Talk to me about Baltics

We are planning on brewing up a 1/2 bbl of Baltic in the fall, to be aged and enjoyed in the hopefully-not-as-frigid-as-last winter here in WNY.

I was planning on brewing a 5 gallon steam beer, using 34/70, to grow up a slug of yeast for the porter.

Our plan was basically to use Jamil’s recipe (others welcome), treat water and mash according to it, ferment around 50 for 1-2 weeks, d-rest at 60, cold condition for 6-8 weeks.

Any recipe suggestions, techniques and experiences are welcome!

I’m no expert on Baltics, but a couple thoughts I’ll share for your contemplation:

A big beer like this might need longer than a set “1-2 weeks” to ferment. The big thing is, don’t rack it too quickly. Give the yeast all the time they want to finish the job up nicely for you. I’d also wait until gravity is around 1.035-1.040 before warming it up for cleanup. And I’ll say it again: don’t rack.

Good idea making a small batch to build up the yeast cell count for this.

In my experience, about 3/4 pound lactose or maltodextrin per 5 gallons wouldn’t be unheard of for this style. It’s very similar to a milk stout, can be thick and sweet. Either that, or plan to mash high, above 155 F, for a short time, maybe just 40-45 minutes as I would do. If you’re doing an extract batch, then nevermind on the mash temperature, and you could use a fraction as much unfermentable sugars since most extracts contain some already.

I haven’t looked at it but if you’re going with Jamil’s recipe then I’m sure it will be fine. How much crystal malt does he specify? Personally, I don’t see Baltic as being very caramelly. It gets more character from black patent and chocolate malts than anything else. Special B is probably a very good idea for some of that dark fruit / raisiny / figgy character. Try about 1/3 pound in 5 gallons for great effect. Yeah, personally I’d definitely use some Special B. That’s probably the key “secret” ingredient that I would use. Think of this as sort of a giant Belgian dubbel, but with lager yeast and lots of dark roasted grains for big depth of flavor. That’s how I see it.

Keep in mind, it might taste hot for a long time, up to a whole year or even longer. But it will mellow nicely with age. If you were planning on kegging, you might want to consider bottling this one to let it age without tying up a keg for that long.

Hope you love it.

Sorry, to clarify, we would only have it at 50* for 1-2 weeks, then likely a 1-2 week d rest at higher temp. Total ferment time at least 3-4 weeks before moving to cold conditioning.

Also, sounds like a Baltic should have more of a restrained roastiness, like a schwarz, than say an RIS. We will probably go with as you say, a black patent or even a Blackprinz/Midnight wheat.

You really think it will be ‘hot’ for a year? If we pitch enough yeast and keep a collar on the temp, it shouldn’t generate a lot of fusels should it? Our RIS was real drinkable at about a month at 10.5% (I grant you, it was an ale yeast).

Fermented cool, with plenty of yeast… you’re right, maybe it won’t be hot for too long. Also depends on the OG. Go low end and you wouldn’t have to worry. If you shot for the high end, more age would be needed.

You’re a smart guy. You know your stuff. You don’t need to listen to me! :lol:

All this talk is making me want either an RIS or baltic. And I typically don’t love high-abv beer. Is that a bad thing?

When the mood strikes, go for it. I agree though, I’m not usually into the high gravity beers anymore. It seems like a phase that all beer drinkers and homebrewers need to go through, and then hopefully (but not always) they need to get over it and brew “normal” strength beers most of the time. My overall average gravity beer than I brew is 1.060, and I’ve been working to bring that down even more towards 1.055. I don’t care to get hammered anymore, not really. I just want to enjoy the taste and be able to finish a whole pint or two and still feel comfortable… usually. But in the case of a well made Baltic porter, I would make an exception! I brewed a RIS a couple years ago, and it was good, but I did get tired of it too. But Baltic porter seems less scary and should be easier to drink than RIS.