June 2020 Archives

Ale Apothecary Sahati

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After nearly a decade of beer blogging, it's not often that I cover a new style. To be sure, the Sahti style basically amounts to a specific Finnish farmhouse tradition that could probably fall under Saison. Because of course it would; Saison as a style is staggeringly vague. The Sahti tends to be made with a variety of grains and uses juniper in addition to (or instead of) hops. While I haven't written about it, I've had a couple in my time: Dogfish Head Sah'tea (which, as per usual, is a wacky take on the style that incorporates Chai tea elements) and Tired Hands Statolith (apparently one of my lowest rated beers from that local fave).

Enter Ale Apothecary's take on the style, which incorporates some eye opening bits of Finnish tradition - namely, the use of a trough-shaped lauter tun called a kuurna. The brewers chopped down a 200 year old, 85 foot tall spruce tree that was on their property, hollowed it out to create the trough, and used the boughs and spruce tips as a mash filter which will also add some character to the finished beer (they are basically substituting spruce for the historically used juniper). Otherwise, this gets the typical Ale Apothecary open-fermentation/oak-aged treatment, and the result is, as per usual, pretty solid stuff:

Ale Apothecary Sahati

Ale Apothecary Sahati - Pours a deep orange color with some amber tones peeking through and a finger of moderately bubbly head that actually sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, dark, vinous fruits, acetic vinegar, some mild funk, and I don't think I'd pick out spruce blind, but because I know it's there, I feel like I can get that aroma too. Taste hits those same dark vinous fruits and vinegar notes, not as sour as the nose would have you believe, but it packs a punch for sure. It's got a sweetness that perhaps cuts through that sourness and the oak leavens things out a bit too. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied moderately well carbed (a little lower than your typical saison), medium acidity, a little sticky, and some boozy heat too. Overall, ayup, it's a gud un. I don't know why I started talking like a grizzled mountain man there for a sec, but here we are. B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.26% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 4/18/20. Bottled: July 11, 2019.

Typically good stuff from Ale Apothecary. They make pricey beers, but if you like a good sour, they're pretty damned good at that sort of thing.

After three weeks of glorious fermentation, I transferred Barlennan, my homebrewed Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy, to two secondary fermenters. Fermentation appeared to be vigorous and healthy, like a conquistador who drank from the fountain of youth (sorry, I read a silly thriller whilst cooped up in lockdown and I'm a little loopy right now). After an intense battery of tests and measurements, my initial readings were pleasantly surprising in that I achieved a pretty high attenuation ferment. Of course, by "intense battery of tests" I mean that I splashed some beer on my refractometer and quickly eyeballed the measurement, a process that is far from rigorous and has undoubtedly yielded wildly inaccurate results. I'm the worst!

Barlennan Secondary Fermenters

Final gravity was approximately 12.1 Brix, which roughly translates to 1.022. Given the OG of 1.096, this leaves us with 76% attenuation and about 9.6% ABV. This is well over the normal range for the Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast (which is 69% - 73%), but I'm wondering if the relatively high ambient temperatures kept the fermentation going stronger than I usually maintain (I typically don't brew during the warmer months due to temperature control issues, but this seemed to work out fine). The beer certainly smelled great, tons of rich, caramelized malt and a very nice fruity note that comes across well. Supposedly higher fermentation temps result in more esters from the yeast, which could be part of that fruity character.

I mentioned before that I'd been soaking the oak cubes in Aberlour A'Bunadh for about three years or so. The resulting scotch wasn't particularly great (it had a sorta grainy, bitter astringency, and it tasted like burning), so I dumped it (sad!) and got myself a fresh bottle of Aberlour 16 and did a quick rinse of the cubes with a small amount of scotch (about 60 ml). I went with Aberlour for a couple of reasons. One, it's not an Islay Scotch, so no one will be wondering who put their cigar out in my beer. And two, it's at least partially finished in sherry barrels, which I think could be a harmonious combination of flavors.

While transferring the beer to secondary, I split the batch into two, one getting the oak cubes (and I dumped the 60ml of scotch in there while I was at it - no sense wasting that precious, pricey juice) and the other I left alone. As with previous oak aged experiments, I plan to let this one sit 3-4 weeks and bottle some of the regular, some of the oak-aged, and some of a blend of the two. I may also court perilous levels of extremity by making up a few bottles of fortified beer, adding some Scotch until a given bottle reaches some ridiculous ABV. Or maybe I'll dump a bunch into a keg and see what happens. Time and assorted levels of laziness will tell.

As an aside, have I mentioned how much the PLCB sucks? Since Covid-19, all of the liquor stores in Pennsylvania have been closed. Over the last month or so, they've slowly been reopening for curbside pickup (and now, I believe, they're starting to actually open up stores again). I gave it a shot, but I called a couple of local stores approximately 20 times over the course of a few days and always got a busy signal. Instead of continuing with that mess, I just went to TotalWine in Delaware and grabbed a bottle (for what I assume is a cheaper price than PA would have). I think I'm done with the PA state stores. Anywho, I'll check back in in a few weeks when it's time to bottle (or maybe Keg)


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This page is an archive of entries from June 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

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