Kompaan: No 45 Vrij Buiter (Netherlands: Porter: 7.1% ABV)

Visual: Very dark red to black. Thin browned head that leaves suds.

Nose: Creamy. Roasted. Liquorice. Coffee.

Body: Creamy. Liquorice. Creamy chocolate to bitter chocolate cake. Smooth. Brown bread. Black cherry delivered slightly tart.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Liquorice. Creamy chocolate. Bitter chocolate. Slight black cherry. Sarsaparilla. Pepper. Peanut butter.

Conclusion: This is a pretty smooth porter, but still with a bit of a bite. The smoothness is shown from the start, with an initial aroma that is smooth but simple. The oddest tell of more to come is a decent amount of liquorice that manages to show itself here. For some reason liquorice seems to be a popular thing in the Netherlands, with even liquorice ice cream, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

The body follows through but with more complexity. The liquorice is heavy, backed by bitter cocoa and this is the main two strings that play throughout the beer – bitter cocoa, savoury liquorice. There are some rounding notes, most notably a creamy smoothness that helps deliver the whole thing in a manageable package, but also a light tart black cherry note that refreshes just slightly. After a discussion, my friend Emerald suggested that sarsaparilla notes were there as well, and I just had to steal that as it perfectly describes the slightly spicy soft drink feel that comes out in the finish.

So a few notes. First, you need to like liquorice to like this as it is very liquorice heavy. Second, it can get a tad wearing at the end of the beer as the smoothness gives way to more of the spicy notes. However, generally this is smooth, very smooth and with good depth of flavour. A lot of the notes are those Marmite like love it or hate it notes but they are very solidly delivered.

So, with that said, look at the notes, if the flavours sound good to you then this is smooth, creamy and well brewed around those notes. If not, ah well, look elsewhere.

Background: Second, and unfortunately last of the tasting notes from my Netherlands trip. It wasn’t really a beery trip but I had to get at least a few in. This was from when, walking through the high street, I spotted a wall of beers inside a shop so stuck my head in. This is a local beer from The Hague, where I was at the time, so decided to grab it and give it a go. It is listed as a double porter, which confused me as the abv didn’t seem in that range – a quick google seems to indicate it intended as a dubbel/porter mix, which is interesting. Again it was very warm while doing the notes, but not as bad as before.

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