Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lost and Found

I've been incredibly negligent in my beer reviewing, since Christmas. After reviewing a stellar chocolate milk stout, I had a Belgian IPA that did very little for me (and so, I didn't review it), then overindulged on one of my favourite beers, and then settled right down, drinking only three wee bottles of beer for the rest of the holidays.

I did have some amazing wine with friends, as we celebrated the new year, and a spectacular 1991 Tokaji Aszú (pronounced toke-eye ah-zoo, it's a sweet Hungarian dessert wine) that my wife and I had stashed in our cellar but finally opened and shared, with family, on Christmas Day.

But I digress.

All this to say I didn't have much in the way of beer over the past couple of weeks. But, last night, I decided that a review was overdue. And I had two good reasons to break out a bottle: two friends were celebrating birthdays, so I promised that I would raise a glass to one and dedicate a beer review to the other.

Cheers to you both! To Miriam, The Merry Runner, and Marissa, The Beer Gypsy!

As it turned out, the beer that I chose to review is a favourite of Marissa's, so there's an added bonus to opening it. Actually, I should have suspected as much, because I believe it was Marissa who brought a bottle of this Baltic porter to the last Ottawa Bottle Share. At that time, I only had a small sip of it: this time, I had an entire bottle to savour for myself.

Let's take a look:
Lost River Baltic Porter (ABV 8.5%)
Bellwoods Brewery
Toronto ON
Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5
Appearance: deep walnut with a creamy, dark taupe head that settles to a full cap.

Nose: dark chocolate, fresh, ground walnuts, and prunes.

Palate: dark-roasted coffee, prunes, and cedar, with a bitter, slightly alcoholic but well-balanced finish. As the porter opens up, the alcohol becomes less-defined.

Overall impression: this is a bold and bitter porter with distinct, roasted notes. It's a celebratory ale that would pair well with a good cigar—which is appropriate for my tasting.

For me, Baltic porters have larger-than-life flavours and come off as being boozy. The Porter Baltique Grande Cuvée by Les Trois Mousquetaires is a classic example of a heady porter. But while Lost River is big in flavour, it lacks in the boozy characteristic.

And, for me, that puts it heads above the other Baltic porters.

While this brew is not available through the LCBO, you can get it directly from the brewery. And because I don't live in Toronto, that makes me sad. I can only hope that Bellwoods gets its product in the stores and in Ottawa.

Because, when I want to toast my friends on their birthday, I want easy access to good beer.