Archive for the 'Porter' category
photo credit: walknboston
My wife traveled out to Oregon on business last November and brought back some beers from Deschutes Brewery. Deschutes does not distribute in MA, so it is nice to be able to try their wares out. I find that recently I am enjoying the Porter style more and more (I had McNeill’s Pullman Porter a few nights back and was quite pleased with it), so now seems like a good time to crack the Deschutes Black Butte Porter open.
The beer is a rich black with a tan head. The head lasts as long as it took me to write the introductory sentences of this post (a few minutes), and recedes to a full thin coating of the beer. The aroma is of chocolate, with a nice subtle sour twang finish. The beer runs clean and light through the mouth, with an enjoyable carbonation tingle throughout. Sweet chocolate is the predominant taste for most of the ride, though the chocolate becomes delicately roasted in the finish. Along with the roasted chocolate there is a pleasant and refreshing sour note in the taste’s finish, just as in the aroma.
A good, very drinkable beer that I would frequently pick up in six pack form if it was distributed in MA.
So, I lied. I complained about the Beer of the Month Club earlier, and the fact that they sent dark beers in the middle of summer here in NC. But, then, I opened the porter they sent. I opened it with an air of, “Oh, I guess I’d better get this out of the way.” However, now that I’m drinking it, it’s very very tasty. So tasty, in fact, that I’m about to instantly open another. But, before I do that, here’s a bit about it.
The State Pen pours a very dark brown that seems almost black until you hold it to the light, where it reveals some brown around the edges of the glass. The head is dense and caramel-colored, forming a thin cake over the surface of the beer. The aroma of this is very full of coffee, with some sweet toffee hints that complement it very well. And, onto the taste. This is not an ‘in your face’ porter. Rather, it starts out rather calm and quenching. The mouthfeel is fairly thin, so it tends to skate through the mouth. However, about the time this beer hits the middle of the tongue, a mild malty sweetness begins to rise, coupled with some subtle (but apparent) hints of coffee. This flavor rises and falls as the beer flows towards the back of the mouth, briefly joined by some richer breadier flavor. Finally, the beer goes down the throat and leaves you with little more than some coffee on the tongue, akin to the aftertaste from a rich iced coffee. The beauty of this beer is that it isn’t so strong or overbearing – it’s a light porter, but very flavorful. It is fresh and quenching for the genre, but offers some great darker flavors. So, apologies to BOMC, this is actually a great summer porter – I certainly didn’t expect it.
This little ditty comes from the most recent of the Side Project selections (vol. 4) that I’ve come across. It probably isn’t the newest, since I haven’t been to the beer store in a while, but it’s the newest to me. And turns out, I generally buy these “limited edition” from Terrapin and let them sit in the fridge for a while. In short, I’m a Johnny-Come-Lately but fortunately you guys don’t seem to mind. This one’s brewed with Ecuadorian cocoa, in both the powder and nib form. I don’t know what I nib is but it sounds delicious so let’s get to it.
The color, you guessed it dark, dark black. There is little head retention with this beer leaving only a few caramel colored bubbles scattered about. The nose has the characteristic smokey aroma associated with porters, which is further enhanced by the chocolate ingredients. The smell is very thin and unassuming, but still pretty inviting. The taste has a very dark, malty personality; which was to be expected, I mean it IS a porter. The smokey flavors rush over the front of the tongue then unfold and splash on the inside of the cheeks. At this point the cocoa flavors take over and finish the taste. There are mild chocolate undertones that lightly touch the back part of the palate and extend into the throat. Again the word “thin” comes to mind. I expected a fuller, rounder characteristic but got just the opposite. However, in this case it’s working. This isn’t a complex, oversized beer. Instead it’s subtle, refreshing and well-balanced despite it’s genre. I can’t say I’ve ever said a porter was refreshing, so this is proof there is a first time for everything. It finishes with a minor effervescent quality and mild smokey aftertaste. Another job well done by Terrapin, especially with another experimental brew.
I got distracted by the SA Imperial White the other night and never got around to reviewing the last beer from the BMOC. This one is a porter, definitely not my forte’ but I’ll do my best.
It pours pitch black with a small caramel-colored head. The nose is bold and rich, consisting mainly of vanilla with a subtle hint of caramel. The taste is thinner than the smell but it’s pretty appetizing nonetheless. The added vanilla flavoring creates a sweetness that rushes through the mouth and collects in the back of throat to create a thick mouthfeel. This beer definitely isn’t as smokey as most porters but as far as I’m concerned that’s not at all a bad thing. As far as darker style beers go this is quite drinkable and delicious. I could see myself sessioning this beer during the colder, winter months. If I lived in Detroit I would seek out this beer on at least a semi-regular basis and that’s saying a lot seeing as how I’m not a big porter fan. I realize this is a pretty short review but there ‘s not too much to say about it other than it’s sweet and tastes good.
