Bull Jagger Brewing Co. will be selling its second beer, a Baltic Porter, in the immediate future. 

“It is ready,” co-owner Allan Jagger said when I talked to him last Friday. “It has been lagering for six weeks.”

The Portland-based company planned to spend a good part of the past week bottling and labeling. If everything goes well, it should be on the shelves of the larger specialty beer stores beginning this Friday.

Bull Jagger opened last October to specialize in lagers — filling a niche that has been lacking in Maine, given that most local breweries make ales.

“A Baltic Porter is a lager-based porter,” Jagger said, “the only one if its kind, based in the Baltic states. It is like a regular English porter, but they do it with a lager yeast, making it a little more mellow.”

According to the “Oxford Companion to Beer,” Russia’s Catherine the Great loved porter, and had English porter — the high-alcohol Imperial stout — shipped to her. Some of it ended up in Finland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and they started brewing their own.

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When lager brewing reached the region in the mid-1800s, the brewers started lagering their porters, and a style was born.

“Ours will be about 8 percent alcohol, but very drinkable,” Jagger said. It is going to have a little bit of rye in the mix.

Jagger said the Baltic Porter will be available for only about four weeks, because he and partner/chief brewer Tom Bull want to put out a Pilsener for the summer season. 

“We were a little bit behind the gun on this season,” Jagger said. “Next season, we will get it out for Christmas.”

Jagger invited me out to taste the Baltic Porter, and I met Bull and Matt Johannes, another brewer.

Bull said the company has a four-barrel brewing system, and brews on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Once the beer has fermented for 10 to 14 days at low temperatures, the two batches are combined in an eight-barrel lagering tank, where it stays for five weeks at about 32 degrees. Then it takes two days to carbonate the beer before it is bottled.

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“We don’t bottle condition our beer,” Bull said, because that would add even more time to the already much-longer process of brewing lager as opposed to ale.

But Bull thinks the process is worth it. “Lagering makes the beer more mellow and smoother,” he said.

The Baltic Porter, which I tasted before it was carbonated, is an intense beer, with quite a bit of sweetness and notes of chocolate, coffee and toffee, and had just a bit of bite at the back of the palate from the rye. I liked it a lot, and expect it will be even better once it is bottled and carbonated.

The company has 32 barrels of Baltic Porter, which Jagger said will be about 7,200 bottles.

Portland Lager — the company’s flagship — has been very well received since it came out last October. It is a Helles lager, and they adjusted the recipe a bit to lessen the hops and bring the malt more forward.

The success has been so good that Sen. Olympia Snowe praised the company, and its beer, on the Senate floor on Feb. 1, and part of what Snowe said appeared in the Washington Post.

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Bull said the Pilsener coming out this summer will be lighter in color and a little lighter in flavor than the Portland Lager, which replicates a Bavarian Helles lager.

The company’s production had been sold entirely in bottles until last week, when some kegs of Portland Lager were shipped to several local bars, including the Great Lost Bear, Novare Res, Mama’s Crowbar and some others.

While at Bull Jagger, I had a taste of what could be coming in the distant future.

Johannes had just brewed a roggenbier, or rye beer, with leftovers from the Baltic Porter. After just the primary fermentation, it was a bit sweet, but had a complex mineral-style flavor. It probably will be years before it hits the market, but it could show up sometime.

MAINE BEER COMPANY and 50 Local, a restaurant at 50 Main St., Kennebunk, have scheduled a beer dinner for 6 p.m. March 1 at the restaurant.

The four-course dinner will be paired with all four Maine Beer Co. offerings. Peeper Ale will be served with hors d’ouevres and cheese.

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Lunch IPA will accompany a Charcuterie of hop sausage, pate de Champagne, moussaline, glazed pork belly and beer-brined beef tongue. Zoe, a hoppy amber ale, will be served with the main course of Cavatelli pasta including braised pork aigre deux, goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and spinach.

For dessert, Mean Old Tom stout brewed on vanilla beans will go with a chocolate stout cake.

The price is $55 a person including tax and tip, and can be ordered through 50 local at localkennebunk.com.

THE MARKET and Welcome Center at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester will be holding a tasting of beers from Clown Shoes Brewery from 3 to 6 p.m. Feb. 23. Clown Shoes is in Ipswich, Mass., and its beers are inventive — and quite good.

Tom Atwell is a Cape Elizabeth freelance writer. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

[email protected]

 


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