Bare Bear | Off Color Brewing

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Bare BearBare Bear

Brewed by:
Off Color Brewing
Illinois, United States

Style: Sahti

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
A long time ago in Finland, a bunch of Finnish dudes built a sauna. It was nicer in there than it was outside, so they stayed in there until they ran out of beer. When they ran out of beer they still didn't want to go outside so they decided it would be better if they just started brewing their beer in the sauna. And so began the tradition of brewing this traditional Finnish beer in saunas. Chock full of rye and juniper and spicy yeast esters, our sahti might inspire you to build your own sauna to ride out this winter.

20 IBU

Added by brandoman63 on 02-25-2015

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Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 211
Photo of tlema1
3.66/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

L: light amber, big head, minimal lacing
S: biscuit malt, not much nose
T: light malt, spices, earthiness
F: tons of mouthfeel, very spicy finish
O: better than expected

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a medium to dark coppery amber with very little carbonation on the pour, but a light off-white ring around the glass with little lacing. Aroma of slightly sweet caramel and biscuit malt, root spices, banana and slight rye. Flavor is sweet bready and caramel malt, earthy spices, rye; with the rye asserting itself into a thinner, spicier almost medicinal taste, then settling in for a spicy finish with light rye tartness, residual caramel and hints of nuts. Medium bodied with some light creaminess at first, but thinner in the finish. An interesting spiced ale. I'm not really getting puer juniper flavors, althought it must be the major contributor to the medicinal flavor in the middle and perhaps the rooty, earthy spicing throughout. Quite different than the Scandinavian or Dogfish Head's sahtis I've tasted, but equally flavorful and interesting. I really like the start and finish, but a little more malt support for the spicy, somewhat stark middle would be better. Still really liked this. The spicing is well done and the malt is interesting. It is odd that there are not much clear juniper notes, considering how bright those flavors are in the native plant. I like what Off Color has been doing. Good job.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle

Pours foggy hazy copper-amber with a creamy off-white foam head. Smells like banana, clove, juniper, spice, rye, caramel, toasted bready malts, oak, mild wine, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Tastes very earthy with some banana, clove, oak, mild wine, juniper, spice, rye, caramel, toasted bready malts, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Feels medium-light bodied, creamy and crisp with moderate carbonation. Overall a nice sahti style beer.

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Photo of The_Kriek_Freak
4.06/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours dark amber and somewhat hazy. Only a small head and with a retention of a few seconds. Lots of caramel and dark fruit on the nose. Some banana and clove. Also juniper berries and caramelized sugars. It tastes very similar. Not much bitterness. Sweetish in fact. Thin body. A very unique beer.

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Photo of Maestro0708
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This beer gets extra points on appearance because of its label/packaging. Off Color always does a good job with it's quirky drawing-style artwork.

Pours a cloudy dark amber with a small off white head that retreats quickly.

Smell is sweet malts, rye spiciness and dark fruit.

Taste follows the nose, with rye spice up front. The finish is sweet. I'm having trouble isolating any juniper berry flavors, perhaps it's there in the vague fruitiness I'm getting.

Feel is medium bodied and well-carbonated.

Overall, I quite like this beer. My first of the style and I'm glad I picked this up!

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Photo of fscottkey
3.36/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

A: [4.00] The bottle lists the ABV (7.0%). There is a smudged off date code but it includes 2017 - so I am calling this fresh. Brown with ruby highlights. Has 1 finger of off white head with medium bubbles. The color is kind of intriguing.

S: [3.50] Vegital, leather, wet brown bread, dark cherries, carrots (there is a lot going on in the nose)

T: [3.25] It has a Belgian yeast undertone followed with brighter fruity notes. Nothing in the malty range.

M: [2.75] Really prickly carbonation. Like soda levels of carbonation.

O: [3.50] This is really unique. The smells and the carbnation are making it so hard to settle on if I like it or not. I keep retrying it. It almost has the taste and feel of a malt beverage (wine cooler) with the fruity notes and carbonation. I probably won't get this again - but I will try something else from this brewery - they aren't afraid to mix it up and innovate.

