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Kuisma tests: Is it just Saimaa or is there something brewing?

During the past few years LTKY has worked with Saimaa Brewing Company and they have provided some of our events refreshments. This summer we received few brewskies and two craft sodas for reviewing.

The task of reviewing the drinks fell upon yours truly, K. Närhi from LTKY’s board due to my most extensive beer consuming career among our board. Although in the wild you might’ve seen me with a basic lager can, along the years I have drunk different beers in the hundreds even exploring Germany’s beer scene up close for half a year. I’ve even dabbled in a few brews myself, so my competences to pose as a beer snob are solid.

At the time of testing it is late summer and future student events are looming in the horizon. While planning this test I aimed to do a fair assessment of these drinks in their usual use case-scenario: the beers had waited in the fridge for friday night, where they ended up in my bag for some old fashioned pussikaljoittelu, which loosely translates to drinking beers outdoors. The drinks will be drunk straight from the can, so no beer types will have their preferred vessel. The brewery had sent two of each drink, so I invited an unbiased secondary reviewer for a baseline. The beers and sodas took turns to mimic a more responsible way of drinking, where nonalcoholic drinks were consumed every now and then.

The first drink is Saimaa IPA, which by the cans description is on the hoppier side and the drink delivered on its promise. The bitterness of the hops was very much present in the aftertaste. In this drink, as with the other beers to follow the recurring theme ended up being that the drinks were made very faithfully to their categorizations’ characteristics. In the case of Saimaa IPA this meant that there were no wildcards in the hops of choices or side tastes, but instead it was a very standard IPA. Due to the pussikaljoitteluning having just begun, the serving temperature was great (as in cold) and no real complaints could be made.

Next one down the hatch was Kooky’s Mango-Passion soda pop. At this point the reader should know that I, the reviewer am almost a fanatic fan of mangoes. Be it the fruit itself, videogame object  or a scented shampoo, I’m more than likely to love the product. My only source of grievance is the fact that this nectar of the gods is often mixed with passion (the fruit). Compared to the bulk-produced mango-passion sodas this one is a clear winner, but only due to my own preferences I’m left wondering how good a pure mango soda would have been.

After a passionate disappointment I find a Bayern Weiß in my hand. On the topic of weißbier I’m snobbier than usual, as my time in Germany has hammered their golden standard of beer, reinheitsgebot, to my head. The first impression is promising, the usual “murky” taste of wheat beer is as expected but the aftertaste lacks the sweet, almost banana-like flavour that is present in classics such as fransiskaner or weihenstefaner. In Bayern Weiß the aftertaste brings to mind the standard Finnish lager, which by itself is by no means bad but lacks character. For all I know this might be due to some factor in the brewing process, where the German counterparts usually demand a specific type of glass and pouring with the beer’s sediments mixed in. From the can I’m left wondering if this would have been better enjoyed from the right kind of beer glass. All in all this does fill the role of a wheatbeer for pussikaljoittelu, but my own personal preference stays with the Germans.

When choosing the flavours of sodas Saimaa brewing sent they were in luck, as Kooky’s Ginger Lime combines two of my own favourites and none of the passion (fruit). The soda is a snappy combination of the bitterness of lime and sweetness. Ginger is left playing second fiddle, but makes the overall taste more fresh. As a massive consumer of sodas the reviewer is left a bit sad as there is no sugar free version, as the amount of sugar from normal sodas with my consumption would be a major health risk. So in the name of health, let’s go back to beer.

Yakima Valley Double Hopped APA promises double the hops and indeed hoppiness is the commanding flavor. In my beerlife-experience APA is a darker beertype than IPA. This means that along with the hoppiness the beer has more character and closer to the classic ale. Perhaps some of the full flavourness covers some of the extra hoppiness, as I’m not left with nearly as bitter of an aftertaste as with the previous IPA. Due to a swift rate of consumption, the beer is still nice and cool and the overall impression of the beer solid.

As an overall picture the Kooky’s sodas were very positive experiences, as my own feud with the passion fruit is my own personal war against passionate windmills. The beers were fitting for the use case and a certain observation was made a few days after the actual testing while shopping for groceries: Saimaa brewing places their pricing in the lower end of the premium beers, as the 0,5l cans come under 3€. This is a great thing in such scenarios where you want to have a little more variety while cracking a few cold ones with the boys but Belgian trappist-beers brewed from the monks’ tears have to wait until the consumers have the salaries of masters of engineering or economics.

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