1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Alaskan Baltic Porter (Pilot Series) - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alaskan Baltic Porter (Pilot Series)Alaskan Baltic Porter (Pilot Series)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

343 Ratings
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 343
Reviews: 215
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 11.78%
Wants: 149
Gots: 40 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
Baltic Porter |  9.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Alaskan Baltic Porter is a deep, dense beer with an intricate array of aromas and flavors derived from substantial amounts of specialty malts, dark black cherries and whole gourmet vanilla beans. Aging on toasted French oak adds further complexity.

(Beer added by: ccrida on 04-27-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Alaskan Baltic Porter (Pilot Series) Alström Bros
Ratings: 343 | Reviews: 215 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jdklks
jdklks

Nevada

4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

pours like an average porter. very little, light brown head atop a deep amber-brown body that is much too light for what ive come to expect from the style. with the smell, however, things begin to look up: though its not quite as strong as i would prefer, it has notes of vanilla, dry oak, and candy-sweet cherries. its also very sugary, chocolatey, and hot with alcohol.

The flavor is simply fantastic. it emphasizes individual flavors while remaining true to its complexities. vanilla is the stand-out player here, and it is perceived against a background of woody roastiness and a very elegantly presented cherry sweetness. the alcohol is well hidden until it shines in the aftertaste, and there is even the slightest hint of chocolate in the finish. my only complaint is that the brown sugar notes seem to kind of just hang out, refusing to mingle with the other flavors; but that little problem will be dealt with with a little age.

the mouthfeel is surprisingly thicker than the appearance of the body suggests, and the beer is well-carbonated. i dont exactly know why, but ive had a few of these now, and the drinkability is rather low (i wouldn't want more than one in a night), though this should not reflect poorly on the general enjoyment of the beer.

bravo, Alaskan... one of your best efforts to date.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2009 01:26:25 | More by jdklks
Photo of Murchmac
Murchmac

California

4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was really excited to see this beer in a bomber so despite the 9 bucks, I picked it up. Was not disappointed. Big creamy coffee head, dark black some brown highlights and lacing.

Cherries, vanilla, malt, wood all present in the smell.

Cherries upfront with a very good, some heat, chocolate malt taste. Vanilla at the end coming through. Like a chocolate, cherry, vanilla swirl. Burning heat at the back of the throat.

Buy two, one to drink now, one to age.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2009 06:21:26 | More by Murchmac
Photo of colts9016
colts9016

Idaho

4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glass at 47 degrees.

Appearance: A nice solid dark tan head but the retention is not the greatest. The body of the beer is opaque. The clarity of the beer is nonexistent. There are garnet highlights.

Nose: A very nice rich roasted malt with cherries, oak, vanilla, anise, and coffee.

Taste: A very rich roasted malt with oak, cherries, vanilla, slightly sweet, coffee, currants, and anise.

Overall: The mouth feel is rich, well aged smooth, alcohol flavor, and slightly creamy. The body of the beer is thick and full and the finish is full. This beer is absolutely a wonderfully thick Baltic porter. Hands down one of the best Alaskan brewery beers.This beer was hard to drink, it need some serious time to age.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2009 07:15:03 | More by colts9016
Photo of flagmantho
flagmantho

Washington

4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a pint glass. This is the 2009 vintage, which I am re-drinking and re-reviewing after the Great BeerAdvocate Crash of aught-nine.

Appearance: black with a red hue when held up to the light. Two-finger tan head with nice persistence.

Smell: lots of apple, pear, plum and grape, almost like a very intense white wine. There's a little malt in there but the aroma is surprisingly whimsical. Fantastico.

Taste: here the malt is huge with a subtle hint of flavor matching the aroma profile. It is quite sweet, which is to be expected, but in addition to the lovely fruit flavor there is a creamy flavor. Some roasted chocolate shows up but it's an afterthought to this seriously magical dessert beer.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick with just enough carbonation to remind you that this is beer.

Drinkability: in spite of (or maybe because of?) its huge ABV, this is a remarkably tasty beer with incredible drinkability. If my liver could handle it, I'd quaff several of these back to back.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2009 03:46:22 | More by flagmantho
Photo of BDJake
BDJake

Washington

3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Very dark brown, decent head.

S- Smells like banana candy to me actually, as opposed to cherries. Some of the oak comes out, as do the chocolate malts.

T- Like espresso mixed with bananas, dark chocolate, and vanilla.

M- Pretty thick, with appropriate carbonation, and quite a bit of the alcohol warmth.

