Tag Archive: Porter


Cervecería Regiomontana Ocho Reales Porter

Sierra Madre : Ocho Reales Porter (Mexico: Porter: 5% ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry to black. Thin brown head.

Nose: Fruitcake. Madeira and port mix. Blueberry. Figgy pudding. Tannins. Marzipan. Fruity. Almonds. Pencil shavings and sulphur eggs.

Body: Roasted bitterness. Slightly thin feel when cool. Chalk. Very light red wine notes. Tannins. Light figs. Liquorice. Light fruitcake.

Finish: Chalky. Roasted. Tannins/tea. Liquorice. Red wine. Dusty and mothball like. Light tart apple.

Conclusion: Ok, I definitely need to let this one warm up before doing a full opinion. Chilled this ends up very thin, with only a slight roasted bitter and chalky body and finish, but little else.

While I am waiting, let’s talk about the good parts so far – the aroma! Definitely not a traditional porter in style – it is closer to an ESB with strong red wine, fruitcake and dark fruit amongst the mix. While not porter like it still promised a fine beer, and far more than the chilled beer body experience delivered.

Ok, warmth has entered the beer, as ever warmth is the friend of the dark beer. It has helped. A little. It gains thickness and hints of the red wine and fruitcake that the aroma promised. However, as if it compensate, the finish becomes must and dusty as hell, a genuinely bad feeling at the end of the beer, and worse still one that lasts a long time.

Aside from that it does give some ESB like saving grace to the body, it is still very little like a porter outside of the roasted character, but it is more acceptable as a beer – there is actually a hint of a good beer trying to break out. However, this is one of the rare beers that, overall, I feel is actually pretty bad. It has a few redeeming points, the aroma for one, and it does have hints of promise of what it could be. Generally though, nope, this is a bad example of the style and a bad beer.

Background: I hope the brewery name is correct, I have found conflicting reports. Anyway, grabbed this from independent spirit, you don’t see many breweries from Mexico so I thought it was worth a try. Drunk while listening to a band I just found called “The Algorithm”, kind a mash up of metal and electronic, kind of weird but fun.

Brewdog Alice Porter (Export version)

Brewdog: Alice Porter (Export version) (Scotland: Porter: 4.6%)

Visual: Black with dark brown edges. Inch of creamy brown froth that leaves sud rings.

Nose: Coffee. Sour dough and cream cheese. Crushed nuts. Light strawberry. Cut grass. Cloying. Vanilla.

Body: Vanilla. Chocolate. Somewhat thin but oily character. Roasted bitterness. Chalk touch. Cardboard.

Finish: Oily. Light bitterness. Nuts. Chalk. Milky coffee. Roasted. Vanilla toffee. Light strawberry. Chocolate. Cardboard.

Conclusion: While high abv bombs are awesome, the beers that get you through a session are the more gentle and restrained ones, in alcohol content at least. Therefore I was interested in trying the lower abv export version of Alice Porter. If they can pull off the character of full strength Alice Porter but at lower abv we could be looking at one special beer.

Aroma wise this is very promising. Thick and robust, full of porter like notes such as coffee and sour dough and full of that sweet vanilla full strength Alice Porter has in spades. Everything you could ever want, an effortless recreation at a manageable abv.

The body is, well, less than robust, I guess it had to give somewhere, and here it is. It has calls to the good stuff – some chocolate, some vanilla, but a lot of the energy has gone, leaving an empty cardboard touched air in the gaps. Considering what Mikkeller has managed to do with a 0.3% dark beer, this display is disappointing.

The finish recovers a little bit with a nice oily character and with some bitterness but it still feels lesser. In fact the beer feels a lot less robust that a lot of lower abv porters that have been put out there. It feels more like a good beer that has been cut down to a worse state, than a beer polished to match the malt load it was given.

If you can get proper strength Alice Porter go for it, if you only have access to this, go for a different beer.

Background: Wasn’t sure if I was going to do notes on this one as I had already done Alice Porter before. This is a lower abv export version, I presume to get it into places that don’t allow higher abv beers into main stores. In the end I decided to give it a run, I thought the difference the abv can make would make an interesting compression. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Drunk while listening to the awesome Svalbard – check them out.

