Aroma: Rich malty sweetness often containing caramel, toffee, nutty to deep toast, and/or licorice notes. Complex alcohol and ester profile of moderate strength, and reminiscent of plums, prunes, raisins, cherries or currants, occasionally with a vinous Port-like quality. Some darker malt character that is deep chocolate, coffee or molasses but never burnt. No hops. No sourness. Very smooth.
Appearance: Dark reddish copper to opaque dark brown (not black). Thick, persistent tan-colored head. Clear, although darker versions can be opaque.
Flavor: As with aroma, has a rich malty sweetness with a complex blend of deep malt, dried fruit esters, and alcohol. Has a prominent yet smooth schwarzbier-like roasted flavor that stops short of burnt. Mouth-filling and very smooth. Clean lager character; no diacetyl. Starts sweet but darker malt flavors quickly dominates and persists through finish. Just a touch dry with a hint of roast coffee or licorice in the finish. Malt can have a caramel, toffee, nutty, molasses and/or licorice complexity. Light hints of black currant and dark fruits. Medium-low to medium bitterness from malt and hops, just to provide balance. Hop flavor from slightly spicy hops (Lublin or Saaz types) ranges from none to medium-low.
Mouthfeel: Generally quite full-bodied and smooth, with a well-aged alcohol warmth (although the rarer lower gravity Carnegie-style versions will have a medium body and less warmth). Medium to medium-high carbonation, making it seem even more mouth-filling. Not heavy on the tongue due to carbonation level. Most versions are in the 7-8.5% ABV range.
Overall Impression: A Baltic Porter often has the malt flavors reminiscent of an English brown porter and the restrained roast of a schwarzbier, but with a higher OG and alcohol content than either. Very complex, with multi-layered flavors.
History: Traditional beer from countries bordering the Baltic Sea. Derived from English porters but influenced by Russian Imperial Stouts.
Comments: May also be described as an Imperial Porter, although heavily roasted or hopped versions should be entered as either Imperial Stouts (13F) or Specialty Beers (23).
Ingredients: Generally lager yeast (cold fermented if using ale yeast). Debittered chocolate or black malt. Munich or Vienna base malt. Continental hops. May contain crystal malts and/or adjuncts. Brown or amber malt common in historical recipes.
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.060 – 1.090, IBUs: 20 – 40, FG: 1.016 – 1.024, SRM: 17 – 30, ABV: 5.5 – 9.5%
Commercial Examples: Sinebrychoff Porter (Finland), Okocim Porter (Poland), Zywiec Porter (Poland), Baltika #6 Porter (Russia), Carnegie Stark Porter (Sweden), Aldaris Porteris (Latvia), Utenos Porter (Lithuania), Stepan Razin Porter (Russia), Nøgne ø porter (Norway), Neuzeller Kloster-Bräu Neuzeller Porter (Germany), Southampton Imperial Baltic Porter, Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique
** Courtesy of the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines 2008 (www.bjcp.org)