I probably course corrected a bit much to the local beer buying habit so at the start of each year, I try to nudge that ship into international beer waters. Hi-Lo Market has an option for you and me fromTallinn, Estonia. The brewery is Põhjala and it is one of the largest craft breweries in the Baltic states. It also made the RateBeer “Top 100” list of world breweries.
There might not be many bottles so hop to it or make your next beer buying trip a non US beer one for variety.
The subtitle for this San Francisco treat is Saaremaa Island Ale and thanks to a fortuitous vacation by Anchor brewmaster Mark Carpenter we get to try an Estonian inflected ale.
Carpenter got some of the Estonian yeast back from the island and melded it to a pale ale to create this hybrid beer. It has some tripel notes to it such as vanilla as well as hefe notes with a clove spice character and it also really sticks to the palate and becomes a bit viscous.
It pours a very bright and clear orange. And frankly, I am of two minds about this beer. I like the complexity here. I believe two different beer fans would pick out different flavor and aroma notes. But the end taste of stickiness with a dose of toasty malt notes doesn’t quite tie this beer up with a bow. I have had a few beers like this lately that start out great but then turn in a direction that I am not fond of.
As an FYI, the top selling beers are from Saku (a local owned by larger interests) and A. Le Coq a Finnish brewery. Certainly a place due for some craft infusions.