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Deschutes Black Butte XXI

September 18th, 2010 beckel

Today I have an exciting ale that I passed up buying a few times, but after reading a review from my friend Derek I couldn’t help but grab a bottle. Deschutes who brew out of Bend, Oregon craft some seriously solid ales, and if the aroma of this one is any indicator, I am pretty confident it will be awesome. This Imperial incarnation of their Black Butte porter was first brewed on their 20th anniversary and after it’s success they couldn’t avoid brewing it again.

Pours a very deep black hue that is completely opaque. Producing about two fingers of tight light chocolate colored bubbles that fade with in a minute or so leaving very little lacing and small amount of perpetual bubbles on the surface of the beer. Smells immensely of chocolate, coffee, very sweet malt, gentle roast and little bitterness. Flavor is of rich coffee, sweet chocolate, solid roasted malt esters, modest smokiness, malty sweetness, light alcohol, and a bit of bitterness in the finish. Body is medium, lightened a bit by a slightly creamy though viscus mouthfeel. Though this beer is a solid 11% ABV the complex flavors and massive malt esters easily disguise it, though it becomes more apparent as the brew gets closer to room temperature. This is one impressively smooth and delicious Imperial Porter. The brightness of the chocolate and coffee esters is simply fantastic and makes perfect sense when you note that this ale was brewed chocolate beans and coffee. Not to mention that 20% is aged in Bourbon barrels and blended back in. While I didn’t notice it at all when initially consuming this a bit cold, as the beer warms the alcohol esters become more reminiscent of the aforementioned Bourbon. Over all a seriously amazing take on the style and something I would happily drink any day. A fantastic brew and something any lover of chocolate and coffee will be all over. Can’t wait to get my hands on next years. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Deschutes Black Butte XXI

Left Hand Smoke Jumper Smoked Imperial Porter

February 3rd, 2009 beckel

Today I am very pleased to be pouring a glass of Left Hand Brewing’s Smoke Jumper, a Smoked Imperial Porter. This ale is their most recent brew in their Big Mo’ Series and hales from Longmont, Colorado. Though Left Hand has consistently impressed me I rarely get to purchasing their ales. I am not the biggest fan of smoked ales as I find many of them overpowering when consumed alone, but luckily the other week when I was picking up my Hopslam at The Four Firkins Alvey pointed out this new ale and shared some samples with the patrons in the store at the time. I can not thank him enough, this is one wonderful brew. On to the good stuff. This ale pours a nice deep black color that is completely opaque and produces a solid four fingers of dark brown head that clings nicely around the glass. Aroma is wonderfully rich and malty, creating scents of coffee, chocolate and toffee as well as some subtle sweetness and nice smokey barbecued pork smell. I’m already starting to get hungry and I haven’t even taken a sip. This is one full flavored ale with a massive malt profile. Tastes largely of dark malts that create some pitted fruit flavors complimented with some very nice sweetness that helps balance the rich smokey flavors that make me want to light up the grill ASAP.  The body is medium but light for a porter and the mouthfeel is very creamy. The 9.2% ABV of this ale is very well hidden by the many flavors of this ale so don’t forget what your drinking. If you are a fan of smoked ales you will most likely enjoy this one and even if you do not it is still likely worth your time. This is one perfect pairing brew and would go wonderfully with anything grilled or add some very nice components to something simpler like a risotto or even some nice seafood. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Left Hand Smoke Jumper Smoked Imperial Porter

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

July 1st, 2008 beckel

I have hesitated in reviewing this beer because even though I have a love for strong complex beers, I have not come to appreciate porters and stouts as much as I would like to. With that said Flying Dog originally from Denver, Colorado as of this year brewing out of Frederick, Maryland after acquiring Wild Goose Brewery in 2006, makes magnificent innovative beers that any craft beer fan can appreciate.  To say this beer has massive intense head would be an understatement.  Pours a heavy toffee brown colored head that is as plentiful as any good Belgian Ale.  Color is deep dark black that light can not penetrate. Smell contains hints of coffee and gentle toffee like malt scents but is very pungent. Mouthfeel is somewhat thick but your definitely not chewing on anything. Tastes of coffee and sweet toffee malt flavor in the end. Hints of light chocolate ice cream are almost present. Clean malt finish takes almost all flavor of alcohol away from this beer even though it clocks in at  7.8% ABV. Even with 85 IBUs this beers intense malt profile over powers the hops used. Part of Flying Dogs Canis Major Series this beer is certainly for craft beer lovers. Over all even as someone who doesn’t particularly care for coffee flavored beers, this one is darn good particularly on my second tasting. The intensity of the coffee flavors in this beer is rather lighter than one might expect from an imperial porter but it is certainly not lacking in flavor. If you try this beer in more than one sitting I am sure you will find more and more complexities as has been my experience. I would suggest this beer to anyone who wants a nice dark beer to sip on, particularly on a cold day. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter