Friday, November 9, 2007

Baltika Porter

“Beer me” another country, folks! (Did anyone see the episode of The Office where Andy Bernard keeps using “beer” as a verb, roughly synonymous with “give”? Classic! And don’t get me started on the Writers’ Strike, but if you love television, help these guys and gals out. Write to the networks and show some solidarity with the people who put all those words in your favorite characters’ mouths!)

Anyway, sorry for the screed; back to the topic at hand: Baltika Porter (or perhaps I should say Балтика Портер), a delicious dark beer from St. Petersburg, Russia that I just got the chance to try. And when I say dark, I’m talking about a dark chocolatey brown you can’t see through — even if you hold it up to the light (which I did). It looks like a Guiness Stout, and the taste compares favorably. Sweet and malty, with just a hint of bitterness. Not overly carbonated, and therefore a very smooth glass. Porters tend to be a little heavier on the alcohol content, and this one weighs in at 7% by volume.

I can highly recommend Baltika, so if you like beers of the world, give this one a try. (And if dark beers aren’t your cup of ale, Baltika has a lager, a wheat beer, and a pale ale as well.)


  1. Thank you for mentioning the WGA strike. You know that issue is close to my heart. Corporate greed disgusts me! 1) Maybe you should give your readers a link to the address(es) to write and 2) I loved that Andy Bernard episode. Beer me this. Beer me that. Hilarious!

  2. I was glad to have an excuse to mention it, even if it was predicated on a goofy digression. Andy Bernard and “goofy digression” somehow seem to go together perfectly, don’t you think? ;)

    So, those who want to show support for the WGA can write to specific television networks or newspapers (e.g., the Los Angeles Times and New York Times), or to:

    Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP)
    15503 Ventura Boulevard
    Encino, CA 91436

    Fight, fight, fight!

  3. As a resident of Belgium, don't let me begin about beers...

  4. Ah yes, Belgium. They’ve been making some of the world’s best beers for centuries. Of course, only a very small fraction of these, and likely not even the best ones, make it across the Atlantic to the U.S. One Belgian brew that I really like is Hoegarten’s white beer. The late Michael Jackson (no, not that Michael Jackson!), was a big proponent of Belgian beers. I have his Guide to Beer on my bookshelf at home.

    So Bart, if there were just one Belgian beer you could recommend I try to get my hands on here in the States, which would it be?

  5. Where do you find many of your beer selections?

  6. Good question, PJ. Living in Dallas, well, it’s not exactly a hub of diverse international food and drink. I’m sure you could do better in Chicago. I usually get the more far-flung beer and wine (yes, I’m a big oenophile also) at four places: World Market, Central Market, Goody Goody Liquor, and Whole Foods Market — in roughly that order.

    It’s probably possible to order some things online as well, but I’ve never tried that. The shipping laws for alcohol are so insane that it would probably not be worth the trouble.

  7. That would be Westvleteren Abt. I adore the so-called Trappist beers, and this one is the crème de la crème of it. The other trappist beers are Chimay, Orval, Westmalle, Achel, La Trappe and Rochefort.

    As you see there are only seven breweries that are allowed to authorize their label as authentic trappists. That's because the beers must be brewed by so-called trappist monks in their abbeys. The rules about this are very strict.

    Westvleteren is actually one of the best beers you can get. It is chosen many times as best beer of the world. It's dificult to get this one outside Belgium, because the beer is only sold at the gate of the abbey (limited to two 24-bottle crates per person) and in the pub at the other side of the road. Another thing is that the monks wouldn't brew more (and selling more) than they need for living, so even in Belgium prices such as $6 for one bottle isn't rare. On eBay, prices are normally between 10 and 20 dollar for one bottle!

    Another great beer I would like to recommend is one that's brewed in my town: Malheur Cuvée Royale, the irst champagne-beer in the world, Michael Jackson was a big fan of it!

    As you can expect it would be really difficult to get these beers in the US. But if you mail me your postal address (B_Servaes at telenet dot be) I shall send you some examples. I only hope that customs will allow the import of them...

  8. Both sound wonderful, Bart!

    The other trappist beers are Chimay, Orval, Westmalle, Achel, La Trappe and Rochefort.

    I have tried two or three of these (definitely Chimay and Orval, which are readily available here).

    That's because the beers must be brewed by so-called trappist monks in their abbeys. The rules about this are very strict.

    Yes, and these laws go all the way back to the 16th Century, don’t they? That’s antique indeed, especially when compared to American brewing, which is only perhaps 100-200 years old, at most.

    But if you mail me your postal address [...] I shall send you some examples. I only hope that customs will allow the import of them...

    Let’s try! I would say they should be packaged very securely and probably not labeled as what they actually are on the customs form. This is very kind of you indeed! I’ll be in touch and we’ll see if we can figure out how to do this. I would relish the opportunity to try one or both of your recommendations (which I am certain I would not be able to find here).

  9. Dear Jason,

    How could I send you Polish beer? I know a lot of the beers you mention in your posts, but in my humble opinion Polish beers are best! Especially "Tyskie":

    I would love to send a bottle to you, but how to do it safely?

  10. My wife is part Polish, as I’ve mentioned here once or twice. I would be very happy to try a Polish beer. (I can say that some of my favorite sardines are from Poland!)

    Drop me a line via email (see my profile for the address) and we can talk about how to mail it. Usually if you package it very securely (and don’t disclose the contents), it will be all right.