Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": Goose Island Sahti

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 16, 2008 7:00PM

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For some people, the ultimate gift is something techy, like a Wii, an iPhone, or a GPS device. For us, it's a growler of beer, which we received over the holidays. The beer inside, "312." was nothing special. the growler, however, was refillable.

It's the gift that keeps on giving, like a communicable disease.

A couple weekends back we made the trip to Goose Island's Clybourn brew pub to trade in our empty for something different. The great thing about visiting the brewpubs is that you'll find some beers that you won't be able to purchase at another bar or in stores. In some ways, it's retracing the steps to Goose Island's beginnings, when there was only the brewpub and Greg Hall was a brewer's apprentice, earning minimum wage working for his father. For us, it brought full circle, back to why we started this column in the first place.

We chose a sahti. This beer style, Finnish in origin, is brewed using a variety of malted and unmalted grains, most commonly barley, rye and oats, which was what we found in Goose Island's version. The beer is also flavored with juniper berries. Sahtis are characterized by their medium to high alcohol contents, cloudy appearances, and phenolic flavor. Goose Island's sahti is lighter than others we've sampled. The sharpness of the oats complements the juniper, and this beer has a wonderful mouthfeel. At $16 for a half-gallon growler, it's also a steal.

If you want to sample this beer, you have a few weeks left to do so; sahtis are traditionally brewed as a winter beer. This won't be the last brew pub selection we'll be reviewing. We'll be showcasing different beer styles on a regular basis from as many local brewpubs as we can reach. Goose Island sahti is Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week."

Note: We see that in our haste to file this last night, we forgot to post the all-important photo. Fear not, we'll do that later this evening once we have access to the file.