Atwater Brewing’s Vanilla Java Porter
This beer hails from the Motor City and is the color of a dark and used oil, but it certainly drink like a cup of something special.
Light enough on the mouth to be easy to drink, but still rich and flavor like a good porter should drink. I’ve had several vanilla porters, and this one certainly plays well with the others at the top. This one drinks perhaps a little more like a Peet’s coffee cup of liquid candy, rather than a rich roasted heart at the center of a black cup of joe. So note which side you’d rather see your porter fall on - all I can say is either way, it’s a damn good beer.
Heretic Brewing - Shallow Grave Porter
Rich roasted cocoa & sweet coffee with earthy and rich soil flavors. Wonderfully balanced and deeply flavored - nothing shallow about it. I loved this porter.
Have to admit, had this on my anniversary, my head wasn’t in the game, but I still loved it. Queue it up in your beer list.
Highly recommend this one.
Placerville Brewing Company Sampler
Tucked in the less than cute part of Placerville, this brewery really let me down with their beers. I hate being a mean critic, I’m usually pretty forgiving when I don’t enjoy something. Everything is subjective - but I really think in this case, there is just bad tasting beer. The table was unanimous in our drinking of most of these beers. There were at least three that were just downright awful, and two that were good out of the 10 we had.
1. Golden Wit
Citrusy bubbly. Spirited and light and very drinkable summertime beer. This one was quite good. I would drink this again.
2. Tangerine Golden Wit
This was a sign to me that I wasn’t going to like their flavored editions of their beers. This was just totally in your face - clearly not adding juice, but adding flavors. It tasted like clementine flavored gum that somebody dropped in beer. The plain version tasted lightyears better.
3. Pale Ale
Pretty drinkable, but overall fairly mediocre. I would never grab this pale ale on a shelf next to many of the other NorCal pale ales. Too many brewers are doing pale ales that are so much better than this for it to be called anything other than average at best.
4. Boysenberry Pale Ale
This was absurdly awful. Like somebody had tried to date rape me but used a purplish Flintstone’s kids chewable vitamin. I’m not a berry fan to begin with - but this was downright disgusting to me. I can hang with other berry tasting beers, but not this. God not this.
5. Strong Blonde
After all these rounds and rounds of disappointment - this Strong Blonde was truly the standout of all the beers. It had a great muddled yellow and straw color. Drank incredibly will with a terrific classic tavern like scent. A blow of strong hops gave it a gret hook right on the finish. Just a great beer.
6. The Stout
Sticky head and left a terriffic brown cow lace on the glass. Overall, pretty damn average outside of that. Little too on the watered down side for me, missing that thickness I expect in stouts - but had those nice roasty malt flavors. Completely drinkable, but just not noteworthy.
7. Vanilla Stout
Remember as a kid, the day when after you had French Vanilla ice cream and you looked over the spice cabinet and saw vanilla extract and thought “i wonder if that tastes like Vanillia Ice Cream?!” and you took a swig or poured too much on your pancakes or something like that. Yeah. Well. This was exactly like that. Fuck. In. Gross.
Watery. Flat feeling. No body to speak of. However, I did just drink one of the worst beer’s I have ever had seconds before, so I don’t know if I was fit to judge. I will say that the trend of making porters just lighter stouts is lame and I wish it would stop.
9. Scotch Ale
Tic tac toe three bad beers in a row. Utterly underwhelming in comparison with even the local scotch ale’s like Lockdown’s Stoney Bar.
10. The Barleywine
Doom in a glass. This must be what Brewdog’s concentrated high alcohol beers taste like before they smooth them out. It just was syrupy pour it on a waffle thick, and definitely needed some age or a glass of water to make it anything but gross. Honestly, just not good.
I feel like a ass for whining and crying foul about all these beers, but they just were not good save for maybe the Golden Wit and Strong Blonde… everything else was either really fucking gross or meh. Sorry, Placerville. Believe me - I want to like your beer.
