(Note: Before we begin, let me say that there will be no Saturday Night Blue Collar Brew Review tomorrow. We’re having a shitload of people over for the holiday and it’d be nice to take the day off to eat good food and drink some beers with family and friends without having to opine about it online. Babes will be posted late. Slinks will be ready for Sunday. I would, however, like to share with you the Friday Brew review [with the wife’s all-encompassing opinion] below. Enjoy the holiday and be safe.)
Friday morning I was at my post at the doorway of the beloved Morris Beer Store. My head was empty. If you yelled in my ear, you’d hear an echo in my head. I didn’t have a taste for anything and didn’t know what I was going to buy. As I walked in, I was cheerfully greeted and made my way to the craft beer shelf.
There they all were. Beers I’ve known and future beers remaining to be conquered. At many locations on the shelf, some of the SixPackTech shelftalker cards were taped showing our ratings of that particular beer. Gail, the Beer Maven was not around so for the most part, so I was left to myself.
Back and forth, up and down. No lagers; just had one last week. No stouts; let’s give it some time. Then I saw a beer I haven’t had. Let’s do a porter. It’s not a yellow beer and it’s not a black beer. I settled on purchasing a sixer of Sierra Nevada Porter from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. out of Chico, California.
What I can recall about Sierra Nevada was the beers that I had were exceptionally bitter. Their Celebration Ale was like drinking a cactus and their Pale Ale left much to be desired. But in the case of the latter, I hardly remembered it. It was during my “novice” un-beer-geeky times. Now I wondered if this one too, would be a barbed beer going down. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I paid the alloted $7.99 at the checkout thinking this was a reasonable price if the beer was good.
By the time beer time came around, I was ready. Full stomach, pint glass in hand. I read the label.
This porter is entirely handmade, in the “old world” tradition, using only the finest barley malts, whole hops, brewer’s yeast and water.
Sounded good to me, let’s go. I popped the top (no twist-off.)
The pour yielded the expected dark liquid, but this glass had a nice two fingers worth of brownish foam packed with medium sized bubbles. I had to use the B&D flashlight again to check and see that there were millions of those bubbles ascending within. The aroma was slight but had some tinges of maltiness to it.
The first sip showed up with hops a blazing in the front and back and a sweet maltiness in the middle. After a few more sips, the hops settled down a bit and were becoming more and more tolerated by my taste buds. The malts settled in as well and sweetly sang a lilt about this taste.
The beer is a good blend of the sweet of the malts and the bitter of the hops and makes for a good drinking experience. The Sierra Nevada website lists this beer as having 40 IBUs. I found that number to be surprisingly low for what I’m tasting in this brew. Although the hops are predominant, they’re not overpowering. But every sip they gave me a jab in the ribs to let me know that they were still there.
I’m a bit up in the air trying to decide on a final prognosis on the taste of this beer. The two taste buds are sitting one on each shoulder, the angel one (sweetness of the malts) and the devil one (the bitterness of the hops.) After each sip they extol the parts that they played in the taste of this beer. Back and forth, good versus evil.
Months ago, after my first trip to Binny’s, I tasted one of my purchases and poo-pooed it as being too damn bitter. That beer was Dogfish Head’s 90-minute IPA. If my memory serves me correctly, that beer tasted much like this Sierra Nevada porter. I feel that I must now satisfy my curiosity and also perhaps “acquire a taste” for IPAs by adding Dogfish Head’s 90-minute IPA to my list of beers to try. But I do have my doubts. I also have hopes.
By the third bottle, I was starting to get tired of the bitterness that came through with each sip. Crap. I just remembered that I hadn’t taken a couple of needed pictures. I’ll have one more. No kicking and screaming.
This porter to me is like a love/hate relationship with a beautiful woman who possesses a fiery temper, where every statement uttered is followed by a bit of biting sarcasm. (Why don’t I just leave this woman? Probably because she’s so good in bed.) Yeah. It’s kinda like that. You get the sweetness of the malt and then the slap in the uvula.
I must confess that I had a fourth bottle. The tastes had toned down into a nice meld that was quite tolerable. The 5.6% ABV didn’t seem to be a factor and I wanted to etch this taste more deeply in my mindstones. I got tired of the taste earlier but now I find it intriguing at what a different taste sensation this beer had. Just as I thought I started to know a lot about beer, this one comes along. (“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”) Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.
Taste: B- > Precision surgical stainless steel in a glass.
Smoothness: B- > Like a smooth talking used car salesman. Billy Mays without the yelling.
Drinkability: C > Oh, look. I have some left over from yesterday.
Bang for the buck: B > A buck thirty three for a diversity of tastes.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Doesn’t smell too bad. (sip) For being so dark it’s not so bitter. Unless it’s the lime popsicle I just had. (sip) That’s not terrible for a dark beer. It’s not too bitter. I’m surprised. (Popsicles will set you free.)