Posts Tagged With: American Porter

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

GET BLITZED REVIEW 4!

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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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

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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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Chatham Porter (two ways)

On a recent excursion to Dive Bar, we were happily met with the chance to try one porter two different ways: on tap and cask-conditioned.  Read on for our side-by-side comparison of the two VERY different methods…

But first!

A MINI BEER LESSON: WHAT IS A CASK BEER, EXACTLY?

A cask-conditioned beer is made special by its method of storing and serving: unfiltered, unpasteurized beer is kept in a barrel, or cask, designed to retain sediment and keep the beer conditioning while its stored (the experts call this “secondary fermentation”).  This creates a natural carbonation while allowing the malt and hop flavors to develop.  (Your standard keg, or “brewery-conditioned,”  beers are pasteurized as part of the brewing process, which kills the yeast and prevents any further conditioning of the beer.)  The cask style results in a richer tasting beer, in comparison to keg beers.

While keg beer is forced out of its container using gas pressure (you know, the typical font-style tap), cask beers are served without any extraneous gas, usually by manually pulling it up from the cask using a hand pump (called a “beer engine”)–and that is why you’ll find them to be flatter and less carbonated than their keg counterparts.

Because of the natural, “living” sediment that remains in them, cask beers have a much shorter shelf life and have to be maintained at very particular, warmer temperatures.  Keg beers, on the other hand, have a longer shelf life because after they’ve been fermented and conditioned, they are chilled, filtered (to remove any yeast), and pasteurized (making them sterile, or no longer “living,” like a cask beer).  Most critics would say the pasteurization not only kills off the yeast, but also kills off a lot of the flavor, too.

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Beer:  Porter
Brewery: Chatham Brewing Company
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.9% (draft) and 5% (cask)

Kerensa identifies the cask Porter by giving it bunny ears.

Serving Style: Draft and Cask
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Dive Bar, Upper West Side
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING (DRAFT):

Sight: Deep, rich brown, with ruby notes.  Thin tan head.

Scent: Vanilla beans, roasted malts, and toffee; sweet, not bitter.

Flavor: Sweet AND bitter, like that of espresso.

Feel: Creamy and smooth.  Light carbonation.

The draft-version of this Chatham Porter lent itself to typical Porter flavorings.  It had a slightly over-roasted tone, dominated by that bittersweet Bakers chocolate flavor and notes of butterscotch.  Well-balanced, but nothing too special here.  However, it is mightily enjoyable in comparison to–dun dun DUN–the cask Porter!  Read on…

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OVERALL RATING (CASK):

Sight: Same deep rich brown/ruby coloration.  No head.

Scent: Burnt malt, or–even better!–rubbing alcohol.  Yes, rubbing alcohol.

Flavor: Overpoweringly sour, like that of sour cherries.  Sour cherries soaked in rubbing alcohol.

Feel: Warm and flat (as is typical for a cask beer).

Many in the brewing industry refer to cask beer as “real ale,” because of its more natural, “living” characteristics.  But when your first impression of this “real” libation makes you think “rubbing alcohol,” you know something’s wrong.  The first sip resulted in immediate “eww face.”

     

We questioned, did we get a Blue Point Sour Cherry Imperial Stout by mistake?  We even thought that perhaps the cask had been stored too long, for usually if a cask beer is old, it oxidizes and gets an almost vinegar-y flavor; but no, the bartender assured us, they only keep their casks full for two weeks.  Thus, the only conclusion we can draw?  The Chatham Porter doesn’t fare well as a cask beer.  Quoteth Kerensa, “Gosh, that’s really bad.”

Concluding remarks: While the draft proved nothing special upon first sip, it tasted like liquified angels in comparison to the cask.  It is summed up best by this picture:

Guess which one is the cask now?

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Kona Brewing Pipeline Porter

Beer:  Pipeline Porter
Brewery: Kona Brewing Company
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.4%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Peculier Pub, West Village
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Consumption Companion:  Kinnelon gals+

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Pitch black body with a one-inch creamy beige head upon initial pour.

Scent: After much discussion, group consensus was it has an overwhelming smell of cake batter and spiced coffee.

Flavor: Rich, smoky vanilla flavor with roasted coffee undertones. Some tasters said it reminded them of iced coffee; another, chocolate. Group consensus: cold mocha with an extra shot of espresso.

Feel: Full body, thicker than some Porters. Carbonation hits you at the back of the throat on the way down.

This is one of the sweeter Porters I’ve tried since starting this beer tasting extravaganza. Suzy excitedly exclaimed “CAKE BATTER” upon first smell and taste. Erica and Sarah weren’t convinced upon first taste, but after a few more sips, we all collectively agreed that drinking Kona’s Pipeline Porter is like drinking a spiced coffee while eating vanilla cake with dark chocolate frosting (minus about 500 calories). I was particularly blown away with the smokiness of the vanilla and freshness of the Kona coffee flavor. Overall, this is a pretty great example of a Coffee Porter.

Concluding remarks:  After sharing a “Round up Platter” (consisting of onion rings, jalapeño poppers, mozzarella sticks, fried zucchini, chicken nuggets, and wings served over a bed of french fries) at the neighboring 1849 Bar, this was the best way to end the meal, and the night. Or, to begin the night, as it turned out…Admittedly, I was reluctant to try another Coffee Porter so soon after Wolaver’s Coffee Porter. However, unlike the Wolaver’s, the Kona Brewing Company out of Hawaii has here quite a delicious brew that really does taste like something you’d spend $5 on at Starbucks. Oh, but this costs $6 and leaves you with a slight buzz? Next time you are tempted to go splurge on a Mochafrappalattefakeitaliandrinkacinno beverage at your local coffee place, head to a bar instead and give this a shot. Of espresso. (SORRY.)