Finishing up at Lockdown Brewing.
1. Bidwell Brown
Good smelly beer, slight hop pinches, but it is most definitely an aromatic malt experience that goes right alongside the first sips, great flavor. Rich but still light and agile. Soft texture, too. Good all around any time brown ale, fans of the style should take note!
2. Stoney Bar Scotch Ale
I’ve been told this is Lockdown’s most popular beer. It is pretty easy to see why, there is a tremendous amount of layered flavor in this beer, but it is still silky smooth. Splendidly easy to drink. This is a great beer that hangs right up there with the big boys.
3. Honey Porter
Damn. Toasty - nicely sweet. There is major hanging out with chums by a campfire feel to this. It’s woodsy, has dark secretive flavors - molasses-like. This is a really quality porter that is a recipe they are just experimenting with. I think they struck Folsom-gold here and need to get this in the rotation ASAP. Mighty good.
So, while drinking at Mendocino Brewing Company’s alehouse, they gave a very lukewarm recommendation to stop at the Ukiah Brewing Company’s pub and ale house in downtown Ukiah. The person at our bar said something to the effect of, “well it’s not great beer, but it’s worth a stop or not… it’s okay I guess” after she found out about the beer journey my girlfriend and I were on.
Curious, we decided to stop. It’s a pretty awesome location and really quaint Northern California vibe in the pub. I think this place is well worth a stop just for lunch or dinner if you’re happening to be in the Ukiah area on a trip.
Onto the BEER!
1. Pilsner Ukiah
Crisp - almost an appleish-crispness with a really pale corn color. It’s lightly filtered if at all and ends up having a nice New Zealand hop zing which I think is odd for a pilsner, but it’s still mellow enough to give it a great drinkable beer. Really quite good.
2. Yokayo Gold
Pleasently fresh and refreshing golden ale. Excellent job owning this style with a great color and hearty cereal flavors that give a subtle sweet flavor and then they are subdued further by a dry hop finish. Really well layered.
3. Comptache Logger California Common
This light chestnut colored “steam beer” has a very wintry feel. Drinks a little like a wee heavy and even has a bit of a winter warmer spirit. This beer really caught me off guard as I was expecting it to have much more of a Anchor Steam sort of feel. While it is very tasty - I think I’d still lean more toward Anchor or other California Common’s over it, but this is a solid example of the style and very good.
4. The 10 Guilder
MMMMMmmMMMmm! That’s one of the best Scotch ale’s I’ve ever had. Lovingly boozy, but this crisp and rugged malt flavor, tremendous body, and just so fresh tasting. I want to drink this out of a horn or the skulls of my enemy. This is a damn fine beer. Worth the trip just for this.
5. Amber Sunhouse
After having that 10 Guilder… well this sort of felt like Kenny Bania following Seinfeld. It’s a fine beer, but following 10 Guilder… well, I’ll just apologize for my bad tasting order.
6. The Palace Porter
Best porter of the trip so far - howver, that’s not saying much. It was still really watery and wet with just enough body to say porter - run of the mill. Oh, well.
7. Doppel Dunkel Weizen
Really good flavor blast right from the first sip - this burning pile of wheat that just has all sort of fruit and smoke flavors, but it is quickly put out by a tsunami wave of water, and leaving behind this smokey liqour flavor that’s almost peaty like a scotch. It’s pretty damn good.
8. Doppel Dunkel Weizen on Nitro
Nitrogen bubbles smooth out the experience a little bit making the tsunami you’d be lost and in more like a strong wave that knocks you on your butt - makes the drink a lot more pleasent.
—So while I was tasting, our waiter noticed me taking notes on the beers and asked what I was up to, and I shared with him that I write Beer Per Day and he went and brought the brewmaster, Mitch, out to talk beer with me. After I lavished compliments on 10 Guilder, he offered up two fresh tasters in lab beakers of their Ore Springs Pale Ale and Point Arena IPA. Pretty damn cool.
