Thursday, July 17, 2008
5 beer styles you've never heard of: Baltic Porter
I personally find beer styles to be an incredibly interesting subject. Beer more so than any other fermented beverage covers a vast spectrum of flavors. Don't believe me? Try a german pilsner, followed by a flanders red ale, and then jump into the world of american hop bomb IPA's. Chances are you'll soon realize that beer is a incredibly diverse beverage.
I thought it might be fun to write a series of posts on beer styles that aren't mainstream, in that, you won't find these types of beers at Champps or Outback Steakhouse. Recently, I brewed a Baltic Porter and several people have asked me what exactly is a Baltic porter.
According to the BJCP ("Beer Judge Certificate Program", that's right there is a certificate program to judge beer) style guidelines a baltic porter "often has the malt flavors reminiscent of an English brown porter and the restrained roast of a schwarzbier, but with a higher OG and alcohol content than either. Very complex, with multi-layered flavors."
Baltic porter was first brewed in Britain during the 18th century as a top-fermenting (ale yeast) beer. It remained an ale when local breweries - such as Carnegie in Sweden - began to produce it in the early 1800s. When breweries around the Baltic converted to bottom-fermentation in the second half of the 19th century, many began to brew their Porter with a lager yeast. Today only a few remain top-fermented.
Some great examples of baltic porters around the world are Sinebrychoff Porter made in Finland, Zywiec Porter made in Poland, and D. Carnegie & Co. Stark Porter from Sweden. A lot of these international baltic porters are difficult to find in the US, but definitely worth looking for. Easier to find are US versions. Ones that you can readily find in the DC area are Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter and Victory Baltic Thunder. Both of these can be found at Total Wine, Chevy Chase Liquors, and Norms in Vienna. Victory Baltic Thunder was originally a beer made by Heavyweight Brewing in New Jersey and when the brewing unfortunately went out of business Victory owners Ron and Bill worked with the Heavyweight ownership to keep their baltic porter alive.
IF you'd like to try to pairing a baltic porter with food the smokiness of the porter pairs well with BBQ and earthy cheeses such as Camembert and Fontina.
Drink your porter,