Suzy approves!

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Southern Tier Dark Robust Porter

Beer:  Robust Porter
Brewery: Southern Tier
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.8%

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

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Deep, gorgeous ruby-brown coloration, like well-made French press coffee. Thin head when poured.

Scent: Mild smoky/roasted malt aroma, with bittersweet chocolate undertones.

Flavor: Light, roasted coffee tones initially; but as it mellows, the bittersweet chocolate notes shine through.

Feel: For a “dark robust” beer, much lighter mouthfeel than expected.  Low carbonation.

Perhaps I’m biased towards this Southern Tier Porter because I’m a fan of S.T.’s work in general (their Creme Brulee Imperial Milk Stout?  Swoon!), but this is one of the better tasting Porters I’ve had in awhile. The name is a bit deceiving: although it is dark in color, it’s not as robust as one might hope, or at least expect.  But that didn’t detract from the drinking experience; instead of one flavor dominating the brew, every aspect of this Porter’s flavor profile complements the others for a mellow, easy-to-drink dark beer.  And since the coffee and chocolate flavors aren’t overpowering, this beer would do well served alongside a coffee- and/or chocolate-flavored dessert.

Concluding remarks: A not-too-sweet, not-too-heavy Porter that would make for a food-pairing fantasy night when met with your favorite tiramisu–or, for the less fancy among us, a chocolate donut.

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Sierra Nevada Porter

Beer: Porter
Brewery: Sierra Nevada
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.6%

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

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Opaque, deep rich amber coloration. About a centimeter of thick, creamy head (bow chicka bow wow).

Scent: Slightly roasted malty smell. Just a faint whiff of coffee and earthiness.

Flavor:  Upon first sip, it has a run-of-the-mill roasted malt taste. The flavor is pretty mild upfront, very slight hoppy/bitter aftertaste. Not particularly dynamic or complex. However, after resting, the overall flavor develops a slight sweetness.

Feel: Creamy in my mouth (sorry). Pretty decent carbonation.

The Porterness of this Porter is not very Porterly (i.e., there’s not an overpowering presence of coffee, caramel, chocolate, or robust roastiness). Though, maybe a super bittersweet chocolate–the chalky kind you would melt to make brownies (or, for non-bakers, the kind your mom had in the cabinet and didn’t taste quite right…whoops.)

Concluding remarks: This is a Porter. No bells or whistles, no fancy added spices or flavorings. Pick it up if you can get it at a decent price (<$9). However, you might get bored with it after two or three in. So, share it with your friends and ask them what they think.

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Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter

Beer:  Coffee Porter, “Alta Gracia”
Brewery: Wolaver’s Organic
Style: American Porter
ABV: 5.0%

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

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Opaque coloration with caramel-bronze note. Very thin head when poured.

Scent: Artificial vanilla-flavored coffee.

Flavor: Well, artificial vanilla-flavored coffee.

Feel: Like someone poured just a little bit of seltzer into an artificial vanilla-flavored iced coffee.

Did you get the point? Where are we, Dunkin Donuts? Did they start brewing beer in addition to coffee? This tastes eerily similar to their (artificial vanilla-flavored) coffee; or, if you prefer Starbucks, the dregs of a French press. And it tastes as it smells, sadly. The vanilla flavor is really overwhelmingly fake and then the stale, out-all-day coffee flavor hits you after. And you thought having regular coffee breath was bad…

Concluding remarks: Drinking this brings us back to our childhood. No, our moms didn’t pour beer in our sippy cups (BUT WE DID LATER IN COLLEGE). What we mean by this is that this Wolaver’s Coffee Porter reminds us of an alcoholic coffee cream soda float, albeit a subpar one.  Or, like someone poured seltzer into your flavored iced coffee. Yum?

And yeah, yeah, we like organic things; but we’ll stick with the wheat grass shots, thank you very much. (Is it bad if we add some vodka, though?)

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Founders Porter

Beer: Porter, “Dark, Rich & Sexy”
Brewery: Founders
Style: American Porter
ABV: 6.5%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Blind Tiger, West Village
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Consumption Companion: A Park Slope resident

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OVERALL RATING: 

*EDITOR’S NOTE: This was five or six beers into the night, as a caveat.

Sight: Luxuriously dark, rich, black velvety body with a warm dark brown head.

Scent: Smells of coffee and hazelnuts.

Flavor: Full-bodied, complex flavor. Coffee and caramel on the forefront, roasted malts throughout. Chocolate at the end.

Feel: Smooth and full with a balanced amount of carbonation.

A quintessential example of the American Porter, Founder’s offering has quiet a complex flavor profile, rife with the three Cs (coffee, caramel and chocolate). The sweetness of the added coffee and chocolate is balanced with the right amount of hop bitterness. This is by far one of the most, if not the most, enjoyable American Porter I’ve had.

Concluding remarks: Get this beer ASAP. It will keep you warm throughout the winter…perfect for those long walks back to the subway in the middle of January (on those nights that aren’t 60°F). It is an excellent example of how American brewers have really made this style their own. I wouldn’t recommend drinking it with dinner, but it would make an excellent companion to a dessert. Or, even just as a dessert in its own right. Serve it just slightly colder than room temperature, maybe at 50°F or so. Prost!

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