This is the last beer of the Advent Calendar for 2017. I’ve really enjoyed doing all of these write-ups and I hope that you folks following along found them interesting and informative. While I know that you all probably have different perspectives and opinions on the beers, I’m glad you stuck with me. One more post tomorrow with a beer from Beau’s and then I’m off until the New Year. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.
Today we have a beer that I’m excited to try. It’s from Estonia and it’s Põhjala Jõuluööa (Christmas Night) which is a Chocolate Vanilla Barrel Aged Imperial Baltic Porter. Why this is exciting to me is because I’ve had a Baltic porter from this brewery before, it was awesome, and it’s an actual Baltic porter from a Baltic state (how cool is that).
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 can produce a variety of different styles of beer at the highest possible quality.
Today we have from them a Baltic Porter. Now, as I’ve discussed loads of times on this blog, porters and stouts are not 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, making it a dark 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 like 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. This one is a Chocolate, Vanilla, Barrel Aged Imperial Baltic Porter. So, we can expect a wide range of flavours coming in on this one. Let’s get to it!
Appearance – Pours black with a good tan head.
Smell – Smells of chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, and some subtle oak in there as well.
Taste – Roasted malt mixed with malty sweetness. The chocolate and vanilla really come through for me on the taste and provide a nice rich sweetness that is slightly cut by a bit of oak.
Mouth feel – Medium-full body with moderate carbonation and a semi-sweet finish with alcohol warmth.
Overall – Roasted malt and dark fruit esters meld well with the sweetness of the chocolate and vanilla in this beer. Overall delicious brew.
Do I like it? – I did like. It brought some lovely flavours to a rich and smooth mouthfeel that hid the alcohol content of this beer well. It was a really nice way to finish the calendar and a fine example of a true Baltic porter.