Zmajska Pivovara Porter
Zmajska Pivovara: Porter (Croatia: Porter: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate brown froth that dims to bubbled islands pretty quickly.

Nose: Light liquorice. Malt chocolate and chocolate cake. Milky coffee. Cream cheese.

Body: Roasted character and milky chocolate. Brown bread. Frothy, mostly thick texture but with a few thin spots.

Finish: Frothy chocolate and peanuts. Nice roasted character. Feels thicker than the actual body. Chocolate cake. Light cream cheese and chives.

Conclusion: Porter, not just a song by Scroobius Pip, but also a beer style, and one that often delivers solid beers. This is a solid beer -very much aimed at the middle of the porter style range, mainly chocolate backed by slight kind of cream cheese and chive notes and underlined by a solid roasted character.

It feels pretty restrained though – the body has a few moments of thick frothiness and a few thin spots, but is generally just slightly less present than would be expected for a porter.

That kind of restraint continues throughout the beer – each flavour is definitely present, but most don’t boom. It feels like someone is following up the idea of a session IPA with a session porter, but at over 6%. Which kind of hurts that idea. Oh well.

Not to be too harsh though, there is a place for less forthright porters, but because of this being less forthright there is also less to rave about – though equally less to criticise I guess.

So, solid, but not stand out – concentrates a bit much on the lower roasted and slightly soured notes without giving the high notes that could take advantage of that base. You won’t be disappointed but neither will you be excited.

Background: Ok, after accidentally selecting the highest rated beer from Serbia to drink, it turns out I also brought back the highest rated beer from Croatia. According to ratebeer anyway. Huh, cool. Anyway, so the final beer from the Belgrade trip, drunk after I got back to the UK. Because my friends are from Belgrade I was determined to like this beer more, just to piss them off. So, yeah, bias warning. Kidding. Mostly. Drunk while listing to B. Dolan’s Kill The Wolf again – that guy smashes live gigs so it brought back good memories.

Noble Pig - Mocha Porter

Noble Pig: Mocha Porter (Canada: Porter: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Black, massive frothy cinnamon to brown frothed head. Ruby red at edges of the body.

Nose: Bitter coffee. Milky chocolate. Smooth. Light roasted notes as it warms.

Body: Smooth. Roasted hazelnut backing and low hop bitterness. Light cream cheese and chives. Bitter back. Milky coffee.

Finish: Milky coffee. Low roasted character. Light cream. Bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: I’m sensing a trend in Canadian beers so far. They don’t push against your expectations, but they do deliver on very well crafted examples of existing styles with well balanced flavours.

I base this insight on about four days drinking. I may turn out to be wrong. Let it never be said that the English are afraid to make wide sweeping assumptions from ignorance. Wait, what do you mean no one ever said that anyway? Huh.

This is a creamy coffee heavy porter, very smooth up front, but has a delicate use of hop roughness to roast it up a bit at the back end. It is a good balance, and one I respect as heavy dark beers can get sticky and oppressively hopped very quickly, but here it just complements the roasted nut character used as a backing. I’ve seen great smooth porters in my time, and far more rarely good hopped porters, but rarely something that mixes the two.

While it doesn’t break boundaries, this really pushes the strength of the porter style over its stronger stout cousin – despite the big flavours it still slides down so easily. The most noticeable flavours are from where it pushes the coffee – smooth and milky, yet still with bitterness to show it isn’t afraid of some bite to back it up.

A seriously well balanced porter, and one that shows a bit of hops in your porters doesn’t hurt and can in fact help. Very nice for that and for a decent flavour as well.

Background: Tried at the Noble Pig Brewpub in Kamloops – was a bit of a walk from the hotel, up a freaking hill no less, but wasn’t too bad considering I basically grew up on one big hill. Again, really friendly staff, and they had awesome mac and cheese with pulled pork. It was a lovely goopy, probably terrible for me mess of taste joy. I hadn’t seen many darker beers yet on the trip so decided to grab the porter. After this I was wandering back when I saw a coffee store with a hardcore punk gig going on in it, so I joined in. of course. Canada is cool.

Five Points Brewdog Smoke and Mirrors

Five Point: Brewdog: Smoke and Mirrors (England: Smoked Porter: 7.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate coffee froth brown head.

