The Beer: The Lost Viking
The Brewery: O.H.S.O., North Scottsdale
The Style: Baltic Porter
The Stats: 7.6% ABV
The Story: O.H.S.O. stands for Outrageous Homebrewer's Social Outpost. This happening center of activity likes to refer to themselves as a local restaurant and dog-friendly hangout. All this and they make their own beer, too.
On a recent visit to the restaurant's Scottsdale location, we sampled several beers looking for that special beer to jump out and grab our attention. It was actually the one we saved for last, the cleanup hitter, the grand finale, known as the Lost Viking, that took the prize. Not only was this our favorite offering of the afternoon, it was a darn good example of a style of beer that isn't brewed all that often, the Baltic porter.
Baltic porters originated in the Baltic region as a heartier and stronger, yet more refined version of the popular robust style of porter. Baltic porters are often fermented with lager yeast, and aged to properly develop and round their flavors, so it takes both skill and patience to properly pull the subtleties out of this somewhat rare style of beer. They often combine roasty notes that are found in traditional porters along with some additional fruity notes that provide balance and complexity. Hops are kept to a minimum to showcase the malt complexity.
Aroma: Subtle roast leads with brown sugar, dark caramel, and hints of raisin all part of the aromatic mix.
Appearance: Black and opaque, with a tan head consisting of small bubbles that were very persistent.
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Flavor: Many things hit the palate at once, including light roast, chocolate, earthy hop flavor, and warming alcohol. These flavors were fairly well distributed and equal in intensity, creating a nice complexity.
Mouthfeel: Both the alcohol and carbonic acid from the carbon dioxide deliver a punch, while the small bubbles provide a creamy smoothness. Though strong, the beer is not astringent.
Overall Impression: This is a well-made Baltic porter, especially considering the classic examples of the style are typically made in cold climates that are anything but desert-like. Though there are some dark fruit notes present, the Lost Viking is much more subdued in this regard than what is usually prevalent in this style. The beer is complex yet smooth. In our opinion, it's the best beer in the brewery's lineup right now.
O.H.S.O. Scottsdale is located at 15681 North Hayden Road. For more information on the brewery or the beer, check out the O.H.S.O. website.