St. Petersburg, RUS
9 Extra Lager
More Baltika! Courtesy of Val, my token Russian friend, this pounder of 9 is some serious stuff. At 8%, this is fairly close to malt liquor. Regardless, I’ve only had this once, in St. Petersburg, and it was awesome.
The pour starts slowly but a dense, cloud-white head inflates quickly and rests at at least an inch. The color is straw gold with pristine clarity and steady carbonation featuring large bubbles.
The nose is very grassy, but sweeter than I expected. There is a sharp, lemon tang – almost like wood cleaner, but with no astringent qualities and a peppery snap.
The mouthfeel is massive. This brew is overwhelming at first – alcohol arrives like a mouthful of snap-bangs, throwing a combination of salty-sweet crispness and the puckering sourness of Nerds candy. I would not recommend letting this beer warm up at all – though as your tastebuds are assaulted by the bitter green apple attack of the hops and alcohol, they eventually capitulate and allow you drink without thinking you picked up the Mr. Clean bottle by mistake.
It’s not as bad as it sounds, but this beer tastes as rough as it will probably leave you feeling if you drink more than a couple of them. As a lager, it’s sort of like the idea of an Imperial Pilsner that has started to emerge, though it’s more similar to Dortmunder than a Pils. So, for a Russian-made Imperial Dortmunder, this is your go-to.
St. Petersburg, RUSSIA
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.