Recently in Porter Category

Drie Fonteinen Zwet.be

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Drie Fonteinen is one of the powerhouse lambic breweries, so this beer is something of a curiosity. It seems that famed master-blender Armand Debelder saw fit to branch out and try something only tangentially related to lambic. This is basically an English style porter beer that is brewed with wild yeast cultured from lambic casks. If this sounds like some sort of blasphemous experiment, well, it's not. Porter didn't always resemble what it does now.

I'll leave the history to those who know better than I, but suffice to say that descriptions of 19th century porter tended to use words like: sour, tart, astringent, and acid. As Martyn Cornell notes in the linked post, these are not words you will find in the descriptions of porter in the latest Brewers Association beer style guidelines. To greatly simplify the possible reasons for this tartness, it seems to be attributable to both age and wild yeast infection (the combination of which are a virtuous circle, as wild yeasts do their thing over very large amounts of time).

So basically, this beer isn't the lunacy that it might initially sound like. Indeed, I've seen various other breweries take on this concept of sour porter as well, though I can't really speak to historical accuracy for any of these beers. But forget about historical accuracy, do these suckers taste good? Let's give it a shot, eh?

Drie Fonteinen Zwet.be

Drie Fonteinen Zwet.be - Pours a dark brown color with a couple fingers of tan head that leave plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells very much like a porter, lots of roast and toast, but also a sweetness or fluffiness that indicates something less intense. Taste features a nice, light roast and toast, as befitting a porter, but the finish has a slight tweak to it that lightens things up a tad. It's not quite sour or really all that tart, but perhaps in that direction. Mouthfeel starts off full bodied and highly carbonated, but that sorta yields to a gentler feeling towards the finish. Again, it's not sour and won't cut up your gums like an American Wild Ale, but there might be an ever so slight hint of acidity. Overall, a solid, interesting take on a porter, though not quite as "wild" as I thought. That being said, I'd rather have this than most other porters (admittedly, they're not my style, but still). B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (11.7 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/17/14.

I'd be curious to see if the wild elements come out more over time, so if I find me another bottle, I might just stash it away for just such an experiment. That being said, I'd probably rather have me some Drie Fonteinen lambics if they could be had...

December Beer Club

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In 2009, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men and women promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the West Chester underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as drinkers of craft beer. If you have a problem... if no one else can help... and if you can find them a local BYOB in which to meet... maybe you can hire... The Beer Club Team.

Well, that didn't work as well as it did in my head, but I'm going to leave it there as a reminder to myself that my stupid references aren't as funny as I think. Take that, self! What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded folks from my work. We meet up once a month at a local BYOB and sample all sorts of beers. Decent turnout tonight, and some great beers too:

Beer Club
(Click for larger version)

Half remembered thoughts on each beer are below. For posterity, you understand. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order depicted above:

