I’ve tried a few of the Baltika beers – 2, 3, and 9 – so finding numbers 4-8 in the grocery store, including the dark lager, number 4, was intriguing to me. However, a production date of 05.09.09 was a bit disconcerting, even if the Russians do the whole day-month-year thing.
The color is an appropriately Baltic-y amber with plenty of rich copper showing through the decent clarity. A fair amount of sediment or residue is suspended throughout the beer. The head is lively and tan, but settles quickly over slow carbonation.
The nose is malty with powerful caramel notes and as well as hints of honeydew or cantaloupe and a faint roastiness of brown sugar. I couldn’t decide which photo I liked, so I put them both up here.
The mouthfeel is excellent – full and a bit milky and far more effervescent than it looks. An initial sweetness of milk chocolate caramel takes over and gives way to a deeper richness that is reminiscent of a plum-laden winter ale. However, being a lager, the finish remains crisp, even as the back of the swallow attempts to cloy. This is very much a dunkel or Vienna-style, though it’s a bit sweet for me.
Unlike the stereotype of its people, this beer is anything but dry. The hops seem to arrive first, and give way to what seems like more of a punch than the 5.6% ABV would indicate. Baltika rarely disappoints and all of their brews that I’ve tried have a good deal of character.