FlacoAlto (3849) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - OCT 29, 2007
3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
My growler of this beer, with a little bit of rousing, pours with an initially fat-two-finger thick, dusty chocolate cream color that leaves some nice lacing on the sides of my glass. The beer is quite dark, definitely opaque and so close to black I am having a hard time saying it is not. The aroma is most noticeably smoky; in fact it seems characteristic of malt smoked over beech wood (rauch malz). Underneath the smoke is an interesting sweet, fruitiness; this is not always noticeable, but at times is distinctly noticed as sweetened raisins. That last is actually quite fleeting and now that I am looking for it I am having a hard time picking it out of the other aromatic components. Lots of rich malt aromatics linger around in the nose too; Aromas of toasted malt, touches of black coffee, roasted grain dust and perhaps a touch of liquorice.
Lightly sweet tasting, which accentuates notes of burnt prunes and roasted raisins. This fruit character plays second fiddle to the dark & smoke malt character though. The roasted malt flavors play a much bigger role, in comparison to the smoke flavors, than the aroma would have suggested. In fact the roasted character of this beer is the dominant flavor contributor; flavors of espresso, darkly toasted malt flower, toasted bread crust and a significant, though not overwhelming burnt acidity. This acidity from the roasted grain lingers on in the finish a bit (like the slightly acrid, sharp bit found in a dark roasted pull of espresso), it is tempered a bit by some malt sweetness, notes of chocolate and some sweet smoke flavors. The smoke for the most part plays a secondary supporting role here in the flavor. It is noticeable at all flavor points during a draught of this ale and serves as a nice foil for the roast grain flavors. Somehow it does meld and even accentuate the residual malt sweetness found in the beer. I nice mouthfeel to this beer and the body has a certain heft to it that allows the malt to cling to the palate. Medium full feeling, especially up front and through the middle; the roast acidity serves to lighten the fullness of this beer a bit starting in the middle through to the finish.
I like the heft of this beer, it could perhaps use a touch more body to offset the heavily roasted flavors, but it is almost where it needs to be. As someone who loves smoked beers, I could wish for a touch more smoke character to, but it certainly plays a significant role here (especially in the aroma). While I find that it is generally so, the contribution of the smoke to the perception of sweetness in this brew is definitely notable (this is certainly not an overly sweet beer though, it is just interesting that I am specifically noticing the interaction between smoke & perceived sweetness). I definitely can’t wait to try the barrel aged versions of this beer; I am almost quite curious to see how a beer of this heft will stand up to and not be overwhelmed by the various barrel types. This is quite a nice beer & I am certainly enjoying the ability to quaff a couple pints of this brew.
egajdzis (5576) - Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, USA - OCT 26, 2007
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
UPDATED: OCT 28, 2007 Poured a dark brown red color with a small, tan head that left light lacing on the glass. Aroma of roasted malt, chocolate, and light smoke. Taste of chocolate, anise, smoked malts, and roast. Simple, and vague among their barrel aged series.
jcwattsrugger (11560) - Florida and, New Jersey, USA - OCT 17, 2007
3 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
on tap-pours a big cascading, creamy light brown head and black color. Aroma is chocolate-dark malt, roasty. Taste is coffee/anise/ chocolate-dark malt, roasty, secondary bitter/acidic hops.
goldtwins (4320) - Nesconset, New York, USA - AUG 23, 2007
3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Tap @ Capt. Lawrence. Poured black with a tan head. It had a nice milk chocolate aroma with some good roast. The aroma was semi-sweet. The flavor was roasty with some dark chocolate bitterness on the finish. Dry. Not much in the way of smoke but very good.
malrubius (2098) - Springfield, Vermont, USA - AUG 3, 2007
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: JUN 7, 2008 Draft at Blind Tiger Alehouse (late June ’07 from notes). Opaque black with lasting tan ring. Smoke and roasted chocolate aroma. Bittersweet chocolate, raisiny, and smoke flavors. Slight tartness in finish. Medium-full body. Yum.
re-rate on tap at the brewery 6/6/08. Excellent. Black with lasting light brown head. Rich chocolate smokiness in aroma. Pronounced wood smoke in flavor with roasted chocolate and medium bitterness. Bravo.
JCB (3999) - Durham, North Carolina, USA - JUL 27, 2007
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Enjoyed from a growler (provided by an estimable gentleman from "the other site"). This beauty is a rich, oily, inky brown, with just the faintest traces of ruby visible in the body. Nice fluffy head. The foundation is a very nice porter, with full roasted malt flavor, a pleasantly thick body (but still drinkable), and some strong notes of chocolate, maybe just a hint of licorice like the brewery’s description says. The smoke is very subtly integrated into the fine brew, and is not very prominent. I’d like it to be just a tad more present, but that’s not a major complaint. Basically, this is a grand porter, bold but drinkable, robust but balanced.
Gr0ve (2177) - Oslo, NORWAY - JUL 22, 2007
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Draught at Gingerman NYC. Pitch black. Small beige head. Rounded and roasted malt character with a subtle bacon-like smoke character. Quite refreshing when it enters the mouth. Medium carbonation level. Nicely balanced. The smoke character is quite restrained, but balances the soft roasted malts. Very soft flavours, and very drinkable hadn’t it been for the alcohol content.
JB175 (1665) - Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA - JUL 2, 2007
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Draft @ Blind tiger - I was pretty upset that CL was out of this one during my visit, but this definitely makes up for it. Dark brown with a nice tan head. Aroma of soft chocolate, a bit of cream and smoke. Taste is very sweet with chocolate-candy tastes, a bit of smoke with roasty-sweet malts. Not as "smoky" as expected, but a solid overall porter.
rudolf (2343) - Buffalo, New York, USA - JUN 30, 2007
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Nearly black ruby. Nose is cocoa, roasted marshmallow, some dusty fruit. Flavor is dry cocoa, more marshmallow, a hint of toffee/caramel. Cocoa & slight coffee in the finish. A wonderful porter.
MullMan (1099) - New York, USA - JUN 28, 2007
3.9 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
on tap at the blind tiger, nyc. blakc bdy, tall super pillowy light brown head that was overflowing. aroma is molasses, a bit smoky, root beer, and roasted malt. flavor is molasses, chocolate roasted malt, faintly smoky, and also more root beer. finish gets a little bitter dry and slightly hoppy. aftertaste has some bitterness and dry baking chocolate.