Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finnish Homebrew: Kilju

Since this is a homebrew site on Finn Hill, I thought it would be good to give a mention to Finnish homebrew named kilju. The pronunciation is sort of like "killed you," as slurred together by a drunk.

Kilju is prepared by making a mixture of water, sugar and yeast; and allowing it to ferment. The making kilju out of sugar, water and yeast alone is illegal in Finland. Adding some sort of fruit will let you avoid legal consequences, but kilju also has a strong association with the Finnish anti-establishment types, so the fruit is often left out.

Theoretically Kilju would resemble low alcohol rum due to the use of sugar, but the taste and color are apparently closer to vodka. Yeast strains known as turbo yeasts are sometimes used to ferment it out in as little as three days. Baker's yeast is often used due to its cheapness and widespread availability. If you use something resembling good sanitation, it should ferment out clear. That apparently doesn't always happen, which probably results in people not wanting to waste perfectly good kilju that just happens to taste sort of like ass.

Due to its low cost and simple process kilju is a favorite of students and alcoholics. Probably the drink of choice for nearly all Finnish underage student alcoholics? I haven't tried making Kilju and probably never will, but in case you want to, here are your resources: Underground, Mainstream

Hard Cider

My decision to brew a hard cider came shortly after I had a minor keggerator disaster: Blew two kegs in two days. The Flanders Red and the American Stout are no more. Not by heavy drinking, the timing just worked out that way. About a week later the final keg (the Framboise clone) blew. And they didn't blow up, they just went dry. And I haven't had anything on tap since.

I had heard that if you show up here with a corny keg, you could get it filled on the cheap. So, keg in hand I headed out to Minea Farms. I don't know how much it would have cost because the owner quickly talked me into buying a variety of apple juices rather than whatever might have been available that day. So, aside from the yeast selection the recipe is his. The Fuji and Gala cider was for high sugar content. The Granny Smith for tartness, the Honey Crisp and Jonagold for flavor.

Hard Cider
Batch size: 5.0 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.095
Final Gravity: ? (still working)
Color 7° SRM / 14° EBC (Gold to Copper)
Yeast: Lalvin D-47

1 Gallon Fuji
1 Gallon Gala
1 Gallon Granny Smith
1 Gallon Honey Crisp
2 Gallons Jonagold

Combine all, and pitch the yeast. Since I had six gallons and can only ferment five at a time I saved off a gallon for drinking 'as is', and it was fabulous. Way, way better than the grocery store version which probably comes from a single variety.

The ferment took off like a rocket - it was good that I left plenty of headspace. Now I'm waiting until I can put it on tap!