Last week, Carver Brewing Co. tapped something new and different for local craft-beer drinkers. The brewery's Smoked Baltic Porter was a first for Carver's, and, to my knowledge, any of Durango's breweries.
Baltic porter is a centuries-old style that seems to be enjoying a recent resurgence. Pagosa Brewing just tapped its own attempt, and chatter about the style on other beer blogs indicates it is not merely a local phenomenon.
"Why now?" Carver's head Brewer Erik Maxson said in an e-mail. "Hard to say other than maybe the proliferation of breweries and their brewers' desire to explore lesser-known styles is also increasing. I'm sure there are plenty of things not yet explored in the style realm or ingredients-wise, but with so many already established styles it would take a really long time to exhaust all of those possibilities. On a personal note 'is there really anything new under the sun?'"
Ah, the Ecclesiastes-quoting brewer. Seriously, though, it's something I've heard from other brewers — It's very difficult to come up with anything truly new at this stage in the craft-brewing game. Maxson's assistant brewer pushed to brew the Baltic porter.
Carver's Smoked Baltic Porter comes in at 7 percent ABV and 45 IBUs. I picked up a growler last weekend for free with my stamped-out growler card (a great deal, by the way).
It pours an inky black with a big tan head of foam. In appearance, it's not unlike an imperial stout.
It has a grand, roasted malty taste, with a hint of smoke and a depth and complexity that exceeds the traits of basic porters.
Maxson said the beer uses smoked German malt at about 15 percent of the grist.
Incidentally, my fiancée and a female friend with whom I shared the growler were also impressed. It's often interesting which beers women like or don't like. This one passed the test.
Carver's Smoked Baltic Porter is a very tasty and well-executed beer that's worth your time and dimes. A-