol.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.060
IBUs: 25 – 40
FG: 1.010 – 1.015
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 4.5 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples:
Anchor California Lager, Coors Batch 19, Little Harpeth Chicken Scratch

Historical Beer Piwo Grodziskie

27. Historical Beer: Piwo Grodziskie

Overall Impression:
A low-gravity, highly-carbonated, light-bodied ale combining an oak-smoked flavor with a clean hop bitterness. Highly sessionable.

Aroma:
Low to moderate oak wood smoke is the most prominent aroma component, but can be subtle and hard to detect. A low spicy, herbal, or floral hop aroma is typically present, and should be lower than or equal to the smoke in intensity. Hints of grainy wheat are also detected in the best examples. The aroma is otherwise clean, although light pome fruit esters (especially ripe red apple or pear) are welcome. No acidity. Slight water-derived sulfury notes may be present.

Appearance:
Pale yellow to medium gold in color with excellent clarity. A tall, billowy, white, tightly-knit head with excellent retention is distinctive. Murkiness is a fault.

Flavor:
Moderately-low to medium oak smoke flavor up front which carries into the finish; the smoke can be stronger in flavor than in aroma. The smoke character is gentle, should not be acrid, and can lend an impression of sweetness. A moderate to strong bitterness is readily evident which lingers through the finish. The overall balance is toward bitterness. Low but perceptible spicy, herbal, or floral hop flavor. Low grainy wheat character in the background. Light pome fruit esters (red apple or pear) may be present. Dry, crisp finish. No sourness.

Mouthfeel:
Light in body, with a crisp and dry finish. Carbonation is quite high and can add a slight carbonic bite or prickly sensation. No noticeable alcohol warmth.

Comments:
Pronounced in English as “pivo grow-JEES-kee-uh” (meaning: Grodzisk beer). Known as Grätzer (pronounced “GRATE-sir”) in German-speaking countries, and in some beer literature. Traditionally made using a multi-step mash, a long boil (~2 hours), and multiple strains of ale yeast. The beer is never filtered but Isinglass is used to clarify before bottle conditioning. Traditionally served in tall conical glassware to accommodate the vigorous foam stand.

History: Developed as a unique style centuries ago in the Polish city of Grodzisk (known as Grätz when ruled by Prussia and Germany). Its fame and popularity rapidly extended to other parts of the world in the late 19th and early 20th century. Regular commercial production declined after WWII and ceased altogether in the early-mid 1990s. This style description describes the traditional version during its period of greatest popularity.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Grain bill usually consists entirely of oak-smoked wheat malt. Oak-smoked wheat malt has a different (and less intense) smoke character than German beechwood-smoked barley malt; it has a drier, crisper, leaner quality – a bacon/ham smoke flavor is inappropriate. Saazer-type hops (Polish, Czech or German), moderate hardness sulfate water, and a relatively clean and attenuative continental ale yeast fermented at moderate ale temperatures are traditional. German hefeweizen yeast or other strains with a phenol or strong ester character are inappropriate.

Style Comparison:
Similar in strength to a Berliner Weisse, but never sour. Has a smoked character but less intense than in a Rauchbier.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.028 – 1.032
IBUs: 20 – 35
FG: 1.006 – 1.012
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 2.5 – 3.3%