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 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%

Historical Beer London Brown Ale

27. Historical Beer: London Brown Ale

Overall Impression:
A luscious, sweet, malt-oriented dark brown ale, with caramel and toffee malt complexity and a sweet finish.

Aroma:
Moderate malty-sweet aroma, often with a rich, caramel or toffee-like character. Low to medium fruity esters, often dark fruit like plums. Very low to no hop aroma, earthy or floral qualities.

Appearance:
Medium to very dark brown color, but can be nearly black. Nearly opaque, although should be relatively clear if visible. Low to moderate off-white to tan head.

Flavor:
Deep, caramel or toffee-like malty and sweet flavor on the palate and lasting into the finish. Hints of biscuit and coffee are common. Some fruity esters can be present (typically dark fruit); relatively clean fermentation profile for an English ale. Low hop bitterness. Hop flavor is low to non-existent, possibly earthy or floral in character. Moderately-low to no perceivable roasty or bitter black malt flavor. Moderately sweet finish with a smooth, malty aftertaste. May have a sugary-sweet flavor.

Mouthfeel:
Medium body, but the residual sweetness may give a heavier impression. Medium-low to medium carbonation. Quite creamy and smooth in texture, particularly for its gravity.

Comments:
Increasingly rare; Mann’s has over 90% market share in Britain, but in an increasingly small segment. Always bottled. Frequently used as a sweet mixer with cask mild and bitter in pubs. Commercial versions can be pasteurized and back-sweetened, which gives more of a sugary-sweet flavor.

History: Developed by Mann’s as a bottled product in 1902. Claimed at the time to be “the sweetest beer in London.” Pre-WWI versions were around 5% ABV, but same general balance. Declined in popularity in second half of 20th century, and now nearly extinct.

Characteristic Ingredients:
English pale ale malt as a base with a healthy proportion of darker caramel malts and often some roasted (black) malt and wheat malt (this is Mann’s traditional grist – others can rely on dark sugars for color and flavor). Moderate to high carbonate water. English hop varieties are most authentic, though with low flavor and bitterness almost any type could be used. Post-fermentation sweetening with lactose or artificial sweeteners, or sucrose (if pasteurized).

Style Comparison:
May seem somewhat like a less roasty version of a sweet stout (and lower-gravity, at least for US sweet stout examples) or a sweet version of a dark mild.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.033 – 1.038
IBUs: 15 – 20
FG: 1.012 – 1.015
SRM: 22 – 35
ABV: 2.8 – 3.6%

Commercial Examples:
Harveys Bloomsbury Brown Ale, Mann’s Brown Ale

Historical Beer Lichtenhainer

27. Historical Beer: Lichtenhainer

Overall Impression:
A sour, smoked, lower-gravity historical German wheat beer. Complex yet refreshing character due to high attenuation and carbonation, along with low bitterness and moderate sourness.

Aroma:
Moderately strong fresh smoky aroma, light hints of sourness, medium-low fruity esters, possibly apples or lemons, moderate bready-grainy malt. The smoke character is stronger than the bready notes, and the smoke has a ‘dry’ character, like the remnants of an old fire, not a ‘greasy’ smoke.

Appearance:
Tall off-white head, rocky and persistent. Deep yellow to light gold color. Fair clarity, may be somewhat hazy.

Flavor:
Moderately strong fruity flavor, possibly lemons or apples. Moderate intensity, clean lactic tartness (no funk). Similar smoky character as aroma (dry wood fire), medium strength. Dry finish, with acidity and smoke in the aftertaste. Low bitterness; the acidity is providing the balance, not hops. Fresh, clean palate and slightly puckery aftertaste. The wheat character is on the low side; the smoke and acidity are more prominent in the balance. The lemony-tart/green apple flavor is strongest in the finish, with smoke a close second. Complex.

Mouthfeel:
Tingly acidity. High carbonation. Medium to medium-light body.

Comments:
Served young. Smoke and sour is an unusual combination that is not for everyone.

History:
Originating in Lichtenhain, in Thüringen (central Germany). Height of popularity was towards the end of the 1800s, and was widely available throughout Thüringen. Like a pre-1840 Berliner Weisse.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Smoked barley malt, wheat malt, lactobacillus, top-fermenting yeast. Grists vary, but the wheat would typically be 30-50%.

Style Comparison:
In the same general historical lower-alcohol top-fermenting central European wheat beer family as Gose, Grodziskie, and Berliner weisse, has elements of all of them but having its own unique balance – sour and smoke is not found in any of the other beers. Not as acidic as Berliner weisse, probably more like a smoked Gose without coriander and salt, or a Grodziskie with Gose-like acidity.

Vital Statistics
:
OG: 1.032 – 1.040
IBUs: 5 – 12
FG: 1.004 – 1.008
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 3.5 – 4.7%