Ah yes! Another visit to Portertown with your friendly neighborhood reviewer……ME!
I know what you are thinking: ‘Hey beer man! We have been down this road before. I don’t need any more esoteric reviews about porters. I want something else’.
Well, first off there are only a finite amount of beer styles out there. Secondly, lighter beers typically taste the same to me, hence me not exploring them more often. Thirdly, porters are a great beer for this season, that season being fall. And finally, stop complaining and just read on!!
As stated in earlier posts, porters are the fine dark malty friends of the beer spectrum. You can do a lot with porters; inject a roasted taste, integrate more creative tastes such as peanut, coconut, peppermint, pecans, etc., or you can play it straight and subtlety fiddle around with balances of malt, hops, and alcohol.
Anyway, I like porters. This is not to say they are good to drink at any time. They are filling and are usually heavy. But as far as variation and sophistication of taste, porters are to beer as reds are to wine.
So let’s look at five quaffs that you may or may not want to try out:
1. Hi-Fi - Porter
5.1% ABV 40 IBU
Straight out of Redmond (the home of Microsoft) comes this….well….porter. You want to know why I know this is a porter? Well, check out the name; Porter. Such an apropos name for a porter, huh? So the question is ‘Is this a good porter?’. Well, it is worthy of the name ‘Porter’ because it is a porter by definition. But in a way this doesn’t deserve the name because this beer is far from the quintessential porter that defines all that is porter. It is average. It has a rather thick texture, almost like motor oil, and really feels more like a stout than a porter. So on third thought, the name ‘Porter’ is completely ill-founded. So if you want a porter, don’t get the ‘Porter’.
2. Anchor - Porter
5.6% ABV No IBU
Based out of San Francisco, Anchor is brewery I have not had much of. This may have to do to the fact I do not live in San Francisco. Anyway, another incredibly creative name ‘Porter’. So how does this one measure up to its name? Well, this beer is a really sweet with chocolate and toffee overtones. Sounds pretty delicious, huh? Eh, it sort of is……….not. It has that dreaded prune juice taste that some porters and stouts get when they ‘go sweet’. The fact there are no IBU’s means there really in no balance in this brew. This is more of a porter than the aforementioned beer named ‘Porter’ but neither live up to the level of what I expect in a porter.
3. Cloudburst - Totally Oatally
5.6% ABV 30 IBU
Ahh, Cloudburst; the brewery that went rogue from Elysian. We can discussed this before and it is an interesting tale. So how is this splinter cell performing without big brother Elysian helping out? They are good. Really good. There is one issue though: Cloudburst says they make a beer, run out, and never make it again. Say what? Yeah. So when they make a good beer, this is short term. Is this a stupid idea? Of course it is. Unless you have a mediocre beer. Such is the case with the Totally Oatally. I really like oatmeal porters, so there was potential aplenty. But there was not much aplenty about this. It is weak, watery, and zero aftertaste. The overall taste is not bad, I mean it is an oatmeal. But wow, what a missed opportunity. So just dump this one, Cloudburst, and give another go at this one.
4. Pacific Brewing and Malting Co - Grit City
6.7% ABV 37 IBU
Look at Tacoma, trying to play with the big boys up north. Tacoma has made a dent in the craft beer world here in Seattle, but alas this offering from Pacific Brewing is more gently nudging the world with little consequence. I mean this is not a bad beer; strong smokey taste and has all the necessary elements of a reasonable porter, but it is just so……typical. Again, the smokey motif is pretty nice, but wears off after a few sips and then you are left with a generic run-of-the-mill porter. Grit City….more like For-grit City. ZING!!!
5. Boulder Brewing - Shake Chocolate Porter (Nitro)
5.9% ABV 39 IBU
Finally we have something that is a bit different and interesting. The Shake Chocolate Porter is what it says; shakey, chocolatey, and portery. Of course there is more to it. There is a nice smooth caramel element to it and well as hints of mint. Being a nitro also means it has tiny little bubbles, which smooths out the experience. I like this beer. I may be overrating it a bit because the other ones were soooooooo booooooring. But I think this one is a cut above there rest. Sure, I have had better porters (and thank you for asking). This one is a bit thin on the back end and not as robust as the better porters I have had. But there is a nice taste to it and deserves to be recognized above the other beers today. Thank you Colorado for once again producing a quality fare.