On the docket: 750 mL bottle of Flying Fish Brewing Co.’s Exit 18 Baltic Porter, no best by/born on date.
Poured into: Jester King Snorkel snifter
S: A pitch-black body fills out the snifter, capped with a khaki head that builds, sticks around long enough for you to notice it was there, then makes a smooth exit (See what I did?). The result is a soapy vapor-trail like film on top, coupled with a few bubbles and a tightly hugging ring around the perimeter of the glass. Lacing is spotty and nearly absent.
A: Dark and brooding. Roasted malt, mainly coffee and dark chocolate. Though the malt is the star of the aroma, one can detect a faint bit of citrus and pine from the hops. Faint whispers of molasses and date/fig, not unlike its cousin, the Russian Imperial Stout.
T: Much of the aroma follows through to the taste, but that’s fine by me. Dark, bittersweet chocolate and coffee arrive first, speeding through to the middle, where the fig and/or date flavors get picked up, holding a cardboard sign saying, “will work for beer.” The trip ends with a hop bitterness, some pine and citrus—and as the beer warms up—a wave of booze. It’s to be expected. This Baltic beauty clocks in at 9.5%, so sip with care. While the booze is present, it’s not alarming. It’s welcomed, much like finding the highway deserted in the wee hours of the morning on one’s way to work. An added bonus- a slight (but noticeable) bit of black licorice on the end.
F: Smooth, creamy, luxurious. I’ve used that trifecta to describe beer before, but it’s apt. Delicate carbonation, enough to free up some of the traffic, but it’s more a three lanes back to four, not three lanes back to five, to continue the transportation metaphor. The hops help to dry out the tongue in the finish, and combined with the roasted malt, provide a nice astringency that gives balance to what could be a too-sweet beer.
O: So far, my favorite Exit done by Flying Fish, and a great representation of the style. This is a “clear your schedule” type of beer, especially if you’re not keen on splitting high-abv offerings.
S: 4 A: 4.25 T: 4.5 F: 4 O: 4.25
Suggested food pairing: grilled red meat and roasted vegetables, hearty stew, earthy, nutty cheese, coffee-driven desserts or maybe even Black Forest cake. Also good as what I will start calling a “cocktail beer,” in the sense that it’s excellent in place of dessert itself; enjoyed on its own.