Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Tuesday Tasting: Baltic Porters
Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we take a look at a beer category that is among the best in standing up to harsh winter conditions.
Baltic porter is a beer style that is a bit of a mystery to many beer drinkers. Like a foggy and frigid cove along the Lithuanian coast, Baltic porter is beautiful and a bit dangerous. The name comes from the Baltic Sea, where the countries that have traditionally made this strong porter are located. Designed for the winter in places like Sweden and Russia, you quickly understand why these brews weigh in at 7 percent alcohol by volume and above. The style is quite different from a London-style porter and in my mind more closely resembles an export stout or Russian imperial stout. There is a mixture of heavily roasted barley and sweet malts that drives this style's flavor profile. You get your money's worth in flavor when you order a Baltic porter.
Baltic porters can be difficult to find. Brewers in Poland, Sweden and Russia are among those that export Baltic porter brands. A few American brewers have also picked up the style as a winter warmer. We located three for this tasting and wish we could have found more.
Baltika 6 Porter: From Russia's Baltika Breweries in St. Petersburg, this beer is black and allows almost no light to pass. The head on this beer was present throughout, but thin. Nice roasted malt characteristics with a good sweet note at the finish. It comes in at 7.0 percent alcohol by volume, which is mild for this tasting.
Sea Otter Baltic Porter: Part of Vermont brewer Otter Creek's World Tour Series, it pours a rich fluffy head and its dark color allows just a slight hint of light to pass around the edges. Wonderful roasted coffee notes. Brewed with a lager yeast, there is a bit less of a fruit tone in the flavor. The label for this beer did not list the alcohol content, nor does the Otter Creek website. Rest assured, it does pack a punch worthy of its classification as a Baltic porter.
The Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter: Some of the best dark beer made in the east comes from this North Carolina brewery. This beer is an annual treat. The head on the beer is a bit thin, but its black ink color blocks out even the brightest light source. Tons of roasted notes that are actually eclipsed by sweet raisin flavors. At 9.0 percent alcohol by volume, you can taste the alcohol, which builds nicely into the overall flavor profile of the beer.