Category 12 in the BJCP are porters, and they are divided into 3 subcategories:
- 12A: Brown Porter
- 12B: Robust Porter
- 12C: Baltic Porter
Over time, the Baltic countries began brewing their own strong porters. This was sparked by brewers from Russia and England moving into the Baltic regions and starting new breweries. Once lagering became popular, Baltic porters began to be brewed with the bottom fermenting yeast, which somewhat changed their character (less fruity esters in the final product). For more info, check out this page on Baltic porters in The Oxford Companion to Beer (via Google Books). It's on page 82.
Baltic porters are generally dark brown in color with a malt flavor that provides a caramel, licorice and/or nutty character. There can be a medium hop bitterness, but you usually won't find burnt or smoky flavors. Alcohol content has a large range of 5.5% - 9.5% ABV.
Let's check out some of these commercial examples as listed by the BJCP.
Nøgne Ø Porter
Nøgne Ø is a brewery in Norway that was started in 2002 by a pair of local homebrewers. They have a wide range of products, ranging from porters, bitters, wits, saisons and more. Their porter was quite good, and is my favorite of the 3 that I have sampled for this project. It poured a deep, dark brown color with a large, tan head. The roastiness of the porter was very aromatic, and it also had smells of coffee and chocolate. The aroma translates beautifully into the flavor, providing a full bodied experience of more roastiness, coffee and chocolate. There was also a touch of smoke, which I didn't expect for this style. Nøgne Ø's porter drank incredibly smooth and was very enjoyable.
|Nøgne Ø Porter|
Sinebrychoff has a long history, dating back to 1819. Originally, Sinebrychoff was located in Helsinki, Finland, and was founded by the Russian Nicolai Sinebrychoff, but they have since relocated to Kerava, Finland. Since 1972, they were in a cooperation with Carlsberg Breweries, however, in 1999, Sinebrychoff became fully owned by Carlsberg. Sinebrychoff Porter was first released in 1957, and was a favorite of famed beer writer Michael Jackson. The brewing of Sinebrychoff Porter is a little different from other Baltic porters, as it is fermented with ale yeast. My bottle of porter poured quite dark, with a large, resilient brown head. The aromas and flavors were full of sweet malt, candy, chocolate, dark fruits and soy sauce. It drank incredibly smooth, yet it seemed to drink at a higher ABV than it's 7.2%. I found it to be a bit of a sipper. This was quite a treat of a beer, and I can understand why it is a classic representation of the Baltic porter style.
Source of information on Sinebrychoff Porter: Tierney-Jones, Adrian, "1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die," New York: Universe Publishing, 2010, pg. 805.
In the Zywiec Valley (part of what is now Poland), in 1881, the Zywiec Brewery released their first draft porter, and it was a big one. In 2013, the beer is still being brewed and comes in at 9.5% ABV. As you can see in the below picture, it poured a dark brown with a 2 finger width light tan head. It left noticeable lacing on the glass as the head receded. The aroma and flavor were boozy and roasty. The beer definitely had a bit of a "warming" effect on me. It didn't seem terribly complex, but it was still quite delicious. Expect a full body on this one, but only a little bit of carbonation, aside from the head that's produced.
Check out my other Exploring the BJCP posts: