Thursday, June 16, 2011

Custom Brewcrafters - Double Dark Cream Porter

OK, readers, it's polling time!

When you think of beer, what kinds of adjectives come to mind?

Hoppy?  Malty?  Bitter?  Refreshing?  Floral?

How about 'chocolatey'?  Probably not the first thing you'd think of.  Even with many of the dark ales on offer in this area, I think we tend to major on roasted flavours and bitterness, so the idea of beer with chocolate qualities is still a bit of a novelty.

Which is why Custom Brewcrafters' Double Dark Cream Porter (they really have to come up with a catchier name) is such a refreshingly different brew.

Porter is an odd style with a rich history; broadly speaking, the style was a precursor to stout and so it's like a lighter-bodied version of that style.  It's growing in popularity - particularly in the US, although I do recall some examples from old Blighty where the style originated (legend has it that it got its name from the London hall porters and service workers who rather enjoyed it).  Main characteristics include a rich, dark colour; low hop flavour and aroma; dark malt characteristics without harshness or burnt flavour; and a medium body.  CB's porter achieves all of these really rather well.  

The beer pours a deep, dark-chocolate brown, not quite opaque but pretty thick.  There's a deep red colour to it, which you can see by holding it in the light.  It has a tan-coloured head, not massive but respectable.  There's not a lot of carbonation, but it's there - as a rule, British styles are less carbonated than American ones.

A chocolatey malt aroma hits your nose with the first sniff, and a little roasted barley underneath.  Some toffee-like scent is detectable also - it's a complex, strong, multi-layered aroma.  Really great stuff, and more subtleties are unearthed as you swirl it around in the glass, unlocking the bouquet.

The taste is equally complex and fascinating - chocolate flavour mingles with the nutty malts.  There's some hop bitterness in there, but this beer definitely leans more towards the dark, roasted malt side.  It doesn't taste burnt or acidic, however, unlike some dark ales.

This porter has a medium body, with low carbonation.  There's some alcohol warmth in there as it goes down, which is a great way to round off a full-blooded dark ale.  

Overall, this is a great example of the style, very drinkable with lovely malt characteristics.  The chocolate aroma and flavour are wonderful and it avoided the 'burnt-toast' character that many dark ales have.  Here are my scores:

Appearance - 4.5/5
Aroma - 5/5
Taste - 4/5
Mouthfeel - 4.5/5

Overall - 4.5/5.  It's an odd choice for a June evening, I suppose - this is the time when most craft breweries are bringing out their Hefeweizen and IPA, as well as fruit beers.  But dark, chocolatey malt flavours can be just as summery as the light ales - imagine this with a juicy steak or some summer barbecue favourites.  Delicious.

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