|Please forgive the dirty glass-|
This is a pretty aggressive beer, but not off-putting in any way. Keeping the hops low and the crystal malts out worked wonderfully, as did the combo of oats for body and honey for boosting the OG but keeping the finish nice and dry. The smoked malt and brown malt give it a neat complexity and sharpness that worked to provide some interest without adding sweetness. Roasty, toasty, bread crusty, and dark chocolaty up front with a creamy mouthfeel and a sweet –boozyness to balance. It is definitely big and satisfying, but without the intimidating sugary-sweet depths of bigger imperial stouts.
I’ll have to make this one a house recipe for the warm weather black beer, but I’ll probably add a pinch of Honey Malt to bring out a honey-sweetness in the finish.
Appearance: Leathery around the edges and pitch black in the depths with a HUGE spongy tan head.
Aroma: Faintly smokey with a woody-honey sweetness and a pretty dominant dark-toasted bread smell. It smells faintly sweet and really reminds me of burnt marshmallows. There are faint hints of the honey, but I have to really seek 'em out. As it warms the nose gets much bigger and a booziness comes out along with some more mead-like notes from the yeast.
Taste: Creamy, roasted, full, and smooth with a silky dark chocolate bite and a very subtle coffee twang. Surprisingly dry and clean for the marshmallow notes in the nose. It is “warming” as it warms up and the honey/mead/ woody thing comes out. Finishes dry, ever-so-slightly on the bitter side of scale but I don’t think it’s the hops… The balance is more of an attribute of the sour-dough like brown malt and the roasty malts leaving a hint of lingering “blackness”.
Mouthfeel: Creamy and dry with some boozy heat. Not sticky at all, but still quite full bodied with very fine, yet vigorous, carbonation.
Overall: Unlike any porter I’ve bought lately. Not malty, not sweet, but not acrid and “sour” like the Mild (which needs some sweetness to balance the burnt flavors). It has an awesome balance from the sweet alcohol and depth of roasted, toasted, and smoked grains. Drinks quite like a bar of dark chocolate; not sweet, but still rich. Only change I’ll make next time is a less attenuating yeast and a pinch of Honey Malt for some clean sweetness. Might add some more oats too, as it could do for a touch more body.