Saturday, December 12, 2009

165. Alaskan Baltic Porter

Our second beer from Alaskan Brewing Company, and our second from their Limited Edition beers—the last was their classic Smoked Porter, a crowd favorite.

The red highlights coming through the glass are a nice touch (on the table, not on the glass)

Alaskan’s Baltic Porter starts with a fruity candy nose that is reminiscent of Twizzlers. There is also some sweet malt and sugar aromas, and some light vanilla; some dark fruit notes emerge as the beer warms. Pouring a dark, opaque brown with a tan head and some luscious red highlights, Baltic Porter begins with a rich, sweet malt flavor that also brings with it roasted and chocolate flavors—there are no burnt or bitter flavors. Dark fruit and dark caramel sugar notes appear in the middle, with cherry, raisin, and currant to the forefront along with a distinct vanilla undertone. It ends clean—it does have something of a lager finish—although there is a bit of oak tannins and alcohol warmth that lingers. As well, the brown sugar flavors do become more prevalent as the beer warms. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a thick, viscous, and rich body. The carbonation is low, and falls by the wayside as the beer warms in about the exact same proportion as the alcohol becomes apparent. There is also a bit of slickness and oiliness as the beer warms, and the legs become more apparent. An excellent beer overall, one that has improved with age, and will certainly get better with more time—I wished we had more of this to sit on and try in about another six months. The best way to indicate our enjoyment of this beer is to make it a Top 10 Best contender, and a well deserved one at that.

From the Alaskan website: “Alaskan Baltic Porter is a deep, dense beer with an intricate array of aromas and flavors derived from substantial amounts of specialty malts, dark black cherries and whole gourmet vanilla beans. Aging on toasted French oak adds further complexity. This style shares many characteristics with a Russian Imperial Stout, at times the two are almost indistinguishable. Baltic Porter is full-bodied and jet-black in color with brilliant garnet highlights and a dense tan head. The smooth, deep maltiness is accentuated by raisin and licorice notes, as well as chocolate and mild coffee characters. A touch of cherry and dried fruit flavors are also evident with a mellow vanilla background rounding the finish. The oak brings hints of bourbon and hot toffee and contributes to the warmth of this richly flavorful beer. In order for the British to export their dark ales to the northern ports of the Baltic Sea, they were brewed stronger and hoppier than normal to endure the long voyage. The extra warmth was welcomed in these countries with harsh winters and a taste for the robust, attributes that also fare well in Alaska. Alaskan Baltic Porter is brewed from glacier-fed water and a generous blend of the finest quality European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties and premium two-row pale and specialty malts. Our water originates in the 1500-square mile Juneau Ice Field and from the more than 90 inches of rainfall we receive each year. This limited-edition brew also includes cherries and vanilla beans. Enjoy this vintage brew now or age it for several years. This big beer has a longer life than lighter styles allowing it to develop rich, new flavors over time.

The Story Behind the Label: Russian Orthodox churches are a part of many communities in Alaska as well as Russia and other countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. Built in Alaska by early settlers, the onion-domed copulas and traditional trim of these structures stand out amid the wild spaces of The Last Frontier. Alaska may have been purchased from Russia in 1867, but the churches’ influence is still evident in these icons dotting the hillsides and towns of our state from Juneau to Unalaska.”

ABV: 9.8%
IBU: 53
OG: 1.100


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