Saturday, February 11, 2012

CB's Brewing Co (aka Custom Brewcrafters) wins Beer of the Year!

New York Cork Report just announced on their Facebook page that their Beer of the Year is CB's Krysztoff Baltic Porter.  Congratulations to CB's - it's a great achievement and an awesome accolade for Rochester-area brewers.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cooperstown Brewing Co - Benchwarmer Porter

Baseball isn't really a huge thing for us Brits, even those of us who moved across the Pond.  If you're a Brit who's really not into spectator sports, you'll probably find that when the topic comes up in conversation, people will start jabbering on in a weird, alien language with lots of references to strike zones and curveballs and Lord knows what else.  You'll eventually have no idea whether they're talking about a sport, a particularly aggressive war manoeuvre or some sensitive medical condition.

Beer, on the other hand, amounts to something of a national obsession for the British, so I was excited to discover that a mere 10-minute drive from the National Baseball Hall of Fame is the Cooperstown Brewing Company, a microbrewery with an attached tap room producing six different beers, including a pale ale, porter, stout and IPA.

Six varieties isn't a huge range, but sometimes it's better to do a few things well than to try producing too many varieties and over-extend a small brewery.  Today's review is their Benchwarmer Porter, very much in season at this time of year.  Here are my thoughts:

Image copyright
Cooperstown Brewing
Aroma - You can definitely pick up some roasted, dark malt aroma, and there's a slight chocolatey quality.  Some caramelly malt is evident too.  

Appearance - The Benchwarmer is a very dark brown, with a slight ruby hue when you hold it up to the light.  It's not opaque like a stout, and from what I could tell there was good clarity to it.  The beer has a decent light tan head with fair retention.  

Taste - Again, one can easily pick out the dark malts, but the taste adds a dominating hoppy bitterness to the experience.  I picked out some slight fruity esters.  There's also a definite roasted quality in the aftertaste, like burnt toast.  The pleasant chocolatey aroma doesn't really make it into the taste - the flavour balanance is definitely towards hops rather than malt.  

Mouthfeel - The beer has a medium body, with fairly high carbonation for the style.  One funny thing about porter is that you always expect the mouthfeel to be fuller than it actually is - I think it's because porter is closely related to stout, and even looks like stout sometimes.  But the malt bill tends to be lower, resulting in a lighter ale.

Aroma: 4/5
Appearance: 4.5/5
Flavor: 2.5/5 (I think the hop bitterness was a little too high and the burnt flavour a little too prominent)
Mouthfeel: 4/5

Overall score: 3.75/5.

Overall, it's a perfectly fine porter - my preference is for maltier ales rather than hoppier ones, so it's not among my favourites, but it's a good example of the style, and it left me wanting to try their other varieties.  If a buddy drags me to Cooperstown for the Baseball museum, I know exactly where I'm going to drag them to afterwards!