jcwattsrugger (12401) - Florida and, New Jersey, USA - MAY 29, 2006
3.2 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
on tap-pours a tan head with black color. Aroma is dark malt. Taste is dark malt, roasty, licorice, alcohol. Full body. Nice. Occasional.
ClarkVV (6542) - Boston, Massachusetts, USA - APR 24, 2006
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Batch 2 draught, 4/21/06 at the brewpub in an oversized snifter. This batch is listed at 8.2% abv.
Opaque or near opaque deep coal black body with a rocky, light-tan colored head that is fairly dense, but also very small and begins to fade to partial cover almost immediately. It is held there, with a ring to match, on the edge. Little to no lacing, unfortunately, probably due in part to the heavy black malt.
Somewhat reserved, subtle nose nonetheless quickly expresses a broad range of dark malt character. As I see from Chris and Jeffís ratings of the last batch, this one seems to be similar in that regard. Lightly singed wood, with debittered black malt dryness, burnt toast and some minor black pepper/cinnamon phenols. Vinousness is very controlled in the nose, only a light currant skin poignancy upon warming. Profound, crunchy black coffee, crusty brown bread and dark chocolate are all held together in a lightly lactic acid-meets-vanilla cream gracefulness that smooths out the roughness of the black malts and creates, overall, a very soft, chalky, dry aroma. However, as with Portsmouthís recent Baltic Porter, I also find the black malts to be a little dull on the nose, holding back much of the sweetness and energy of the beer. Iíd like to see some notes that Zywiec used to display (maple, toffee, creamy oats) as well as more dark fruits to really stretch the aroma and carry it farther. Plus, from a large snifter glass, fresh on draught, the aroma is not exactly strong.
Moving to the flavor, Iím impressed with what Jeff calls a "plastery" yeast. Thatís almost exactly how I would describe it (though I wouldnt have thought of nearly as good a way to describe it as that), with plenty of chalky smoothness on the palate, a strong sense of dry coffee, light anise and fresh cream all playing about in balance. The finish crackles with roast, cigars, brown bread, vanilla-flavored TUMS and short jabs of brightly flavored currants and dark grapes. Iím not kidding about the TUMS suggestion, it really feels as if there is Calcium in this thing, itís got such a paste-like, chalky smoothness that soothes the palate. Perhaps a bit too heavy? It might serve to dull some of the brighter flavors; fruits, roast, hops, etc...What I donít get from this batch is any strong toffee or nougat that Jeff reports from the last batch. In fact, itís quite dry, with only some faint caramel and cream-like sugars. Though it did sweeten somewhat as it warmed. Carbonation is very low, alcohol is completely unapparent.
The brewer said he didnít think they would bottle any of this, and they arent selling it in growlers either, so get down to the brewery.
OldGrowth (3463) - the Containment Area, North Carolina, USA - JUN 5, 2005
3.9 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Bottle, from Brewpub. Good nose, Soy sauce, chocolate, peat, molasses, little birch or some kind of wood. Nice dark brownish black color. Little to no head. Bitter sweet flavors, Malty. Same as aromas, with licorace too. Thicker body, creamy oily mouthfeel, bitter sweet finish, leaves like a cocoa powder feeling on my tounge. Nice brew, Iím liking the Baltic porter catagory more and more.
cquiroga (371) - Tujunga, California, USA - DEC 5, 2004
4.3 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
12/5/04. Poured out of 22 oz. bottle, shared with some random guy at the Pizza Port Strong Ale Fest in Carlsbad, CA 12/5/04. Holy shit. I just heard of this beer a couple days prior when TAR and cb rated it, and it escalated to the top of my "must try" list. Considering its relative anonymity, I NEVER would have guessed Iíd have it rated by the end of the week. 2003 brew, thrown together in a 22 oz. bottling that looks like some sort of special favor-- sharpie scribbles with the name written over what seems to be a keg sticker. Dark brown in color with a rocky head and burgundy-brown edging. Decent retention but weak lacing on the rocky head. Iím sure the carbonation would have been better in its prime/on draft, but Iíll take it if I can get it. Not a huge detraction. Aroma has some cinnamon, light earthiness and a fantastic medley of all the medium-dark malt characters I can think of-- oft-neglected recollections like black truffle, earthy vanilla, touches of light licorice and peat, and dry dark malt. Flavor brings a light roastiness with a touch of wood, hints of smoke and light leather, and a return of many points of reference from the nose. Only mildly disappointing (in relative terms) because thereís not quite the layering of the aroma. Wonderfully subtle and delicate. Mouthfeel is fantastic-- lightly chalky and dry; long finish with fabulous cooling sensation throughout. The one big frustration was the lack of carbonation and the head, but it didnít take anything away from the lovely cool mouthfeel. Iíd imagine this beer is mind-blowing in its perfect form. Hell of a porter. Thanks, random guy!