Linda just don’t stop! After her time in CO, she apparently rode the Porter wagon all the way home, coming back with not only the Great Divide porter from yesterday, but this Left Hand offering, as well. Again, I’m all too happy to review any brews that my friends bring back for me…
This one pours an extremely dark brown – nearly motor oil black – with a coarse caramel head that flairs up and dies very quickly. In the nose, there are light chocolate and toffee hints here, but the flavor is altogether not too powerful. In the mouth, however, this beer comes alive! In contrast to yesterdays brew, this one displays a bit more meatiness and a lot more refined sweetness. The mouthfeel is generally a bit lighter and more fleeting than the Great Divide offering. The flavor begins sugary sweet, moving into a smokey pork flavor around the center of the mouth that still generates some sweetness, almost like a sugar-cured ham. On through the mouth, a bit more chocolate comes into play, finishing off with a flavor that is predominantly chocolate and toffee with just a light smoke that sticks in the back of the mouth. I’d say this is generally more typical of a porter than yesterdays tasting, though it’s hard to say if it’s better or worse. The flavor is certainly complex here. However, it’s also a bit more quirky, and some may not like it as much. As for me, I think this is pretty good, though it tastes a bit coarser and ‘cheaper’ than the Great Divide, for lack of a better word. This is rich and sweet, but the level of refinement just isn’t there to the extent that it was with yesterday’s porter. So, while this is a good brew, and better than a lot of porters out there, I gotta throw the silver medal to the Black Jack in this instance.
This here’s a porter from a brewery that I’ve generally been fond of though, for some reason, we’ve never gotten our hands on this particular variety from them. However, when our friend Linda showed up fresh off of a trip to CO with a couple of these in tow, she was happy enough to toss one my way, so I’m anxious to see how it goes down.
The Saint Bridget’s pours a rather dark brown color – it is fairly clear, letting in substantial light around the edges of the glass, betraying a lighter brown hue. The head here begins rather thick, pillowy, and caramel-colored. However, it quickly dissipates to an almost nonexistant covering over the beer. The aroma of this brew is mostly nutty, with some peanut buttery sweetness and just a hint of smoke. In the mouth, this beer lives up to its description as a ‘robust porter’. This isn’t quite as smoky as some porters, and rather tends towards the nutty and rich category. Throughout the mouth, there are beaucoup nut flavors, combined with a rich dark malt that gives this a rich flavor and a substantial mouthfeel. Honestly, most of what I’m getting here is peanut. This couples with the malt, very slight smoke flavors, and some faint ‘porkiness’ to make a beer that is, while not terribly complex, rather flavorful and very accessible for a porter. I often tend away from porters because the over-bearing meaty and smoky flavors eventually wear thin. This one, however, is a bit more dessert-like and easy-drinking – probably one of the better porters I’ve had recently.
Pumpkin beers are a given this time of season. Most beer bars have at least one, if not more, on tap and local liquor store shelves seem to be overflowing with them. The ubiquitous pumpkin beer is the pumpkin ale, and we have reviewed quite a few of those here on sevenpack. I enjoy a good pumpkin ale like any other American beer drinker, but I also crave diversity. In this way Cape Ann Brewing’s Pumpkin Porter was like a lighthouse beacon shining over a vast sea of pumpkin ale tap handles.
This beer poured a rich black with a chunky, small tan head. My nose was greeted with the typical pumpkin beer spices – cinnamon, light ginger, and light clove. These aromas mingled with a very pleasant roasted chocolate character, which makes for a mouth water experience. In the mouth the porter side of this beer comes through with a roasted malt and chocolate character. This roasting is a little harsh in the middle of the mouth but smooths out for an enjoyable finish. This finish also lets the beer stand out with a pleasant cinnamon sweet character.
I enjoy this beer a lot (I believe it would go quite well with a Thanksgiving meal) and kind of wish it was available year round. Then again that would mean one less beer to look forward to come fall. Get it while you can.
NB: I had my Pumpkin Porter on tap, though I believe it is obtainable in bottle form.
Slowly but surely, we’re getting around to our tasty offerings from the Beer of The Month Club this week. Next up, we’re trying out the Dark Star Porter from the Bluegrass Brewing Company in Louisville. Personally, I’m not familiar with this brewery, but I find that mostly good stuff comes out of Louisville, so I’ve got high hopes!
