Pseudo-Sahti Boiled

I’m not sure how soured it went in the 36 hours or so that it sat there–I could taste a touch of tartness, but not a lot–but I figured 36 hours was long enough to let the wort sit, so I boiled up the Pseudo-Sahti on Wednesday morning, with the following “hop schedule”:

First Wort:

  • 10 grams Amarillo
  • 5 grams Cascade (because I didn’t have enough Amarillo)
  • 40 grams crushed Juniper berries
  • 15 grams uncrushed Juniper berries
  • 2 grams Laurel Leaves

3 Minutes before Flameout:

  • Irish Moss (oops, should have been earlier… been forgetting the Irish moss a lot lately!)
  • 2 grams Cloves
  • 2 grams scorched Juniper Berries, uncrushed
  • 10 grams Cassia (Cinnamon), stick form

After cooling, I pitched the Cry Havoc yeast. And then I discovered that I probably should have pitched a Bavarian Weizen yeast, since according to some sources I ran across after pitching, sahti often has a banana ester character. Ah well… I’ll let it start bubbling a bit more vigorously, and then stress the yeast by moving the fermentation bucket to the (very hot) kitchen floor for a few days. If it doesn’t develop banana, it may develop some other weird estery flavor, but I can live with it… this is, after all, an experiment. (If it were Bubblegum, I’d be very pleased, in fact, but I can’t find any mention anywhere of what qualities stressed Cry Havoc supposedly produces. Ah well… I’ll find out and post it myself!)

Oh, one more thing: the Original Gravity was a fair bit higher on this wort than I expected or wanted, and the volume was lower than it should have been, because of a stuck sparge. However, I calculated that by adding about a gallon of sterile water to the bucket, I’d hit both my desired starting gravity and my (approximate) desired volume. I wasn’t worried about the hop utilization so much, since hops are a minor element of this style, but I didn’t want to dilute the Juniper and other flavors, so I eyeballed approximately proportionate amounts of the spices and added them to the gallon of water, which I boiled for an hour before cooling and adding.

In the process, though, I managed to get my first brewing injury. I had swapped hoses for the wort chiller, and the piece I’d swapped in was longer than the original. Miss Jiwaku happened to be in the bathroom when I set up the hose, and I asked her to run the cold water for me. But the hose was badly placed in the sink–my fault!– and the jet of hot water that shot out of the hose sent the whole damned hose flying; in the process, boiling hot water sprayed onto my leg for a quarter-second or so. The burn mostly isn’t serious, but later on, after I’d taken a shower, I forgot about it and while toweling myself off in a hurry, I ripped some skin from the burn, and that hurt like hell.

So now I have a quarter-sized, angry red spot to sterilize and apply gauze to for the next week or two. (If the angry redness doesn’t go away, I’ll go to the hospital, of course, but I’d rather not go straight there if this can sort itself out.)

All in all, I can say I’m just grateful it was where it was–on my calf–instead of my face or some other, more delicate area.

19 Dec. 2010: I transferred this to a carboy to place outside, and let it clear for a few days. From the gravity reading I took just before racking it to glass, it has fermented down to 1.004, which is the lowest I’ve seen any of my beers ferment, and it has a nice crisp sourness, though the juniper flavor was not very strong. I’m hoping it comes out in the bottle conditioning. This gives me great hope for the sourness of my Berliner Weisse, which is sitting and souring in the brew pot on the hot kitchen floor as I write this.

I am considering trying another sahti later, with some rye malt, some of it smoked, and more berries. We’ll have to see if there’s enough time.

24 Dec. 2010: This is nicely carbed up, but still quite green. The lack of hops is quite apparent, and while the juniper fills the space, I can’t say I find it balances the sweetness. I think probably smokiness would do, so there’s a strike in favor of using smoked malt in a sahti, as Mosher’s recipe specifies; however, this might mellow with age. We’ll have to see, I suppose. I should also note that there’s a surprising amount of particulate matter floating in the bottle I opened. This, despite the fact that the yeast had (when I chilled one bottle overnight) flocculated like crazy, leaving an opaque cake of yeast at the bottom of the bottle.

