Mayflower Porter Does It Right

Mayflower Porter (5.5% ABV bottle)- English Porter- Mayflower Brewing Co., MA
Grade: A+ BREW OF THE BLOG!

mfportersmall1I’m always glad to pick up a beer from a local brewery to help support the cause and craft of local brewers and artisans, but I’m downright ecstatic when it’s a local beer that’s this damn good.

Mayflower Porter pours out a lovely black-brown with a respectable tan head that dissipates to a thin covering with a little lacing. The nose isn’t too powerful, but it is pleasant with a bit of raisin and general roasted malt smokiness. The first sip reveals a great body as it spreads across the tongue. Not too thick and not too thin; it’s just right. Goldilocks would dig it. Mayflower Porter tastes like a porter should with lots of roasted nuttiness up front, some malt sweetness, and a slightly dry finish. There’s some hop and coffee-like bitterness around the edges that is thankfully not overwhelming in the least. Combined with sharp carbonation the mild bitters maintain a solid balance to the beer. Even after a few Mayflower Porters you don’t find an unpleasant build up of after taste that you would expect from a dark beer. There’s no acrid bitterness and no sweet malt slickness. Throw all that together with the reasonable 5.5% ABV and you have a beer that could take you from the beginning through to the end of the night with no regrets.

This beer is an absolute pleasure to drink. What blows me away about Mayflower Porter is its simplicity. There’s plenty going on with the flavors of this beer yet they never bombard you, are heavy handed, or out of balance. That’s exactly what an English porter is supposed to be. If you are tired of imperial or Baltic porters and would like something easy-going and basic pick up some Mayflower Porter and drink the hell out of it.

Cheers! -John

Hey Porter! Hey Porter! [Bombers Away! #1]

This a recent release from the Smuttynose “BIG BEER” series so I thought it would be a good place to kick off a series of my own: Bombers Away! This (ir)regularly appearing series will feature beers that are only released in big bottles- aka bombers- which measure 16.9oz, 22oz, 500ml, 750ml, or something in that neighborhood. No easy-going sixers here. Go big or go home, one bottle at a time.

Smuttynose Baltic Porter (8.7% ABV bottle)- Baltic Porter- Smuttynose Brewing Co., NH
Grade: A BREW OF THE BLOG!

Poured into an imperial pint.

Appearance: Pours dark brown, near black, with chestnut tones. Inch-and-a-half tan head that drops to a thin covering. Not much lacing.

Smell: Dark dried fruit, raisins, and coffee. Roasted malt. Molasses.

Mouthfeel: On the thick side, but still smooth. Covers the palate nicely. Balanced and rich body.

Taste: There’s malt and dried fruit (prune & raisin especially) sweetness up front, but it’s tempered with a roast coffee bitterness at the edges and a bit of alcohol spice. It winds up with a pleasantly dry finish that helps keep all the sweetness from getting ahead of anything else.

Drinkability: Potent, but highly enjoyable. Probably the best porter I’ve had.

Overall: The Baltic Porter is a great offering from Smuttynose. Rich and complex, but amazingly drinkable. Dangerously so at 8.7% ABV. The downside is this was a limited release so if you weren’t able to score any of the bottles out there on the market you are out of luck. Unless maybe you can find a friend willing to part with it. If you are lucky enough to stumble across it in a store or if you are even luckier and find it on tap this is an absolute must have.

Cheers! -John

Stone Immaculate

I just wanted to start out with a quick shout out to Beachmont Liquors in Revere MA by the Beachmont T stop. They’re a little hole in the wall liquor store, but the only place in the East Boston area I found that had not only Stone brews, but also Dogfish Head.

Stone Smoked Porter (22oz. bottle)- American Porter- Stone Brewing Company, CA, USA
Grade: A BREW OF THE BLOG!
     Man alive this is some tasty beer! (I guess I need to give you a bit more info than that, but really that should be all you need.)
     During the pour you can smell the smoke coming up from the dark tarn forming in your glass. It’s an amazingly dense brown/black color that when held to the light shows through reddish mahogany that is as rich as its flavor, which Stone Smoked Porter has in spades. Leading the charge to the tastebuds are dark chocolate, coffee, and a malty sweetness that all get their edges rounded nicely by the smoke and mild hops to keep the flavor from going to the syrupy side. The more you drink and take in the complexities of this porter the more little flavors peek out at you- a bit of caramel here, some spice there, something herbal lurking at the back of the palate- allowing this brew to be continually pleasurable. It’s as if it’s single-handedly trying to make up for all the tasteless beer that has ever passed through your gullet.
     This porter isn’t a super high octane beer (only 5.9% ABV) but you know the alcohol is in there, giving the Smoked Porter a bit of a slick finish that can build up in the mouth. That’s only a problem if you find yourself working your way through a second or third double-deuce bottle. Knock back some ice water between rounds and you’ll be fine.
     I’m a big fan of porters to begin with so maybe that skews this review a bit, but there’s no denying the excellence in this bottle. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Stone Brewing. Hell, even the stuff of theirs I don’t like is better than most of what’s out there. The Smoked Porter is the first beer in quite a while that I’ve found myself blathering about to every beer drinker I come in contact with trying to bring them over to the dark side.

Find it, worship it.

Stone 11th Anniversary Ale (22oz. bottle)- American Strong Ale/”Black” IPA- Stone Brewing Company, CA, USA
Grade: A-/B+
     Luckily I didn’t read the back of the bottle or else I would have seen that this was an IPA (of sorts) and probably passed on it. I’m not a hophead and do not worship at it’s altar like so many beer geeks out there, which is why I’m surprised by how much I liked this. Technically according to Stone Brewery this isn’t exactly a straight up IPA. Stone calls it a black IPA or “India Black Ale/IBA”. Black is a slight misnomer compared to a porter or stout, but compared to most IPAs this stuff is pretty much black. The Stone website mentions roasted malt which would explain a very faint smokiness to the flavor to some degree. For the most part the 11th Anniversary has the hopped up punch one expects from a Stone pale ale, but there is a nice sweet caramel undertone that cuts off the sharper hop notes and gives the Anniversary Ale surprising drinkability to a non-hopster like myself. It made me think of Sea Hag IPA a bit, but this is far more robust and demanding. There’s a lot of push and pull to this beer making it something to be poured into a snifter and kicked back with. There is savoring and mulling to be done with the 11th Anniversary. Plus at 8.7% ABV you probably should take your time with it.
     The 11th Anniversary Ale is a limited release so if you find it buy 2 bottles. You can try one now and cellar the other. More than likely if you try it now and find it to be a little too aggressive it might have mellowed out 6 months or a year from now.

Find it, savor it.

Cheers! -John