This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams' Norse Legend Sahti.
Through sporadic contact with the Star-K, I have learned that some of the 22 oz bottles of Samuel Adams "limited" beers are in fact certified kosher, although like many Samuel Adams brews, there is no Star-K on the label. When I learned that the Norse Legend was among the select "limited" beers under hashgacha I was intrigued as I was completely unfamiliar with the style of beer known as Sahti.
[Speaking of contact with kashrus agencies, I learned last week from the Va'ad of Kansas City that many brews from well regarded Boulevard Brewery of Kansas City, Missouri have recently become certified as kosher. Although Boulevard is not available in NY, I hope to purchase some when I make my way down to Baltimore in a few weeks for a simcha. I have been hearing for some time about how awesome Boulevard brews are and I can't wait to try some.]
As always, my first stop in learning about Sahti was the BA website which defines the style as:
[A] farmhouse ale with roots in Finland. First brewed by peasants in the 1500s, mashing (steeping of grains) went down in wooden barrels, and then that mash would be scooped into a hand-carved wooden trough (a kuurna) with a bed of juniper twigs that acted as a filter. The bung at the bottom of the kuurna would be pulled to allow the sweet wort (liquid infusion from the mash) to pass through the twig filter, followed by wort recirculation and a hot water sparge (rinsing of the grains), all of which created a juniper infusion of sorts.
Sahti is also referred to as being turbid, because the wort isnt boiled after lautering (separation of spent grain and liquid), leaving loads of proteins behind, thus providing tremendous body. A low-flocculating Finnish bakers yeast creates a cloudy unfiltered beer, with an abundance of sediment. Traditional Sahti is not typically hopped, so the task of balancing is left up to the juniper twigs, which impart an unusual resiny character and also act as a preservative. Some have compared Sahtis to German Hefeweizens, though we find them to be more akin to the Lambics of Belgium due to the exposure to wild yeast and bacteria, and its signature tartness.
The Samuel Adams Norse Legend takes the Sahti one step further than the description above as they do not only brew the beer with juniper twigs, they introduce juniper berries in the brew process as well. The resulting brew has some hoppiness and floral notes but also some heat and spiciness which I had never experienced in a beer before.
After having kept this beer in the fridge for the better part of three months, I opened it this past Friday evening and shared it with a few friends who had come to join our Friday night table. The beer was well received by R' Yitz and R' Yossi but the one who enjoyed it almost as much as me was Mrs KB. When I told her that it was brewed with juniper berries she said that it must be her love of gin (who would have thought!) that made her like this beer so much.
The spiciness and heat in the beer went exceptionally well with Mrs KB's chicken with peppers and spicy tomato sauce. It probably would do well with spicy Chinese food, but since this was my only one (and they run about $6 a bottle) that is an experiment which will need to be put off for another day.
The Samuel Adams Norse Legend Sahti is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K. Like many other Samuel Adams brews, this bottle does not have the Star-K certification mark on the label. To see the LOC for Samuel Adams which certifies this beer as kosher click here - http://www.star-k.org/loc/LetterOfCertification_PEFQZ4N3.pdf.
To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/80554.
As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver. If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).
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