Portsmouth Imperial (Baltic) Porter | Portsmouth Brewery

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Portsmouth Imperial (Baltic) PorterPortsmouth Imperial (Baltic) Porter

Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bigger, darker and more "Imperial" than our Robust Porter, brewed with a Baltic flair.

Added by Bierman9 on 03-17-2006

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Reviews: 37 | Ratings: 50
Photo of CooperEllis
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber split two ways, into Portsmouth snifters.

Dark malt, dark fruit, rich sweetness.

The color is dark with very deep brown with auburn notes at the edges. ideal.

I agree with another review that the warmth brought extra flavor forward and had similar experience with dark fruit and raspberries. I do not think this is a 'dessert' beer but I certainly understand the sentiment. There is a distinct fruit aftertaste that is undercut slightly by bitter chocolate notes.

As this warms I do think the mouth feel dips a touch; it loses some of the fullness. If I was reviewing this only after it sat for 10 or more minutes I would likely rate the mouthfeel a 4-4.5, however fresh out of the bottle it is full, sweet, silky and still crisp at the finish.

Wasn't expecting much, though this is one of my favorite styles. Genuiely surprised. I've had most of the PB offerings and this is easily my 2nd favorite of their beers.


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Photo of mikesgroove
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

this was an utterly fantastic beer. one of the best of the style i have had in a very long time and one of my favorite styles for sure. simply amazing.

The pour was brilliant, rich dark brown in color with the only thing separating it from Jet Black being a nice reddish hue around the sides and bottom. Huge head of tan comes up quickly and lifts to a height of around two inches, never totally settling down, but instead sitting on top with a huge amount of lacing coming down the sides. Aroma is so much different then I was expecting. Rich notes of cherries and dark malts coming through immediately. Hints of a light hoppiness and just mounds and mounds of chocolate at first. Warming though really brought out a large amount of fruit and raspberries and dark cherry seems to dominate here. Each sip was like a decadent dessert trapped in a bottle. Rich, velvet like carbonation, and warm soothing flavors, this one was making me melt in the chair. Smooth chocolate notes wrapped in a dark fruit blanket that descended and left behind a nice, warm, hop dryness that begged me to come back for another sip.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got a growler of this to go at Kate Day 2010

Review adapted from notes taken 3/6/2010

Appearance: Black with a light brown/tan head - it could definitely pass as a stout - nothing really memorable about the head or lacing

Smell: Roasted and burnt malts - some less burnt malts, too - biscuits - chocolate, coffee, vanilla, dark fruits

Taste: Two words: epic malts - a really interesting range of malt flavors - burnt, roasted flavors, and sweet, mellow flavors - hints of biscuits and warm, soft-baked pretzels - bread, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla - there is some sweetness, too, that works really well - some hints of hops, but not much - some dark fruit flavors thrown in the mix - very complex

Mouthfeel: Somewhat heavy, very chewy, very smooth, some alcohol heat

Overall: Definitely not a session beer, but not exactly a sipper - somewhere in the middle, and it works

I honestly think this is the second-best thing I have ever had from the Portsmouth Brewery. Considering my #1 pick is Kate the Great, I think this says a lot. I plan on getting more of this whenever possible.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.3/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes. On tap before KTG 2010.

Pours a moderate brown with a light head. The nose is some light chocolate and coffee in addition to roasted malt. The taste is slight chocolate and roasted malt. Mild coffee character. Really doesn't push anything too far and is a bit bland. Moderate body with a bit of alcohol. Drinks decently, but isn't all that great.

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Photo of regspeir
3.92/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into a tumbler.
Pours a dark brown with a smallish light tan head. Lacing is modest. The nose is roasted malt, some coffee, molasses and toffee. Taste is roasted malts, vanilla, some bitter chocolate and coffee. Mouthfeel is creamy, full-bodied and not a lot of carbonation. This is a sipper, although you don't notice the 9% - a pleasingly complex example of the style.

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Photo of ckeegan04
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Deep nut brown with the faintest hints of light shining through. Thick, foamy brown head. A solid three + fingers after a gentle pour settles to a solid inch of foam throughout the drink.

S - Bittersweet chocolate and roasted malts in the nose. Sweetness amps up a touch as the beer warms.

T - Big bittersweet taste up front. Sweetness becomes stronger as the beer warms. Roasted malts and just a touch of acrid burnt malt taste. Light hint of sourness underneath.

M/D - Medium to full bodied with an excelent feel. Alcohol is well masked at 9%. Very easy drinking.

