To start this review, a full confession. I do not care for many Porters. I find very few that really make a positive impression on me. When I drink a Porter I often wonder why I didn’t just grab a nice stout instead, because it usually tastes like the Porter is a Stouts wingman, at best.
With that said, I really like Embree’s Northern Baltic Porter.
What makes a Porter a Baltic Porter you ask?
The style started in the Baltic states of Latvia, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia in the 18th century. It was derived from English porters that were introduced to the Baltics in the 18th century. However the higher alcohol content and sweet malty character shares much in common with more robust Russian Imperial Stouts. Baltic Porters were largely forgotton in the West until the fall of the Iron Curtain in the late 1980’s when craft brewers reintroduced the style.
Last year, the Cincinnati craft brewers got together to brew a collaborative brew for Cincinnati Beer Week. They churned out a hopped up Barleywine that for me, was less than spectacular. And because of that, I had a healthy amount of skepticism before trying this years collaboration.
It looks like any porter you might have tried in terms of appearance, with just enough carbonation. But the sweet malty goodness of the drink really come out right away. This is truly a beer that I would consider pouring over ice cream because it already tastes like dessert. And the alcohol level, which I’m not totally certain of (between 9-10%??) is hidden really nicely. It isn’t hot at all and goes down smooth with little to no aftertaste.
I’m not saying this beer is something to go nuts over, but it is an incredibly solid offering in my opinion. Especially after how mixed I felt about last years collab, and how, as I mentioned, don’t care too much for the style in general.
So if you are in the Cincinnati area, grab some Embree’s Dark Northern Baltic Porter and enjoy all winter long.