Nose: Burnt coffee. Smoke. Brown bread.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Big smoke. Cured ham. Malt drinks. Smooth. Salt touch. Black cherry hint. Light chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Bitter coffee. Smoke. Toffee. Cured meat. Brown bread. Bitter. Light salt.

Conclusion: Aaaand, we have a big beer to round off the weekend, and trust me, this is big in all the ways that count. Big smoke, big bitter coffee and chocolate, big thick texture. Big, but actually not too insane abv at 7.8 % abv.

It is very classy, very smooth – the smoke is big, but rounded – an addition rather than an ash tray. It feels very mouth filling and very much well balanced – you feel like your mouth and been smeared with a sheen of coffee tasting oils.

It plays its elements very solidly in the middle of the smoked porter range, not unusual in what is delivered, but refined to within an inch of its life.

Smooth but not light, heavy flavour but not intrusive. This may not push boundaries, but it has learned from every lesson on how to do the job well. I wish I could say more about it, but I fear I would be repeating the standard porter spiel. Coffee heavy, smooth – it ties itself to the style impeccably.

A very nice beer and a great end to a great weekend.

Background: The end of Collabfest 2014! I can review other drinks now! Despite the staff reminding me , I forgot to get a photo of the board after they put this, final, beer up. Oops. This is smoked porter. Seems almost passé after all that came before. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Brewdog Alechemy Smoked In History

Brewdog: Alechemy : Smoked In History (Scotland: Smoked Porter: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of tight bubbled froth as a browned head.

Nose: Sour dough. Cigarette ash. Shortbread. Light salt.

Body: Sour dough. Smoke. Dried meat. Maybe dried beef and ham. Chalk. Roasted character. Slight salt. Some bitter coffee.

Finish: Dried ham. Charring. Slight salt and roasted character. Ash.

Conclusion: Drinking a bit of history. So, the question is, do I like history? That seems like quite a big question to contemplate over just a third of beer. So let’s go with something simpler and just see if I like the beer.

Well, while it is not a particularly heavy beer, it is very smoke dominated, or to be more accurate almost ash dominated. There isn’t a huge weight to it, but it isn’t lacking in an item to draw your interest.

It is also slightly soured, in a sour dough kind of fashion (which seems to be a common note in collabfest this year), so it has callings to the more grounded dark beers, as well as the ash. There is some coffee in the background, not as heavily as you would expect in a porter, and as mentioned that sour dough, but really, the smoke is the thing.

It isn’t to an insane level, never, say, Rauchbier style, and for all its smoke it is surprisingly drinkable. It is also, unfortunately, not exactly complex. You are getting a bit of a one trick pony. Still, that is better than not having a pony.

Ponies are their own reward.

Next up on lines I never thought I would write in a tasting note.

So, yes, it has a pony. Metaphorically speaking. It has a good quality and it uses it well. There is kind of other elements, a bit of dried meat – smoked of course – hardly a huge deviation from the other elements, so all part of the same…pony… meat.. thing….I should work on a new metaphor. Still, satisfactory overall.

I am starting to think my reviews get odd if I do too many in one weekend.

A decent brew that works its one trick well.

Background: Well, this has to come under oddest special ingredient of all time. This has been smoked with timber from The Discovery. Well, holy shit, that is quite epic. So, anyway, yeah, wow, that aside, this is the thirteenth beer on day two of the collabfest 2014! Thankfully I am not superstitious. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer.

Heretic Hazlenut Chocolate Porter

Heretic: Chocolate Hazelnut Porter (USA: Porter: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Medium sized milky coffee coloured head.

Nose: Milky chocolate. Praline. Hazelnuts. Marathon chocolate bar (Or Snickers for young ‘uns). Nougat.

Body: Very smooth texture. Milky coffee and bitter chocolate. Praline. Light hop prickle. Peanuts. Milk chocolate. Oatmeal. Toffee. Creamy, with chocolate liquore late on. Coffee.

Finish: Praline and nuts. Solid bitterness. Toffee. Creamy.