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Photo of bwood06
3.49/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I picked this up at my local liquor store here in the burbs since my parents were coming into town and I wanted something local and interesting for my Dad and I to try out together. This once caught my eye as being a bit off the wall for American styles and the local craft scene, plus I've heard of Sahtis and have been dying to try one for some time now.

This beer pours a dark amber hue that is a bit hazy resulting in not being able to see through it all the way. Carbonation is quite high and the head is a thick froth (off white in color) that dissipates incredibly slowly after climbing very rapidly. 4/5 The aroma is of moderate strength and leans toward the bitter end of the spectrum but is still nicely balanced. Malt aromas of raw grain, wheat bread, roasted nuts, and caramel come through quite nicely along with an earthy and herbal hop profile. The aroma as brings out a bit of peat and rye spiciness, especially as the beer warms. 3.75/5 The flavor is fairly strong with a slight lean towards bitter as opposed to sweet. The malt profile starts things off with rye and wheat breads, light sweet caramel, and roasted nuts. There is a slightly sweet berry flavor that comes through although this quickly transitions into earthy and herbal hops along with juniper berries that lend a resiny flavor to the beer, mainly on the back end. The finish is fairly short and moderate in strength with a balance of sweetness of the malt and bitterness from the hops and juniper. Bitterness is low to moderate in strength. 3.25/5 This is a medium bodied beer that has lively carbonation and creates both a mouth coating and prickly sensation on the tongue, depending on the area of the tongue. The mouthfeel disappears quite quickly after swallowing. 3.5/5 This is an incredibly interesting beer, although the rye just doesn't do it for me regardless of whether that is true to style or not (in this case, I'm not sure whether it is or not due to my inexperience with this style). It was definitely a fun beer to dissect with my Dad at the very least. 3.5/5

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Photo of Stooven
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Most immediate reminder -- though on the opposite spectrum in regards to feel -- is Maudite. Pours from a 12oz bottle into a snifter in a dark amber, cloudy ruby with a decent head. Carbonation is ever-present and lasting, but pulls a trick that Off Color neighbors Ten 90 have yet to pull, in that the super carbo doesn't intrude on the overall drinkability. Still, it's a sipper, but the constantly moving liquid frequently pulls up as much tart fruit as it does muddled plum and currant.

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Photo of chicagobeerguy
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

L: Not the best looking beer, a dark amber, thin head
S: Bubblegum, banana, woody notes, dark fruit notes, alcohol is apparent although not to strong, the smell is a mix between a bock and hefeweizen
T: Strong hefe taste to begin and then the bock strength comes second with a slight bitter taste, similar to a biere de garde taste. hints of dark fruit and woody oak to it.
F: Slightly over carbonated for my liking
O: A pretty good beer that is worth trying to see if you enjoy the Sahti style. I find it to be a blend between the old bock and hefeweizen styles, this beer is quite complex to me. I would enjoy this beer with a nice steak in the fall. Definitely a fall or winter beer.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled February 2015; drank 3/8/15 @ the Yarchives.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

Murky red/orange appearance.

Big khaki head; minimal lace.

Banana, mild raspberry & mild black pepper notes in the nose.

Medium thick mouthfeel.

Mild caramel & raspberry flavors up front; banana & black pepper notes on the finish. A drinkable Belgian vibe with some nice variety.

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Photo of SaltofOH
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated Feb. 15, 2016. DFH tulip.

A: pours a hazy dark copper/light brown with 3 fingers frothy off-white head that lingers. Some chunks of sediment and active carbonation.

S: smells Belgian to start. A clean phenolic aroma. Some toasty malt. Smells like a Belgian pale ale.

T: arrives very much like a malty Belgian pale ale. Phenolic, malty, sweet. Green banana and clove. No hint of alcohol, very clean. Some lingering phenolic/pineyness not like a hop pine, perhaps juniper.

M: actively carbonated. Slightly slick. Lighter side of mid-bodied.

O: this is interesting. I like it; seems like a winter equivalent of a saison. Glad I bought the four pack. Would buy again.

