The Swedish Invasion

Brewery and Country of Origin: Carlsberg Group Sweden AB of Bryggerivagen 10, Stockholm, 161 86, Sweden

Date Reviewed: 2-16-15

The 57th Annual Grammy Awards were held two Sundays ago at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Generally speaking, the Grammy's are a recording arts award ceremony which have taken place in the United States since May of 1959 to recognize various achievements in the music industry. Although the awards are held by a US organization (NARAS), many international acts rake in miniature gramaphone statues each year, and this particular awards show was no exception. The biggest winner of the night was British musician, Sam Smith, who had won four awards. But perhaps the most interesting and most telling award winner was in the elusive Non-Classical Producer of the Year, Max Martin. He's been around in the prominent pop music scene since the 1990s, and even though you may not have heard of his name until last weekend, it's essentially guaranteed that you've heard one of his songs... or more likely, many of them. As a songwriter, Martin has created the third most number one singles on the chart, behind only former Beatles Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Since 2008, 17 of his pop compositions have reached the top spot on the Billboard hot 100. He is responsible for hits from entertainers such as Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Iggy Azalea, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, P!nk, 'N Sync, and the Backstreet Boys. And regardless of whether this list makes you want to stab your ears or turn it up to 11, it should be generally considered that Martin has quite the CV. What's more, is that although he has essentially founded the very genre of modern pop music which has dominated US radio air time and YouTube for one and a half decades, Max Martin isn't American. English wasn't even his first language. Martin grew up in the capital city of Stockholm, where he began his storied career in a public music education program. Though he'd find varying levels of success through the 80s and early 90s, he rose to prominence with the Backstreet Boys, and from there, the snowball grew. Them, together with Britney Spears and 'N Sync made up a pop cultural triumvirate which transformed the music scene forever. Since then, the airwaves and the Top 40 have been awash with similar sounding pop music which has either been heavily influenced or directly written/produced by Martin. Seeing how as many of his songs hit the top of the charts this year, it doesn't look like his influence is going away any time soon.
Date Sampled: 11-29-14 At: Ma Peche, Chambers New York Hotel, Midtown, 15 West 56th Street, Manhattan, New York, NY 10019, USA
Beer Style: Baltic Porter
Alcohol by Volume: 5.50%
Serving Type: 330 ml Bottle, 12 oz Stange Glass
Rating: 3.51


This porter pours fairly smoothly in general with a slightly below average amount of carbonation action, producing a short, eighth inch tall foam head with an off-white color, a low retention rate, and a medium density. This beer has a clear apperance with an almost completely opaque dark brownish red color with no visible sediment and a medium low amount of effervescent effect with no settling. This beer displays almost no glow in even bright light, no shine, and an average amount of lacing on the glass.


This beer has a medium low strength aroma overall with a good amount of caramel roasted malt immediately present, along with a hint of dark roast coffee. This is mixed in with a very dull but somewhat present amount of not fresh/unclean hops to balance. Some chocolate and toffee notes help carry a malt heavy aroma which also includes a bit of sweet cookie like undertones. There are also some generic grainy notes and some slight alcohol tinge detectable.


This is a medium full bodied brew with an average amount of carbonation, an average weight, and a medium high viscosity. This makes for a pretty hefty feeling beer with a relatively heavy, filling effect better consumed slower. This beer offers only a little amount of refreshment, no crisp aspects, and no texture from the sediment. This is a pretty smooth beer overall that is somewhat seasoned for the colder weather. This beer finishes with a dull and wet lingering finish with a slight cooling effect and no alcohol bite.


Immediately present in this beer's flavor profile is a strong caramel and toasted malt sweetness that is somewhat kept in check with a dull presence of old tasting hops. This is carried with a semi-dark chocolately secondary and a sweet cookie like undertone. There are also some subtle coffee notes detectable, and a slight hint of gingerbread like spice. This beer finishes dull, with a small amount of metallic tinge and some alcohol taste present, despite a lower ABV for the style. The aftertaste finishes somewhat malty and grainy.

Our Take

This beer features some strong malty inflections that not everyone will find pleasing, but if you are interested in finding a bold tasting beer which drinks like a much stronger porter than it really is, you may have just found what you've been looking for. In general, this beer ticks all of the essential traits in what a hearty, filling porter needs, but with one or two major faults. As this is a moderately low alcohol content beer (especially for the style), you'd expect it to contain less bite than it actually does. The flavor and even the aroma of this beer is evidence that though the toffee/toasted malt flavors in this brew are potent, they do not hide this beer's mere 5.50% ABV well. Also, this is not a particularly well balanced porter on the hoppy side. Sure, a Baltic porter in general doesn't need many of the flowers, but the ones included in this beer taste stale and old. This helps lead to a finish that is rather unsatisfactory. Still, this beer's robust malty character, as well as a full stature, make it a great sipping beer for the colder months, escpecially if you're looking for a bit of a dessert style brew. That said, this beer does in fact pair nicely with smoked meats, spicy foods, BBQ, beef stew, nutty cheese, and Do-Si-Dos Girl Scout Cookies, which happen to be our favorite kind.