Baltic Porter

Awaking this morning to 22° temperatures reminds me that – despite many brewers’ early Spring releases – we’re not quite at Spring time just yet.  So with that said, this week we have another hearty style for you – the Baltic Porter… sometimes referred to as an Imperial Porter.  

The Baltic Porter – as its name suggests – originated within the northeastern European region in the 1700s. For those not familiar with the Baltic Sea, you can brush up on it here. A cold, unforgiving place that warrants a rich, hearty beer that stems from European tradition.  Born from the traditional English Porter, this style carries many of the same characteristics, but at a much higher alchohol content and with deeper flavors – more akin to the Russian Imperial Stout style.

What to Expect

The Baltic Porter starts off with a rich, malty sweetness, and then smoothly transforms you to a moderately roasty (but not quite smoky) flavor.  Most will have a caramel, toffee, nutty, and/or molasses-like quality, with a sprinkle of dark fruits and possibly even some black licorice as well.  You’ll probably get a twang of spiced hops (like Saaz), but they should know their place in the background of this beer.  It’s a full-bodied, complex, full-of-flavor-yet-smooth drinking beer.  

Below is the Gateway Beers summary of the typical characteristics you can expect from a Baltic Porter:

For a more detailed description, check out the Beer Judge Certification Program’s guidelines.

Food Pairings

The Baltic Porter is another one of those great beers that struggles (just a little bit) to find a soul mate on the food plate.  It’s so complex and flavorful on its own, that you really need foods with substance to keep from drowning their qualities out.  We’d recommend smoked or grilled red meats, sweet potatoes, and rich & creamy desserts.   This is also a great “cigar beer”, if you happen to swing that way.


Serving Suggestion

To let all the great flavors shine through, we recommend serving your Baltic Porter north of 50º, and pouring into a widemouth pint glass (nonic or stout style), or just a big ole’ mug…

Top Recommendations

There are approximately 20 varieties of Baltic Porter that you can find in the Philly area’s top take-out beer stores and distributors.  For starters, we’d recommend trying one of the following three:

Smuttynose Baltic Porter, 9% ABV (Portsmouth, NH)

Ølfabrikken Porter, 7.5% ABV (Roskilde, Denmark)

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter, 7.8% ABV (Frederick, MD)

For additional selections, visit the Beer Selector on our website, and follow us on FACEBOOK for daily recommendations over the next week.  And let us know YOUR favorites through the comments section below!

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