Ore Springs Pale Ale
Nice malty body, the unfiltered flavors gave this almost UK style pale ale experience where sweeter malt flavors take lead in the dance over the Norther California standard of hoppy smack.
Point Arena IPA
The aroma on this beer is pretty faint, which had me a little worried that maybe it wasn’t going to have a good punch - but clearly, my nose was just tired. It was a delayed hop pow, but definitely there and very tasty and drinkable IPA - compares favorably to Sierra Nevada’s Celebration.
As far as I’m concerned, the destination for good beer in Ukiah is clearly Ukiah Brewing Company. All their beers are organic, brewed onsite, incredibly fresh and lively - and the building has this old Northern California funky vibe that just makes it even more fun. 10 Guilder is definitely worth getting your hands on if you love Scotch Ales, Winter Warmers or Reds. I would probably put it as one of the best beers of this brewery tour roadtrip.
I also really like that the names of the beers tended to be named after local area places and people. That definitely adds a bonus point for me.
Thanks again to the staff at Ukiah Brewing for those bonus beer tastes and for the good conversations.
Tokyo Black by Yo-Ho Brewing
This is easily besting any dark beer I’ve had out of Japan - and it’s probably one of the best standard unflavored porters I’ve had in good while.
Rich, lightly fuzzy, making it a smooth but sweetly flavorful drag off the glass - and the finish has a nutty roasted flavored that bitters up those initial sweetness. This beer is fantastic.
Delicious. Delicious. Delicious. Wish it was cheaper and easier to get.
Judging from the can - it’s a true imported wondercan. Black stickers slapped on it to inform the drinker that beer gets government warnings and the can has refund values.
First few sips on this porter by Anchor Steam Brewing in San Francisco reaffirmed my belief that it’s probably the best stand alone porter I’ve had. It is so good.
The big question is why and how is this malty treat so much better than it’s peers?
Anchor Steam definitely has a firm commitment to be a small scale brewer. I toured their brewery and they imported a couple German copper kettle to their brewery. Every bottle of beer goes through that kettle, the same recipes, the same open air steam beer methods that Fritz Maytag helped to rescue from being forgotten cultural relics.
Anchor also hops the porter a little firmer than most. I think it pays off, the hops they use blend really well with the malty smack. Those traditional kisses of chocolate, coffee, and molasses are all in the glass and in every sip.
If you like porter and haven’t had Anchor’s Porter, give it a go and let me know what you think about it. I’d love to know what you think.
Baltic Thunder is a storm of malt in a glass. Really rich and thick baltic porter. Victory Brewing Company has really impressed me so far.
The beer pours with utter blackness, a little dollop of light brown lace for the head. The smell is smoky charcoal and toasty notes of like a dark rye bread.
The flavor is really a tip toward the Baltic style with that heavy black licorice whip. Surprisingly for a Baltic Porter registering in at 8.5% alchohol, this beer hides that alchohol well and all in all feels like it would be a night of pretty soft drinking.
This made for a good cold winter night drink and Victory Brewing clearly makes good beers.
I think before I address how delicious this coconut porter is, I want to talk about canned beer vs. bottled beer. There is a lot of myth out there that canned beer is always lower quality beer - and that has a lot to do with a lot of crappy beers being canned. Just because Bud and Miller and Coors can beer doesn’t mean all canned beer is crap. What about a lot of those UK import cans of Guinness, Boddington’s, & Youngs? I’ve never cracked open a can of Young’s Double Chocolate stout and thought, “Oh the horror! The chocolate malts must still have the foil wrapper on!”
No - the whole metallic taste thing is a heaping wad of BS that somebody planted into the collective conscience.
The truth is canned beer has several perks over bottled beer, and virtually no drawbacks. Being sealed inside a metal tube protects the beer two big threats during shipping and storage, light & oxygen. The metal cans help get beer colder and faster, you can drop a can of beer and it probably won’t break… and even it does break, you just have to ::tear:: clean up the beer… hell, if you’re quick about it, you might even still save some from the can!
