Tag Archives: firhti

Firhti Bottling Day and Tasting Notes

The moment of truth for this fir beer experiment! Will it be godawful or great?

 

…whatever, I’m just going to kill the suspense right off and say that I love this beer. Flat out love it. As of bottling day it’s an unqualified success; we’ll see how bottle conditioning goes but Pseudomalainen is not giving me much motivation to let it sit around. I would like you to take a moment to look at my firhti.  LOOK AT IT. IT’S BEAUTIFUL.

 

As a little bit of a digression, I just popped champagne yeast into the wort without having much idea about the difference that would make. Do, then research: it’s the Way of the Ape. There seems to have been a shift in the conventional wisdom on how champagne yeast and beer work out. As of a couple of years ago, there was a very rough consensus that using champagne yeast would make for an unpalatably dry beer, and that its primary use in beermaking was as a secondary fermentation to keep really big beers chugging along on their way to 12-15% ABV. More recently, I’ve seen more people saying that champagne yeast ferments the hell out of sucrose, glucose, and fructose, but isn’t as good at digesting maltose (one of the primary sugars in malt, thus in wort), and therefore giving a kinda paradoxical result–sweeter beer.

I can now weigh in on this. Champagne yeast DOES make a sweeter beer. This firhti has a very gentle sweetness and a similarly gentle tartness, which is likely a combination of the rye, the champagne yeast’s influence, and the resiny tang of the fir. The fir itself is not overpowering–funny thing is, it’s not even especially prominent! Mostly it shows up as a resinous note in the finish and a freshly herbal, long-lasting aftertaste. There’s also a really nice edge of funk. Ingestion testing* suggests something in the neighborhood of 6% ABV (the ape has no actual idea, as her hydrometer is still in its original packaging and will stay there like a naughty puppy).

I seem to have stumbled upon a very well-balanced recipe with this first attempt and gotten lucky with environmental conditions for fermenting (i.e. the weather has hovered around 60-65F of its own free will this whole time). I’m in love with the funk and the resin in the same place. THIS IS A GOOD BEER.

Anybody with access to a fir tree should consider rigging up a batch of this. I think you’ll like it too.

 

 

 

 

* Ingestion testing is about as scientific as it sounds. In short: I had one.

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Pseudomalainen Firhti (recipe)

Finally, my firhti! I’ve been planning this fir beer for ages and it’s fermenting right now. A bit of background on the name: “suomalainen” is Finn for “Finnish”, pronounced “soo-muh-lye-nen”. I’m messing with sahti, one of the mighty god-kings of low-tech, low-equipment, freestyle shackbrew here, and it behooves me to be a little humble about that.

This is probably the most simple recipe I have ever used. No hops at all. Barely a boil. No chiller. Here it is.

Pseudomalainen Firhti (3-4 gal batch)

6 lbs pilsner DME

1 lb rye malt

About a pound of fir tips and twigs (to filter grain, and also to go in the brewpot)

Yeast (various recipes call for anything from bread yeast to champagne yeast. I went with Red Star Champagne)

Steep the rye in a gallon of water for one hour at 170 (the lowest my oven will go). Layer a bed of fir pieces into your strainer, and strain the mash through that. Squish. Sparge with another hot gallon. Squish again. DO NOT CLEAN YOUR STRAINER. LEAVE THAT JUNK IN THERE.

Go get more fir if you need to. Drop the rest of the fir into your brewpot, top off a bit so most of the fir is in the water–within reason, given the size of your pot and the amount of fir you have. Heat it up to 150-170, a nice steamy sub-boil. The wort will turn a pea-soup yellow and smell like Christmas. Keep it about that warm for 10 or 15 minutes.

Get out your strainer with the rye and the fir needles and decant the wort from your brewpot through that grainbed into your fermenter. You’re basically doing an extra sparge with your wort. Squish. Done!

I didn’t chill my wort at all, I just left the carboy on the counter with a plate over the mouth until the next morning, when I pitched the yeast. I see bubbles as of an hour ago: success!

Thoughts: I wanted my first firhti to be pure fir so I could find out how the flavor worked in isolation. It’s nice, but pretty resinous and a bit acrid–future batches of this will contain a few things to round out the flavor. Since this is an experiment in seeing what sahti would taste like if it had grown up in the Pacific Northwest instead of Finland, I’m thinking mint and hops. I have Saaz and Cascade vines in the backyard; I think Saaz would be a better match.

Since this recipe also has no preservatives (such as hops) other than the alcohol, and since it’s not going to be a high-hooch brew, it’s got to be drunk young. I anticipate that a fair bit of it will go sour before I finish drinking it, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that works out.

Look at this junk. LOOK. I’m so proud of it.

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