  • Harpoon UFO White - I could have sworn we've had this at beer club before, but I can't find any reference to it... Holy coriander, Batman! Very powerfully spiced for a simple wheat beer, but it made for a nice, bland start to the evening. B
  • Kaedrin Saison - Man, this thing is drinking perfect right now! Huge carbonation, spicy, crisp, and dry. Great with food, and I'm really disappointed that I only have a couple bottles of this left. This may end up being one of my better beers of all time. B+ or A- material here.
  • Kaedrôme Saison - Alas, this has not quite carbonated itself so well just yet. Disappointing. I had one last week, and it seemed like it was doing well, but nope, tonight's was lower carbonated than the last one I had. Weird. I'll give it a few more weeks before opening another (it seems that the regular saison is peaking right now, after several months) and leave it at that for now...
  • Ken's Homebrewed Winter Warmer - Very solid example of the style, very well spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, it came out really smooth and almost creamy, with that spicy kick. I really enjoyed this, even more than the other Winter Warmer/Holiday beers of the night. B+
  • Sly Fox Christmas Ale - Another winter warmer, and one I look forward to every year. Alas, they change up the recipe every year, and I have to admit, I'm not in love with this year's version. It's fine, to be sure, but not as good as previous years (or Ken's homebrew!) B-
  • Lexington Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale - It's amazing how little repetition there is in beer club. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that someone has brought a beer that's been at beer club before... This one was just at beer club back in September, which wouldn't be that bad except that no one really likes this beer! It's so thin and the bourbon barrel treatment doesn't really come through in any meaningful way (it's got some of that bourbon flavor, but it feels watered down and just flat). It's not a hideous abomination, but it's not particularly good either. C
  • Trappistes Rochefort 6 - A classic that I've already reviewed, and a welcome relief from the previous beer!
  • Affligem Noël - This was one of my favorite beers when I started the blog... but I didn't respond quite so well this time around. Not sure if it's just the context of beer club and a beleaguered palate, or if this really isn't as good as I remember. The balance is certainly off here, a little boozy, not enough malt and spice to counteract that. It's certainly not bad at all, and I do still really enjoy it, but perhaps not as much as I originally did... Let's call it a B or B+ now.
  • Southern Tier Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale - A late arrival, this perhaps should have been opened earlier in the night... but even then, I suspect this would underwhelm. C+
  • Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad - Dana and I shop at the same beer store. She shared hers, I greedily drank mine by myself. As I rated on Monday, B+
  • Stone Suede Imperial Porter - It's a fine porter, light roast, some complexity from those weird flower and jasmine adjuncts, but ultimately this is a beer that doesn't really float my boat. It's fine, I could probably take one down on my own, but I'm glad I was trying it in a tasting setting... B
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout - Another Dana special, I'm really glad she brought this... mostly because it's just awesome beer (that I've reviewed before). Still an A
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout - And this one was my contribution for the night. I had this last year and loved it, but it had aged for a few months before I cracked it open. This year, I had one fresh and thought I absolutely had to share this. I don't particularly love coffee, and this thing is a huge coffee bomb. It's amazing how much the coffee fades in the beer after a few months (I know the coffee is different every year, so maybe that's a factor this year too, but it's still dominated by coffee, to the point where I can barely get the bourbon barrel out of this, though it is there). Since some members of beer club are big coffee fans, I thought I should share it while it's fresh. It did not disappoint.
  • Fort Collins 1900 Amber Lager - I will refrain from talking much about this because after the Bourbon County, this was basically like water. A simple palate cleanser. That being said, it does not seem like my kinda thing...
And that wraps up yet another successful beer club. Already looking forward to ringing in the new year with beer club...

Tired Hands Monster Beers

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As previously mentioned, Tired Hands really gets into the spirit of the Halloween season. Last year, they made a series of beers named after classic monsters like Vampire, Zombie (a personal favorite), Ghost, Goblin, and so on. This year's theme appears to be 80s horror monsters, including some suitably obscure choices that warm this jaded horror movie lover's heart (if you're so inclined, check out my generalist blog, where I've been marathoning horror movies for about six weeks at this point). As I write this, Tired Hands is hosting their All Hallows' Eve Supper which features all of these beers and food pairings (not to mention an exclusive, Captain Howdy, which sounds rather great). Alas, I was not very quick on the gun for that, so no supper for me. I'll have to content myself with the regular awesomeness of their beer. So let's do this:

Jason

Jason - 6.9% citrus IPA - Awesome juicy ipa, citrus and pine hops, nice bitterness in the finish, just great! I feel like I should have more to say about this since I really enjoyed it, but I'll just note that Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is arguably the best of the series (with strong contenders in IV and of course, the original). A-

