One of us Beer Chicks (the brunette one) recently spent quite some time this summer seeking out the best beer that Latvia (yes, Latvia) had to offer. Amidst the myriad of German and Czech-style Pilsners, one style stood out as a testament to the land, the sea and the climate: the high octane and delicious Baltic Porter. (So what if it was introduced by the British!)
Baltic Porters are, as the name suggests, brewed in the Baltics in the countries of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and yes, Latvia. The style was brought to Northern Europe by the shipping of British Porters to Russia in the 1700’s.
These beers are complex and traditionally pretty high in alcohol, ranging from 5-9% ABV. This beer is usually brewed with lager yeast, but sometimes is brewed with ale yeast. If the beer is brewed with ale yeast, it is then fermented at cold lager temperatures, making this a kind of “hybrid beer.”
Baltic Porters can have flavors of dried fruit, licorice, coffee and spicy hops. They are typically less burnt in the mouth than Robust Porters and are much more complex than Brown Ales. Try out some of our favorite Porters and get a taste of the Baltics.
Aldaris Porteris: Aldaris Brewery – Riga, Latvia.
We drank many a Porteris while sitting under the Aldaris umbrellas in the lovely biergartens in the squares of Riga. Roasted coffee with notes of honey, walnuts, raisins and vanilla.
Olfabrikken Baltic Porter: Bryggeriet Olfalbrikken, Roskilde, Denmark. Bitter chocolate, smoke, licorice, leather.
Baltic Porter: Smuttynose Brewing Co., Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Part of Smuttynose Brewing’s seasonal and limited “Big Beer Series,” this black beer is big and bold with quintessential flavors of dark fruit, coffee and raisins. It’s a little hard to get a hold of but Smuttynose just announced that it will be releasing the Baltic Porter in early November, 2010. Yay!
(2009’s version was 8.7% ABV.)