The pour of the Dark Star is as dark as the night – not a bit of light is getting through this beer, no matter how close to the light bulb you hold it. There’s a luscious and persistent dense caramel head on this beer, and the aroma is rich and biscuity, showing mostly malt characteristics in the nose. In the mouth, this Porter has a big mouthfeel – full and pillowy and full of carbonation. The flavor of this is noticeable, but certainly not overbearing. Initially in the mouth, the flavor isn’t much except wet. However, as the beer gets to the center of the tongue, we get heavy doses of nut and coffee that bring the beer to life. On through the mouth, some smoke characteristics come into play, leaving the aftertaste with a predominance of smoky nut. Honestly, I haven’t been in a big porter phase lately, but this isn’t too bad. It’s wet and full without being TOO smoky or porky. It’s flavorful but not overpowering, and I could easily drink more of this. For my first BBC beer, I’d say it’s a good offering.
Well, folks, I’m afraid we’ve reached the end of the line with the Boulevard sampler. I’ve been impressed on all levels with this brewery. Each of the beers has been quite good, some of them spectacular. Furthermore, they’re not overly expensive. I only wish these guys distributed down to NC! I suppose I’ll just have to make a point of enjoying them while in the Dakotas…
This porter pours an ultra-deep brown color with a fairly thick caramel head that sticks to the sides of the glass. In the nose, there are ample tones of smoke and nut. In addition, I’m catching an odd sweetness to the aroma that is oddly reminiscent of bubble gum. In the mouth, this is surprisingly carbonated for a porter, but this isn’t a bad thing. The carbonation kicks the tongue into gear and makes the flavor all the more powerful. This is really a pretty straightforward porter from this point on. There is the flavor of smoky pork, and there is a pronounced nutty bitterness around the middle of the tongue. In the aftertaste, the smoke kicks into gear and sticks around like you’ve been chewing on embers. Altogether, it’s pretty good. Honestly, I’m not in much of a porter place right now, so this isn’t knocking my socks off. However, this isn’t bad. Again, pretty straightforward, but a good representation of the style.
SevenPack is no stranger to Flying Dog brews. In fact, we have reviews of several that you can find right there in the link to the right. However, much to my chagrin, I find that we have never yet tasted the Road Dog. So, since the Beer of the Month Club was kind enough to send it to us recently, I see no reason to further delay the inevitable. I give you the Road Dog Scottish Porter.
This brew pours a very deep brown that doesn’t let a lot of light through. However, if you hold the glass right up to your 100-watt equivalent compact fluorescent light bulb (you ecologically sound beer drinker, you), then you can see that this is a very clean filtered beer, for the genre. The aroma of this is, surprisingly, very understated. There is just a hint of nuttiness and some breadiness in the aroma, but you have to really get into the glass to find that. In the mouth, the flavor really jumps out. The initial flavor is of dark malts and sweetbreads. However, as the beer traverses the tongue, a pronounced nut bitterness presents itself. These two flavors play nice together until the very back of the mouth where an interesting rooty/medicinal flavor sticks to the throat and lasts through the aftertaste. This flavor is actually reminiscent of a ginseng beverage that I recall – in and of itself, the flavor isn’t great, but it seems oddly fitting here. Overall, I’ll say this is a decent beer. I love scottish ales, and I like porters, but this Scottish Porter isn’t really blowing my hair back. In a dark ale, I tend to prefer a richer decadence that this beer simply doesn’t express. That’s not to say this isn’t good, however – just not quite my cup of tea.
With the recent winter storms passing through New England, I needed something to warm my bones, so I thought it would be time to open up the bottle of Flying Dog Wild Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter I had sitting in my beer fridge. Jon reviewed the original Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter a while back. The difference between that review and this one, the Wild Dog version has been barrel-aged in oak whiskey barrels for three months.
The beer pours a big three finger head into a snifter. The dark tan head stays around… and around… and around. For a bit I was wondering if the head would actually dissipate at all. It finally did and left a nice lacing on top of the deep black bodied beer. When swirled the beer leaves a nice light caramel color on the glass walls.
The first whiff of aroma was of liquor, which got me a little nervous. I wanted to be warmed but not set on fire. The liquor aroma however dissipated and was replaced with nice roasted, smokey notes. Nothing too intense, something along the lines of slightly burnt toast. There were also nice hints of oak and vanilla interspersed with the smoke.
In the mouth the beer had a great smoothness, thanks to the aging, and had a medium to heavy mouth feel. Honestly I was expecting something a bit heavier and fuller in the mouth. The oak aging definitely makes its presence felt with a nice vanilla flavoring to the predominant toasted malt flavor. This vanilla grew as the beer warmed but never became over bearing. The ending of the beer had a slight bitterness to it that I noted as giving the beer an “earthy” flavoring. It was a very nice finish to a nicely oaked and toasted beer. One thing lacking in the taste was the hit of liquor aroma I first had when smelling the beer. I do not consider this a bad thing at all however. The other flavors were able to deal with the liquor content (9.5% ABV) and provided a well balanced, complex, and warming beer.
