Kalja or kotikalja or vaarinkalja is a typical Finnish table beer you see in any canteen or formal feast. It's dark and often sweet but low in alcohol which is why the bizarre Finnish alcohol laws or strict attitude towards alcohol drinks don't apply to it. (I often hear people say we've got a liberal attitude towards alcohol. That's simply not true. Even a glass of wine is generally considered as getting pissed.) My mum always has some in the fridge. As a kid I used to drop sugar cubes in my glass just to see kalja foam.

I have a 1.5 litre jug where I wanted to make kalja but could only find recipes for big portions. So I compared a few of them and adapted a smallish version myself. It worked well so I'll post it for you too.

- 1.5 l water
- 1 dl rye malt
- 3/4 dl sugar
- 1/4 tsp yeast

Boil the water for about ten minutes and pour it on the malt and sugar. Let it cool down for couple of hours and then add the yeast crumb. Place in a warm place for a day. Filter the liquid and move it in a cool place. This is at its best after couple of days.

Like another Finnish beer sahti, kalja too would ideally be spiced with juniper berries. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any lately.


  1. Iam in the us. What's a 'dl' in tye recipe? Is it related to a liter? Thanks.

    1. You're absolutely right! :) That's decilitre, or 1/10 litre. Here's a handy conversion table: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decilitre#Non-metric_conversions

  2. In the US juniper berries can be purchased from the Monteray Spice Company ( Herbco.com) as well as many other herbs, spices, and teas.


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