We’ve made a cold-fermented, dark, strong beer to share with you through the tail-end of another COVID-Winter, but what exactly is a Baltic Porter?
Porters became a popular drink during the 18th-century in the UK, matured in massive porter tuns, incredibly large tanks holding enough beer to cause a fatal flash flood. They were shipped around the world and became popular with countries surrounding the Baltic sea. The dark, rich beer was a welcome and warming contrast to their cold and harsh winters.
The beers drinkers preferred tended to be higher in strength. Catherine the Great of Russia especially enjoyed a 12% London Stout herself.
The beer being enjoyed in this region was aged during transport in the hulls of ships sailing the frigid Baltic sea rather than the massive porter tuns. This would lead to a maturation more akin to the lager caves of Germany, giving the beer a crispness not associated with its British counterpart.
Much like the IPAs of the time, this transport maturation was an important aspect of the final flavour, and just like the IPA, the Baltic Porter became a style in its own right.
Unfortunately, during Napoleon’s naval blockade in the early 19th-century, all British export to the area ceased. However, people were unwilling to stop drinking this new style they had grown fond of, and many new porter breweries began popping up around the Baltic region.
The Northern European influence meant the beers were no longer being brewed British ingredients but with their Northern European equivalents. Warm fermenting English ale yeasts gave way to cold-fermenting European, often German, lager yeasts, English hops and heavy malts gave away to Noble European hops and pilsner-style malts.
The new ‘Baltic Porter’ became less fruity and less ester-laden than the London Porter and developed a smoother, roasted and sweet character, more similar to the dark German lagers of the time.
Moonwake has put its own spin on this Baltic classic. We have stuck to using European Lager yeast and used a base of Munich and Vienna malt for a sweet, rich flavour. We have added new and old European hops, Styrian Wolf and Hallertau, to modernise this 18th-century classic giving notes of spice, fruit and coconut to balance the malty molasses.
Rich, sweet and roasty, this beer tends to pair well with rich red meats and desserts with a hint of spice, like apple pies. It is also welcome contrast to the harsh winter. And remember without a wee Emperor and some Baltic ingenuity, you may not have the smooth cold-fermented porter you can enjoy today.