Are You Tasting the Pith? - 7th November 04
So, after promising weeks ago that I was going to mention Saku Porter in the next installment, finally I get round to it. But lets save the best till last shall we?
First of all, Saku Originaal (4.6% abv) seems to have attracted a bit of a stinking review on the legendary Oxford Bottled Beer Database, so for what it's worth, I think that the review is totally wrong and Originaal is a pretty good lager. It's a little sweet and grainy for my taste, but that doesn't mean that it isn't any good. Sure, it's a fairly commercial lager, appealing to a mass audience (although far from the lowest common denominator), but it can still do that and be a good example of what it is meant to be. And it is. So there.
Movin' on up to the next alcohol level, Saku Hard Rock (7.5% abv, which I am drinking as I write, so excuse me if I make little sense by the end of this installment) is, at first taste, not much different to the Originaal - smooth, grainy (sweetcorny, in fact) and slightly sweet. However, it has a bit more body to it (although it carries its weight well), with a little more toffeeish malt flavour and a bit of bitter citrus orange in the sweetish, slightly vegetal finish- not much, but it's certainly there, just hinting at the higher abv, as does the slight warming effect you get after 1/3 of a bottle. But still, you could get very drunk on this without realising how strong it was.
Staying with the medium-to-high abv, but darkening dramatically like a storm front sweeping in from the east, Saku Tume (6.7% abv) falls somewhere between a porter and a black lager. Its body is light and fairly clean, but there is a noticeable whiff of caramel on the nose of this one. Swilling past the teeth and round the gums, there's a little caramelly sweetness, and then a good dollop of roast malt (milky coffee) before a fairly well structured finish.
Now we get to the good stuff. Saku Porter (7% abv) has won quite a few medals and gongs in various competitions, so one would expect it to be better than average, and indeed it is. The bottle that I sampled (brought back from Estonia by a friend, thank you Justin) had a cheery little Santa Claus on it, reinforcing the whole winter/dark beer interface, and rightly so. This is beer that you could imagine drinking whilst stood outside, wrapped up in a nice warm parka, tending the whole deer you are spit roasting over a spruce log fire (should your imagination and prose be as florid as mine). The soft roast malt notes (coffee, cocoa and chocolate) pervade the aroma and palate, and last well into the fairly long smoky, earthy finish. Full-flavoured enough to be enjoyable and satisfying, but complex and delicate enough to be moreish. Two thumbs up.
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