Style Profile: Baltic Porter

Posted on January 28th, 2010

The icy conditions of winter are perfect to enjoy a porter, stout or any other big, malty brew. These robust beers make great cold weather companions. Today, we’re going to look at Baltic porters, one of the most intense styles of beer.

Baltic porter is an extremely heavy beer, both in taste and alcohol content, that was brewed to help the people living by the Baltic Sea of Northern Europe get through the frigid winter. The beer was originally produced in England and shipped to the people of Finland, Poland and other nearby countries. Although it later gained fame as a way to stave off the cold with it’s high alcohol content, it was brewed so strong simply to allow it to survive the long shipment to the Baltic region. Eventually, the citizens of these Baltic countries began to produce their own varieties of the beer, particularly in Finland and Poland. These brewers made some changes to the English recipe, brewing the beer as a lager instead of an ale and increasing the flavor. The alcohol in these beers is extremely intense, usually weighing in around 7 to 10% Alc. by volume. The taste is equally mighty and quite dry, usually with notes of dark chocolate and rye. It’s one of the strongest variations of porter available, and also one of the tastiest.

These beers make excellent companions for the right type of food. Although it might seem odd, oysters go great with Baltic porter and other heavy beers. The rich, malty flavors provide a nice counter flavor to the hearty tastes of oysters and other sea food. Dark chocolate is also a lovely accompaniment to Baltic porters.

If you’re going to try Baltic porter I’d recommend Sinebrychoff from Finland, which is perhaps the most popular and traditional version.  Smuttynose out of New Hampshire also produces a wonderful version. What’s your favorite Baltic porter? Next time you try it, let us know by tweeting your beer and adding the #mybeer hashtag.