I decided to check out Bevmo this past Saturday because I was feeling like some beer rather than liquor and I found this Baltika beer on the shelf at the Glendale Bevmo store, which, might I add, didn’t seem to be a beer that moves very much, if at all. It looked like it needed some attention so I decided to buy it among three others while I was there. Now, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but the Glendale location is such a poor excuse for a Bevmo store. Its selection pales in comparison to other equivalent Bevmo stores in just about anywhere else but I digress. Nevertheless, it’s the closest Bevmo to where I live and though I could have just as easily taken the Gold Line to the Pasadena location, which has a far superior selection, I decided to go to Glendale simply because it was much closer, relatively speaking.
Anyway, on to the taste test. I’d have to say, while the name really didn’t give me any impression, good or bad, the taste of this beer is surprisingly good. Not Primator dark lager good, but it definitely threw me off because of its unassuming labeling, which says that it’s brewed in Russia. Admittedly, Russia is not one of the first countries that come to mind when I’m considering beer, much less alcohol. Aside from vodka which originated in Russia, there aren’t a lot of beer brands that come to my immediate mind when I think about beer. And to think that this is a full year past its “best before” date, it is definitely holding up quite well, although I did detect a bit of a skunky aftertaste on the second and third sips. Good news is that it doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue on your lips. The carbonation on this thing isn’t all that high, if at all. Just a pinch or perhaps, just enough that it doesn’t dilute the flavor.
I would say that this beer had a more nutty taste than anything else. Not Newcastle nutty but that dark and roasted nutty flavor is definitely there. Not overwhelmingly so, which is actually quite nice. When I think about an overwhelmingly nutty taste, I think about Arrogant Bastard. That beer is heavily nutty to the point that you taste nothing else but that. But I do realize that I’m comparing apples and oranges here. It’s just to point out on a spectrum from light nutty flavor to heavy nutty flavor, Arrogant Bastard is on the far end of the heavy nutty flavor while Baltika 4 is somewhere closer to the middle.
It goes down quite smoothly for the most part but there is a hint of a strange sort of sourness. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it might be that way because the beer is one full year past its best before date. And I would say that this beer leans more on the sweet side. It’s not very apparent at first but you start noticing it just after you’ve swallowed the beer and your saliva starts adjusting to the loss of beer in your mouth. It’s hard to describe but it’s more of an afterthought than when the beer first hits your lips or mouth.
Overall, if I had a choice between this and Primator, I would still choose Primator. But if Primator wasn’t available, I definitely wouldn’t mind buying this as a nice substitute.