Happy Super Bowl Saturday! My sympathies to the vast majority of you whose team won’t be playing tomorrow, but the consolation match is, I think, a pretty exciting matchup with some real offensive firepower on both sides, and you don’t get that every year. I, for one, tend to drink a little bit more quickly when the game’s fun, so maybe today we can all agree to drink something light and take it easy. Right?
Yeah, I didn’t think so. But we’re still drinking a lager. And that lager is the latest in Saint Arnold Brewing’s Divine Reserve series of one-off releases: Divine Reserve 17, a Baltic porter.
Okay. I can see some of you are confused. A porter’s an ale, isn’t it? Yeah, usually! And some breweries, true, will just a brew a strong porter with an ale yeast and call it a Baltic porter, but Saint Arnold is not here to jerk you around like that. Traditional Baltic porter, as it originated (predictably) in the modern-day Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and also in Finland, was a product of German rather than English brewing methods, cold-fermented with German lager yeasts. And so the yeast in Divine Reserve 17 is the same Bavarian lager yeast they use for their pilsners, which strikes me as a pretty impressive achievement since I don’t usually think of pilsner yeasts as hardy enough to keep fermenting all the way up to DR17’s imposing 9.2% ABV.
Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 17 is one dark, dark beer, pouring black all the way through. The light-khaki head fades away quickly, leaving a thin ring of foam around the margins of the glass. Aroma is mostly grainy, with a little more bitterness than you’ll experience when you actually take a sip. The flavor’s primarily sweet and chocolatey, backed with a hint of raisin; there’s some of the roast of an imperial stout, but it’s muted, defining the beer around the edges, along with the hops, rather than being part of its core. Saint Arnold has suggested that the beer can be aged (and I, for one, will be aging some of it) to “smooth out” the alcohol, but unlike many nine-percenters, this one’s perfectly smooth already, with not even a hint of detectable heat. In my opinion, this is one of the best beers in the series so far.
lady snow says: I like that this isn’t as bitter as a lot of strong stouts and porters.
make it snow says: That’s something that really stood out to me too.
lady snow says: But it’s definitely not overwhelmingly sweet, either. It reminds me of Old Rasputin.
make it snow says: That’s interesting, because I think of Old Rasputin as one of the more bitter imperial stouts. But then, the bitterness there is about the hops. On the other hand, it’s appropriate, because Old Rasputin’s more of a traditional Russian imperial stout, historically Baltic porters were patterned on those strong stouts brewed in England for Baltic markets from St. Petersburg to Poland.
lady snow says: Interesting! Yeah, I think this is like that base flavor from Old Rasputin, underneath all the hops.
tl;dr: You don’t have to make an ale to make a porter. And sometimes you can make an even better porter if you don’t make an ale.
Grade: 17 out of 17.
make it snow is an alot of beer and underinformed movie critic. He’s on like his fourth six-pack of Divine Reserve 17 since it release. They’re only making it once, after all.