First Tasting: Baltic Porter (Beer #44)

December 8, 2012 by Jack

Posting the brew day log for the Baltic Porter made me decide I should take some tasting notes now before I put the keg away to lager for the winter.

Vital Stats:
Target OG: 1.089 Actual OG: 1.091
Target FG: 1.016 Actual FG: 1.018
ABV: 9.7%
Color: 30.5 SRMĀ (Calculated)
Bitterness: 38.1 IBU (Calculated)
Yeast: White Labs WLP830 German Lager Yeast
Fermentation Temperature:53°F until 75% attenuated, then 67°F for 3 days

Aroma
Malty and rich, with equal moderate notes of milk chocolate, dried fig/date/plum, and toasty bread. Moderate nut aromas suggesting walnut and pecan. Some licorice. Bit of caramel & toffee. Some floral, lightly spicy notes likely from the Czech Saaz hops. Hopefully this fades with some age.

Clean, slightly yeasty lager character that I get in every beer I’ve brewed with WLP830. NO diacetyl or DMS. Low alcohol aroma.

Appearance
Deep amber to brown. Large, thick, khaki-colored head of very small bubbles. Head lasts a couple minutes before falling to a thin layer atop the beer. Rather hazy.

Flavor
Much more robust and complex than the aromas suggest. The aroma is complex, but it fails to prepare you for the flavor. Rich and malty, with strong flavors of dried dark fruits, brown sugar, and some chocolate roastiness atop a toasted bread foundation. Notable medium bitterness balances the relative sweetness and high alcohol well. Some spiciness from the Saaz hops. Some coffee and licorice linger. Fermentation character is clean and malty. No diacetyl, fusels, or DMS. Notable alcohol, but hides its 10% abv quite well. Would guess it’s about 8-8.5% if I didn’t know better.

Mouthfeel
Full body, smooth, warming finish, but not hot or solventy. Medium-high carbonation.

Overall Impression
Very rich and complex malt-dominated beer with hop bitterness and flavor to balance. Hop flavor is a little high, I think, and the beer tastes kind of “green,” meaning it could use some age to allow the flavors to meld, integrate, and congeal a bit. Overall very drinkable already; I’m looking forward to what some age will do for this beer.

It looks darker here than in real life.

I brewed this beer without ever having tasted a true example of the style. Based on what I’ve read in the BJCP guidelines and from online tasting notes of true Baltic porters, I think this is a good example. Regardless of how it fares in competitions next spring and summer, I am going to enjoy this beer.

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