Pinhead - 5.9% ABV saison with cascade, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops - Nice blend of saison and pale ale attributes, a little sweet saison spice upfront with the hops hitting in the middle and contributing a nice bitterness to the finish. In other news, they're remaking Hellraiser. Barker is involved, which is promising, and it's hard to be annoyed by this when there are literally, like, 7 sequels, most pretty terrible. On the other hand, dammit Clive, we need you to finish that third Book of the Art you started writing, oh, 20 years ago (though apparently the manuscript for The Scarlet Gospels, another book he's been talking about for decades, has been sent to the publisher, so that's cool)! And now that I've spent more time talking about Clive Barker than the beer itself, I'll stop. B+

Herbert West

Herbert West - 7.6% ABV Coffee IPA Ethiopian Worka beans courtesy of ReAnimator coffee in Philly (hence the name of this beer) - An interesting spin on your typical Tired Hands IPA, juicy hops of course, but the coffee adds something that doesn't immediately read as coffee. Easy to pick out when you know it's there, but the character is more earthy and almost chocolaty than your typical coffee. In other news, don't you think that the severed head from Re-Animator looks an awful lot like John Kerry? A-

This next beer is a sour wheat saison brewed with PA wildflower honey and fermented atop passion fruit, lime, and grapefruit. Jean kept posting pictures of the pellicle on Twitter, but when I looked at it under my electron microscope, I saw this:

Screenshot from The Thing

The Thing - 6% sour wheat fruit saison - Um, wut? Halp, this am so fruity that I can has lolcat speech. For realz, this is very strange and quite pleasant, tropical fruit all over, light tartness that is perfectly balanced, sorta like a bigger, stronger Berliner Weiss, really nice! Also, The Thing holds up pretty damn well. Best damn practical effects ever. A-

Freddy - 8% robust porter - Dark like my nightmares, not your typical porter, lots of complexity, chocolate, coffee, very light roast, hint of caramel, smooth as can be, easy going. Keep picking out new flavors as I drink. Really solid stuff! I know Robert Englund got a little down for a while because he was so well known for this one character, but he's become this great horror icon, a grand old man in the genre, and he's raised the profile of a lot of small horror movies in the past decade, so good on him. And Freddy (at least in the first film), is still fantastic. B+

Emerald Skeletons Listening To Your Footsteps - 7.5% IPA - I suppose this is arguably not part of the Monsters series, but it sounds pretty scary, and apparently Emerald Skeletons are gigantic spiders, which are terrifying in themselves, so I'm including it. And yep, another typically great Tired Hands style IPA (at this point, I'm pretty sure I can pick out their IPAs blind), standard citrus and pine, maybe some floral hops too, interesting complexity beyond the hops that's hard to place, but all is well balanced and it's really nice stuff. A-

Blonde Zombie - 11.5% imperial honey IPA - This is basically the same beer as last year's Zombie, but without any of the dark malts. Whoa, this is really nice, citrus, pine, and floral hops in the nose and taste, a little sticky, but it doesn't feel like 11.5% at all. Dangerously drinkable for such a monster (pun intended!)... I might still prefer the original Zombie, but this is still a great beer. Favorite zombie movie I saw during my horror movie marathon this year: Pontypool. It doesn't quite stick the ending, but it's pretty solid (but then, I'm not much of a zombie fanatic, so take this with a grain of salt). A-

Marty Rantzen

Marty Rantzen - 6.8% smoked gourd brown ale - I love the obscurity of this beer name's reference, and if you haven't seen Slaughter High, um, well, you're in for something strange. For instance, during a sex scene, the girl asks the guy for a little mid-coital dirty talk and he responds with "Uhh..tits! Screw! Tits!" He's a poet, I guess. Also notable, someone is dispatched with... a "poisoned" can of Pabst Blue Ribbon (that or it's just regular PBR, they never really say). Oh yeah, the beer. It's a straightforward brown ale base with some added complexity (presumably from the smoked gourds, though I can't really pick them out), nice toasted malt character, easy drinking. I like. B+

Will the real Marty Rantzen stand up?

So there you have it. A pretty interesting bunch of beers, actually, so kudos to Tired Hands. Moar holiday beer reviews to come later this week.

