This may sound rash, but I am confident that every craft beer enthusiast has a handful of landmark moments in her or his beer-drinking history. These are those love-at-first-taste experiences that imprint lasting memories upon the brain. I can remember the day, the room and people around me, the chair in which I sat, and the weather outside at the moment I first tasted Duck-Rabbit’s Baltic Porter five years ago.
A Maritime Beer
Baltic Porters originate in an amalgam of styles and economic processes. The porter style of beer, generally speaking, has a fairly traceable history linking its inception to London in the first half of the 18th century. It was originally brewed to mimic the end result of a common pub practice that involved the blending of three different types of beer – most likely a session, brown ale, and strong dark ale – into one drink. Known initially as ‘entire,’ modern folklore posits that the style became known as ‘porter’ because of its famous popularity with porters, laborers, and dock workers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Whether or not this is true, the porter was one of the first globally-transient styles of beer in British history. From America (pre- and post-Independence) to Russia and as far as the East Indies, the increasing spread of porters and the brewing of porters became an indicator of Britain’s vast imperial and economic network.
All of this makes sense. The dissemination of goods and ideas from the shoreline laborer to the sailor to the merchant and beyond, from port to port, was a rampantly active process. Through rivers, across oceans, and beyond the seas, the favorite beer of the Thames’ dock worker developed a global reputation.
People throughout the Baltic region, including Russia’s imperial court, developed a special fondness for strong porters and stouts. Strong porters (including strong ‘stout’ porters) withstood the abuse and duration of shipboard travel with great success. Cooler temperatures in the Baltic region also promoted the beers’ longevity. Eventually, indigenous Baltic brewers took up the reigns and began making strong porters more locally, but methods, ingredients, and conditions differed to those in Britain. Influenced by German developments, Baltic brewers – especially those to the south and west of the Baltic Sea – often used Bavarian style malts and lager yeasts necessitating low and slow bottom fermentation. Those in Scandinavia, however, tended to favor a more British style with roasted malts and top fermentation.
Moving Ashore to West Pine Street...
The Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter gives a sweet first impression yielding to rich roasted flavors that dominate the palate without tasting burnt. Overall, the Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter is luxuriously smooth all the way through with a velvety, full-bodied texture. While chocolate and coffee might come to the forefront, there are hints of vanilla, toffee, and licorice. Its color is as beautiful and profound as its flavors: very dark, very deep, and very red (hold it up to the light). At 9%, the alcohol presence delivers a detectable warmth to the taste and lifts an aroma of roasted nuts and cooked dark fruit. The perfect beer for the holidays? I think so.
As with many of The Duck-Rabbit Brewery’s dark and delicious beers, the Baltic Porter sets off a firework explosion of flavors in your mouth, and as such, it is an exquisite stand-alone masterpiece. We are not alone in this belief. In 2009, the Great American Beer Festival® awarded the Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter a Gold Medal for the Baltic Porter Category as well as a Bronze for a barrel-aged version in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer Category.
Enjoy the Baltic Porter as you see fit, but it is best slowly savored so that you can fully revel in all of its delicious glory.
This blog entry uses the following sources:
Anchor Brewing. Porter: the Entire History. Anchor Brewing Blog: 16 Feb. 2012. <http://www.anchorbrewing.com/blog/porter-the-entire-history/>. Accessed 10 Dec. 2014.
Beer Judge Certification Program, Inc. “Category 12 – Porter.” 2008 BJCP Style Guidelines. Beer Judge Certification Program, Inc. website, <http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style12.php#1c>. Accessed 10 Dec. 2014.
Kemp, K. Florian. Baltic and Imperial Porter. All About Beer Magazine (34)4. 26 Sept. 2013. <http://allaboutbeer.com/article/baltic-and-imperial-porter/>. Accessed 10 Dec. 2014.