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Photo of Freethyhops
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

mjn5036 provided me with the opportunity to try this one. Smuttynose Baltic Porter is on deck.

a- Pours an opaque dark brown. Thick, persistent tan-colored head. some ruby highlights when held to light.

s- big sweetness with caramel and nutty, maybe slightly toasty tones. some esters from the alchohol mix with the sweetness and produces some plum/raison like aroma. a good load of chocolate too but no real evident roasted character

t- a complex blend of deep malt, dried dark fruit esters, and chocolate. Starts sweet but darker malt flavors quickly dominates and persists through finish. Just a touch dry with a hint of roast coffee. a good biscuit like quality, a small kick of bitterness and a bit of alchohol in the finish.

m- medium-full bodied and smooth, with a touch of alcohol warmth. Medium to medium-low carbonation.

d- big flavors and high abv will hold you back on this one. it has some great complexity that keeps you reaching for the glass, but I'd say the bomber is best split with a good friend.

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Photo of cbutova
3.93/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out pitch black with a pinky sized tan head that has decent retention and leaves medium lacing. A small tan cloud stays atop the beer with a ring around the edges. The smell definitely could be stronger but it has roasty, fruit, cream and earthy hop notes. Also some cocoa comes through. The taste has good roast malts and cocoa notes. The malts are very porter-esque. There is also some fruit and hoppy hints and a bit of alcohol. The hops lend some bitterness to the beer. The mouthfeel is nice. It has a good moderate body with nice medium carbonation. It is very creamy and goes down smoothly. A tiny bit of warmth makes for a nice feel as the beer leaves a coat of roasty malt and fruit. Drinkability is good. The taste was good and the beer was sold at a decent price. The 9% ABV is very well hidden and there are no off flavors in a well balanced beer.

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Photo of KeefD
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks go out once again to Rochefort10nh. Pours a dark brown color, ruby edges, with a two finger tan head that left some glorious down the glass. Aroma is slightly muted, but there's some nice brown sugar, cola, and chocolate notes coming through with only a touch of booze. Interesting flavor on this one. It's sweet, with flavors of caramel, light chocolate, a hint of roast, and something that almost tastes like grapes and/or grape skins. Very smooth, easy drinking brew for the high ABV. Great stuff here. Carbonation is perfect for the medium body and the alcohol heat is minor. Liked this brew a lot. Putting away this bomber will be no problem. Thanks again, Keith!

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Photo of ffejherb
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Portsmouth on the eve of KTG Day - 2/28/10.

A - Appears as close to black as can be with deep reddish hues and about a finger's width of creamy tan head that diminishes into a swirly film and deposited sparse lacing around the glass.

S - Medium roasted malt with dark fruit notes suggesting raisin as well as licorice root. Malt character is rather complex, actually, with a toasted grainy character and even toasted coconut notes.

T - Flavor is a tasty concoction of toasted grains and coconut, roasted coffee notes and tangy dark fruit. Licorice root and earthy herbs provide an assertive bitterness that emerges in the middle and lasts through to the finish.

M - Medium bodied with a fairly oily texture with a hint of chalkiness. Mouthfeel is robust and warm with moderate alcohol heat on the palate. Finishes with quite a bit of bitterness on the tongue.

D - Complex Imperial Porter here with some interesting Baltic Porter qualities too, such as the dark fruit tang. The toasted coconut presence was a pleasant surprise as well. Nice to see more going on than just coffee and roasted malt.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stopped at the brewery on a whim and grabbed this one...

A: Perfect. Super dark with no highlights. Thick 1 inch off-white head that slowly fades. Awesome.

S: Smells good. Bready, raisin, malt, and slight hop smell upfront. Coffee / chocolate in the middle. Not much on the backend. Very good.

T: Bitter chocolate tast upfront. Hard to get much else. As it warms, I get some bready raisin taste on the backend. Not too much special happening in this one.

M: Sticky syrup feel that does not stick to your palate. Leaves a slight flavor in your mouth. Good.

D: Goes down decent. Wish the flavor was a little more complex and smoothed down some.

All in all, this is an ok brew to try if you're ever at Portsmouth brewery, but not worth hunting down.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another beer better than KtG 2010.

Pours a dark brown/black color with a thin light tan head, leaves a bit of lacing along the glass.

Smell has a deep roasted malt aroma with bits of coffee and vanilla.

Taste is similar to the aroma except bitter chocolate plays more of a role, definitely can feel the alcohol but not overwhelmingly so that it distracts.

It would have been nice to have gotten a few bottles of this to see how well it ages, but the cooler was raided long before I arrived in Portsmouth.

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Photo of Deuane
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to FooFaa for hauling back a growler of this from his pilgrimage to KtG Day.

A-Deep dark black/brown with a medium tan head that reduced to a thin cap and left decent lace.

