Physicochemical characterization of sahti, an 'ancient' beer style indigenous to Finland

Jukka Ekberg, Brian Gibson (Corresponding Author), Jussi J. Joensuu, Kristoffer Krogerus, Frederico Magalhães, Atte Mikkelson, Tuulikki Seppänen-Laakso, Arvi Wilpola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Sahti, a strong, unhopped farmhouse beer flavoured with juniper, is still actively brewed in rural areas in Finland. Presented here is the first comprehensive analysis of the physical and chemical properties of this unique beer style. Twelve sahti samples from the southwest of Finland were analysed and, while properties varied, the beers generally had high levels of alcohol (mean = 7.9% ABV) and high residual extract (mean = 9.5°P). Foam stability was negligible, as is typical for the style, and glycerol concentrations at 3.1 - 4.7 g L-1 were higher than in reference beers (commercial lager, wheat beer and porter). These features may be attributed to the very high gravity conditions employed in brewing sahti beers. Bitterness levels were relatively low (3-13 IBU) owing to the absence or moderate use of hops. All samples contained detectable levels of the clove-like compound 4-vinylguaiacol owing to the use of baker's rather than brewer's yeast for brewing. Concentrations of higher alcohols and esters were high, with many individual aroma compounds being above the normal flavour thresholds. Results have highlighted the uniqueness of this style of beer in comparison to commercially available beers and have contributed to our understanding of the reasons for the particular sensorial properties of this traditional beer style.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-473
JournalJournal of the Institute of Brewing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • sahti
  • Finland
  • beer
  • flavour


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