Sam Adams introduced their Small Batch Series in 2011, adding and rotating in new offerings. One of the latest brews in the series is Dark Depths – an IPA brewed with a lager yeast for an interesting mesh of styles – the label calls it a Baltic IPA. From their website: “Across the cold and brackish waters of the Baltic, the English porter was transformed, from a mild ale to a dark and complex lager that confounds definition. Immersed in dark, roasted malts and a bold citrus hop character, these big and contrasting flavors are brought together with the smoothness of a lager for a brew that’s rugged, mysterious, and full of flavor.” That’s a love story I can believe in!
If you know anything about beers, you know these two styles are on opposite ends of the beer spectrum. A Baltic Porter is a sweet, robust porter with high alcohol content that originated in the Baltic states. Baltic Porter reflects both the character of original British Porters and the character of sweeter, highly alcoholic Russian Imperial Stouts. India Pale Ales came about in the 18th century when malts were kilned with coke – a fuel containing very few impurities which led to less smoke during the kilning process. This led to paler, lighter beers. For an interesting read linking these two styles, and a refutation of the common back story of IPAs, CLICK HERE.
Poured into my trusty pint glass, I got whiffs of pine and citrus coming from the dark, ruby depths beneath the off-white, frothy head. It truly confounds the senses! Lacing was generous (I always love to marvel at the lacing left by a spongy head.) The flavor burst forward with hoppy/pine notes, balanced out by the sweet/smoky notes of the Caramel malts. The 7.60% ABV is hidden quite well, and I found this to be an easy drinking Porter (or is it a chewy IPA? I’m so confused!) The hops reminded me of Stone’s Sublimely Self Righteous, though it’s only sporting 55 IBUs compared to Self Righteous’ 90 IBUs. The lager yeasts utilized here really balance out the hops.
Probably one of Sam Adams’ best beers. As stated above, this is a limited edition series, so if I recommend you jump on this while it’s available. Grab it while you can!
4/5 – joel