Unfortunately this was a limited release of 5000 bottles (500 of which were used in a limited edition box set) and I picked this beer up a while ago, so I’m unsure if it is still out there. If you happen to run across it, I definitely recommend its purchase.
This is the third installment from the November Beer of the Month Club pack. Like I said this box was chalked full of dark beers with the porter being the darkest of all. This brewery hails from Salt Lake City, Utah which is surprising to me because that city is 99.9% Mormon and they don’t drink beer. My question is who’s buying this stuff? Either they have a lot of non-mormon tourists or there are a lot of closet mormon beer drinkers. For those that care, this brewery is economically friendly as it is 100% wind powered which, according to their website, prevents “the release of 888,000 lbs (444 tons) of carbon dioxide a year. It is the equivalent of planting 174 acres of trees (87,180 trees) annually or not driving 951,270 miles.”
It’s a porter folks, I don’t need to tell you it looks like used motor oil. Furthermore, in true porter fashion is smells and tastes like dark chocolate. It’s mildly bitter and smokey and thus there isn’t anything surprising about this beer. It is “what we thought they were.” I don’t really know what else to say. It’s a porter, not a bad porter, but in my book just a porter. I’m not as familiar why this style so I can’t pick out the intricate characteristics but I can say it is drinkable. I anticipate getting hammered by the readers like I did in the past because I don’t “appreciate” this genre as much as others so bring it on, I’m ready. One thing I can say is it’s unique to me because we can’t get this particular brew on the east coast. All in all this is a decent beer but not outstanding to me.
More Sam Adams! This one is the first one to really fit into the winter seasonal sampler. Everybody loves a good Porter on a chilly winter night, and this one promises a little bonus by adding a few select spices and holiday goodness.
The pour of this is, as expected, very very dark. There isn’t any head to speak of, but the aroma is very toffee-ful and rich. In the mouth, this beer has a viscous and silky mouthfeel. Throughout the mouth, there is a strong toffee sweetness that never subsides. In addition to this, there is a sweetbread flavor that rides the tongue through the front of the mouth. This then turns into a nutty flavor around the back of the tongue, and gains a sense of smokiness as it moves up to the roof of the mouth and into the aftertaste. I can’t taste a great amount of holiday spice in this – there is a bit of a coffee hint and a fair hop profile to the beer, but the predominance is of sweet dark malts and toffee. This is actually an excellent beer, and a great contribution to winter beers on the shelf. I’m unsure if this is sold by the 6-pack but, if it’s not, it really should be. I’d buy one.
Honestly, I haven’t really explored the Meantime bunch of brews too well – not too sure why. However, Meantime took the liberty of placing this adventurous little brew in an equally adventurous little bottle, of which I will hopefully find a picture to post – it’s sorta like a little miniature Eiffel tower of a bottle. Anyway, being a fan of an occasional coffee flavored brew and enjoyable bottles, I decided to give this one a go.
This beer pours a rather dark brown, but there is some translucence to it, unlike the traditionally super-dark coffee flavored stouts that one more often finds. In addition, there is a rich caramel head that, while rather decadent, tends to disappear rather quickly. The aroma of this brew is absolutely great – it smells of fresh wet coffee grounds and is very pungent. There may be just a hint of chocolate also on the nose, but the coffee is the predominant presence here. Now for the flavor. For a porter, this is quite rich and the coffee flavor is very present. It’s difficult to review this, as the only real comparisons I have in coffee flavored brews are stouts, and those are inevitably darker and creamier. However, this, being a porter, has a certain lightness to the mouthfeel that is a bit refreshing. The flavor through the mouth goes from a biting sensation on the tip of the tongue to a rich and flavorful coffee taste on the middle of the tongue that eventually translates into coffee/chocolate hybrid in the aftertaste. All the while, there is a pleasant mouthfeel, but one that is lighter and more fleeting than a stout, leading to a relatively clean finish and an aftertaste that, while having some longevity, isn’t overbearing. Overall, I like this beer. It’s better in the current hot weather than a fuller beer, but it still gives you a great fresh coffee flavor that you won’t find in many other beers this time of year. So, if you dig coffee beers, give this a go – it’s probably worth your time.
This beer is a real slap to the face – so, I guess it justifies its name. The aroma is hearty, but not repulsive. The taste, however, is reminiscent of dog jerky. This is similar to a recent tasting, in which we tasted a porter-gone-bad. I feel like this is a genre that I can never fully appreciate, and I’ll be surprised if I ever find someone who can. Furthermore, if I find this person, I’ll likely write them off as ‘enemy’ for the rest of my days. Don’t buy it. Don’t even let someone give it to you for free. And, don’t drink any of it unless someone pays you at least $10. Hell, it costs a lot – who’re they kidding?