The Baltic Firecracker

It was a Sunday night birthday party on the Lower East Side. Dainty morsels were spread on the table, less dainty mademoiselles rolled about in wild abandon under the table, in the glare of the video camera’s light. No Paris Hilton, though.

Taking a breather from making out with Satan in his fetching ruffled shirt and cummerbund, or pursuing the birthday girl under the chairs of the living room, or again ensuring that her assets were duly recorded for posterity, Natasha let it be known that Baltika Porter from St Petersburg was a very good beer indeed–the others were best forgotten, but the porter should definitely not be dismissed. Who am I to dismiss such advice from such a pert nipple I mean, young lady?

Baltika labelLo and behold, the local Key Food has Baltika Porter, a.k.a. #6, for a mere 99 cents a half liter. I felt duty-bound to investigate.

The beer pours almost black with a ruddy tinge, and settles to a thick tan head that mostly falls back fairly quickly, leaving almost no lace on the glass. The nose is malty, with a bock-like sweetness and not much else, the mouthfeel is substantial, and the palate has a good, robust hint of roasted coffee and chocolate that evolves into a slightly burnt dryness that balances the malt. There is hop bitterness as well, but nothing like what American examples of the style tend to indulge in. This is a biggish beer at 7%ABV, but the alcohol is under control and there is no fusel harshness (this is a lager porter, in keeping with most of the Baltic tradition, so fermentation by-products should be kept well in check) and it warms up nicely, without developping any objectionable aftertastes; the roasted character just increases somewhat, but so does the malt so that overall the beer does not veer off course. Which is more than could be said about Natasha…

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