Põhjala - Sajand
- ABV: 12.3%
- Bottle Size: 330-ml
- Serving Temperature: 54–61° F
- Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, or Pinot Glass
Sajand, like the Öö XO before it, is part of the brewery’s Cellar Series: a line of bold, dark, and barrel-aged offerings, frequently incorporating a variety of different barrel types into a single beer. Sajand was brewed to celebrate the first full century of Estonian independence, and was barrel-aged inside Bourbon and Cognac barrels with oak chips soaked in Vana Tallinn, “the most famous Estonian liqueur.” The net result is an especially smooth imperial Baltic porter that ramps up the impact of the Öö XO.
This beer actually uses three different examples of rye—rye malt, flaked rye, and chocolate rye—with the final result providing a nicely spicy, complex rye character that certainly was absent in that earlier imperial Baltic porter example. This one is similarly dark, viscous, and headless to the Öö XO, showing dried dark fruit, chocolate, and a pleasant channel of rich cocoa. Overall it lands a bit darker, a bit more intense, a bit spicier than the stellar Öö XO.
The flavors follow through accordingly—and the Sajand definitely ramps things up for this tasting lineup. There’s robust, generous rye contributions all throughout this beer, and here the carbonation seems to take a subtle step up, adding necessary lift to all the delicious spicy, dried-fruit complexity at the core. Robust notes of dark chocolate and char, as Cognac and Bourbon contributions provide some welcome warmth and barrel character at the edges. An absolutely stunning example of an imperial Baltic porter, and perfect for a side-by-side tasting with the similarly appointed Öö XO. It’s pretty tough to pick a favorite between these two.
With slightly more rigid edges (to the Öö XO’s plushness), this seems an even more worthy candidate for cellaring. The combination of deep caramelization, darker chocolate and char, along with the significant spiced-fruit component of this beer’s flavor profile, has us thinking of either going big with a grilled ribeye or pork loin, or giving this huge complexity of flavors a much chiller counterpoint with something like vanilla bean ice cream—or a bread pudding.
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