Baltika Brew Collection – Russian Imperial Stout

This beer was one that intrigued me. It’s not marketed the same way as regular Baltika selections, and after reading their press release, I can see why. This beer is specifically marketed to Americans, thus the different labeling. I’d be interested to see if any other international breweries are doing this to cash in on the craft beer craze.


ABV: 10%

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “A new line of unique craft beer Baltika Brew Collection brewed specifically for export to the USA appeared on shelves of American stores. The craft brewery segment in the USA has been on the rise and continues its growth approximately by 12% annually…In its strive to meet present-day requirements, Baltika introduced to the US market two unique authentic brands of Russian beer from the Baltika Brew Collection: Russian Imperial stout, the stout based on a traditional formulation of the 18th century distinguished by strength and hop bitter, and Russian Honey Brown Ale, classic ale which flavor enjoys unfolding honey notes and scents of the Russian fields. Before the end of the year, it is planned to introduce the third beer brand to the American market, Russian Lingonberry Wit, wheat unfiltered beer with berry notes of the Russian forests.”

Random: I think that whoever writes their press releases needs to do a bit of editing.

This brew poured with a half-finger of khaki-colored head. I was surprised that it dissipated so quickly and it left no lacing. A crown was left on top of the black body. Due to the color, I couldn’t see any carbonation. The nose was pungent with booze, black licorice and dark, roasted malts. There was also a lot of wood smoke. The taste had bitter, dark chocolate and cocoa powder up front. Then, I picked up a lot of anise and black licorice. At the end of the sip, the wood smoke, ash and booze came through. You could taste every bit of the 10% ABV of this beer. The flavors on the beer were really sharp and disjointed when transitioning. The body was quite viscous with little carbonation. The finish stuck around forever and had ash and black licorice. I picked this one up for $2.99 ($.20 per ounce), but I wouldn’t have this again even at half the price.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Baltika #9 Extra (Strong)

During my last beer run, I decided to expand my horizons to get some imports from countries that I’ve never tried before. Tonight’s selection is a Euro Strong Lager from Russia. I think I’ve read about this beer in one of my beer books, but I don’t remember much. Let’s get to it.


ABV: 8%

Style: Euro Strong Lager

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “The first bottling of the Baltika #9 Strong took place as far back as 1998. Beer lovers immediately appreciated the novelty. In 2005 the brand cardinally changed its exterior and a little later Baltika Breweries started filling it into a convenient PET package that quickly became popular with consumers. At the same time the ‘Devyatka’ (meaning ‘Nine’) popular name became the official name and is now used on the label. The taste of the strong Baltika beer was recognized not only by Russian citizens. The brand is successfully exported to almost 40 countries around the world, including Germany, Ireland, France, the USA, and even such exotic countries as Mexico, Mongolia and South Korea. One should also note the social role of the beer at the time. Many strong drink consumers switched to Baltika Nine with the alcohol content below 8%. The strength is achieved by natural fermentation only, according to a unique recipe developed by Baltika specialists.”

Random: I used to see this beer on the shelves a lot and now it’s harder to find. My guess is because craft beer is taking over the shelf space.

This beer poured with about a quarter of a finger of white head that dissipated almost instantly. It left no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, straw yellow with soda-like carbonation. The nose was subtle, with barley and yellow corn. It also had a touch of metal. I was surprised that there wasn’t booze apparent on the nose. The taste had sweetness from the corn and the barley. What was surprising was that there was some grassy hop character, albeit muted. I picked up a butter flavor, which I didn’t love, but didn’t make the beer undrinkable. It’s also one of the few beers that I’ve had that I could place the DMS note. The alcohol was prevalent on this and warmed the back of the throat. The body was on the thicker side with high carbonation. The finish was quick with sweet corn. A 16 ounce bottle of this was $2.10 ($.13 per ounce). This is a style that I think is generally boring, and I had no problem drinking it, but I don’t feel the need to revisit it.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0