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Photo of tigg924
3.49/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazy, bright brown in color with 1/2 inch head. Taste is rye, toasted malt, and some barrel. Not really getting juniper. Medium bodied, dry, and slightly sweet. Decent beer, but I prefer the other sahtis I have had. Would not pass this up, but would not rush out for it either.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.64/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

t's a gusher. It's clear copper colored, like a dark honey brown with no head and a few surviving bubbles to rise. Nose is spicy and has an undertone of caramel or nuts. Juniper smells sharp and there is a touch of sour quality. Malt is rich and spicy with rye. The nose has a delicate balance between earth and sky. The perfume from the juniper is is not at all hop like and the malt shows hints of nectar like honey.

The drink has a woody quality form the juniper that is very light and almost nutty. The drink is pleasant and very hearty. Lots of spice and the sharp flavor of the juniper made soft by malt. Rye is crisp and the little touch of sour quality to the mouthfeel is welcome int he finish against these richer flavors. Mine has lost much carbonation and would have been much lighter with a few more bubbles. It finishes a bit heavy and with some syrupy sweetness. It's a sipper because of the abv which is 7% but also because of the flavors which are earthy and mellow..

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Photo of Flickerdart
3.49/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass. Beer pours a pleasant amber with a massive head, and many streaming bubbles suggest high carbonation. Maybe it would have looked better in a tall pilsner glass?

The smell is faint, despite its relatively high 7% ABV. All I can get out of it is malts, with maybe a touch of pine. This beer really makes me think of a campfire, because as I lean in to smell it, the sound of the head dissipating is exactly like the crackle of an open flame.

Taste is unabashed rye, and malts. I'm not getting any of the juniper berries that were promised. On the plus side, it's much less offensively bitter than regular rye beers.

What this beer lacks in taste, it makes up for in mouthfeel - the dense chewyness of the drink combined with the high carbonation coddles the tongue in a very pleasant way. The way to drink this beer is in huge mouthfuls!

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Photo of smakawhat
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Deep amber brown with a muted red body color and a bit of a rust bucket opaque appearance. Head creation is a very sudsy but also big three fingers. Off tan head, slightly yellow and uniform, it suds out with very soapy retention to a small puck.

Very herbal nose, dry and spicy grains mixing with a mild sensing caramel quality. A small bit of milk chocolate seems to peak out a bit as well on the sweet angle, which is a nice compliment to the spicy herbs like character. Not sensing so much juniper but a good green earthy character does make itself present.

Palate has a bit of a bite to it. Peppery and dry herbs and spice whaff with and almost pine and spruce tip heat in the mid palate. Light sensing caramel qualities but also a very jarring mouthfeel with very gaseous and peppery carbonation. Finishes with a hot mineral wet feeling on the aftertaste, quite dry, mixing a touch of milky chocolate and green herbs.

Interesting brew that Sahti can be, this one comes off quite powerful though. Fun to drink but also a bit jarring.

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Photo of telescifly
3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I have to be honest, my first impression of this beer was not good. Whether it's the style or execution, I'm not sure, but I wasn't very happy with it. It does have an alcoholic bite, a forbidding spice, and upfront earthiness that all combine for a bad first impression. However, as I continued sipping (in fact, only as I made my way through the second of the pack of four a couple days later) it grew on me. I don't think it's a fantastic beer, but it's pretty good nonetheless. Earthy overtones and musty spice on the nose, strong juniper and a yeasty alcoholic bite on the tongue, and the most interesting facet of this beer, a nuanced and absolutely fantastic sweet, fruity, woody taste lingering in the palate. Overall, an average to good introduction to a particularly difficult style.

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Photo of justintcoons
2.43/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass.

Amber-Mahogany with 1 finger of loose bone white head that dissipates quickly. Slightly hazy with lively carbonation.

Caramel, rye, potpourri, banana, and cocoa powder.

Wheat, banana, clove, and potpourri. Earthy bitterness along with notes of spicy rye and a dried oakiness.

Medium-light bodied, airy, and off-dry with carbonation so high it stings your mouth.

The carbonation is a killer. I really can't get over that.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Getting very interesting, these Off Color people.
I find their website hilarious, and they seem truly dedicated to bringing unusual styles to Chicago and, I presume, other points. This is the 5th ale I have reviewed of theirs, so I guess this makes me a fan.

