Another quick post to catch up on the recent interest in porter, with Zythophile’s excellent report on possible geographic differences in the use of the term and Ron Pattinson’s equally fascinating posts, like this one on historic porter grists, earlier this week. Their focus has been on British and Irish porters, though just a couple of weeks ago Boak and Bailey posted some tasting notes on Baltic porters, a Continental off-shoot that is usually much stronger, while still retaining some of the characteristics of the English original. (At least in the sense that they’re both dark.)
Though we’re far from the Baltics, a few such porters are produced in Central Europe. The Czech Republic’s brewing laws limit the term to those beers made with barley malt and with an original gravity above 18° (resulting in a strength around 7% ABV or more). Pardubický Porter, for many years the lone exemplar, is brewed at 19° and has 8% ABV; similar Czech brews have recently appeared from Pilsner Urquell and Kout na Šumavě.
In Germany, the term can apparently be used for beers that are much closer to a conversational tone, like Lausitzer Porter (4.4% ABV).
This marks at least one instance where the Czechs have no problem trouncing their neighbors to the west.
Lausitzer Porter, Bergquell-Brauerei Löbau (4.4% ABV)
Pours a clear, very dark amber with a gingery, vinous nose. In the mouth, it tastes less like a dark lager than it does a no-name cola: instead of malt there’s an initial Coca-Cola blast followed by a thin body and a cloyingly sweet finish with cherry and hard-candy notes which climax in a weird sourness. Due to the saccharine finish, many testers would probably guess that this is a diet (or “light”) cola. Not particularly beer-like.
In this case, I don’t think British porter or Baltic porter fans would be particularly impressed. Even less encouraging than the taste of their regular porter, Lausitzer’s web site is pushing a new version of Lausizter Porter with strawberry flavoring. It brings to mind Pilsner Urquell’s new “ohne bullshit” ad campaign in Germany, which points out that Pilsner Urquell isn’t flavored with cranberry, lemon or anything else. Bullshit, indeed.