It’s been a busy few days around the house. What I am happy to report to anyone who cares, is that I’ve actually gotten more than a few hours sleep the past few nights. What is difficult is all the stuff happening out in the beer community. Having a baby at home makes it difficult to get out for beers. Good thing I’ve got some at home to enjoy. So, you know, if anyone is looking for a Christmas present for me, bringing me beer is a good bet.
Today we have a beer that I’m really excited to try. It’s from Estonia and it’s an Imperial Baltic Porter. Why this is exciting to me is because I believe this will be the first Baltic porter I’ve had from a Baltic state. That’s pretty awesome.
Põhjala is a brewery located in Tallinn, Estonia. Founded in 2011 by four Estonian entrepreneurs alongside head brewery Chris Pilkington. Originally they brewed on a contract basis, going from brewery to brewery having their beers made out of other facilities. In 2013 they opened their own brewery and from the outset have been brewing quality beer. They are seen as one of the small number of breweries who can take credit for kick-starting the craft beer revolution in Estonia.
It is headed by head brewer Chris Pilkington, formerly with Brewdog in Scotland, and supported by a dedicated and knowledgeable staff. The brewery itself has quite a large production and with it’s setup they are able to produce 12hl at one time on their brew house. Once the beer is complete they have 13x24HL and 3x32HL fermentation tanks and 2x24HL bright tanks. Using only the latest technology and quality control measures, they are able to produce a variety of different styles of beer at the highest possible quality.
Today we have from them a Baltic Porter. Now, as I discussed on day 2 of this blog, porters and stouts are not really historically different beers. While we do have beers sold under both names, stouts traditionally were stronger versions of porters. The Baltic Porter is a prime example of this historical nature, though, it is still quite strong in and of itself. The Baltic Porter is in fact a version of the Russian Imperial Stout which originated in the Baltic region of the world. What makes this different is that it is usually cold fermented, similar to a lager. With the export of Britain’s Russian imperial stouts being quite popular in the Baltic region, it was only a matter of time before they decided to make their own using their own ingredients and brewing styles.
A Baltic porter often has the malt flavours similar to an English Brown porter but with less of the roast on the malt, like a schwarzbier. Overall, typical of this style is a sweet malt combined with deep malt, dried fruit esters and alcohol. Smooth roasted malt flavours coming close to burnt with a clean lager characteristic. An interesting style that I’ve not had the opportunity to enjoy too often. So, I am looking forward to this one.
Appearance – Pours black with a good tan head.
Smell – Smells of chocolate, roasted malt, cherries, and black licorice.
Taste – Roasted malt mixed with malty sweetness, cherry, and black licorice. Finish is both slightly bitter and warming from alcohol content.
Mouth feel – Medium-full body with moderate carbonation and a bitter finish with alcohol warmth.
Overall – Roasted malt and dark fruit esters meld well with the sweetness of this beer bringing an overall delicious brew. Alcohol content of 10.5% is well masked.
Do I like it? – I did like. It was a good Baltic porter and a very nice beer.