Can we offer you a glass of Geopark sahti?

Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas Geopark's most surprising specialty is a natural product, but perhaps not the one that comes to mind first. The area has a very lively sahti tradition. Sahti is a farmhouse ale and an important Finnish product, as it has received the EU's Traditional speciality guaranteed -status.

What is sahti?

Sahti is a thick, strong traditional beer that is made for home use and as a party drink for weddings and funerals, for example. Water, barley and rye malt, juniper, yeast and sometimes hops are used in the manufacture of sahti. In the past, farmhouse yeasts were used, but baking yeast has now been used for over hundred years. The finished sahti has an alcohol content of about 6-12%.

As the sahti is a fresh beer, i.e. it has not been pasteurized, filtered and the fermentation is not stopped, its shelf life is limited. It also requires a cold chain and is poorly resistant to transport. Sahti reportedly survives for about a month after it is ready, but there is no complete certainty – it is usually consumed before that.

Sahti is an TSG, i.e. it has the Traditional speciality guaranteed -status of the EU. In Finland, Karjalanpiirakka – Karelian pasty and Kalakukko – fish and pork pie are foods of the same status. Other European TSG products include Serrano ham and Mozzarella cheese. The marking does not restrict the origin of the product, but the manufacturing method must be as specified.

(images: aitojamakuja.fi / Julia Kivelä)

Traditional specialty guaranteed

Sahti on the world map of beers

World-renowned beer journalist Michael Jackson once described sahti as a glass of anthropology – the missing link in beer making between Mesopotamia and today. Sahti-type beers were still popular in Europe in the Middle Ages, but have since been pushed out of the way of industrial and tightly regulated production. However, traditional beers similar to Sahti are still produced in remote parts of Europe, for example the Baltics, the fjords of Norway and Finland.

Traditional beers are characterized by the fact that they are produced at home – the production tradition is strong in Häme, North Satakunta and the southern parts of Ostrobothnia. On an industrial scale, only a few breweries in Finland brew sahti, the most famous of which is probably Lammin sahti in the Häme region.

(images: aitojamakuja.fi / Julia Kivelä)

Liquid bread

The world’s first and so far only sahti-Geopark

Sahti tradition is one of the most significant cultural unifying factors in the Geopark area. Dialects and traditional dishes may vary in different parts of the area, but the sahti is familiar to everyone – even those who don’t like it. Most of the sahti enjoyed in the Geopark is traditionally made at home.

Finland’s only Sahti academy is located next to Lauhanvuori National Park in Isojoki. In Karvia, the hobby is maintained by the Karvia traditional drink association, and there are active home brewers around the area. Commercial sahti is made by Olu Bryki Raum / Suupohja Brewery in Isojoki. The local specialty is pale and thick rye sahti. 

Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark is the first and currently the only sahti geopark in the world. So you can travel to the area not only to admire the unique geology, but also to get to know a very interesting brewing tradition.

(image: Terttu Hermansson)

Text: Laura Tauriainen / Luova toimisto Ranka, Pasi Talvitie

Images: Aitojamakuja.fi/Julia Kivelä, Terttu Hermansson