Conclusion: This is one smooth beer, like luxury chocolate pralines and ground up nuts smooth. It declares itself straight away in the aroma, which is half hot chocolate drink with praline, and half a melted marathon chocolate bar. It is big, thick, and absolutely makes you want to drink it.

The body then, is both awesomely smooth, and also not quite what you expect. From the aroma I expected a somewhat thicker body, almost nougat chewy style or thick hot chocolate, instead it is lighter – with massive flavour but it slips down very easily.

So, technically smooth is good, but it does clash with expectations, I anticipated something else. Lighter as it is, it feels almost weightless. Still, it is wonderful to drink, and with just a touch of bitter prickle to give it an edge over its very dessert like main imagery.

Bigger mouthfuls also give a bit more weight and a bit of toffee and cream flavour, amongst the nuts and high quality chocolate – however big mouthfuls are dangerous at 7% abv.

So, overall, very nice, with great rounded and luxurious flavours and great creaminess. While the lighter nature works against it initially, it does mean that it builds up over time and gains more grip – improving throughout the glass. By the end it is creamier again, and has quality coffee to match the chocolate, with nuts always present as a smooth mid note.

It is a hair breadth from being one of the top of the game – There is still something not quite there with the texture, but it is a very slight matter. Overall it is very high quality – well worth a drink even if it is just off the top few.

Background: Picked up from Independent Spirit. Seriously I say that so much it is becoming cliché. Anyway, oddly after picking up this bottle I found another Heretic Porter on tap at the Bath Brew House, and it was lovely. So I was looking forwards to this. The label describes how it won third place in a beer competition when it was first entered, then later beer of the show. So, I’m guessing they are proud of this beer. This was drunk with friends, and had a strange conversation on how praline is pronounced, which involved comparisons to Stalin…e at one point. We may have strange conversations when drinking.

Brewdog - U Boat

Victory: Brewdog: U-Boat (Scotland: Smoked Porter: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Small browned head that diminishes to islands. Still main body.

Nose: Smoke. Cured ham. Dry roasted peanuts. Beef brisket.

Body: Slight medicinal. Smoke. Dried beef. Light vanilla and caramel. Salt rocks. Dusty touch. Malt chocolate and coffee. Slight sour cream. Soft lemon underneath?

Finish: Bitter chocolate and smoke. Smoked beef. Light salt. Pulled pork. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, high concept review. This is Alice Porter, but smoked. Boom! Job done. You are welcome.

What? You haven’t drunk Alice Porter?

Fuck.

Guess I’d best do a proper review then.

Up front the smoked character is evident, lots of smoked meat, with even a slight salt rock character, reminiscent of Islay whisky style, but lighter. However under that is a solid porter, though the chocolate and coffee notes are actually quite at the back – informing the character without being the character. Instead there is that kind of sour cream character that Alice Porter had, backed by caramel sweetness which combines in a soft of salted caramel way with the main notes, a nice kind of swing to the beer.

So, we have here a smoked, salted caramel, porter chocolate and coffee, contrasted by sour cream kind of beer. Try saying that three times fast.

It is good. Surprisingly moreish for the high abv and the weight of flavour, that slightly cloying sour cream manages to make it very drinkable by taking off the edge of the harsher characteristics . The salt elements give it a nice tingle of harshness, but not too heavy – just enough to dry the mouth and make you want to indulge more.

An evolution, not a revolution of the style, but a very good one.

Background: You can ferment a porter with lager yeast? Apparently so. At least if you use smoked malt as well. This is the latest in a long line of Brewdog collaborations – as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Drunk while listening to Rise Against’s Endgame. Yes Rise Against are definitely growing on me.

Genghis Pecan

Clown Shoes: Genghis Pecan (USA: Porter: 7% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin brown dust of a head. On later pours a much larger brown froth.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Soft sweet nuts. Charring. Caramelized sugar.

Body: Peanut. Bitter chocolate. Brown sugar. Soft nuttiness mixes with a slightly acrid nuttiness. Slightly chalky. Slight milky coffee.

Finish: Charring. Bitter chocolate. Walnut. Bitter coffee. Chalky.

Conclusion: I have commented in the past about porters and stouts that have been such that “coffee” or “chocolate” seems an inadequate description of the flavours, due to the amount of layers covered by that one word. I never thought I would apply the same to nuts.

