hellbilly (3249) - scottsdale über alles, Arizona, USA - FEB 28, 2012
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
12/2/11 borderlands vanilla porter at sonoran glass studio charity event... and many more after.
Super dark. Nice mellow vanilla notes on top of a rich roasty porter. Light ash. Very nice. Rich but dry. Not sweet=nice in a vanilla porter! 8/4/8/4/16+
daknole (8329) - Scottsdale, Arizona, USA - FEB 24, 2012
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Damn right this is awesome! Nice dark brown pour, tan head. Aroma of vanilla, brownie batter, chocolate. Flavor is sweet, brownies, fudge, cocoa, just badass. Awesome stuff!
BOLTZ7555 (2656) - Phoenix, Arizona, USA - FEB 19, 2012
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Sampled at the AZ Strong Beer Fest. Brown bordering black pour with a chestnut head. Nose of heavy vanilla, cocoa, roasted coffee, and brown sugar. Flavor also shows freshly split vanilla bean, brownie, fudge, and coffee. Fairly creamy mouthfeel. Not bad.
FlacoAlto (3737) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - JAN 28, 2012
3.3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
A vigorous pour from the growler produces a thick, two to three finger thick, well browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is quite black in appearance. Huge, over-the-top aromas of vanilla leap out of my glass; so much that this beer smells sticky sweet. Subtle porter notes are till noticeable in the finish though contributing a nice toasted nuttiness, milk chocolate and perhaps a hint of sweet coffee liquor. The sweetness and vanilla aromas become increasingly dominant as the beer warms up.
The beer has quite a bit more body than I was expecting from the websites description, rich bodied, though not quite cloying, there is a definite viscous quality to the texture and it certainly has some heft to it as it slides across the palate. The vanilla is of course the dominant flavor here, expressively so, but the base beer comes through a touch more than it does in the aroma. Porter flavors of roasted, coffee-like, burnt brown sugar, roasted lactose and somewhat burnt milk chocolate are all fairly noticeable, though clearly in a supporting role. As the beer warms up the vanilla really starts to accentuate the sweetness, this beer even becomes a bit cloying; this is most definitely a dessert-type beer. There is perhaps a hint of tartness to this beer, this is likely contributed by the ample roast malt / grain that is mostly hidden by the dominating vanilla character.
This beer is nothing likes its commercial description:
“There’s a huge misnomer that dark beers are heavy and bitter, and Borderlands is out to change this perception with Noche Dulce. Noche Dulce is smooth and light”.
While it certainly is not bitter, this is most definitely a sweet tasting, thick, dessert beer; I am actually quite glad about this, as I was a bit worried that a dry, light porter with ample vanilla just wouldn’t quite work. You definitely have to like vanilla to like this beer; it reminds me quite a bit of Southern Tier’s Crème Brulee, it is quite a bit of a smaller beer and this is most definitely a good thing as this beer manages to not be so over the top cloying and almost gross in its sweetness. One can actually drink a pint or two of this beer quite easily (at least if you like vanilla), and I am certainly enjoying this beer, even more than I thought I would. It might just be that this beer is actually more balanced at really cold temperatures; at least at temperatures I don’t usually prefer, I would almost suggest 40*F or cooler for this beer if you are after more of the base beer character. This is most definitely a “one” note beer, it has just enough supporting character to make it work, but this is all about the vanilla.
bignate (5) - - JAN 16, 2012 does not count
3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
Pint on tap at Borderlands tasting room in Tucson, Friday the 13th of January, 2012. Thin, tan, relatively short-lived head on dark, low carbonation beer. The nose promises a lot of vanilla (not much else is present there), and brew delivers. There’s so much vanilla in both the nose and the taste that calling the brew one-dimensional might be a valid criticism. If you love vanilla beers as much as I do, though, then this is more of a strength than a weakness. More on the taste: after the initial, somewhat mineralic open characteristic of most porters, the vanilla breaks through, and dominates the rest of each sip, complemented by subtle coffee and roasty notes. Smooth, but not remarkably so, on the palate, without any remarkable lingering notes. I’m a big fan of vanilla porters and other sweet dark beers. That said, this beer has dethroned Breckenridge’s Vanilla Porter as my favorite porter. Here’s to hoping that I get another look at Noche Dulce in the future.