Finland must be one crazy place, even by American standards. The people there spend their dark winters in small huts, venturing out during the day only to collect the firewood necessary to heat up the sauna, where in they will whip themselves into a frenzy with eucalyptus switches before dashing outside again to roll around in four feet of snow. (And don’t even talk about the ritual castration of reindeer…see it instead.)
No wonder then that the Fins got through the Middle Ages by drinking a beer infused with juniper berries and spiced with just about everything from the back of your spice cabinet. And they boiled the wort with superheated river rocks. Or at least that’s how America’s premiere experimental brewers at Dogfish Head have recreated this specialty as their Sah’tea. We celebrated good news with our friends Ian and Kirsi (she is an expert on Finland, since she hails from there) by opening the Sah’tea big bottle for a delightful pour.
Juniper berries, right off the start, and, although I don’t like juniper, the overall effect is refreshing. The spicing adds complexity without overpowering the citrus qualities. You finish (no pun) this beer before you know it and soon find yourself running around outside, with no clothes, looking for snow. No, but I bet it would taste even better in an Arctic sauna.
For more on the particulars of this particularly unique brew, check Burkhard Bilger’s excellent Dogfish Head profile in The New Yorker.
Rating: 80%, even without the sauna.