Let’s start off with a corrective note and an apology. A while back I wrongly slandered Baltika Porter by calling it drinkable, but saccharine with a suspicion that they added sugar to bring on a bit of the Russian “Imperial” character. Not so! In fact I had just tried Okocim Porter from Poland. From what I remember Baltika comes across quite pleasant if a bit burnt. As a gesture of making amends, I recommend that my fans (both of them) go out and enjoy a draught/case/six-pack of Baltika’s fine product immediately.
Michael Jackson, the other Michael Jackson, had this to say:
Baltika Porter has an ebony colour; an alcohol content of 7.0, from an original gravity of 1068; and a woody aroma, with oily, creamy, fudgy, toffeeish, juicy, flavours. It is soft and lightly dry. This beer, too, contains crystal, and some carbonised malt.
As always you can find out more at Beer Advocate.
Moving on, thanks in no small part to the fine work at Stoudt’s I have a very hard time passing up on any triple-fermented American ale, especially when the brewers telegraph their intentions by slipping Flemish into the beer’s name somewhere. New to me, the Tripel from Southern Tier in New York pours a clear straw yellow with a generous, lingering cream-white head. Despite hints of cardamom and orange peel (mentioned on the bottle, no doubt as a helpful aid to palate-challenged reviewers like myself) it seemed like I had tried this brew before.
A few hours later I remembered my review of the Maximus IPA, another filtered multi-fermented ale (double rather than triple) from Lagunitas in California. I wrote then:
The strange thing was that the Maximus IPA did not remind me of any particular beer that I have tried, rather it reminded me of dozens at once. Despite being double-fermented the Maximus was more bitter than sweet, more hops and alcohol than malt and yeast protein, more classic American microbrew than Belgian dubbel.
More or less the same holds true for the Southern Tier. Maybe even more so for a brewer who labels his beer in Flemish. I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t enjoy the high-octane IPA/Scotch style which both beers basically represent, I do and then some, but for a beer that calls out its Belgian heritage I will always prefer the murky, protein-rich brews from Stoudts, Allagash and New Belgium. If you have any favorites of your own, please by all means share them in the comments. If it’s new to me there’s a good chance that I will hunt it down for a review.