Sveiki and Tere, dear readers!
You may be wondering why I am greeting you in Latvian/Lithuanian and Estonian. The reason is because this week’s Beer of the Week is Steel & Oak’s Baltic Porter.
Porters are one my my absolute favourite styles of beer. While I don’t find that they get the same kind of recognition and aplomb as stouts do, porters can still be deeply complex, while maintaining a level of drinkability that isn’t always inherent to their heartier sibling.
This is especially true of Baltic porters. Originally brewed in the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, this style is based on the traditional English robust porter that was imported to the area, but features a sweeter character and a higher alcoholic content. What this gives you is a beer that is hearty enough to warm even the coldest of Slavic bones. Considering the miserable weather Vancouver has been experiencing lately, Steel & Oak’s Baltic couldn’t have come at a better time.
Conditioned on licorice and fermented with lager yeast, S&O’s Baltic pours with a prominent, caramel head, that likes to linger. The beer itself is a deep cola colour. You’ll find a distinct, though not overpowering, roasty nose, that recalls fresh coffee beans. This is a bit of a sneaky beer in regards to its flavour profile. The body is in the mid-plus range and the initial flavour is reminiscent of sweeter coffee beers, with caramel and toffee present. The flavour progresses quickly from there however, as the roasted malt profile builds to a nice dry, fennel, black currant, and spicy dark chocolate crescendo. While it does not have the chewiness of some other beers, the body is thick enough and the flavours are sufficiently complex to allow Baltic to linger on your palette. This beer would pair great with a nice hearty lamb stew, or be the ideal compliment to a luxurious New York-style cheesecake.
Better yet, break out your patio chair, light your favourite cigar, and raise a glass in solidarity with our Slavic brethren, letting them know that you too know the misery of a long winter.
Get it while you can as Baltic Porter is a very limited release and considering how delicious it is, it will not be in stores for long.
Terviseks, Viso, and Priekā!
Photo credit: A. Markwart photography