Olvalde's Ode to a Russian Shipwright: A tart, sweet porter worth cellaring
If you're looking for an 18th century seafaring beer, look no further than Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company's Ode to a Russian Shipwright, an Imperial Stout Porter with, as you might guess from the name, naval origins.
Russian czar Peter the Great was fond of England's porters, and brought them back with him after visiting the naval superpower to study shipbuilding. Olvade brewer Joe Pond was fond of this interesting bit of beer history and launched the beer in 2011 as his first seasonal ale.
The beer is dark in color with a light and frothy head that remains consistent with consumption. A tart first impression is followed by a sweet finish that recalls plums and raisins. Typically a beer with these flavor profiles carries a thicker body, but Ode to a Russian Shipwright is a light mouthfeel where the higher carbonation levels complement the sweetness and helps to separate the various flavors within. It's a rich, unique beer with a lot going on.
Olvalde uses homegrown ingredients in this limited offering beer bottled in a 750ml swingtop, and labeled with a vintage "2013" sticker.
"We use spruce tips from our farm for flavor and try to emphasize the seasonal variation: the springs of 2012 and 2013 were dramatically different and it had a huge impact of the intensity of the spruce," he says. "In 2013, the spruce was milder, so I put a bit more emphasis on the rye component of the ale; in contrast, the 2012 spruce was intensely aromatic, so I gave it the emphasis."