D- Comes together well, but due to the nature of the beast, it still takes awhile to finish.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2009 10:50:19 | More by BDJake
Photo of Arbitrator
Arbitrator

California

1.48/5  rDev -64.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Purchased at Belmont Station and shared by ramnuts as he made chili. Thanks Frank!

A: Pours a dark mahogany-ruby color; its translucence is immediately apparent in the small pour. The tan head is surprisingly generous for what is (later discovered to be) a nearly 10% beer. Retention is ok, lacing is poor.

S: Vanilla. It was like sniffing a vanilla bottle, actually, with that accompanying alcohol sting. Cherry, brown sugar, and chocolate as well. It was so strong and pungent that it just became sickening after a while. Personal preference I suppose.

T: Again, vanilla beans first and foremost, and they dominated the flavor completely until it warmed to the right temperature. Then it "opened up" and revealed hints of dark chocolate-covered cherries, coffee, and brown sugar... But the vanilla never left. It haunted me. Neither of us picked up the oak advertised on the label.

M: Light-bodied and not quite smooth. I bet that if it were thicker it would hold the flavor better and be slightly less hot.

D: Couldn't even have a second pour, much less finish the bottle. This is a fairly new beer, judging from the earliest review (last season). They may still be tweaking the recipe. I am leaving open the possibility of grabbing another bottle in a later season. But right now? Hell no.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2009 05:51:41 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of mikedashg
mikedashg

California

4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours dark black into my snifter with a good sized brownish tan head

S - Brown sugar, chocolate and sweet cherries for sure. A little vanilla and boozyness.

T - Wow, the cherries, brown sugar and a creamy chocolate kind of hit you right away. Carmalaized malts and just a touch of hops. Mostly a sweet one. Has a little vanilla and oak after taste to it. A bit boozy, as to be expected with almost 10%, and I like it.

M - Very creamy and moderate carbonation.

D - Really balanced in carbonation/look/head/mouthfeel and flavor. EVerything really is very cohesive and the flavors really jump out at you. Well done alaskan!

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2009 02:13:08 | More by mikedashg
Photo of Mebuzzard
Mebuzzard

Colorado

3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I didn't know they made a Baltic Porter so I jumped on this when I saw it in the store. Alaska has some fine beers and this one perplexes me a bit.
A dark brown pour. Very deep. A good looking creamy head is gone pretty darn quick. Hmm..

Smell is like their smoked porter, but calmed down a bit. Less smoke and umami, more cherry and vanilla, which causes some confusion in me brains. What makes this a "baltic"? I dunno.
Not to say it's bad. It's a good beer. Taste is like smoked porter light. Again..cherries and vanilla. Kind of odd, but good. slightly thin.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2009 20:38:03 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of SargeC
SargeC

Japan

4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep black colored liquid with a golden-tan colored head.

Smell: Sugar, vanilla, oak and roast malt.

Taste: Rich malt with a nice balance with the additional flavors of brown sugar, vanilla and oak. Alcohol in the finish. Touch of hops.

Mouthfeel: Full body. Oily quality, very smooth.

Drinkablity: Great porter. Excellent balance in a big brew.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2009 03:56:02 | More by SargeC
Photo of ArrogantB
ArrogantB

Colorado

3.15/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle $9. I bought this just because I like their barleywine, bad idea. This was dark black, decent head, looks just fine to me. The smell was sweet, sticky, vanilla, uhhh. The flavor hada hint of the cherries and a lot of vanilla sweetness. I honestly could not get past what the vanilla and oak had done to this beer and I did not think there was anything special about it. It was not a bad beer it was just quite average tasting and I was expecting to be wowed. Oh well...

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2009 02:19:39 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of WeisGuy
WeisGuy

New York

3.5/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a - pours deep dark brown, not quite black, smallish tan head with retention around the edges and minimal lacing

s - some roasted malt, but it's overwhelmed by the cherry, brown sugar and oak additions, slight licorice aroma as well, really "fake" smelling, unfortunately

t - roasted malt and toastiness up front, but a big burst of sweetness, marked by cherry and oak, on the mid-palate, finish is pretty sweet as well with the brown sugar and vanilla making their appearance, almost completely overwhelming the roasted/black patent malt flavors that mark most Baltics, in my opinion, the additions to this beer (cherry, brown sugar, vanilla beans, oak) have taken over the beer, a little hot

m - medium-bodied with moderate carbonation fairly sweet finish, not very much drying, definite alcohol warming

d - a bit too sweet and hot to be overly drinkable, but this is a 9.8% beer, so drinkability is not the aim, a lot of flavors going on, so it gets points for that

Overall, a somewhat disappointing offering, in my opinion. As stated above, I feel the additives have overwhelmed the base beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2009 21:40:46 | More by WeisGuy
Photo of Beaver13
Beaver13

Colorado

2.38/5  rDev -42.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

22 oz bottle, dated 2009. Pours brown with a smallish tan head that quickly goes to a thin film that leaves some lacing.

