Sahti is a traditional beer from Finland made from a variety of grains, malted and unmalted, including barley, rye, wheat, and oats; sometimes bread made from these grains is fermented instead of malt itself. Traditionally the beer is flavored with juniper berries in addition to, or instead of, hops; the mash is filtered through juniper twigs through a trough shaped tun called a kuurna in Finnish. Sahti has a distinct banana flavor due to the yeast. Sahti is a top-fermented brew (ale), and while baking yeast has been used traditionally, ale yeast may also be used in fermenting.
The end product is a cloudy, mildly alcoholic beer with yeasty and phenolic flavors and distinct taste similar to banana. Sahti is traditionally homebrewed but in recent years commercial versions have become available. Some are produced by specialist sahti brewers like Lammin Sahti, Joutsan Sahti and Finlandia Sahti (no relation to the vodka brand of the same name). Others are made by Finnish microbrewers such as Huvila and Stadin Panimo The best time to sample all the commercially-produced sahtis is at the annual Sahti Week at St. Urho's Pub in Helsinki. Commercial Sahti usually has around 8 percent ABV. Due to its higher percentage of alcohol Sahti is only sold in pubs or state-owned Alko stores. Sahti can only be stored cold until consumption and is therefore not available in all Alko branches.
Within Finland, sahti has differing characteristics depending on which part of the country it is from. There are also related beers on the Swedish island of Gotland ("Gotlandsdricke") and the Estonian island of Saaremaa ("Koduõlu"). Every couple of years, there is a Juniper Beer-Brewing Championship for homebrewers of these three countries.
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