In the last few months, I’ve started trying to do some brewing, in ways that fit with the Viking aesthetic.  I started thinking about what modern craft brewing (which I’ve done, and I love) does or doesn’t have in common with brewing as the Vikings must have done it.  The reality is, I don’t think the Vikings were sterilizing all their equipment, putting their beer in bottles, or using three barrel mash setups.  I think it’s more likely that they boiled some malt with some water, then dumped it in a bucket with some yeast.  The result was probably comparatively sweet, yeasty, and flat, since you aren’t going to get much carbonation in a bucket or wooden tub.  As a model, I’ve been looking at some of the modern recipes for a Finnish home-beer called sahti.  It’s made very simply, and in a much more “casual” way than our modern home brew.  There are a few recipes on that site that you can look at, but basically you boil some barley and rye malts in water, strain it through juniper twigs, add some yeast, and let it sit in an open container for a week or two.  I’m a week into my second batch right now.  The first batch I managed to burn the mash, so it tasted decidedly burnt, which was unpleasant.  The new batch was made with malt extract for the sake of time and to see how it would come out.  I added some rye malt and some juniper berries, and used commercial brewing yeast (the first batch used bread yeast).  I just racked it over the weekend, and I’ll probably let it go a few more days. 

I also made a batch of braggot, which is basically made the same way only with some honey added, and a little coriander instead of the juniper.  It’s been fermenting about a week, and it’s pretty tasty as is. 

The most recent addition was some sima, a modern Finnish home made “mead” made with sugar, water, lemon, and yeast.  It’s very lightly fermented, and basically like mildly alcoholic soda.  It’s traditionally served with funnel cakes for Finnish May Day, and it was a big hit with the funnel cakes we made this weekend. 

I’ll report back as events warrant…