Big and com­plex

The Press - Zest - - Reviews -

Iwas plan­ning to write about Twisted Hop beer, but due to the earthquake dis­rup­tions I will wait un­til I have def­i­nite and pos­i­tive news about the brew­ery. They are still brew­ing and are plan­ning to come back soon, big­ger, stronger and in more than one place! Although win­ter is a dis­tant mem­ory it doesn’t stop me drink­ing one of the clas­sic win­ter beer styles. Har­ring­ton’s Brew­ery has just re­leased a new Baltic Porter, and, for­tu­itously, I have a cou­ple of bot­tles. It is the sec­ond re­lease in their Brew­ers Se­lec­tion se­ries, the first be­ing Anvil Pilsener. There are plans to re­lease more styles un­der the Brew­ers Se­lec­tions and I have a feel­ing they are go­ing to be well worth search­ing out. The Baltic Porter, Baltic-ler, is 8.5 per cent abv. Ler is said to be a port on the Baltic Sea, but I have a feel­ing there is a bit of Har­ring­ton humour in the name.

In the 18th cen­tury, Bri­tain in­tro­duced strong porter/ stout to the Baltic coun­tries. The style was pop­u­lar and to­day ev­ery coun­try bor­der­ing the Baltic Sea makes a ver­sion of it. The beers were orig­i­nally made with a topfer­ment­ing (ale) yeast. But to­day most are made with a bot­tom-fer­ment­ing (lager) yeast.

Most Baltic brew­eries con­verted to bot­tom-fer­ment­ing yeast in the sec­ond half of the 19th cen­tury when yeast strains were iso­lated and un­der­stood bet­ter. Har­ring­ton’s ver­sion is made with a bot­tom-fer­ment­ing yeast, and it’s un­fil­tered and un­pas­teurised.

I let my bot­tle warm up out of the fridge for 30 min­utes just to bring up the tem­per­a­ture to a cool-room one. I then poured it into a big tulip ale glass. The liq­uid was dark and black with a deep ruby tinge at the edge. The head was ba­si­cally non-ex­is­tent which was a bit dis­ap­point­ing. The beer is car­bon­ated to low lev­els with 60 per cent ni­tro­gen and 40 per cent car­bon diox­ide and should give a creamy tex­tured beer with a creamy head.

The nose is big and soft with a roasted malt base and there are hints of sul­tanas, choco­late, cof­fee and caramel. Big and com­plex, it is soft in the mouth ini­tially with a very smooth mouth-feel and medium sweet ini­tially. The warmth of the al­co­hol in­ten­si­fies into the mid­dle and this is joined by berry fruiti­ness and some hop bit­ter­ness. About now a toasty tex­ture/taste at the back of the mouth sig­nals the be­gin­ning of the end.

A big burnt-bit­ter roasted char­ac­ter dom­i­nates the fin­ish. It is clean with a hint of fruit rather than as­trin­gent and harsh. Down through my glass, all the flavours de­tected on the nose come out in the mouth at dif­fer­ent times. It is a good, chal­leng­ing, drink­able Baltic Porter.

Made by: Har­ring­ton’s Brew­ery, Ferry Rd, Christchurch. Al­co­hol con­tent: 8.5% abv. -------------------------------Price: Around $10 a 500ml bot­tle. -------------------------------Avail­able: At good liquor out­lets and of course at the Har­ring­ton bot­tle stores. -------------------------------De­scrip­tion: Big and rich with sul­tana, choco­late and cof­fee notes through­out. With a clean bit­ter fin­ish. --------------------------------

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