Porter

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil

 

Beer:  Old Engine Oil
Brewery: Harviestoun Brewery
Style: English Porter
ABV: 6.0%

Serving Style: Cask
Glassware: Mug
Drinking Establishment: The Blind Tiger, NYC
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Pitch black, with a thin tan head.

Scent: Like that of creme brulee–sweet, vanilla, and caramelized sugar.  There is a note of alcohol in the aroma as well.

Flavor: A fascinating combination of hops in the form of pine, hiding beneath roasted malts and a sweet caramel coating.  We also tasted notes of citrus pith and chocolate.

Feel:  Thin but creamy, with no carbonation due to it being a cask beer.

Concluding remarks: Soulful.  Balanced.  Delicious.  Drinking the Old Engine Oil Porter is like walking through the forests of Scotland (Harviestoun’s homeland) while eating a caramel-dipped dark chocolate-covered orange and finishing the night with a bottle of red wine.  In other words, the best day (and night) ever.

CASK CAVEAT: The only reason we didn’t give this Porter a full 5 Pint Glasses is that we tried it from a cask; we eagerly await an opportunity to try the Old Engine Oil in another form, with perhaps a bit more carbonation.

PORTER CAVEAT: Have you picked up on the fact that you just read a Porter review during Stout month?  No, we didn’t get confused, but the Blind Tiger did: they had the Old Engine Oil listed on their menu board as a Stout.  We won’t hold it against them, though, because we are ever-so-glad we got to experience this beer, so much so that it was still worthy of a write-up (despite it being two months late).

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Ommegang Seduction

Beer:  Seduction
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
Style: Belgian-Style Porter
ABV: 7.2%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Beer snifter
Drinking Establishment: The Old Bay, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer: Ally
Consumption Companion(s): the George St. Co-op crew

——–

OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark, with a moderately thick head of beige-colored creaminess.

Scent: Sweet, with a subtle roasted-coffee and chocolate aroma.

Flavor: This is a liquified chocolate-covered cherry.

Feel: Smooth; creamy but light.

Normally kinda gross. But in beer form? Amazing!

We end the month with the perfect transition into February’s exploration of Belgians: a Belgian-style Porter brewed up by Cooperstown’s Brewery Ommegang, with the help of Liefmans, makers of fine Belgian lambics (or in this case, a Cuvee-Brut cherry champagne).  Throw in a little Callebut chocolate, and you have a masterpiece: the fruitiness of a Belgian and the sweet-sour cherry of the champagne melded with the chocolate-coffee sexiness–er, depth of a Porter.  I don’t think I can do as much justice in a description as The Old Bay does on its beer menu:  “There’s only one game we play here at The Old Bay…a game starting with the look in your eyes, a lingering pheromonic intoxicating scent, and finishes with the taste of your lips.  That game…seduction.  Seduction is welcoming and warm-hearted, gently hopped and harbors no bitterness, leaving only a lingering glow.”

Or, as noted in our Very Official Beer Notes:  “Ommegang?  Oh my god!”

Very Official Beer Notes.

Concluding remarks: Ending the month with a chocolate-cherry bang.  This a limited edition brew, but if you can get your hands on it, get your hands on it.

(Thanks, Ben.)

——–

Yes, we did indeed just hint at what style is to come in February.  Check back soon as we commence our celebration of St. Valentine’s with a beer we love to love: The Belgian.

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St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter

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Beer:  Old-Style Porter
Brewery: St. Peter’s Brewery Co.
Style: English Porter
ABV: 5.1%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer(s): Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Dark ruby body with a very thin off-white head filled with tiny carbonation bubbles.

ScentSlight isopropyl smell with musky, roasted malts. Very deep undertones of figs and plums.

Flavor: This is hands-down the yeastiest (wow, that’s actually a word–no red underlines!) Porter I’ve tasted. After I got passed the yeast, all I taste is toasted malts, which leaves a very slight bitterness in my mouth. Okay, at the end there’s just a hint of coffee.

Feel: Thin-to-medium body with lovely carbonation. This is a pretty spot-on example of what an English Porter should feel like.

Going back-to-back on English Porters, I’ll just say that Sam Smith’s Taddy is far superior. However, this guy has a solid roasted sweetness that keeps me going back for more sips. If you’re in dire need of an English Porter, this is widely distributed–so, lucky you, because it’s not bad. Caveat: I know the next thing I’m going to say is obnoxious, but, too bad. I appreciate the English Porters for their history, for their authenticity and adherence to the original recipes that came out of the 18th century. It’s like time traveling, a bit. HOWEVER, the adaptations of their innovative brew, in my heart and on my palate, reign supreme. From the North Sea to the Great Lakes, the interpretations of this historic English style are goddamn delicious. Okay, before I start writing poetry about my love for beer, I will conclude this sentence now.

