Eighty-six years ago this Thursday, Lenin died. In honor of this historical marker, and because we were drawn to the Cyrillic characters on their labels, we sample two brews from St. Petersburg.
Baltika labels its beers with numbers at the top of their necks. We tried No. 6, the porter, and No. 4, the dark lager. Each was $1.99 in one pint, .9-ounce bottles at Central Market.
The porter weighed in at 7 percent alcohol but didn't feel that robust. It was dark but very easy-drinking. In fact, too many gulps in a row made it taste thin, which is among the least-complimentary adjectives we can apply to beer.
Still, it didn't taste cheap, but we hesitate to fully endorse this one. The hops were prominent and pleasant, and some sips yielded caramel, occasionally a bit of appealing roasted flavor. But others betrayed that complexity, and the beer went back to tasting like a middle-grade lager. As commenter Bruce pointed out a few weeks ago, a beer without a finish is a bad thing, and that's what we have here. We're split on this one. If you've tried it, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.
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The dark lager was easier to call. Weighing in at a more modest 5.6 percent alcohol, this one came across much like a Scottish ale: warm, malty, with some strong but restrained hops at the back of the mouth. It's a good brew, but we'd hesitate to recommend it for more than a dessert beer. All the flavors are there, but the malt dominates, far more than expected, certainly.
This "dark lager" bears no resemblance to Samuel Adams's black lager, for instance. Also, it's worth mentioning that No. 4 came with plenty of sediment in the bottle. Not sure we've seen that in a lager before, but we might have missed something.
Thoughts, beer nerds?