I’m not overall too happy with it, but I’m going to let it age and see if it improves in a few weeks or a month. However, I think it might simply be underhopped, and I’m not sure what, if anything, I can do for that. (I suppose I could boil up some hopped water and blend it, but that sounds a little, well, not so cool.) It is drinkable, but I think it’s going to be better paired with a rich, salty food than it is alone.

4 thoughts on “Pseudo-Sahti Boiled

  1. Be careful of injuries, dude! This homebrewing sounds like quite an art form, art and science mixed.

    Ah, beer brewing is as ancient as agriculture itself. It sounds very complicated to control the fermentation process.

    I regret that I haven’t been able to sally forth to Seoul and try some of your whimsical concoctions.

    I’ve been thinking of you as I’m hunting for good Sci Fi movies online. I just found out about the Russian film Solyaris which sounds like it was partially used by the makers of Inception. I hope to see it soon.

    Do you have any recommendations? What kinds of things do you watch as you quaff your homebrew?

    1. Bradley,

      Yeah, no kidding. This wound/burn thing sucks!

      But yeah, it is a kind of mix of science and art, and indeed sometimes it feels like microfauna husbandry. Yeast are such bizarre little creatures, part plant and part animal in their reproduction, and very magical in what they do. Will you be able to come to Seoul?

      I tend not to care so much for SF movies as I do for books. I have to say, Tarkovsky isn’t my bag, either. That said, there are some cool SF films out there. I was just talking about one I saw last summer, set in Mexico (and maybe Guatemala?) called Monsters. I think that’s kicking around these days. I also liked Code 46 a lot, a very underpraised film about a future more realistic (in terms of administration, bureaucracy, and public health controls) than any I’ve seen in SF film.

      As for me, I’m mostly catching up on 30 Rock, Mad Men, Better Off Ted, and I want to catch up on How I Met Your Mother too. Of those, only Better off Ted could be remotely considered an SF show. A good science-based TV show I watched lately was the Canadian series Regenesis, though, and I really liked it. (I reviewed the series not long ago.) There is the SF TV series Flashforward, though I don’t know anything much beyond that it’s an adaptation of a book by the Canadian SF author Robert Sawyer. Have you watched Life on Mars? Great British TV SF show, with time travel (sort of), though it’s mostly about how monstrous the 1970s were. And though it’s more fantasy/SF, the British series Being Human is just astoundingly good. I’ve reviewed a lot of these on my site, you can search the titles if you like.

      If you get the time, during holidays, it’d be cool if you could get a day to pop up here and have a couple of beers with me, catch up.

  2. Gord,

    I hope you’re healing up.

    ha, ha, “microfauna husbandry.” Great turn of phrase. Would make a great name for a band that plays noodly music.

    I read that ancient egyptians didn’t use yeast starter, the yeast just stuck to the sides of the ceramic beer brewing amphorae and inoculated the next batch…

    I finally downloaded and watched all of that tarkovsky film and quite liked it. Of course it never quite added up or made sense but it did impart a never ending stream of moody and dark images and cryptically unsettling conversations. Overall quite good although not planning to view anything else by that director anytime soon.

    I’ll look for Monsters and Code 46.

    As for the TV series, I am interested, but because of multiple episodes they seem to take up more room on my hard drive than do movies.

    OK, now I wanna read the “Five Expat SOcial Fallacies” as that is a section of your blog I’ve not noticed until now.

  3. Bradley,

    While I doubt many brewers would use the term “microfauna husbandry” the sentiment is widespread, in expressions like, “We don’t make the beer, the yeast makes it and we just help the yeast along.” And when you experiment a bit with different yeasts, it can be quite humbling to see how little you have to do with the process, recipe formulation, sanitation, and a little mashing chemistry aside.

    Yeah, I thought Solaris was okay when I first watched but don’t really ache to see it again. Monsters is available out there, and it’s well-done. Code 46 as well.

    Regenesis is uneven, here and there, but I loved it anyway and it’s the most science-focused of all TV SF shows I’ve seen. The Ontario Genomics Institute was even doing up articles to accompany episodes for a couple of the four years it ran. Takes more drive space, but it definitely is worth it.

    Would be interested to see what you made of the Five Expat Social Fallacies. There are others that are possible, I’m sure…

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