Oktober Beer Club

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Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded friends from work who get together every month at a local BYOB for libations and fun. This month, someone decided to bring beers she thought would be disgusting. And they were! We should probably discourage this practice, but on the other hand, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and try some Cave Creek Chili Beer or, in this case, some of Rogue's recent offerings.

Oktober Beer Club

Half-blinkered thoughts on each beer are recorded below for posterity, though standard tasting disclaimers apply and I'm a moron so take it all with a grain of salt. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order in the pictar):

  • Tired Hands Jason - One of my contributions, and a great way to start the night. I'll probably talk more about this at some other time, but for now it's a very nice, juicy IPA, great hop character and that citrus fruit really comes through. Reminiscent of last year's "Vampire" beer. A-
  • Rogue Beard Beer - This beer's gimmick is that it's made using yeast that was found in their head brewer's beard. Sounds appetizing, no? Well, no, but the beer itself was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. It felt sorta like a bland Belgian pale ale, with some light spicy yeast notes and some sweetness. So not the worst thing ever, but perhaps I set the bar too low on this one. B-
  • Jerry's Homebrew "SB" - Mystery homebrew from one member who got it from a friend of a friend, or something. Don't know what "SB" stands for, but that's all it was labeled with. But it turned out to be a pretty good beer in the style of a brown ale or soemthing like that. Not something to go crazy over, but a good homebrew. B
  • Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale - I actually had no real problem with the first Voodoo Doughnut beer, but then again, it's a smoked beer and no one likes those. I don't know why they thought it was a good idea to continue this collaboration with Voodoo Doughnuts, but I guess they're actually selling this stuff. This was a pretty terrible beer. I get hints of that chocolate and peanut butter, but they feel... wrong, like they were buried in Pet Semetary or something. This is an unbalanced, sloppy mess. Not entirely undrinkable, but in no way good. D
  • Terrapin Dos Cocoas Chocolate Porter - Now this one gets the chocolate thing right, and the base porter matches really well with it. Not my favorite style ever or anything, but it works well enough. B+
  • Trappist Westvleteren 12 - Yep, it's still amazing. Certainly opened some eyes with other folks too.
  • Perennial Vermilion Winter Ale - Excellent English style barleywine, lots of caramel, toffee, and almost fruity malt notes, really nice. A little heavy, but that's what you want out of this sort of thing. The sort of beer that makes me want to put on a smoking jacket, sit by a fire next to my bearskin rug on a cold night, making haughty rich person noises. Another eye opener for some folks. Me, I really liked this sucker, and may snag another bottle if it's around (it looks like it was a 2012 one-off, but I've definitely seen it around). A-
And that just about covers it. You may have noticed that it's only been a little over 2 weeks since the last beer club, but we had to reset to the beginning of the month, due to the November and December holidays. So stay tuned, moar to come.

I was a little surprised that there weren't any Hill Farmstead events during Philly Beer Week in June and perhaps because I've gotten a taste of this stuff before, I've spent the past few months acting like Wolverine here:

Wolverine pines for Hill Farmstead

The Philly area is still lucky enough to see the occasional keg of Hill Farmstead though, so when I spied the July 4th event at a local drinkery, I was all in. Tons of great stuff on tap, but how could I resist the siren song of Hill Farmstead? 5 were on tap, 3 of which I'd never had before. Let's get to it:

Hill Farmstead Edward

Hill Farmstead Edward - A 5.2% American Pale Ale, this seems to be one of their mainstay "Ancestral Series" beers. Hazy orange with a finger of white head... pretty stuff. Beautiful citrus nose, oranges and mangoes, some floral notes. Taste has a crystal malt component that provides a good platform for the bright, citrusy, floral hops, and a substantial bitterness follows you all throughout the taste. Surprisingly towards the upper end of medium bodied, but that doesn't make it hard to drink or anything (dude sitting next to me put down 5 in less than an hour.) Overall, well, excellent. Duh. A-

