Monday, September 30, 2013

Zero Gravity Juhlia

Juhlia was released at the Vermont Brewer's Fest last weekend; a 7.2% ABV Finnish-style ale known as Sahti. Sahti is a very old style of brewing in which regional terroir plays a major role. Rye was traditionally used as well as juniper branches as a filter bed for the mash. Hops were not readily available and were therefore absent. There was also no boiling, and the wort was left to "spontaneously" ferment. This particular batch was boiled for 15 minutes to ensure a healthy fermentation.

Alcohol Content: 7.2%
IBU: 0
Malts: Rye, Chocolate Rye, ?
Hops: None

Price: 1 tasting ticket
Medium: Small Pilsner-like Brewer's Fest Glass

Aroma: Deep malty sweetness or melanoidins (from high percentage of unfermentable grains?). I think of Maillard reactions with each whiff giving off various cereal grain aromas. A combination of different rye grains offers depth, from roasted and bittersweet chocolate to notes of spice. No hop aromas, but floral notes come through as pine and juniper. Fermentation gives off notes of raspberry and pear esters.
Appearance: Low head retention when agitated. Super cloudy, sepia brown color. No lacing. Off-white head. Carbonation appears to be non-existent.
Flavor: Sweet and cereal-like/ bready, consistent with the aromas. Maltiness comes through as deep melanoidins, caramel, chocolate, bread-crusts, and spice. Distinct spicy rye grain follows the roof of the mouth into the aftertaste. Bitterness is very low, possibly from the chocolate rye. Sweetness is partially cleaned up by the juniper berries and branches, giving off a slight gin-like finish. Alcohol is noticeable but remains in check. No hop flavors.
Mouthfeel: Savory. Full-bodied with very low carbonation. Alcohol warmth plays in beautifully and remains clean. Low attenuation/ a high finishing gravity makes it slightly cloying or syrupy in malt sweetness. Some slickness, otherwise smooth.
Overall Impression: Since this was my first go at the style, I had no expectations of what it should or shouldn't be. At first I thought is was absolutely phenomenal. After talking to Destiny (the brewer), I learned that she would have liked it to attenuate a little bit more, which would have made it a little less cloyingly sweet and that much better. I'll have to keep my eye out for more examples to compare.

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