Maybe it could be because I am not overly knowledgeable about nuts. Especially pecan nuts. They are nuts right? Anyway, there seems to be a range of nuttiness here, from causal peanuts, slightly sugary sweet nut, to roasted harsh and acrid, to that slightly odd cashew style nuttiness.

So does that mean that this is the nut equivalent of Beer Geek Brunch Weasel? No. For one it is a porter, not an oatmeal imperial stout. More than that, well I don’t know if nuts just don’t benefit as much from the exploration, but it doesn’t feel as much fun, let alone as world class.

So, what is it then? A porter that leans towards the harsher end of the spectrum, roasted, charred and chalky, with even the chocolate and coffee coming in bitter. It is smooth of texture and manages to completely hide the alcohol whilst still being harsh of flavour. There is a delicate use of sweet nuttiness to keep in style but break from the harsher flavours, which helps call to the dessert pecan pie imagery.

The brown sugar and sweet nut rises over time, and the beer really needs that to keep it from getting too harsh and yet dull. It is kind of interesting in what it does as a beer, but not really special. Maybe nut fans will disagree with me, but it doesn’t excite. I think that it may be the chalkiness putting me off, the beer is harsh enough already and it doesn’t need the element for contrast. It just leaves it a bit dry and a bit off in the finish.

So, interesting, generally not bad, but not one that demands to be tried, unless you are nuts for nuts. The name, however, is awesome.

Background: After finding my first few experiences of Clown Shoes brewery to be ok but nothing special I asked around for recommendations of what stood out from the brewery. Of the names I heard back, the one that stood out was this, Genghis Pecan Pie Porter. A porter made with brown sugar and roasted pecans, it sounded like something to add a nice twist to a solid style. This was picked up from Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection. This is the 2013 bottling, drunk 2014. After I finished the review, I drank the rest while watching John Oliver’s section on the Ferguson situation – which I recommend everyone watch, it is both funny and painfully spot on. I realise while reviewing this that I really could not say what a pecan tastes like really.

Chilliplum Porter

Waen: Chilliplum Porter (Wales: Porter: 6% ABV)

Visual: Dark black with a small browned bubbled head.

Nose: Chilli seed. Coffee. Light spirit. Stewed dates. Malt chocolate.

Body: Chocolate liquore. Warmth if held for a while. Subtle plums. Figs. Bitter chocolate. Raisins. Molasses. Black cherry. A touch of candy floss. Vanilla. Toffee.

Finish: Warmth and chilli seeds. Bitter chocolate. Slight plums comes out. Black berry. Toffee.

Conclusion: My fellow tasters called this “weird”. I feel that I should attempt to be vaguely more professional and descriptive than that. This is an oddly well balanced beer. It uses a very chocolaty porter as the base – nothing too heavy or complex, but tasty enough. The beer is very simple in the aroma, you can get other elements if you dig around, but by that point you risk psychosomatic influences. Simple aroma, but competent enough in what it has.

The plums does its work in the mid body mainly, it is delivered very carefully along with other dark fruit sweetness and some candy sugars. At this point the beer pretty much has no warmth unless you go looking for it, but the fruit side is giving it a range of delicious flavour. The first sip won’t really bring it out, at about the quarter pint point is when I started getting the range of complexities.

Finally the warmth shows itself in the finish. The finish is simple, like the aroma, but warming – never hot- just a pleasant warmth. If you want a burning beer that will challenge you this is not it, the heat is just an element, along with all the others.

The combination of the three elements, base, plum and heat, is odd, but they are balanced excellently against each other. On each sip the weight and sweet fruit dims the heat from the tail end of the last. The three basic elements become a richly complex beer and more than the sum of its parts, and very easily drinkable at that.

I’d say while not the best chilli beer I have had, it is the best balanced, and very delectable.

Background: Second beer of the Cardiff Beer Festival 2014. This one stood out on the list as a self explanatory beer. It has plums. It has chilli. It is a porter. This was drunk while chatting with a few of the fellow festival goers. The guy serving me was enthusiastic about the beers, and due to it not been too busy yet, I was able to have a good chat while considering the options, which was nice.

Millenium Stadium

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