This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Country #21: Finland

Beer: Kataja Olut

Brewery: Lammin Sahti Oy, Lammi, Finland

ABV: 7.0%

Kataja Olut just mean 'juniper beer' in Finnish. I don't know the significance of the IV B. Gold star and a bottle of this stuff to anyone who can dig up the answer.
Finland does things a little bit differently than the rest of us. The Finnish language is a crazy mishmash of difficult vowel chains, like some bizarro Nordic version of Hawaiian. For example: Suomi on hyvin outo maa monia miellyttäviä valkoiset ihmiset, jotka haluavat istua alasti pienessä kuumassa huoneessa. 

Now here's a country that is secure in its masculinity. A little too secure, maybe.
Their national pastime is sitting naked in tiny hot rooms, and while they do enjoy baseball, just look at what they’ve done to it:

They also have a slightly different take on beer. Sure, regularly hopped beer is available for purchase in the country. But the traditional, national beer style, sahti, is a whole other animal. Since hops don’t grow well in the frigid glacial till near the Arctic Circle, boozehound Finns had to come up with some other kind of concoction that they could make with whatever they had lying around in their country.

Like this stuff (juniper branches and berries)
Sahti is still considered a beer because it is a yeast-fermented beverage made from malted grain. But the similarities end there. Most sahti doesn’t use any hops (though some use a pinch). Instead, the beer is flavored with juniper, just like gin. But it tastes nothing like gin; instead, it has a sweetish, highly tart and fruity flavor, to go along with a reddish brown color and very little carbonation. Those who enjoy sour beers might enjoy sahti, but it really is entirely different from anything else I’ve ever had. I liked it, but I can't foresee purchasing the stuff again, unless I somehow find myself in Finland.

No bottle cap design. Just an exorbitant price tag for a wacky Finnish beer (that's the price for one 11.2 ounce bottle).
The stuff I had was called Kataja Olut, and was made by Lammin Sahti Oy, the oldest commercial sahti brewer in Finland. But they’ve only been making it there since 1987. Before then, sahti was only made by home brewers in their barns. According to The Oxford Companion to Beer, in order to homebrew sahti “the traditional vessel used is the muuripata, a wood-heated built-in cauldron, which is standard equipment for heating water in a Finnish sauna.” Sounds about right.

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