This past year at the Great American Beer Festival Tonya Cornett of Bend Brewing Company won a silver medal for her Cherry Baltic Porter, and while it was initially a GABF-only brew, it is now more generally available (though I believe BBC had brewed a Baltic Porter in the past). Last month a bottled version was released (only the third beer BBC has bottled, after Hop Head Imperial IPA and Elk Lake IPA) under the name “Lovely” and you can still buy bottles of it from Bend Brewing for $10 a bottle. (It’s also being served on tap.)
Two bottles were picked up: one to drink now and one to put away for a while. The bottles are attractively labeled; the artwork is by Sisters artist Ken Knish, who collaborated with Cornett to create the special edition labels for this beer. There’s no indication of how much alcohol is present, though the rating sites list 9.1% and 9.5% by volume which feels about right.
Appearance: Dark brown-to-black with creamy tan head.
Smell: Pie cherries—sweet and tangy and reminds me of a cherry pie. Darker (roasty) malts in the background with some coffee and dark chocolate notes.
Taste: Those pie cherries are right up front and sweet and fruity—combined with the chocolatey malts it reminds me of Black Forest cake with pie cherries on top. Really nice flavors, smooth and well-done with the fruit, straightforward with no hint of alcohol.
Mouthfeel: Almost syrupy, and smooth, with a pleasant tang from the cherries and an enjoyable cordial finish.
Overall: Really lovely (pun mostly intended).