A lot of breweries have begun to embrace the can, New Belgium (the makers of Fat Tire), Big Sky Brewing, Oskar Blues, Caldera, and many others are offering their beers in cans - some exclusively in cans.
Really - the only drawback from drinking from the can is dealing with the ill-informed snobs who will bemoan that only the finest beers are bottled. The same chumps that only drink wine that is corked and no-twist off, or wince when a good wine is boxed.
The truth is, boxed wine, twist off caps, or canned beer is just a delivery device for the liquid inside, and you don’t have to be afraid of it unless you don’t like what’s inside.
and in this case - I very much like what is inside! Maui’s Coconut Porter is a fantastic example of porter meeting with flavor. The toasted coconut is all over the experience of the beer, you can smell & taste the coconut. It’s toasty and light, not thick like most porters. The fuzz on the beer is a bit prickly at first but still finished silky smooth.
All in all this porter is a very welcome addition to the family of flavored porters I’ve had so far for Beer Per Day. I’d happily have another can of this again. Very very good beer.
Well done, Maui Brewing!
Yeah - that’s right ANOTHER beer aged in Bourbon barrels…
This one is average compared to all the others. The bourbon fails to find a roost and the flavor is real faint. I can smell it - but I really can’t say that I taste it, when i do it is either just so faint I’m imagining it or it is just that faint.
There still is a perfectly drinkable and tasty porter - balanced and pleasant. So if this is Barley Islands main porter, bravo - it’s a delicious glass of dark.
Guess I either lost or forgot to take a picture :(
Meantine Brewing’s London Porter came in a ginormous 750ml bottle (and I really like this size because it ends being two full size pint glasses full of beer) - it is also one of few beers Meantime exports to the United States, so if you see it, you’re probably lucky and you should swoop it up!
The porter poured out looking kind cola-ish - not overly thick looking, smelled like smoky sweet malts.
The whole beer has a very smoky quality as you drink it - its rich and malty more of a sweet malty porter with some solid roasty toasty finish. I also really enjoyed how it had great full body. It was rich and lingered after a good pull from the glass. Stick to your ribs kind of beer.
This is probably the best standard porter I’ve had through this whole Beer Per Day, perhaps even better than the Breckenridge Remarkable Vanilla Porter.
Last year, my girlfriend and I toured the Deschutes Brewery and picked up a bottle of this and promised we’d open it a year later. There have been nights where we’ve run out of something fun to drink and eyed this bottle - but it survived the year wait and I’m going to share this with you.
If by some folly you can find a Black Butte XXI - well, you should snatch it, heck, challenge yourself to age XXII. It ain’t easy, but the payoff is sublime.
I’ve always loved the Black Butte Porter by Deschutes, it is certainly a benchmark by which I judge other porters.
The main difference with this anniversary editions is that the beer has been brewed with chocolate and coffee beans, and then on top of that - 20% of the beer is aged in bourbon barrels.
Now - here’s how this beer tasted.
It poured and smelled of a coffee syrup - like somebody had brewed a pot of coffee and just left it on the burner overnight and it got thick. The coffee aroma is pretty strong. There wasn’t much head, but I was very careful pouring this beer as I didn’t want to encounter sediment.
However, the first few pulls on this beer were pretty incredible. Much like the Ola Dubh, this beer oozed complexity. It has that rich malty taste of a porter, and then begins to drop dark chocolate, coffee on the tongue before smacking it with the deep bourbon flavor - like a nice toffee toned whiskey. The mouthfeel was thick like an oil - and when I drained the glass, it almost was like there was still a fine layer of beer hugging the glass.
This was an incredible experience and I was glad my girlfriend has the patience to get us through the year we aged the beer. I definitely plan to age a few more and start a beer cellar.
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