Baltic Porters again

A little while ago, we wrote about a handful of Baltic porters we’d been able to get our grubby hands on. After much hunting and hoarding, plus a generous gift, we’ve got enough together for a second round.

D. Carnegie & Co Stark Porter (Sweden)

The label boasts that this was first brewed in 1836 and is still brewed to the same recipe, although now by Carlsberg Sweden. Michael Jackson penned an article over 10 years ago about the brewery’s founder, a Scot, which you can find here.

Once again though, for us this was a case of the history being more interesting than the beer. It’s a lovely opaque black, with a pillowy head. There’s a hint of coffee in the aroma, but not much else. The initial gulp is lovely — milk-chocolate and coffee flavours, some wine-like fruit and a good bitter kick at the end — but then it’s gone. What aftertaste is left is a bit like Marmite.

It’s pleasant enough and reminded us of Sam Smith’s Oatmeal stout. It’s definitely got a heavy stout-like body. It tastes stronger than it is (it’s “only” 5.5%).

Baltika no 6 “Porter” (Russia)

We’ve been looking for this little beauty for ages, ruthlessly scouring every new Russian, Lithuanian and Ukrainian shop to open in our manor. Finally, a new Lithuanian shop called “Tradicia” at the bottom of Walthamstow Market was able to deliver. [The shop has lots of other goodies too, which may fuel a blog post or two…]

It was worth the wait. It too is inky-black with a slightly off-white head. It has an oily, slightly bubbly texture, definitely lighter than the Carnegie. The aroma reminded me of creme caramel.

As for the taste, there’s a huge explosion of roasted malt, biscuits and molasses. It’s rich without being sickly sweet, and has a fruity aftertaste (cherry?) that lingers. It slips down way too easily for 7%.

I think this is what we were after when we went looking for a Baltic porter. Something where the English stout influence is clear, but that has evolved into something else. All the publicity says that this is brewed to a traditional English recipe and is bottom fermented, but there were definitely elements of Schwarzbier in there too.

Pardubicky Porter (Czech Republic)

In response to our first post on Baltic Porters, Evan Rail drew our attention to the tradition of Czech “baltic” porters, telling us that Pardubicky had been the only regular example for a while. Upon hearing that we couldn’t get it in London, he sent us a bottle in the post. Top man. Sorry it’s taken so long to review it…

This is definitely an interesting beast. On their website, this also claims a nineteenth century recipe. It looks great, with a fluffy head, and smells a bit Belgian — candy sugar and booze!

Tastewise, it has a pleasing sourness that the other two didn’t have, as well as notes of molasses and port. At 8% it’s also stronger than the other two. Overall we probably preferred the Baltika, but this one’s definitely worth trying, and also delivers the right mix of the familiar and the exotic…


The Wirral is not Enough

Mike McGuigan with some hops from the North West of England.A little while back, Mike McGuigan, the owner and head brewer of the Wirral’s Betwixt Brewing Company, dropped in to comment on this post. We were intrigued by his business model and we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

B&B: Firstly, a selfish one — when and where might we be able to get your beers down here in London? Any festivals coming up? Or should we get off our arses and come up to the North West?

We currently work as a ‘cuckoo brewery’ – using spare capacity at a decent local micro — Northern Brewing, Cheshire. The economics of this mean we currently don’t sell much beer in cask at all (instead mainly selling bottled beer at local farmers’ markets).

We’re in the process of setting up our own brewery on the Wirral and, once up and running, we plan to sell a lot more cask beer. However, as a small company, with a limited number of casks and a wish to concentrate largely on local sales, it means that I’m afraid we probably won’t be sending a lot of beer around the country.

We are look into dealing with selected wholesalers (those who will look after our beer, pay us fairly promptly for our and beer and return our empty casks in reasonable time!) so we might indeed occasionally pop up in a pub near you.

That said, if any of you fine folks do make it up here, you will be welcomed with free tastings at any of the farmers’ markets we attend! – see our website for more info. And don’t forget all of the other delights that Merseyside has to offer during this Capital of Culture year.

Continue reading “The Wirral is not Enough”

¿Cómo se pide una cerveza?

This post was written in response to a “meme” passed to us from CAAC, and begun on Culturilla Cervecera, on how to ask for a beer in your home city. This is a useful topic, as in Spain every part of the country has a different word to describe different measures, as you can see from following the links. There’s even a link here to a Portuguese version if you’re planning a holiday there…

If you’d like to chip in with how to order a beer in your respective country, then do feel free. I remember getting totally lost when an Australian tried to explain about “schooners” and “middies”.

En Londres, como en todas partes del RU, se pide “a pint” [paynt] o “a half” [harf] de cerveza que quieres p.e. “a pint of Pride, please”. Se puede usar nombres genéricos como “bitter” o “lager” si hay sólo una opción.

Si quieres beber de una botella, sólo necesitas decir el nombre (p.e. “A Duvel, please”). No tenemos nombres distintos para tamaños distintos. A veces se oye la expresión “nip bottle” para una botella pequeñita, pero nunca la he oido en un pub.

NB: Una pinta británica es 568ml, y una media es exactamente eso – pero una pinta americana es 473ml. En teoria, se puede comprar un tercio de pinta, pero nunca he visto estos vasos en un pub, sólo en beer-festivals.

Otras cosas muy importantes:

  • Normalmente no hay camereros en pubs británicos o irlandeses. Se pide la cerveza de (a? en?) la barra, y se paga imediatamente.
  • Se compra cerveza “in rounds” – se turna para comprar cervezas para sus compañeros. “it’s my round” = “me toca a mi”
  • Normalmente no damos propinas a los barmanes. Si quieres darle una propina a alguien en un pub, dile “and one for yourself” (“y uno para usted”) después de pedir tus bebidas. El barman añadirá el precio de una pequeña bebida a las que has pedido. Pero eso es muy inusual – yo he dado una propina en un pub inglés sólo una vez en mi vida.
  • No se olvides “please” y “thanks” – yo sé que los españoles ríen de nosotros ingleses en España porque decimos “gracias” todo el tiempo pero en Inglaterra no es posible sobreusar estas palabras.
  • Si quieres probar cerveza tradicional, busca la descripción “cask conditioned” o “real ale”.