Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hammer of the grogs

This is short notice (but not really since Lew Bryson’s blog “Seen Through A Glass” has had it listed for a couple weeks now):

Baltic Thunder, Victory Brewing’s new rich, gale-force porter that is heir to the throne of Perkuno’s Hammer, gets a draft unveiling this Saturday (that’s Jan. 5th) at The Drafting Room in Exton, Pa. A kind, female voice at the bar today confirmed the event is still on and says serving starts at noon. (See Lew’s site for the on-tap details.)

The story thus far
Named after the mythological Baltic god of thunder, Perkuno’s Hammer was the imperial porter created (with some key and label-credited assistance from Lew) by Tom Baker of Heavy Weight Brewing, the diamond in the rough brewery based in Ocean Township, Monmouth County (just south of Red Bank, where the original Basil T’s puts pints on the bar and Tom has guest brewed).

Robust, high gravity beers were the province of Heavy Weight, which sold its beer in four-packs (Smaller Package – Bigger Beer, as their saying went). Tom developed a following as an artisanal brewer before deciding to close HW (in August 2006, thereabouts), and take his mash rake and cross the Delaware to Philly (Mount Airy section), where yet even more blog words say he recently signed a lease for a new brewpub, where he can dust off his recipes under the banner “Earth, Bread & Brewery.”

The V sign
Beforehand, though, all the forlorn beer faces staring at the possibility that Perkuno’s Hammer would strike no more were buoyed by the news that Victory (of Downingtown, Pa., whose great beers we drank practically all December long, in between Jersey brews) had reached an agreement under which it would brew PH under the label Baltic Thunder, with some alterations here and there to the recipe, if we’re not mistaken.

A sneak peak
Tom was able to dole out a taste of the heir to PH as the finale to a talk he gave on the maltiness of beer last fall at Tria Fermentation School in Philly. If you were one of the 30 or so lucky folks there that evening, you can attest to the richness of PH’s progeny. (If you’ve never been to a Tria session, and you like to not just drink beer, but talk beer and gain a better understanding of the chorus of flavors that entice and wow you, then sign up for a Tria session. It’s fun and informative, and comes with great pretzels from Sansom Street, excellent cheeses and warm hosts and great speakers.)

Storm clouds are gathering. Listen to the thunder. It’s hammer time again.

What they (Victory brewers) say:
Truly a worldly beer. Baltic Thunder represents the Baltic Porter style admirably. Exhibiting the enticing, toffee roast of the British porter that originated the style in the 18th century, and the soothing, subtle fruit nuance of contemporary brews that flourish from Helsinki to Vilnius today, this dark lager honors the Baltic god of thunder. Created by an inspired collaboration of brewers and tempered with a touch of turmoil, Baltic Thunder rolls on to bring you enchanting light as the darkness fades.

Hops: European whole flower. Malts: imported German 2 row and roasted malts. ABV: 8.5%

The way you knew it:
A dark and mysterious, subtle, Baltic porter, a style difficult to find outside of the Baltics. PH's grain bill consisted of ample amounts of Munich malt with some chocolate and other specialty malts and Roman beans, fermented with a Bavarian lager yeast. Lew Bryson called it a collision of doublebock and imperial stout. 8% ABV