Tag Archives: Porter

Berkshire Brewing Drayman’s Porter

Berkshire Brewing Co.
South Deerfield, MA
Drayman’s Porter
6.2% ABV / 36 IBU

Holy hell, it has been too long. I am back, I swear it. It’s not that I haven’t been drinking – I have! A lot! As much as I can. Inspiration struck the other night, and a bomber of this stuff in the fridge was just calling to me. “Open me,” it said. “Drink me, and enjoy. But share it with the world. With all your countless fans.”

“I will, talking beer,” I said. “I will.”

This beer lets in no light, save for what trickles in from the top as the honey-colored head subsides. All but black, the muddy brown curtain obscures any view of the gentle carbonation.

A few of these and you'll need to carried

A few of these and you’ll need to be carried.

The nose has caramel, milk chocolate, and the cold smell of a concrete floor – like a garage or basement that has been cleaned but is perpetually damp. Some minor vegetal aromas appear, but are overpowered by the cool sweetness.

The first sip starts smoothly, with very little carbonation. There is a softness, but no coating of the mouth or acrid bitterness from the toasted grains. The sides of the tongue get touched with some sparkling but evanescent green hop bitterness, but everything gets ironed out to the back of the palate with chocolate milk, sourdough, and a touch of mocha.

I may have served the first pour a bit too cold, but it’s an easy drinker and a smooth 6.2 percent, which lacks any of the roasted char and sticky alcohol apparent in so many bulkier US porters.

Meantime London Porter

Meantime Brewing Co.
London, England
London Porter

Meantime is a fairly young brewery, starting in the last eight years. It has only just started to come to the US, and I am fortunate enough to have procured a couple of bottles. It is because of this new distribution, I would think, that the company mentions on their label about George Washington’s love of English beer (until 1769, at least).

The beer is, as a proper porter should be, extremely lively (as you can see by the photo) and pours an opaque, slightly garnet, deep dark chocolate. The head is enormous – two finger widths easy – and is a beautiful medium tan color. It loiters thanks to turbulent carbonation that can just barely be seen through the marvelous murk.

The aroma is bittersweet chocolate, chewy carob, and just a faint hint of cinnamon. There is a hint of hops in a tempered, wet tobacco leaf smell that makes you really imagine that this beer has legs.

The flavor is far less full than you might think, though the mouthfeel is better than average. On the whole, the sip is exceptionally smooth: not too roasted, not too sweet. Carob comes through, as does a slightly sweet dark chocolate feel. The faintest touch of plum is egged on by the lightness of the thing, like fruit flesh. The effervescence that seemed to be roiling in the bottom of the glass has calmed down considerably, washing the cool velvet across the palate and making you totally oblivious to the 6.5% that this big bottle brings.

This is an absolutely gorgeous porter. With so many Imperial varieties of porters around, it’s a real treat to try something like this, complex and strong, yet lean and unassuming. Take your time with this one – you could even stick it on your shelf for a few months – and enjoy it like you would any other porter or even stout. The site recommends pairing it with oysters, sounds good to me. Lovely.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter

Atwater Block Brewery
Detroit, MI
Vanilla Java Porter

This is a not-quite-opaque beer, some deep chocolate color flashes at the sides of the glass when held to the light. A light tan head settles quickly to a frothy blanket across the top, and effervescence seems fine from what can be seen looking down into dark brew.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter

The nose certainly gives off a strong vanilla aroma, a bit like cookie dough, with a slight astringent, burnt coffee smack at the back. Also present is some almond and what seems to be a very sweet maltiness.

The mouthfeel is interesting, starting off a bit thin, with very little carbonation, then puffing up a bit before relaxing into some more severe flavors.

Initially, coffee flavor fills the mouth like steam, giving the idea of coffee without assaulting the taste buds. What follows is a slight hint of vanilla, which is rapidly dispersed by some deep cherry notes – almost like Maraschino. The end of the swallow yields some alcohol warmth, but it is a bit overly-sweet like rich plum jam, or pureed prune. I’ve never had pureed prune, but I can imagine.

It’s not a fantastic example of a porter; there is very little roasted malt character here. The vanilla and coffee idea is a decent one for a breakfast beer, let’s say, but it needs to be toned down a bit. Both flavors flex their muscles a bit too much. A brew like this should be velvety smooth.

It’s more daring than most, so kudos for that, but it’s a bit syrupy for my liking. It seems that ABB brews with real beans (coffee and vanilla), so maybe both are just a bit too powerful to use in such quantities.

Don’t serve this too cold or, if you do, let it warm a bit before enjoying it and it should mellow a bit.

Sea Dog Riverdriver Porter

Pugsley Brewing Co.
Portland, ME
Sea Dog Riverdriver Porter

Another from the Shipyard/Pugsley line, Sea Dog has some interesting brews, if not one of the cuter labels. This Riverdriver claims a hint of hazelnut and also Willamette hops, so I am certainly eager to give it a whirl.

Like many porters, this one is lively into the glass and foams up with a inch of billowy tan head that settles slowly. The color is a deep dark brown with good clarity, but it is dark and the light that passes through the edges highlights a deep red grape purple.

The nose is roasty malt with a creamy milk back that has a hint of fresh, not roasted, hazelnuts. There are hints of cranberry or cherry, with a good deal of dark chocolate that persists.

The mouthfeel is good, and the flavor really comes through as a melting piece of milk choclate. The slight fruitiness is the first noticeable flavor, a tartness that his assisted by the Willamette hops. But through the end of the swallow, the chocolate is really the main ingredient on the palate. The hazelnut is a bit of an afterthought – a good thing in my opinion – and one that contributes nicely, creating a great bitter porter.

Many porters come across as too sweet or, perhaps, too rasited. This one is a nice balance between bitter and sweet and, as a porter, won’t overload your palate either.