S-Nice aroma of dark rich roast, touch of licorice and toffee. Hints of coffee and molasses in the background peeking out from a touch of spicy hops.

T-Rich, roasty malt up front with a light backing spicy bite. Nice building licorice presence, dark roasted coffee and a touch of tree bark. This one builds in flavour as it warms.

M-Medium-heavy bodied and quite robust, This is nearly chewable at times. Certainly the best feature of this brew.

D-Solid stuff. I was told that this brew was better than KtG....well to me, no it isn't. I certainly like it but it feels like it is trying to hard to be rich and roasty...the target is in range but the bullseye is being missed.

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Photo of MrDanno96
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this the night prior to KtG Day 2010. Served in a snifter.

A: Poured pitch black with a finger of creamy head that left lots of foamy lacing.

S: Layers of dark chocolate and coffee waft up from the quaff and to my nose. Espresso, mocha, and even hints of dark fruit are apparent in the aroma as well.

T: A mix of dark roasted malts, burnt coffee, and slightly bitter espresso comprise the front end of the flavor. Sweet dark chocolate comes through on the finish to balance out some of the stronger coffee tones. Fairly simple, but well balanced and quite delicious.

M: A creamy medium to full body with just a touch too much bite from the carbonation. The alcohol is hidden very well and is barely detectable.

D: This brew is trying to be a big boy stout, but just doesn't quite get there. That doesn't really matter, however, because it is a really great tasting porter. If I had the ability to frequent Portsmouth Brewery, I feel that this would be one of my go to brews. I would definitely go out of my way to purchase this in bottles if Portsmouth ever becomes capable of distributing.

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Photo of rpstevens
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a dogfish head signature glass. The beer pours almost pitch black with hazy brown edges. There is a two finger off-white/almost tan head that quickly fades to a tight ring around the top of the glass. There is a light amount of oily lacing left behind.

The smell is dark chocolate, roasted malt, some light coffee (more as the beer warms), licorice, vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel. This is a very deep smelling beer (that's weird, but I am not sure how else to explain it). As it warms there are more and more layers of smells that become more apparent.

The taste is not as complex as the smell, but it's very good. The chocolate, sweet caramel, vanilla and brown sugar. The taste is not as roasty and there isn't as much coffee as the smell, but it's still there. The most interesting component of this beer is the black licorice that seems to linger and attach itself to all the other flavors. It introduces them and outlasts them, accentuating them along the way.

The beer is medium to heavy bodied with a smooth full flavor. The carbonation compliments the style and the flavors well. The alcohol is well hidden, it's just present enough. This is a beer that I have enjoyed multiple glasses of on tap, and will be sad to see it go.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap, served in a snifter

Just shy of pitch black with a two finger light tan head. Raindrop effect as the cap melts for form a thin layer. A good amount of lacing left inside the glass.

The aroma is of vanilla, lactose sugar, mildly roasted malt, black licorice, and mild coffee grounds. A very enticing aroma that doesn't really leap out of the glass but is consistent and strong.

The deep roasted malt and coffee provides a sturdy, hearty base for the lactose sugar and licorice to stand up. Some bitter chocolate and char in the finish. This is a pretty complex porter that took me by surprise.

A medium to heavy body with a creamy, lush consistency. The carbonation is turned down low, raising the feel big time. The 9% is barely noticeable.

Not overly heavy, easy to put back a couple in a sitting. The flavors are overly intriguing and just downright delicious. This is easily one of the best porters I have ever had.

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Photo of LtCracker20
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a growler into a Pourtsmouth Tulip. Growler filled while sipping Kate the Great on March 1st, 2010.

A- Poured a deep black with slight ruby hues. Poured with a 1-inch khaki head that slowly fell to a cap and left some very nice lace.

S- Roasted malts, a little chocolate smell, as well as some sweetness, a caramel aroma. None of the 9% abv is here.

T- Just like the nose. Roasted malts and caramel sweetness. And again, the abv is hidden very well.

M/F- Maybe just slighty too much of a full body for a porter (even a Baltic) in my opinion. But creamy and it goes down well, hiding the 9% at all costs.

