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Beer Review #268 Red Thunder

02-04-02 I have yet another barrel aged beer for review today. I only noticed today how many barrel aged beers that I have had in the past month or so. I still have a few more to review, but I’ll hold them off for some time. Today’s beer comes from my original favorite craft brewery, Victory Brewing Company. If for some reason all craft breweries were going to close and I could save one of them, it would be Victory. I’ve had one of their barrel aged beers before (and I have another in the fridge) but this is the first of their beers to be aged on red wine barrels.

Red Thunder is the same base beer as their Baltic Thunder, but aged in wine barrels. It comes in at 8.5%. Red Thunder pours a flat redish brown color. It has a thin off-white head that fades to just a layer on the top. The nose has a wine, tart smell. It was a “big beer” character to the smell. It isn’t overly malty in aroma and there isn’t any heat, but you can get the sense that this is a big beer.

On the first taste I got a slight sourness. I believe that the tart flavor is thanks to the wine barrel aging. As the tartness quickly faded away I was greeted by my old friend, Baltic Thunder. Red Thunder has a lot of porter qualities to it. The malty flavor gives way to some really nice roasty, chocolatey notes. The wine barrel aging really complimented this beer and added a nice twist.

I like this one and it makes me want to experiment with wine barrel aging on my own homebrews. There is a very nice mix of wine flavor and baltic porter. It’s not my favorite barrel aged beer in the world, but it does give me a few ideas for the future. Special thanks to my buddy Mike for sharing this one with me. (more…)

Beer Review #166 Fuller’s London Porter

The end of fall is usually my favorite time of year to drink porters. The “warm” days (compared to winter) and the cold nights make the humble porter the perfect style of beer for this time of year. Today’s beer comes all the way from Chiswick, London, brewed by the Griffin Brewery. I’m generally cautious of imports as they generally are not cared for properly during their transport, thus resulting in poor beer.

Fullers London Porter pours a nice brown to deep ruby color. There is a medium off-white head that goes along with it. The nose is what I expected from a porter; chocolate, roasty, malty, and hints of coffee. I didn’t get the slightest hint of hops on the nose.

On my first taste I was struck by the amazing balance of this beer. The chocolate, roasty, and bits of coffee that come through on the flavor just blend wonderfully. I really am impressed at the balance the three of these flavors represents. There isn’t one that outshines the others, but each is distinct. The mouthfeel of this beer is creamy, which helps it go down all the better.

This porter comes in at 5.4% so you aren’t going to kill yourself drinking a few of these. I really liked this one and I am already looking forward to my next trip to the beer store to buy more, a rarity for me. This is a pretty common beer so it shouldn’t be too big of a hassle to get. If you haven’t had this one yet, go get it. (more…)

Beer Review #165 George Washington’s Tavern Porter

Being a native Philadelphian, now living in Delaware, I try to support the local breweries. Yards Brewing Company of Philadelphia is one of the breweries that I try to buy from on a more regular basis. They are quickly becoming “Philadelphia’s brewery,” and for good reason. This is my first review of Yards on this site, but I have had their beers on a number of occasions and I have found them to be pretty enjoyable.

My first experience with Yards was in college when I purchased a variety pack from them. Something was wonder with their bottling line as all of my beers were over-carbonated and gushed out of the bottle. Soon after this happened I tried a six pack from them and everything was as it should have been. It wasn’t a great first impression, but even with the problems, the beer tasted good.

My father-in-law gave me a bottle of George Washington’s Tavern Porter not too long ago and told me to give t a try. This beer is part of their “Ales of the Revolution” series. Great name. This porter is modeled after a recipe that was supposed to be George Washington’s own.

The porter pours a dark brown and has a nice light head as well. The nose is tick and malty. There is some slight roast in there along with lots of chocolate. On my first taste I was happy to find that my nose didn’t lie about the flavors in the beer.

Chocolate was found in excess, along with some slight roast on the back-end of the beer. There was some hop character to this beer, which I believe was Fuggles. The hops gave a slight, but nice hop kick at the end. This is a “chewy” feeling beer without being chewy. The creaminess that is found in the mouthfeel really works with all of the flavors.

I really dig this beer and I’m looking forward to the next time that I get to try it. It is a wonderfully drinkable beer that is rich in flavor, but not filling, like a stout might be. I really want to have this on a cold winter night. (more…)

Beer Review #157 Sam Adams Holiday Porter

Another day, another beer from Boston Beer Company. I recently purchased Sam Adam’s Winter Seasonal pack and in addition to the normal Boston Lager and Winter Lager they had a few other fun seasonal beers. I reviewed their Old Fezziweg early last year, but I haven’t had a chance to partake in their other winter beers. I will spend the remainder of the week taking a look at the other three beers in the variety pack.

Today’s beer is Boston Beer’s Holiday Porter. A porter is a perfect beer for this time of year. They generally are not heavy, but provide some solid malt and roasty character that can warm you up on a cold night. The beer pours a deep ruby color and has a light tan head. The nose is packed with smell. I found lots of caramel and toffee, which was then followed by some coffee notes. There are some slight noble hops in there as well. Finally I found some slight chocolate notes that were really nice.

Just as the nose promised, this beer is complex and deep. There is a lot of rich caramel with some solid chocolate. There is a nice interaction between the hops and malt where the malt leads in, is cut a bit by the hops, but still is a big player. As soon as you think that this beer isn’t going to have a hop kick to balance it out, the dry finish comes in and takes care of any sweetness.

I really liked this one. I am generally not super impressed with porters, but I enjoyed this one greatly. I would love to have this on a blustery November night while sitting with a good book. For such a complex beer, this one also comes off as being simple. It really opens up on each sip. (more…)

Beer Review #134 Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter

Now if that isn’t one of the longest names for a beer ever I don’t know what is. Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter is brewed by Otter Creek Brewing of Middlebury, Vermont. The actual brewer of this beer is a bit of a mystery to me. Wolaver’s Organic Brewing is the brewery that this beer is named for, but I believe that it is owned by Otter Creek. Perhaps it is a separate brand of Otter Creek, kind of like how Blue Moon Brewing Company is a subset of Coors. Nomenclature aside, I tried their Oktoberfest last year and wasn’t a big fan of it, but I have had a few other beers of theirs and enjoyed them quite a bit.

Alt Gracia Coffee Porter is a certified organic beer and the label says it is, “brewed with coffee and vanilla beans.” Shocking, a coffee beer brewed with coffee! This porter pours a nice black color and has a thin tan head. I couldn’t tell if it was clear or not since it was so dark but clarity don’t make a whole hill of beans to me. Call it a homebrewer’s mentality. The nose has lots of rick coffee coming off of it. There is some dark bitter chocolate in there as well. The vanilla does make an appearance, but it isn’t overly strong. Thank God. Overall I would describe the smell of this beer as “earthy.”

On the first taste I was surprised at how smooth this beer is. All of the components flow nicely and evenly. There is a good amount of coffee and chocolate but they are not overpowering in anyway. This beer still has a porter feel. When I was drinking this porter I felt like it had a “milk shake” quality to it. I’m not sure how to describe that feeling, but drinking this beer reminded me of a watery milk shake. Chocolate.

This beer was wonderfully drinkable. Lots of bold flavors but they stayed restrained enough as to not take over or take away from the rest of the beer. This porter comes in at 5% ABV and I think it could be a great beer to have on the coming crisp fall days. If you are a fan of coffee beersĀ  I think this one could be right up your ally. (more…)