Perhaps undistinguished in sight and nose, taste offers up a bit of a wow-factor. Spicy without the hops. Is that just the juniper or do these guys really know what they are doing... while having fun.
Since they only make this in winter, I had better get a 4 pack now.

Re-tasted on 7/1/16: this bottle had gone off a bit. I poured almost half and came back a few minutes later and it had over-flowed. The taste reflected this; nowhere near as rich or complex, spiky mouth; and more sediment in the glass than I remember.
Maybe put room for a best-buy date on the next printing of the label of a great beer that, by me, should be drunk fresh. I'm guessing that this is a tough style to make. Drink Bare Bear fresh.

3/8/17 Bought one of the last 4-packs in captivity at Off Color's bottle store. (At least from this winter's release.)
I missed it. Still a wonder: how do they give it flavor without hops ? What a joy to a malt-head like me.

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Photo of beergoot
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Cloudy, light brown body; decent one-finger creamy head (the bottle gushed when popped open but most of the beer was salvageable). Funky aroma; fir and cedar; indeterminate spice. Woody and earthy flavor; hazelnuts; buttery; bitter. Medium body; soft on the palate.

I don't recall if I've had a sahti-styled beer before or not, but this is certainly interesting and very approachable. This one seems to be a twist on an English brown or mild ale only earthier. The label indicates Nugget hops were used for bittering, so I imagine this is not a traditional rendering of the style, and the rye malts certainly and some spicy character to the mix. This beer is just shy of being "malty" and "hoppy" yet has its own unique approach that just about fits those parameters. So if you're in the mood for something different...

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Photo of Barnoloid
3.94/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a very interesting beer. For me it sits somewhere between a rye ale, a saison and a gin cocktail. Full of mellow herbal notes amidst a spicy backend and a dry finish. Lively carbonation, which brings to mind the carbonated gin cocktail feel that I got from it. Have never tried a sahti before this one but Off Color really brought something unique to the table - it is definitely a memorable sipper.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled last night on 4/2/16. Comes in a 12-ounce single bottle for $3.99 from Hy-Vee over in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a "CHEERS-BOSTON" handled=glass stein.

Brew pours a hazy dark honey amber in color with a thinner white head. Areas of spotty lacing is seen when sipped. Aroma is of sweet malts, brunt brown sugar and yeast. More going on with the taste with some spices in the mix as well. Medium + to heavy bodied with good carbonation. Overall a decent 'sipping' brew style that I never had before.

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Photo of MaltsOfGlory
3.59/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bought this 12 oz bottle about a month ago, no bottle or freshness date, so I hope it's still good. I've never had a Sahti before, apparently it's a farmhouse with a bit of tartness? Let's find out.

Pours a very soapy one inch head into my glass, I can literally see and hear it fizzing away. The head WAS tannish, maybe as light as off white. After a minute the head is basically all gone. The body is amber, almost burgundy in color. Visibility is basically zero, very cloudy, not surprising for the style. I can't even see any carbonation, probably due to the cloudiness, but who knows. It sounded fizzy, so I expect the carbonation to be at least medium. Lacing looks like it will be no existent, but we'll see. Overall, the dark color is surprising, and the cloudiness lets me know there is gonna be some good yeast residue, but overall a sub par looking beer, not too impressed.

As for the aroma, it's good. It has that nice farmhouse smell, just like it should. Lots of clove up front. It says it's made with juniper berries, I don't pick up on that at all. Aroma may be a hair on the maltier side, due to the dark color and obvious darker malts. Overall it smells pretty strait forward though. Perhaps some malt sweetness coming through as well. Not really getting the rye either, which it apparently has. Overall it's between a 3.5 and a 4, but there’s nothing really wrong with it, so I'll go 4.

Wow, the flavor is not what I was expecting, you get that clove mixed with malt, with a slight malt kick at the end. Overall though the first taste honestly just reminds me of carbonated water, not a good thing to think of when drinking a craft beer. It just doesn't have much flavor. I mean it's not a bad flavor, I could drink it not problem any day, it's just like, why would I want to when there are so many better options? I get no rye and no juniper, and I'm pretty aware of my juniper. Perhaps a hair of bitterness, not much expected though with only 24 IBU's. A hint of that tartness at the end, which is really the only thing that I can say that is a step up from your average saison. The tartness is nice, but not enough to get this really anywhere close to a 4, it's a 3.5 but it's simply not good enough to be put into a higher caliber.