Notes- Growler was filled on Kate day so this is still pretty fresh and am looking foward to finishing it this within the next few days.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 64oz that was purchased at the brewpub two days prior on 3/1/10 (KTG Day) into a Portsmouth snifter/tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted malts, dark fruit, chocolate, vanilla, coffee and touches of hops and alcohol.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of chocolate, coffee and vanilla that are followed by a hearty roasted malt character. There's a little bit of an alcohol sting that creeps in along with some dark fruit flavor. The hops presence is very mild but that is to be expected with this kind of beer and it's enough to create a good balance and put a cap on the complexity of this beer. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium-to-heavy body, low carbonation but I attribute that to the growler waiting for two days, finish is dry and slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, this is a very solid stronger dark beer and one of the more complex porters that I've had, definitely worth drinking for a long time.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 12 ounce glass on March 1, 2010. It pours dark brown to black with a thin tan head and some ruby hues. The aroma is a mixture of dark malts, cereal, grains, and milder hops. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy or kind of slick. I would settle at a little higher than medium. The taste is for the most part subtle with both hops and malts but it ends more bold. Soft to heavy. I liked its transition. Not bad at all.

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Photo of DNICE555
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tulip glass on tap at the brewery before KTG day 2010.

A - Dark brown, opaque, huge tan head that fades quickly. Lacing is present throughout.

S - Nutty espresso, hints of vanilla, alcohol, spices.

T - Chocolate, Espresso, huge vanilla presence which I love. The alcohol is def there and heats it up nicely.

M - Very rich full bodied porter with low carbonation.

D - The alcohol is present which makes this one a sipper. It is very smooth and very thick. Really sets the bar high for Imperial Porters to live up to.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip. Poured one shade shy of black with a latte-like, cream-colored, two inch head pockmarked with tiny pinprick holes. Head exhibited excellent retention before settling into a quarter inch consistent cap. Concentric, half-moon bands of lacing were exposed as the brew was consumed. Nose was very mild, initially exhibiting some lactose and a hint of roast. Aromas begin to develop as the brew gradually warms. Taste consistent with nose - malty and definitely some residual lactose sweetness. Also a little nutty and a little bit of char with a lightly lingering bitterness in the form of a burnt quality. Mouthfeel is medium-light with a an easy background carbonation and a slight creaminess. A flavorful porter with a well-hidden abv that drinks extremely easy - definitely allow this beer the opportunity to warm in order to appreciate its full flavor profile.

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Photo of John_M
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub the other day.

This porter pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is attractive in this beer, with coffee, vanilla and noticeable licorise. The licorise really comes on strong on the the palate, especially with the fairly sweet flavor profile. This beer really has an impressive intensity of flavor, with the slight bitterness in the finish countering the sweetness and licorise. The beer is quite full bodied, with a good, fairly long finish. Drinkability is pretty good, though the high abv. started to wear on me after a while.

This is a pretty good porter, but it's the sort of beer where I really felt as if one was enough.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Somewhat dark brown in color-mild ruby highlights throughout. Not much carbonation upon opening or pouring. Malty and mild roasted grain aroma-there is a slight aroma of soaking beans, like when you are using real beans for soup or chile. I know some Baltics use beans-well this is really right there. Big malty flavor and a mild chocolate graininess that is just great. Somewhat "inky" flavor. Roasted flavors are nicely muted and not astringent. Some bitterness. great body-very full with a nice dry finish. Boy I could do this all night. Great beer-very complex yet simple in the long run. 9%-where?

On a side note I love the Portsmith labels. They have a great, actual "brown paper bag" feel to them.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle into red wine glass. Thanks to GarthTaargus (Zach) for this great extra!

Pours black, some brown showing through, thin light-khaki head and decent stickage. Poured cold; the second pour a much more robust 1" head - first pour was my fault for pouring too cold.

Nose is roasty, some light chocolate, licorice and a light hoppiness mixed in as well. Bit of citrus comes through. Not a huge nose, but quite satisfying and fairly distinctive due to the lack of espresso notes. Nice.

Taste is again roasty, with the malts coming through clearly, nice molasses and chocolate notes, bit of licorice towards the finish, with a nice light acidity and some citrus coming through on the back end. Again, the lack of espresso notes makes this one distinctive to me - I like it. Feels classic in a way, distinctive, more in the British mold than the American.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy, acidity cuts the body a bit.

Drinkability? Fantastic for the style. Light but substantial, very moreish.

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Photo of tpd975
3.62/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to the King of "docking" Gillard for this one.

A: Pours a nice lighter shade of black / darker shade of brown with a thin mocha colored head. No real retentio or lace noted.

S: Your typical porter here. Nice roasted malt complimented by equal amounts of chocolate and coffee.

T: Nice roasty porter. Very subtle notes of chocolate with a nice coffee middle. A bit or hops that come off as black licorice in the finish. Could use a bit more chocolate for my liking.

M: Medium in body, pretty smooth, with a dry finish.

D: Not too bad. Not the best offering, but pretty solid overall.

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Portsmouth Imperial (Baltic) Porter from Portsmouth Brewery
4.13 out of 5 based on 50 ratings.
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