Old Chimney King Alfred's Cake

Old Chimney: King Alfred’s Cake (England: Porter: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Sour dough. Cream cheese and chives. Chestnut mushrooms. Orange rind.

Body: Bitter cocoa. Condensed cream. Chocolate. Liqueur. Chocolate cake. Dandelion and burdock. Wine soaked raisins. Chestnut mushrooms. Glacier cherries. Milky coffee.

Finish: Milky, rich coffee. Cinnamon. Dandelion and Burdock. Spicy red wine to port. Cherry aid. Rum and raisin ice cream. Chocolate orange. Chestnut mushrooms.

Conclusion: Unusual, yet mixed with the usual. The familiar and the profound side by side. Let’s start with the unfamiliar stuff in the main body and work our way out from there.

So, yeah, the first and second odd notes are a mix of Dandelion and Burdock, and mushrooms – ok, as explained in the background one may be psychosomatic, but I’m fairly sure that not both are. It definitely has that distinctive, oddball, tangy D&B character that then slips easily into more spicy wine and wine soaked raisin notes that I would associate more with the heavier end of the ESB style, or with an Imperial Stout than I would a porter. However, I would say that that soft drink character previously described leans it closer to an ESB that a imperial stout in the expression of it. Fascinating, no?

The mushrooms are then a more rounding note – that kind of chestnut mushroom meatiness and a savoury backdrop to the sweeter main base. The chestnut mushroom character comes out more in the finish as the sweetness finally drips away.

Heading the other way, into the aroma, we find the more traditional notes – the sour dough, cream cheese and chives, thick, slightly soured aroma. It declares a certain kind of robust, traditional, porter is to follow. Then spends the rest of the time undercutting that image, the big liar.

The other familiar notes comes from the last word of this beer’s name. Cake. Cake is evident in both coffee and chocolate format, nice sturdy, heavy notes to ground the fresher and unusual D&B notes. Quite the layered, non standard porter then. Mostly it works. – you have to be able to enjoy dandelion and burdock but it isn’t totality dominated by it. It is basically a very ESB influenced porter – a few of the fruitier and fresher notes definitely call to the ESB style but without betraying the heavier porter style. Not a beer I would have often, mostly as I feel D&B is enjoyable but only in moderation, but taken once in a while? Very enjoyable.

Background: Old Chimney! Makers of Good King Henry Special Reserve – still one of my top three Imperial Stouts. Love those guys! Even if their stuff doesn’t turn up locally often. So, King Alfred’s Cake is an inedible fungus. I never knew that. Because of that word “Inedible” I am fairly sure none is used in the making of this beer. Fairly sure. Still, because of that mushrooms were on my mind while doing this, so could be a touch of influence on my notes there. Drunk while listening to Garbage’s new album: Strange Little Birds. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit.