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…