Beer of the Month: Smuttynose Baltic Porter
Beer: Even though its only March, it is still pretty damn cold, at least in my neck of the woods. It gives me one last chance to taste winter before the warmer spring comes along. This particular brew is from Smuttynose Brewery, from New Hampshire, USA. I have no idea how far out in the world their distribution should go, but any Baltic Porter will do.
History: In the late 18th century an English brewery created a Russian Imperial Stout. It was made for Catherine the Great, and in order to survive the cold temperatures on its trip through the Baltics, they made it with more hops and alcohol than the style usually calls for. Once the people of the Baltics got their hands on some, they tried to recreate it with their own regional ingredients (including lager yeast instead of the conventional ale yeast because it ferments at colder temps). The result was the Baltic Porter, not the same as RIS but still good individually.
Appearance: It pours a pitch black color and is completely opaque. It is not supposed to be that dark per se, just dark brown, but I like it this way. I love so many beers of this color that I don’t mind at all. It has a thick, long-lasting foam as well
Aroma: It has a very rich roasty aroma that only gets more roasty as it warms. When it is colder there are hints of licorice and alcohol, like a vinous Port wine (no relation). That kind of fades as it gets warmer.
Flavor: The flavor matches the aroma. Its sweet like candy right off the bat, like toffee and caramel. That blends into a coffee like roastiness. There is a slight bitterness from the hops that fits in well with the roast, but the leafier flavor of hops is well hidden.
Mouthfeel: It sips smooth like hot chocolate, not thick like molasses which you might think from the appearance. It has a nice dry finish that leaves you begging for another taste. There is alcohol warmth throughout. Most are 7-8.5% ABV, this one has 9.
Drinkability: This is one of my favorite beers of all time. I would honestly drink this beer year round if I could. I am just constantly in the mood for it. That said, its still better when it is cold out.
Proper Glassware: Regular pint glass. These tend to be well carbonated. The foam is dense and likes to stick around. You’ll want the added headspace.