Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bombastic Baltic Porters

Baltic Porters are the bomb. That is to say they are cheap way to get "bombed." They're stronger beers that seems suited to winter: Eastern European winters. They range from between 7.5 and 9.5 percent alcohol. They are a good choice if you want a cheap buzz and you like dark beer. Here is a sampling of some Baltic Porters (that is to say beers that are from Baltic states like Estonia and Poland.) All of the beers below should be found for no more than $1.79 to $2.50 a half-liter bottle.

First up is Saku Porter, an Estonian beer which pours the color of motor oil and tastes fruity with strong flavors of burnt caramel. Its carbonation dissipates and its foam subsides to nothing over the course of several minutes, but the beer doesn't go flat. Flavors of prune, raisin (dark fruits) and molasses with a tawny finish. Hops play a minor supporting role here, as the finish is just shy of sweet with burnt marshmallow notes. Next up is the Polish Okocim Porter, an old favorite of mine. It pours quite dark. Pours with plenty of carbonation that forms a compact but energetic. Very smooth. Starts with chocolate/cocoa flavors, then these meld into more tawny, fruity flavors with a slight tartness and late burst of tannin (but not in any way off-putting.)
Polish Zwyiec Porter is the strongest of the three and the cheapest. It is truly black malt liquor. Comes across simple and a bit watery...but strong! (Actual alcohol content by volume is 9.5 percent, your mileage may vary.) Fairly neutral malt flavor at first, but then there's some espresso flavor and a rather harsh bitterness from grain and hops. Touch of ethanol. Strongest but weakest in terms of flavor.