The aroma is alcoholic fruity chocolate. The alcohol is pretty sharp. Lots of rum soaked cherries, plums, apples and fudge.

The flavor is strong alcohol and lots of slight tart fruits. The some roasted chocolate and some plasticy cardboard bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied.

Overall, I was excited to see a baltic porter since I like the smoked porter quite a bit, but this beer is a bit of a mess - strange fruity alcohol with lots of off notes.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2009 05:38:00 | More by Beaver13
Photo of JohnGalt1
JohnGalt1

Idaho

4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'09 vintage 22 has been in the fridge for a couple of weeks.. I think I paid about $9. Poured into my Delirium goblet.

Dark brown brew with night highlites... 1" tan head leaves descent lace and a good cap...

Nose is pretty complex.. lite chocolate is complimented and slightly amplified by the vanilla (maybe too much for my tastes).. dried cherries for sure, but it seems like there are some fruity esters in there adding to the myriad of goodness. oaky without the unneeded tannic elements.

Alot of stuff going on as soon as the first sips meet my palate.. cocoa and very background coffee.. again tons of vanilla.. followed closely by some cherries ... Bing? oakey with some maple wood notes.. a smidge of alcohol and all the mash-up of flavors remind me of bourbon... more rich than I remember... finishes more malty than sweet but with all the essences of the above flavors.. I personally think the vanilla is a bit overdone.. so I am gonna nick it .. but I still like it alot.

This is at least in my memory better than the bottle that I had with friends a month or so ago.... I also had the '08 a couple of times and remember thinking that this was no where near a Baltic Porter... However, I think this is gonna age fairly quickly.. Flavors and aromas will mesh soon.. maybe 6 months or so.. but I think it's gonna peak quickly too.. I give it 2 years max.

Thanks Matt for getting this one in... I need to stock up and then just sit back and enjoy it.

Serving type: bottle

10-09-2009 07:53:38 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of tai4ji2x
tai4ji2x

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

from liquidsolutions or bottletrek, by way of stevemcqueenjr.

22oz bomber. 2008 vintage. tasted in late may/early june 2009. poured into tulip.

very dark black/brown, w red hints under direct light. 1.5-finger tan head fades to wisps and thick ring. lacing barely ever sticks tho.

aroma: sweet dark caramelized malts and fruity cherries and plums, with trace of vanilla. light grassy hop hint, with faint chocolate tones.

taste: sweetly malty and fruity, like aroma. licorice? roast and coffee notes coming in towards the middle, w mild hopping and moderate bitterness. more coffee in aftertaste. alcohol is very well hidden.

medium body, quite smooth, though astringency and alcohol become more present here in the feel. mild to moderate carbonation gives light tingle, and helps with some creaminess.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2009 23:13:49 | More by tai4ji2x
Photo of goodbyeohio
goodbyeohio

Oregon

4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage

ale brewed with cherries, brown sugar, vanilla beans & oak chips. 9.8%

a steal at ~$7 for 22oz

dark brownish purple pour. viscous, not much head. aroma bowls you over with the brown sugar/fruit combo more suited to a belgian. the cherries burst as if a pie full of them had been set before me. strangely, this beer is not too sweet, it's actually rather dry. somewhat boozy, but dry. the vanilla and oak dominate the flavor, creating something that exists far away from the cozy domicile of standard baltic porter. strangely though, i can see how the bjcp descriptor sort of fits.

i am in awe of the complexity of this beer. if you approach it expecting a style-defying mindblower, you'll dig it. if you think about some eastern european black bean lager, you'll hate the shit out of it.

regardless, for the experience, this is very good.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2009 06:33:13 | More by goodbyeohio
Photo of yemenmocha
yemenmocha

Arizona

4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours coca-cola brown that is easy to see through upon pouring, but appears almost black once poured into the glass. Head is somewhat modest and recedes to a thin layer.

Nose clearly has the cherry and vanilla, with the cherry having an almost throat-lozenge/cough-syrupy character.

On the palate this beer is surprisingly lighter bodied than what I expected, and helps with drinkability, but of course again the cherry-vanilla takes main stage. Some cola flavors are present, and there's a hint of dry oakiness going on as well.

