Nose: Earthy, peaty. Chocolate, caramel, malt, smokey, like roasted walnuts.
Mouth: Medium body. Silky smooth, slightly creamy. Very mellow and quiet hops. Chocolate and caramel throughout. Hoppy tinge to the chocolate and caramel aftertaste.
Wow. Porters are usually a hit or miss for me. Most people prefer the stouts for a dark beer because they are strong. But stouts are really porters that were double porters or extra stout. Go ahead, look it up you Guinness snobs. Stouts are a type of porter. They usually have extra of everything to give them a very bold flavor.
Porters are usually fairly strong and there is a whole complex history that I’m not going to get in to here. What you basically need to know is that these beers are typically dark and hearty with a very complex bouquet and flavor profile. They can be fairly mild (for a porter) as a single stout porter or they can be a bit more robust like a double stout porter(that’s what Guinness is), they can be a triple stout porter which is a fairly acquired taste even for the “initiated” of sorts and then there are the Imperial Stouts. All are porters, all are dark and even the single stout which are weak in comparison to the other stouts, are stronger than what most beer drinkers are used to. Given that this is a porter and as such is a single stout, the actual stout category refers to double stout porters but is commonly called stouts.
This Coal Porter is no different. However, unlike other porters, I cannot recall another such complex and hearty single stout as this. The beer pours very dark. Actually, extremely dark. I have to hold it up to a 75 watt or better lightbulb and it has to be quite close to that light see any coloration through it. The head is even dark and is rather brown, like coffee with cream or that foam your engine oil makes when you get water in it.
The nose is strong. As soon as you open the bottle you don’t even need your face near it to get the chocolate and caramel coming out of it. Get it near your nose and you are rewarded with a smokey, peaty, earthy aroma not unlike a good scotch but there is that definitive chocolate and caramel there with a hearty, nutty aroma…much like roasted walnuts. It knocked my socks off the first time I had one of these. Who knew that such an unassuming brew could be so…so…so…I don’t even know what to say.
Take a sip though and great googly moogly! There’s so much to sort out that you just have to keep taking another sip to see what you missed. Before you know it, half your beer is gone! You can’t even enjoy the first bottle because you’re so stuck on finding everything you can in that flavor profile. It’s complex, deep, dark, smokey and downright haunting. You’re gonna think about it for a while…maybe even a few days like me.
So, before anybody goes jumping all over me (I’m lookin’ at you Guinness Nazis and your pedestrian brew), let me make this clear. I am talking about porters here as in single stout porters. Not double, not triple, imperial, oatmeal or whatever your favorite stout is. Just porters. Out of all the porters I have had, this is probably my most favorite and likely the best porter I have ever had.
As a beer, this falls a little short…I think. There’s great malt flavor and it’s incredibly complex. Hell, it even laces the glass with the best of them! It’s a flat out good beer. Even a great a beer. Ah, hell, screw it. Look, I can’t find a fault with this beer. This is a hidden gem of a brew.
I have nothing negative to say about it except that it’s VERY hard to find in my area. You want to try the best porter you can buy? This is it. Get yourself as much as you can when you find it. Then go home, leave the single malt scotch in the cabinet, grab a nice cigar, put some jazz on the turntable or even Cole Porter himself! Pour a glass, sit back and relax. Repeat until the beer is gone or you are. Whichever comes first. Just make sure you don’t set yourself on fire with that cigar.