Beer Review: Baltika — In Russia, Beer Drinks You!

You’d think I’d learn after trying an import from Poland (“cool!”) that turned out to be their Malt Liquor (“dag nabbit!”) that trying odd Eastern European imports with labels in foreign languages is a wild gamble.  But if you’ve been reading my posts so far, you now know that I never learn.  Those brain cells died in a puddle of Schlitz long ago.  This time, it’s from Mother Russia — Baltika Number 6, which is something called a “Baltic Porter”.  In keeping with my policy of never learning, I have also not done my homework to figure out exactly what that is, but I drink on, nonetheless.

Baltika Numero Six is not bad, just off a bit.  Not skunky, despite the intercontinental trip to Socal.  None of the flavors are bad, though there are a LOT of them.  Not too astringent, though I was expecting the first sip to dissolve my front teeth, as so often happens with extra-strong imports.  But it’s just… different — an odd mismash of flavors that don’t quite all work together.  Something’s just not quite right — maybe something’s lost in the translation, maybe this is what Baltic Porters are supposed to be, but I’m not buyin’ it.  Why not?  Check out their website — you can look up the Baltika’s official homepage for all their beers (they run from 1 through 9).  For Number 6, you’ll see a strange juxtaposition of hip, modern Russian youngster spinnin’ trax on the DJ set on the left, next to this description of Baltika No. 6 on the right:

“Baltika’s porter is one of the most eminent varieties of Russian beer with a long heritage.  Energy value: 60 kilocalories per 100 g of beer.  Nutritional value: not more than 6.0 g of carbohydrates per 100 g of beer.”

Wow — that has to be the most arid, scientific beer slogan I’ve ever seen.  Keep in mind, this is on their official website, where you’re supposed to sing the praises of your product, not post half of an AP Chemistry word problem.  And it about sums it up for Baltika No. 6 — like the emergence of Russian glam rock bands after glastnost, Baltika No. 6 is just a little too alien for my taste.

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