Concluding remarks: I’m officially blitzed. Auf Wiedersehen, Porters. Thanks for the good times. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Samuel Smith Taddy Porter

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Beer:  Taddy Porter
Brewery: Samuel Smith
Style: English Porter
ABV: 5.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: The Old Bay Restaurant, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Very dark brown body with a thin, pale tan head. Large carbonation bubbles gathered in the center.

Scent: Strong caramel and toffee aroma, with crisp coffee undertones.

Flavor: Initially, the intense toffee and caramel come through, but the aftertaste is like drinking roasted seltzer, if that was a thing.

Feel: Medium creamy body, moderate carbonation.

This Sam Smith “Famous” Porter has a fascinating background: the brewing water is drawn from a well sunk over 200 years ago, and it’s fermented using the Yorkshire Square system (Samuel Smith being the last independent brewery in England to utilize this classic system of fermentation in stone squares).  However, the result isn’t as remarkable: the Taddy is your classic Porter with flavors of roasted coffee and toffee/caramel.  Not too heavy, and just a tad(dy) bit sweet.

Fun fact: All Samuel Smith beers are vegan and registered with the Vegan Society.  Woot!

Concluding remarks: Better Porters have been had, but we can see it being the Yuengling or Sam Adams go-to equivalent when having a pint in England.

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Eel River Porter

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Beer: Porter
Brewery: Eel River Brewing Company
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.8%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s apartment
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark orange and brown, medium opaque body with a centimeter of beige head. Tiny carbonation bubbles cluster at the edge.

Scent: Strong burnt coffee aroma, with a lingering scent of isopropyl.

FlavorPredominantly bitter, burnt coffee taste with a bit of sweetness at the end.

Feel: Prickly mouthfeel.  Over-carbonated with a very thin, watery body. Even for someone with an open obsession with all things carbonated, this is a bit much for me.

Concluding remarks:  The initial taste of coffee is nice, but quickly fades into murky nothingness. As the contestants of that one MTV dating show from the mid-2000s screamed, NEXT! I’ve had too many better Porters this month. There really is no reason to drink this again, unless it was sitting in a cooler at someone’s party. While not offensive by any means–it does have a decent coffee flavor–I just can’t sit here typing, pretending that this is even in the same category as the Smuttynose Robust.

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Smuttynose Robust Porter

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Beer: Robust Porter
Brewery: Smuttynose
Style: America Porter
ABV: 5.7%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s apartment
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark brown opaque body with a two-inch mahogany head.

Smell: Overpowering smell of burnt malts, rich dark chocolate, and slight caramel.

Flavor: Distinct burnt malt taste. Middle note is rich dark chocolate. Very slight astringent taste at the end.

Feel: Medium-to-thick body with lively carbonation.

Concluding Remarks: Living up to its name, Smutty’s Robust Porter is just that, robust. It is one of the thicker and richer Porters I’ve had this month. Drinking even just a few sips of this charred, roasted malty goodness reminds me of sitting next to a smoky campfire. If you need a little warmth this winter, or miss the days of camps past, I recommend seeking comfort and nostalgia in this Porter.

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Left Hand Fade to Black Pepper Porter

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Beer:  Pepper Porter
Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company
Style: American Porter
ABV: 7.2%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Ally’s apartment
Primary Consumer: Ally

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Very dark, near-black, espresso-brown color.  About 1/2-inch of creamy, mocha head.

Scent: Smoky, almost isopropyl (in a non-threatening kind of way) aroma.

Flavor: Subtle coffee flavors mix with a slight bitter bite, reminiscent of black licorice–and underlying it all, the smokiness of the peppers.

Feel: Smooth and lightly carbonated, with a tingly–dare I say, peppery?–linger.

This is the third in Left Hand’s winter seasonal Fade to Black series.  After releasing an Export Stout and a Smoked Baltic Porter in seasons past, the 3rd Volume of the series offers a complex flavor extravaganza.  Okay, maybe extravaganza is too bold a word–the brown chipotle-serrano-ancho chile blend isn’t domineering–but there is a lot going on here in the flavor department.  On first sip, it was hard to distinguish what it all was; but the flavors blend nicely to provide a very unique Porter experience, analogous to a chile-infused dark chocolate bar: you mostly taste the chocolate–or the sweet malts–but there’s an undeniable hint of something contrastingly smoky.  Left Hand considers the Fade to Black brews to be “exploratory beers,” and I’d say this Pepper Porter lives up to that.

