Browar Witnica - Black Boss Porter
Suggested Glassware:Tulip or Snifter
The Baltic porter style is most commonly brewed in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and is a hearty brew with much more of an alcoholic kick than your everyday American or British porter, and is generally reminiscent of an imperial stout. Black Boss is no different, although we found it a remarkably smooth and well-mannered version; some Baltic porters can be downright aggressive (which we like too!). On the pour, Black Boss offers a very dark reddish brown color with a sizable head. The aromatics on this brew are quite complex; look for rich, sweet aromas of molasses, toasted brown bread, brown sugar, caramel, wood, coffee, and cola, with some dark fruity esters lurking below a light dosing of grassy hops. Sweetness is apparent as soon as it opens on the palate, with roasted malts coming forth more prominently than on the nose, adding a light char-like character. Some fig-like notes come through with a touch of rum, although the alcohol remains very, very well hidden in this brew. The alcohol does help to thin the body a bit, and along with the mild hop bitterness helps to counter the beer’s inherent sweetness. We found it finishes with a bit of tartness coming forward and some lingering notes of cocoa powder and coffee grounds. At 9.4% ABV, Black Boss makes for an excellent nightcap and is a candidate for aging, as well. We expect it to take on some sherry-like notes as it slowly oxidizes, which would be an interesting addition to the already complex flavor profile. Na Zdrowie!
The province of Lubusz has a long brewing tradition, which is not surprising considering its proximity to Germany, a country for which brewing is practically a way of life. Brewing in the town of Witnica (which originally was just a tiny village known as Vitz) is documented as far back as the 14th century when Cistercian monks came to the area and brought their expertise in brewing with them. It was in 1848, however, that the current brewery came in to existence. Originally, the property’s owner, Ernst Ferdinand Handke, merely leased the property to an existing brewing company, but by 1856 he had taken it over himself. Operating under the name Stern Brau, the brewery expanded throughout the latter half of the 1800s, becoming, at the time, one of the most modern small breweries in the region.
In the aftermath of WWII, the brewery was nationalized by the new communist Polish state and was run by the regional Agricultural Combine. With the fall of central planning and the transition to a market economy in the early 1990s, a new chapter in the brewery’s history began to unfold. In 1992, the brewery regained its independence, transitioning into an employee-owned company and then into a stock company in 1995. The brewery was expanded and modernized throughout the '90s and into the 2000s, including the addition of a new natural gas boiler and waste water treatment plant.
Now, after over 170 years in operation, Browar Witnica remains a small, regional brewery, only producing about 60,000 barrels a year. In addition to the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, Poznan, Jelenia Gora, and Szczecin, the brewery has been exporting limited quantities of their beer for the last decade to Germany, Austria, Sweden, and the USA, for which we give them a big “Thank You!!”
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