I like it, but I can see why some may not because it is rather cough syrupy.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2009 02:18:31 | More by yemenmocha
Photo of scottoale
scottoale

California

4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage 22oz. bomber pours a dark reddish brown with a two-finger light tan head and some short lived lace. Looks good, but not overly impressive.

The smell on the other hand stands out, with a bunch of sweet cherry and vanilla in domination of everything else. As it warm quite a bit, some estery notes of alcohol and even more sweetness from the cherries and vanilla stand out.

The flavor starts sweet and estery chocked full of cherry and vanilla with just a hint of oak stepping in, and that's about it. It's very sweet, but not a brown sugar kind of sweet...almost confectionary, powder sugary sweet. There is just enough hops to keep this dessert type ale from becoming too cloying. Only just. It's good flavor with a ton of sweetness, hopefully some age will tone this down a bit, I'm thinking it will.

Medium body with a very mild carbonation and gentle warming contribute to a soft and soothing mouthfeel. I've had two bottles of this brew so far and the first bottle tasted a little more robust and not as sweet as this one. Still very enjoyable, this would make a great after dinner, dessert type sipper for sure.

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2009 07:34:05 | More by scottoale
Photo of Bitterbill
Bitterbill

Wyoming

4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Here's a beer that I've wanted to try for some time. 2009 edition, 22oz bottle, 9.8%abv.

A big hiss when I popped the cap, it pours a very dark brown with a small amount of reddish hues when I hold up my glass to the light. A good 2 finger head of tannish foam, I'm seeing some very good lacing.

Sticking my nose into the glass, but avoiding the liquid ;^), I get a big greeting from cherries, vanilla, and oak. All about in equal proportions. A wonderful aroma.

First sip in and the vanilla is the first thing I taste followed by a brilliant oaky flavour and a light tartness from the cherries which also brings a bit of the sweet. I say a bit of the sweet because I thought this would be maltier and so, sweeter but this one is really a showcase for the vanilla and oak. I see the label says brown sugar...that's more hidden, to me, than the alcohol. This is pretty potent stuff and I can feel a lot of warming during and after the swallow.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium and the carbonation is very light but is adequate.
Head retention and lacing, this far into the session, are great for as potent a brew as this is.

Drinkability? A 22oz bottle of this 9.8%abv Baltic Porter is all that I can handle. Heck, I'm only 2/3 done with it and I know that I'll be sipping on the rest for at least another half hour but *that* happens with many of the stronger brews that I've tried of all styles so..no surprise and I can still heartily recommend you give this one a go if you see it in your neck of the woods.

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2009 20:53:00 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of joepais
joepais

Maine

4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to thethrone for hooking me up with this brew. The bottle was split between a few of us and poured in tulip glasses. It produced a small tan head that disappeared quickly and never was seen again. The body was midnight black in color with no highlights to be seen.

The Madagascar vanilla was over the top what a wonderful aroma. As it warmed I got a slight cherry note but not much. The brew tasted as well as it smelled sweet, roasted, vanillin and coffees all come to mind. The feel in my mouth was medium with a slight carbonation I did wish for a little more.
A great brew would love to drink it again. The strange thing to me was the said to age it, but there was no sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Was this brew filtered?

Serving type: bottle

09-26-2009 15:28:45 | More by joepais
Photo of htomsirveaux
htomsirveaux

Texas

4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried 14 Sep 2009 at the Taphouse Grill in Seattle.

Poured in a 13 oz tulip. Small light brown head. Dark brown with a reddish hue. Aromas of coffee, chocolate, leather, licorice, some alcohol. Starts quite sweet and chocolatey, almost like an iced mocha. Smooth milky mouthfeel. Dark sweet cherries in the middle. Also black licorice and anise. Dry roasty finish. Finish is warming but does not feel like almost 10pct. Dry cocoa aftertaste.

Like dessert in a glass.

Serving type: on-tap

09-15-2009 04:51:48 | More by htomsirveaux
Photo of superdavex
superdavex

Washington

4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I purchased this down the street for $3.25! An absolute steal and there's more. I'm not telling where.

The appearance was blackish/brown with very little head.

It smelled like cherries, coffee, chocolate, vanilla and alcohol all mixed together. Not something you smell every day.

It tasted pretty much like it smelled with the cherry and vanilla flavors coming up front. You can definitely taste the alcohol, but it doesn't seem like it's 9.9%.

It had a medium mouthfeel with medium carbonation. It was about on par for the style.

The drinkability was very good because of the thinner mouthfeel for the strength of brew and the unbelievably good taste of this one. Just be careful because the 9.9 will hit ya hard.

