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Homebrew Recipes

Olavi Viheroja’s Sahti

This recipe is featured in the March/April 2019 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Six issues of Zymurgy magazine are published annually and are included in American Homebrewers Association (AHA) membership. Check out all the benefits our members enjoy.

With two gold medals and several silvers to his name, Olavi Viheroja is the most triumphant sahti brewer in the history of the Finnish National Sahti Competition. His sahti is smooth, rounded, and extremely drinkable. It is sweet but not cloying, intense yet mellow. For many, this reddish-brown malty nectar is the epitome of sahti. Surprisingly, Olavi’s sahti skips the juniper. He prefers his brew without the sharper edge they contribute. Some people are disappointed by this, but usually the first sip transforms disappointment into admiration.

To give you a sense of an authentic Finnish farmhouse brewing operation, I present this recipe as I have seen it in action at Olavi’s countryside brewhouse in Hämeenkyrö. Olavi does not measure gravity, and he uses a thermometer only to check the pitching temperature. The gravities, alcohol content, and color indicated are from my measurements and calculations.
Olavi brews in an old cowshed with a wood-fired kettle, a purpose-built stainless-steel kuurna, and a few old dairy vessels. A stainless steel tub doubles as a mash tun and as the primary fermenter—an old farmhouse brewer’s trick. Aluminum milk cans are used to collect and cool the wort, and the sahti both matures and is stored in plastic canisters after primary fermentation. The traditional 8- to 9-hour mashing procedure begins with the mash tun and ends with heating of the mash in the kettle. Editor’s note: For a 5.25-gallon (21-liter) batch, simply divide all weights and volumes by 4.

Members Only

This homebrew recipe is only available to current AHA Members.