FIRST off, I HAVE to start this post with one battlecry: GO SAINTS!!!
Alright, now that I have that out of my system…on to BEERS 4, 5 and 6!
Ahem. I am pretty sure I am gonna offend someone with this next part….but I couldn’t resist and remember: it’s all in good fun, and sometimes tough love is the best love…
Poor, Poor Detroit: home of the highest employment rate in country…triple the national average. Home of the Lions, possibly the worst team in the NFL. And population wise, a ghost town to its former self. At least some great music has come outta there: Motown, The Stooges, The White Stripes, Ted Nugent, and Alice Cooper. Most definitely NOT Kid Rock. And then there is my first beer of the day….
Atwater Block Brewery Vanilla Java Porter: ABV: 6% I was really excited to try this beer. I had my bowl of granola and yogurt ready, and I thought this would be a delicious accompaniment to my breakfast! Uhhhhh….When I first pour this brew, it is way too cold. Or so I think….Coca-cola. Its ALL I’m getting. So I think, “Oh, like wine, it needs to warm up to open up the aromas!” The cloudy brown appearance I will kindly describe as looking like coffee with a touch of milk added. I gotta tell you, not a particularly appealing shade but I suppose not overtly offensive either. If it was a Belgian or Belgian-style beer, that’s one thing, but this is a vanilla java porter from Detroit, Michigan.
Unfortunately the nose never really develops. After 15-20 minutes, it develops a tiny hint of meaty aroma but that’s it. And again, NOT what you want on this type of beer. Lots of carbonation on the entry with some coffee bitterness, but strangely finishes with a sour note. Brettanomyces maybe? Again, fine for a Belgian but not what you are looking for in a beer that you think is gonna be the alcoholic equivalent of a cup o’ joe. Instead of waking me up, it just left me befuddled and flummoxed.
Coffee notes did arise in the palate later, but I NEVER got any vanilla, which is disturbing considering it is the FIRST word in the title! And I can tell you without hesitation, this girl can pick up vanilla after tasting California Cabernets for years! In conclusion, I didn’t really wanna finish this beer, but that’s the challenge now isn’t it? Sorry Atwater, your other beers may be phenomenal, but this one needs serious work. Or maybe I got a bad bottle. It happens. Send me another if you think I got a bad read.
Sierra Nevada Stout: ABV: 5.8% The identity of the nose hit me like a freight train: Roasted tamari almonds from Whole Foods. No kidding! Definite notes of soy sauce with dark molasses, tree bark, and resin mingled throughout. Lots of carbonation when drunk out of the bottle, which naturally rounds out in the glass. Remember folks: when you drink beer out of the bottle, you might as well be drinking out of a straw, as everything is narrowed and aromas are next to impossible to discern.
There is a slight bitterness in finish, but one that makes you want to drink more. Like a white wine and acidity, it prepares you for the next sip. This beer, while having some interesting notes, is mostly one-dimensional, meaning it is a simple and easy stout. It may not be complex, and it isn’t, but its a beer you could easily drink more than one of.
I think of this as a college student stout. Perhaps thats because I used to drink it in college and it is old hat to me now. And I have always felt that Sierra Nevada makes straightforward, simple, focused beers. And for some people, that is a great thing. If you are a dark beer novice, or are out there looking for a way to get a novice into drinking dark brews, like stouts and porters, this could be your beer.
Fullers London Porter: ABV: 5.4% The most pleasant and balanced beer of the day. When I plunged my nose in the Riedel, tons of smokiness and tobacco wafted out to me. I LIKE this kind of aroma. Gentle notes of dark molasses joined in. The palate was smooth with notes of dark chocolate that increased gradually as time passed. There was only a slight and again gentle aspect of bitterness on the finish, which neither overwhelmed or detracted from the smoothness of the mouthfeel. This is a nice beer. The entire time I kept thinking to myself, “This is really balanced and well done. No sharp edges. No flaws. Just a good porter. Then I remember that these guys have been making beer since 1845. This is NOT their first rodeo. Well done Fuller’s. A beer you could easily down a few of without thinking.
P.S. Fuller’s recommends making a London Porter Stew with their famous brew. Click here to see the recipe!