Baltika Porter 7% ABV
The first snow flakes fall gently outside in the darkness as the first true cold front makes its way down from the artic. I, unaccustomed to snow at any time, am shocked by it’s presence in early November. The heat kicks on and begins to send its wafting pleasant warmth into my room as I stare out the window, in disbelief. It’s time. Thankfully I have in stock an appropriate beverage for this moment. A beverage that was made in a climate habituated to blustery cold and snow much earlier than this early November freeze. St. Petersburg, Russia, was the home of its birth and it’s termination in my consumption of it, is fitting on this eve. I pour myself a dark as night Baltika 6 Porter. I think of the many rivers and tributaries the city formerly known as Leingrad sits upon and the Baltic coast that it is a port of; the great figures of Russian history and Russian literature who have crossed the many bridges over those rivers and huddled under heavy coats on similar nights as the one I perceive outside my window. I take a draught and I long to trod along those same paths as I have yearned to many times before and will many times to come. Will you come with me upon this journey as I descend further and further into this glass of darkest brew?
The beer is smooth as black velvet upon my tongue with a hint of sweetness as it passes through my mouth. Its essence and nuances elude me just as sanity eludes Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. While I enjoy this beer, which can easily be consumed warm or cold, there is something to it that I can’t put my taste buds on. A lurking flavor, an inner depth that is beyond the surface and which only becomes more tangled as I drink on, in an attempt to describe it. The rich smooth taste continues to increase as I delve more deeply into the contents of the glass. The saccharine hint of black licorice becomes more and more prominent of an aftertaste at the back end. A sweetness unexpected and filled with mischief. As the liquid is moved from container to belly with delightful ease considering the ABV, a warmth and unnerving ease starts to exude through my body. While I recommend this brew to you, as it was highly recommended to me, be on guard. The height of art and culture is attested in its manufacture but as all things that come from St. Petersburg, the depth of the darkness of soul that the city has experienced and inspired in great authors, resides.
Baltika Brewery was formed in 1990 as a state enterprise during the end of glasnost and perestroika. In 1992 the enterprise started to privatize and around this time the idea of a “Baltika” brand arose. The company has proudly used modern equipment to make beer of “the very highest European quality brewed according to classical technology.”