The mouthfeel is...weird, the carbonation is very high, probably a little too high. Really it reminds me of San Pelligrino mineral water. It's not a carbonation you would expect in a beer, maybe it's normal for the style. Heck, maybe the lack of flavor is normal for the style. It's clean and I like that, probably would be a nice drink on a hot day, but it doesn't really say beer to me, or "great beer" for that matter. The body is low-medium. I'll give it a 3.5 cause it's weirder than anything.

Drinkability is probably a 4 or 4.5. It's not delicious, but it's super crushable, and at 7% it's actually impressive on that front, I'll give it a 4.5 simply because it's 7% and it feels like 4%.

Overall it's a relatively disappointing beer, but by no means terrible. Just think of a good farmhouse and make it less impressive, that's this beer. 3.5 overall is probably fair.

The appearance turned out to be terrible, as was expected. I'll give it a 3, and that may be generous.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.66/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This beer looks exactly like a glass of iced tea. Very cloudy brown with an off white head that fizzes out almost immediately and there is not a spot of lacing to be found. Smell is bready malt, sweet and dark fruit, yeast and a bit of spiciness. Taste is the same, but the fruitiness in the smell seems to get pushed to the back of the line with the yeast, malt and spiciness coming to forefront. Feel is light with good carbonation. The spiciness tickles the tongue into the after taste. Normally how true a beer is to style partially factors into my ratings, but I've never had or even heard of this style before. So I would call this beer solid and different, but not really something I would seek out again.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No label information. Brewed in the style of a Sahti, available in 12 oz. bottled 4 packs and on limited draft.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Gusher alert! Pours a foamy crisp head of an ecru-tan color over a deep copper body with moderate clarity and ample, lively carbonation. Retention is poor and lacing is light and spotty. 3

(Smell) Rich, bread malt body with subtle toasted grain character and moderate roast barley character in the background, with a subtle raw fruitiness, and little bitterness to show. Potency is moderate. 3.75

(Taste) Malt body characters of chewy bread malts, soft caramel syrup body, light roasted malt finish. A largely malt-led body with not much in the way of bitterness outside of the slightly tangy bread malt and the mild earthy bitterness of the roasted grains. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, moderately chewy, mildly tangy, medium dry. Carbonation is high, generating a full frothiness and a sharply crisp finish. Body is medium for the style, medium+ overall. Balance is slightly tangy and earthy, roast bitter over sweet. Alcohol presence is light. There seems to be some issues with carbonation, or potentially infection with this beer, although I do not detect much negative impact on the flavor of this beer if an infection occurred. 3.5

(Overall) The Sahti is a fairly elusive beer style, with not too many American craft breweries venturing to replicate it, but the few breweries I have had samples from range wildly in the finished product. Off Color's Bare Bear lands comfortably somewhere between the worst and the best, arguably held back somewhat by some quality control issues, in my batch at least, resulting in absurd levels of carbonation that impact the drinkability negatively for this beer. These distractions aside, I found the malt profile largely enjoyable and rich as expected, with an enjoyable tang, thanks to the rye malt and yeast strain. I did not gather much from hops nor the juniper berry character that was mentioned on the label as a "secret ingredient", although neither are commonly prevalent in producing wild flavors per the style. Bare Bear would serve a decent introduction into a more obscure style, but I am inclined to suggest far superior beers (and even some other equally unusual ones) brewed through the "Off Color Brewing" label. They can't beat that label, though. 3.5

Off Color Brewing's
Bare Bear Finnish Style Sahti

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Photo of Trevor11
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I am really not familiar with the Sahti style or what to expect but this beer was outlandish to say the least. It looked like Coca-Cola in color and carbonation but had a woody, herbal, and possibly coffee mixture that was a bit off-putting. Try it out if you are adventurous.

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Bare Bear from Off Color Brewing
3.79 out of 5 based on 211 ratings.
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