cb (810) - Roeland Park, Kansas, USA - NOV 29, 2004
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
Creamy mocha aroma with a nutty backdrop. Assertive plum and woody notes that bring out a beautiful bittersweet chocolate nose. Vinous body filled with cardamom and cinnamon. Semidry roasted, peppery licorice finish. So so tasty.
TAR (2732) - Marshall (Asheville area), North Carolina, USA - NOV 29, 2004
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
2003 issue: Mahogany-cast ebony. Dull mocha foam ring of teeny-sized bubbles. Glorious aroma of cream-filled pastry, earthy roast, dried currants, vinous Port, and custard. Lightly oxidized with vanilla, nougat, smoke, and bittersweet chocolate hints. Trace cinnamon ester as well. Silky, oily body. Mellow carbonation. Remarkably polished and focused, upfront, showcasing a thick custard flavor alongside charred sugar and smoky undertones. Beefy body from the scant carbonation and the plastery yeast flavor and thickness. Well-masked alcohol. Teasing interplay of roasted grains, robust char dryness, and oxidation, which intensifies the char. Anise and cinnamon accompany a mild leathered fruit twang and black licorice tingle. Sumptuous center of chewy toffee and creamed nougat gives way to a rich roast and bittersweet chocolate profusion, which eternally lingers. This may be perfect if not for the notable air seepage, which has clearly lessened the carbonation and allowed oxidation to set in. Bottling-line issue? Stylish and highly authentic, nevertheless. Thx, michmike!
muzzlehatch (4942) - Beloit, Wisconsin, USA - MAR 17, 2004
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
22 oz bomber, bottled a couple of months ago. Pours a thick molasses color, with a minimal fine dark brown head. Strong, complex nose is by turns grapy, molasses/raisiny, anise-inflected. Very nice! Very sweet and decadently rich on the tongue, at first fruity (cherry-raisin-grape), somewhat caramelly with hints of vanilla in the middle, and then finishing with one of the most incredible bursts of chocolaty richness that I've ever experienced. On the level of Mackeson and Youngs Double Chocolate, that's how rich it is. Port wine notes throught, a slight dollop of herbal character, just a hint of finishing roastiness, and you have an absolutely phenomenal porter that verges into the sweeter side of Imperial stout-land. I don't mind the low carbonation much, but if it has a flaw that's it. Nitpicking; this is phenomenal stuff.
dirtymike (2016) - Manchester, New Hampshire, USA - DEC 29, 2003
4.5 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
Black with a tan head.Cherry/wood/malty/sweet aroma.Molasses,caramel,spicy hops,starts sweet finishes dry and malty with a warming alcohol feel.
goz (358) - Chelmsford, Massachusetts, USA - DEC 9, 2003
4.7 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
Winner of the Brewmasters Choice as best in show at the 2003 Boston homebrewers competition - brewed at WCBC by Paul Zocco.
Pours a deep black from which no light can escape. The head is small and brown, and laces nicely. Aroma is huge, with dark roasted malts, some dark fruitiness, a hint of chocolate, and some anise. Flavor is equally large, coffee, dark fruits, cherry, some anice, and a good spicy finish. Body is as full as full can be, slight bits of alcohol came through in the end. A truly superb beer, I gotta get back to WC and get me another growler (or 2) of this stuff.