Hill Farmstead Clara Grisette

Hill Farmstead Clara Grisette - Saisons were brewed for farm workers, but Grisettes were made for miners (Grisette being French for Grey, a reflection of the uniforms and the stone being mined). The styles are very similar, though Grisettes usually incorporated wheat and were typically a little lighter. In this case, we've got a 4.2% beer, another in the Ancestral Series. Straw yellow color, finger of bubbly head. Smells peppery and lemony, maybe a little Brett funk for good measure. Taste has a nice, bright, lemony tartness to it (wasn't expecting that, but it works well), a little funk, and some spicy yeast notes to round it all out... Mouthfeel is crisp, light, and refreshing, highly quaffable. Tart, but not acidic. Overall, this is right up there with the funky saison standard bearers. Reminds me of the old-label Fantôme (none of the smokey, super earthy funk that hits the newer Fantômes). Great stuff. A-

Hill Farmstead and Alchemist Walden

Hill Farmstead/Alchemist Walden - This collaboration with The Alchemist (of Heady Topper fame; my first taste from them, though I've got a line on some Heady too) was called a sessionable American Blonde Ale, but it basically drinks like a really light pale ale. At 4% ABV, it's certainly sessionable, and I could have drank this stuff all day... if the keg didn't kick within an hour of opening ('twas the first to go). Open your Thoreau up to page 1 and get started: Straw yellow, pillowy head. Smells utterly fantastic, bright citrus, big citrusy Amarillo hop character (update: I was right about that, but there's also Simcoe and even some swanky New Zealand Motueka hops too), really great nose that just makes me want to sit a while and sniff my beer. Taste is even better, great, perfectly matched citrus hop notes, nice dry bitterness emerging in the finish. Mouthfeel is very light bodied, crisp, refreshing, and the most quaffable beer of the day. Just scarily drinkable. Overall, utterly fantastic, superb beer. A

Hill Farmstead Abner

Hill Farmstead Abner - Hot damn, so happy to be able to try this one again. This 8.2% DIPA is one of my favorite beers. Golden orange, cap of white head. Amazing sugary citrus & pine nose, lots of complexity. Taste has that perfect balance of crystal malt, sweetness, citrusy, piney hops, maybe some floral notes too, and a well matched bitterness in finish. Intense and complex, but not overpowering or sloppy at all. Mouthfeel is fantastic, velvety smooth, medium to full bodied, no hint of booze at all, well carbonated, just a joy to drink. Overall, as spectacular as I remember it. A (Hrm, potential A+ material here)

Hill Farmstead Everett

Hill Farmstead Everett Robust Porter - I generally find myself befuddled by how highly some porters are rated, but if they were all like this thing, I could get with that program. I've heard people say that Edmund Fitzgerald is just as good, but I don't think there's any contest here - Everette is clearly far superior. Nice roasted malt character tempered by big chocolate notes, especially as it warms up. There's a richness here that I just never get out of other porters. I had clearly underrated this last time (only a B+?), but I'll correct that to an A- right now.

So there you have it. Basically starting July 4 off with fireworks, if you know what I mean. One might think that being able to get this stuff occasionally would satisfy me, but no, I still want to get my but up to Vermont and visit. Seems worthwhile. In the meantime, I'll just stare at my photos of the HF logo with Wolverine. Anywho, stay tuned for some more Vermonsters in the next week or so.