Concluding remarks: The mosaic of flavors in this beer offers something different from your average coffee-caramel-flavored Porter.

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Mr. George’s Ruby Porter

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Beer: Mr. George’s Ruby Porter
Brewery: Batemans Brewery
Style: English Porter/Ruby Porter
ABV: 5.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Acquired from: City Swiggers 
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark brown, slightly transparent with ruby red hues. Very little, almost non-existent head. Proliferation of carbonation bubbles.

Smell: I have never smelled a Porter quite like this; it’s incredibly sweet and citrusy.

Flavor: This tastes like sweet milk, with a complex spice profile and just a bit of earthiness. There are notes of nutmeg and just a bit of citrus as well.

Feel: Very light body with excellent carbonation.

Why, Mr. George, so nice to meet you. This English Porter was surprisingly light and refreshing, all the while packing an incredible amount of sweet spice flavor. I kid you not, this tastes and feels like a sweet milk-based drink. Perhaps this is not an excellent portrayal of a traditional English Porter, but I sure as hell was excited and challenged by the flavor of this beer. Perhaps this stylistic divergence has to do with it being a Ruby Porter (though, after some research, I’m not convinced that this is an actual style).

Concluding remarks: It’s a pretty obscure one to find, but if you ever see it on a beer run, definitely give Mr. George a try. He will not disappoint. If you don’t believe me, just look at his stoic yet warm and trustworthy face.

Also, for the vegans out there, this beer is approved by the Vegan Society. So have your way with this one.

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Southampton Imperial Porter

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Beer: Imperial Porter
Brewery: Southampton
Style: Baltic Porter
ABV: 7.2%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Cool, black body rife with carbonation bubbles.

Smell: Rich dark bittersweet chocolate, coffee, roasted malts. Slight metallic smell present.

Flavor: Incredibly sweet with chocolate upfront. Bittersweet toasted malts on the endnote, with a brief highlight of cherry and molasses.

Feel: Surprisingly thin body for the sweetness; decent carbonation.

Concluding remarks: While certainly not as complex and overall enjoyable as its Finnish counterpart reviewed earlier, Southampton’s attempt at a Baltic Porter is fairly balanced and enjoyable. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to try it, but, if you see it on tap one night and your other choices are Stella and Bass, certainly give it a go.

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Firestone Walker’s Reserve Porter

Beer:  Walker’s Reserve Porter
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.8%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s apartment
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Secondary Consumer: Tall Polish gal and small Midwestern gal

——–

OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Black, opaque body with half an inch of off-white head. The Native Detroiter said, appropriately, “THIS LOOKS LIKE MOTOR OIL.” Take her word for it.

Scent: Polska said, “This is the best smelling beer EVER…they should make it into a perfume!” There is a surprising floral note upon first whiff; it’s kind of like sticking your nose into a fresh rose. If you keep smelling it (and you’ll want to!) the next scent is an overpowering smell of fresh, gooey caramel and molasses.

Flavor: This doesn’t taste like it smells (unfortunately…does anyone know of a rose-caramel beer??). The hops presence makes it quite bitter at the front, leading into a roasted/burnt maltiness in the middle, and ending with savory caramel flavors. Detroiter tasted some chocolate as well. But not the sugary Hershey bar kind of chocolate, the bittersweet baking kind.

Feel: Admittedly, I love carbonation. So this, for me, had an amazing mouthfeel: intense carbonation with a medium, creamy body. However, it is a little over-carbonated for the style.

Firestone’s Walker Reserve is incredibly balanced, with an even start and finish. The sharp bitterness of the hops is punchy, but doesn’t overpower the palate, allowing welcomed caramel and chocolate notes to come through.

Concluding remarksOverall, this is a satisfying Porter. Unfortunately we drank it on the fly, on our way out to drink our weight in German beer downtown, so I didn’t have the time to sit down after consumption and think deeply about the merits of this beer. But, I can say with assuredness that the Walker’s Reserve is delicious and I would absolutely give it a second chance, take it on a second date. And isn’t that the hardest part of finding a worthy mate–uh, I mean beer?

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