Sunday, October 4, 2009

Alaskan Brewing Co - Baltic Porter Ale

And so after a weeklong hiatus, I am back to review yet another beer. This time however, I decided I'd like to try something darker, heavier, more robust. While browsing through the beer section at the Red Apple Market in Issaquah, I discovered this bottle of Alaskan Brewing Co's Baltic Porter Ale. Apparently, this beer has been brewed with Cherries, Brown Sugar, Vanilla Beans, and Oak Chips. I am hoping this will be a good recipe for one heck of a sensation on my palette.

But before we dive in, let's pause for a moment to recognize Alaskan Brewing Company. Alaskan Brewing Co is probably most well known for its amber ale. Alaskan Amber is very popular in the pacific northwest. In addition to the amber, Alaskan Brewing Co also brews a pale ale, white ale, a stout, an ipa, two seasonals, a smoked porter and also a handful of rare hard to find if not in alaska special brews (like the one I have here tonight).

And so taking this a step further, what exactly is a Porter? And even better, what is a Baltic Porter? Two very good questions. As the name suggests, a Porter is an Ale. During the brewing process the yeast used to convert sugars into CO2 and alcohol floats on the top, this is what defines an ale as an ale.
Porters are usually very dark and are often confused with stouts. Porters get their dark coloration from the black or chocolate malts typically used in the production of these beers. Typical flavors on the palette will be roasty and chocolatey.
But this is where we draw the distinction between your standard Porter, and your Baltic Porter. Baltic Porters are considered to be Imperial Porters. Imperial Porters typically contain a much higher alcohol percentage than that of a regular porter, usually in upwards of 7.5%. The main difference being that the Imperial Porters tend to lack the roasted flavor of stouts and regular porters, with dark malts being the most prevalent flavor. The Baltic Porter are all that remain of a 19th century Baltic Trade in Imperial Stouts. Baltic Porters are typically bottom fermented, but in the case of the Alaskan Baltic, it is an example of a top fermented Baltic. Usually, Baltic Porters range in alcohol content from 7 - 9.5%. They are usually very sweet, and strong. So here we go, let's give it a shot...

Category: Baltic Porter Ale
ABV: 9.8%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown

The Pour: The Baltic Porter pours a thick very dark red, nearly black, and leaves a lovely tan head with poor retention. Slight lacing on the glass.

The Nose: Very malty, lots of cereal, notable amount of sweetness and a high alcohol content is easily detected. Smells rich, full of malt, and body. I can also detect slight oaky nuttiness, and a faint cherry vanilla aroma. Now it's time for the taste!

The Taste: Initially the mouthfeel is not heavy at all, the low carbonation character of higher alcohol brews, makes this very smooth. Cherry and vanilla on the tip of the tongue which fades to a noticeable darker roastiness on the back of the palette. Lots of cereal and dark malts throughout and slight hints of cola in there as well. I'm picking up hints of coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes at the very end.

The Verdict: Tough for me to dislike this one, but it might be very easy for someone who does not like dark beer and higher alcohol beers to enjoy it. The flavors presented in this one are very unique. Cherry Vanilla, oak, coffee and chocolate...all combine to create something very smooth, intriguing, unique and in my opinion, very delicious. If you don't already have an affinity for dark beers, most namely porters, stouts, or imperials of the same name, you might want to steer clear of this one. It just might be too much to handle.

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