Caldera Mogli

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Another swanky packaging option for those brewers looking to trick me into buying their beer is the waxed bottle cap. Just cannot resist. It helps that they're usually great beers, a correlation that will no doubt lead me to disaster someday. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for shelfwalez like this oak-aged imperial porter brewed with chocolate. This beer is made using the cut-rate method of bourbon soaked oak chunks or something like that, but it turned out pretty damn well to me:

Caldera Mogli

Caldera Mogli - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of tan head, minor lacing as I drink. Smells fantastic, bourbon, oak, chocolate, caramel, a hint of roast, and loads of vanilla. Taste starts with some rich chocolate and caramel, a little roast peeking through, followed by some hop bitterness. As it warms up, those hops come out a little more, perhaps even some piney resin entering the playing field. Chocolate seems to be the big star here, but it's all well integrated. Mouthfeel is smooth, rich, sugary, full bodied but at 8.5% it's not a monster at all (actually very approachable). Not dry, per say, but better attenuated that a lot of stouts. Normally I find that higher attenuated beers can't stand up to the bourbon/oak combo, but this one works very well. Overall, this is wonderfully complex stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (22 oz waxed bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 5/31/13. White Wax version.

There's supposedly a variation of this beer packaged with black wax that had a lot more chocolate and was even better, which sounds pretty awesome (but also apparently quite limited). This beer is no slouch, so I'd keep an eye out for both if you're the type who likes their stouts chocolaty.

I don't really know what constitutes colonial speak, but let's just pretend I'm wearing some 18th century garb and lecturing on the merits of this most excellent barrel aged brew, sent my way by Dave, the Drunken Polack, in our recent trade (many thanks to Dave!) It comes from Williamsburg AleWerks (sometimes referred to as just AleWerks), a brewery I'm not particularly familiar with, but which sounds like it's been doing good work over the past few years. Take this sucker:

Williamsburg AleWerks Bourbon Barrel Porter

Williamsburg AleWerks Bourbon Barrel Porter - Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a finger of light brown head. Smells of toasted, roasted malts along with a sweet bourbon aroma, oak and vanilla too. Taste starts sweet, with rich dark malts, a light roasty character, and that bourbon, oak, and vanilla coming through strong in the finish. Very sweet, but never approaching cloying, which is good. Mouthfeel is full bodied but it's got a nice, crisp carbonation that keeps it manageable. Overall, really well done bourbon barrel treatment here, delicious, complex, and balanced. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 3/23/13.

Quite a showing for these fellas, I've got another bottle of their stuff in the fridge, their Coffeehouse Stout (also courtesy of my trade with Dave) that sounds promising. I just missed out on the release of Bitter Valentine, which is another brew I'd love to try sometime... There's always next year!

January Beer Club

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I've more or less run out of beer puns for beer clubs, so you'll just have to deal with it. I know, you all love puns, so you're all broken up about it, but you'll just have to deal. Beer club is a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together for a meal and lots-o-beer once a month. As per usual, this gathering is anchored by a core group of stalwarts, along with assorted return guest stars. So it was a solid turnout, lots of beer, good BBQ and just an all around good time.

January Beer Club 2013
(Click for bigger image)

In accordance with tradition, my thoughts on each beer we sampled are recorded below for posterity. Standard disclaimers regarding non-ideal tasting isolation conditions apply, so all you pedants better stay frosty, as nearly all of this will be untrustworthy/awesome. Roughly in order of tasting (not necessarily the order in the above picture):