I don't usually like beers this sweet, but this one has such interesting complexities that it's an exception. I will be revisiting this one many times in the near future as I'm not sure how long these will be at the gas station for $3.25 a piece.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2009 19:03:43 | More by superdavex
Photo of clickpush
clickpush

Pennsylvania

4.78/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pour: 22oz bottle to tulip glass. Hefty latte colored head, two fingers thick, appears over bubbling dark brown body. Actually, maybe make that black. No light passing through, even around the sides. Sticky retentive head.

Nose: Beautiful aroma, chocolate, vanilla, roses, cherries. Lots of fruit for such a dark bodied beer, but not getting a ton of roasted notes. Full, lush smell.

Mouth: Creamy mouthfeel, full delicious flavors. Rich vanilla all the way, with a lingering, nice, light roasty finish. The fruit is subdued but present: cherries & raspberries. Looong lasting finish! Love it, actually. Love it.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2009 00:40:30 | More by clickpush
Photo of Jmoore50
Jmoore50

Nevada

3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The appearance is a dark brown with clear raisin edges. It comes with a crisp head that disappears quickly. No lacing.

The smell is of alcoholic sweet cherries.

The taste is complex. Cherries are the first and strongest characteristic followed by an alcoholic oak chip taste. This brew is really hot, I personally can taste the 9.8% ABV. I cannot taste the brown sugar, but a vanilla taste accompanies the alcoholic tastes at the end.

The mouthfeel is hot, dominated by alcohol and a crisp 'coca-cola' carbonation. I beieve this will be an entirely different beer in 6 months or so.

J

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2009 22:37:47 | More by Jmoore50
Photo of ElGordo
ElGordo

Oregon

4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On a surprisingly cool and rainy night in August, I decided to switch it up from the wheat beers and pilsners that have become my usual fare this summer. Poured from the 22oz bottle into a pint glass. Body is a deep dark brown, rich and full but still letting a little bit of light shine through. A khaki-brown, creamy head flourishes for a couple of minutes before subsiding to a thin coating.
Aroma of sweet caramel malt with just a touch of roastiness. A plethora of sweet notes poking through - maple, mocha, and vanilla bean are all present, with a strong underlying boozy character. Palate is sweet up front, with caramel and maple flavors taking center stage. Dark fruit and mocha notes also make their presence known. A husky bitterness comes through before the swallow, balancing things out a bit for the smooth, warm finish.
Body is fairly thick, with a bit of an oily slickness to it. This beer is rich throughout, living up to its high ABV. While maybe not the most authentic baltic porter on the market, this is definitely an enjoyable beer, and a definite change of pace for summertime drinking.

Serving type: bottle

08-12-2009 05:24:10 | More by ElGordo
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage. Grizzly bear brown with generous garnet highlights. Amazingly enough, the beer isn't opaque. I hope that doesn't indicate a shortage of malt. Two fingers of caramel colored foam provide a pillowy cap that lasts for a bit, then lays down a thick collar of lace as it descends. A solid look all the way around.

The nose is different from the noses on most Baltic porters. The reason is that ABC adds Madagascar vanilla beans and black cherries, then ages the beer on toasted French oak. In addition to the usual roasted maltiness and dark fruit... the cherries are easily noted, the vanilla is subtle and the oak is hard to appreciate.

As feared, this isn't the biggest Baltic porter on the planet. More malt would have gone a long way toward making the enjoyable flavors even bolder and deeper. Alaskan says that this brew can be aged 'for several years', but I don't think the body will hold up that long. This bomber is approaching an estimated one year and the screws are getting a bit loose.

None of that matters too much because Alaskan Baltic Porter is delicious beer. The vanilla beans and the cherries are present in perfect proportions, both to each other and to the base porter. An apt comparison would be the beer equivalent of chocolate-covered black cherries with a vanilla cream and coffee cordial center. That does sound good, doesn't it?

A passing glance of unmasked alcohol, dark caramel notes and an understated oakiness give the beer of quasi-Bourbon vibe that is also right up my alley. Time to give the taste score a well-deserved bump. The mouthfeel is smooth enough, it just isn't full or creamy enough.

Most beer geeks won't agree, but I think Baltic Porter is a better beer than Smoked Porter. Neither one is burly enough, which keeps them from greatness in my eyes. The Alaskan brewers should take a page out of the Midnight Sun brew book and give us big beer worthy of America's largest, wildest state.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2009 21:04:23 | More by BuckeyeNation
Alaskan Baltic Porter (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 343 ratings.