  • Crabbie's Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer - Things started off on a bizarre note. It's basically alcoholic ginger ale, which is fine for what it is, I guess, and definitely attracts the non-beer folk due to it's high sweetness and ginger spicing, but I found it kinda poopy. It's actually good that we had it in this sort of setting where I only had to try a tiny sample, but I'll give it a D, because fuck ginger beer. Seriously guiz.
  • Belhaven Scottish Ale - Belhaven is supposed to be one of the top Scottish ale styles out there, but man, we must have gotten a bad bottle. It has that gross diacetyl buttery flavor that I get out of a lot of British pale ales and have grown to hate. I'm not sure if that's just the beer, or if it's the clear bottle, or what, but it felt kinda skunky too. Not totally undrinkable, but I was again glad that I only took a very small sample of the stuff. D
  • Abita Jockamo IPA - While a big improvement over my first two tastes of the night, this strikes me as being a fairly unremarkable IPA. It reminds me of the sort of thing you'd get in a John Harvard's brewpub, circa 1998. Totally an improvement over BMC (or, since we're talking about my college years, Natty/Beast), but nothing special at all. A nice hop aroma, but a taste that fell a little flat and bland. B-
  • Old Forge Overbite IPA - Ahhh, now that's more like it. A really nice semi-local IPA, lots of that citrusy, floral hop goodness, maybe a little pine too, was a real breath of fresh air after the first three beers of the evening. It's not a world beater, to be sure, but these guys are totally making a name for themselves in the Philly area, and this makes for a pleasant enough IPA. B+
  • Birrificio Del Ducato Nuova Mattina - Guest star Steve contributed this very nice Italian beer to the proceedings, a Belgian style pale with lots of sharp carbonation, sweet and spicy (lots of spices used in making this, and they contribute, but not overwhelmingly so), bready, with a touch of light fruit. Overall, it's got a really nice rustic quality, an almost quaffable beer, really enjoyable. B+
  • Widmer Brrr - A totally solid winter warmer, pretty light on the spices actually, though it works well enough. It's not the sort of thing that stands out in a tasting like this, but it's totally serviceable and would probably get the job done if needed. B
  • Kaedrin Christmas Ale (2011) - A vintage bottle of my very own homebrew? It's still doing pretty well, actually, though I do believe it has peaked and is now on a bit of a downward swing. It's still retained that sorta creamy vanilla caramel base, and the spices are still there, particularly clove with a hint of cinnamon, though those are diminished from last year. It's held up about as well as I could have hoped, though it's not quite as fantastic as it once was. B+
  • Allagash Fluxus 2012 - Another of my contributions for the night, it's a totally solid Belgian pale ale, actually quite similar to that Nuova Mattina beer, though with less carbonation. Still, a very nice Belgian yeast character, spicy and biscuity. Not especially a standout, especially amongst Allagash's lineup, but a solid beer nonetheless. This could be tasting fatigue setting in, but I'll go with min instinctual rating of a B
  • Traquair House Jacobite - Ah, now this is a Scottish brewery I can get behind. Of course, this is a slightly stronger style, but I like me some Wee Heavy/Scotch Ales, and this is a pretty superb example of the style. Big rich malt character, brown sugar, some fruitiness, a light booziness, and all of this is very well balanced against each other. Truly a solid beer, and widely available too, well worth checking out for the Scotch Ale fan and a contender for best of the night. A-
  • Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale - Once again, this might be tasting fatigue setting in, but I was expecting more out of this. Don't get me wrong, it's a totally good beer. Not very red in appearance, but it certainly smells/tastes like an imperial red, big, well integrated citrus and pine hops mixed with those crystal and red malts. Very nice, would like to try again in better conditions. For now, we'll give it a provisional B+
  • DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus - Perhaps the strangest beer of the night, but it worked surprisingly well. You could say it's gimmicky, it being a "Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter", but this is quite possibly the perfect beer for a tasting like this. Exclamations of "Whoa" and "It smells like peanut butter" all around the table. It tasted like peanut butter brownies that were perhaps a bit overcookied so that you got that roastiness. Kinda like the edge/corner piece (which, you know, I love). It worked surprisingly well in this setting. I have no idea how I'd react if I were to drink an entire bottle, but I'm feeling generous enough to hand it a B+ (though it's probably more of a B)
  • Victory Oak Horizontal - Another of my contributions for the night, it's just as good as I remembered it. The bourbon, while prominent, was not overpowering at all, which endeared it to some folks who don't tend to like bourbon. Still an A- and a fitting end to the evening.
So there you have it. After a shaky start, things livened up quickly, and this sort of ratings distribution is actually quite nice. I mean, this isn't the most exclusive of beer clubs, after all, and only a few of us a really huge beer nerds, but it's a lot of fun and I always look forward to beer club. February's meeting will come soon enough!

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Porter category.

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