Beer of the Week: Icicle Brewing Von Priebe Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

aasasIt is nice having a brewery back in Leavenworth, since the town is seemingly being overrun by wineries. Icicle Brewing is a pretty sizeable operation, having opened in 2010 and they have a nice selection of standard offerings as well as a few specialty beers on tap. On a recent visit, I got to experience the Von Priebe Porter – their base porter infused with vanilla.

The beer pours jet black with a tan head and offers strong notes of coffee and roasted malt dominating with hints of toffee and vanilla on the nose. The beer starts off with a strong coffee component that fades quickly into a more mild coffee and roast component with just a touch of bitterness. The beer finishes slightly sweet with notes of lactose and a slightly boozy vanilla note in a pleasantly long fade with more roasted flavors. Warm and inviting – would have liked some of the flavors to linger a touch longer and the booziness of the vanilla to be a touch more restrained, but overall it was an enjoyable and deep beer on a cold day.

Icicle Brewing Von Priebe Porter carries itself well with 3 sharp points out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Salish Sea Brewing Brown Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I will give new breweries a shot, just because you never know what gems you might uncover. I recently had the opportunity to try the Porter from the newish Salish Sea Brewing out of Edmonds when they were on as a guest tap at Stoup Brewing. It was a cool December day and the porter seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.

From the Salish Sea website:

 Not your typical porter… Our house porter is light, crisp and clean.  Featuring Simcoe Hops and a clean finish. Full with flavor, light in body, with a great light coffee finish. 5.5% ABV 35 IBU

SSB-LOGO-FullColor-5x6The beer pours dark brown, almost black in color with mild notes of roasted malt and hints of grain and sugar on the nose. The beer starts out dry on the palate with very little grain and malt and just hints of roasted flavors. The beer then moves on to a fairly long sweet streak before finishing faintly malty with a slight astringent burn at the very end of the palate at the back of the throat with minor hints of roasted grains making an appearance. I kept hoping for the flavors to wake up the further into the beer I got, but it never happened – if anything, the beer got sweeter as I went on. I felt like this beer would have been better served by being called a brown rather than a porter.

Salish Sea Brown Porter limps into port and offloads with just 2 cargo crates out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stoup Brewing Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I feel terrible. With my backlog of beer reviews and that I have generally been putting them on the site in chronological order; this is the first time that I am reviewing a beer by Stoup Brewing. That normally wouldn’t be an issue, but they have been opened for 5 months, I am a member of their founders club and they are the closest brewery to my house – a scant 5 blocks away. While this is long delayed in getting posted, I can assure you this won’t be the last time you see these guys getting a write up in this space. The first beer on tap from Stoup is their Porter.

From the Stoup website:

 ABV: 6.5%, IBU: 45, Lovibond: 34

Rich in color and character, our robust porter conjures up memories of decadent chocolate treats dipped in coffee. Hints of dark chocolate, roasted coffee and light malty sweetness are the result of a complex malt profile including chocolate malt, roasted barley, roasted wheat and roasted rye.

untitlasedThe beer pours jet black with a coffee colored head and pleasant notes of chocolate and malt with hints of coffee and vanilla faintly in the background of the nose. The beer starts out on the palate with light notes of coffee before moving into a very pleasant grain middle and finishing long with strong notes of chocolate and malt with hints of vanilla, coffee and toffee. Balanced and flavorful with enough alcohol to warm you up on a cold day, but not so much as it interferes with the pleasant drinking experience that is the porter. As an added bonus, touches of hop character start to show up on the finish as the beer warms, adding another layer of complexity to the beer.

Stoup Brewing Porter cozy’s up to the fire with a strong 3 warm fires out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Kendall Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I am the first one to admit that I am not a big fan of ginger in beer. Don’t get me wrong, I love ginger in food, but in beer, it tends to be used in such a way that it overpowers everything else in the beer rather than being a complimentary flavor. I was a bit apprehensive when NW Peaks did a beer with ginger in December, but, given their previous track record with ginger beers, this one had some potential.

From the NW Peaks website on the Kendall Porter:

The name. The mountain. Kendall Peak is located just off Snoqualmie Pass, part of the ridge that separates Commonwealth Basin and the Gold Creek basin. Due to its proximity to Snoqualmie Pass and PCT trail it’s a great destination for a summer hike or winter day in the snow.  Besides great views of Commonwealth basin and the Snoqualmie area,  a full ascent of the mountain nets you about 2750′ of elevation gain, but there are plenty of other excursions in the area if you need more adventure.

The Beer. Ingalls Ginger has been a summer favorite since NW Peaks opened and we continuously get calls fro it in the winter. Since we only produce Ingalls in the summer, we decided to try our luck at a winter ginger beer – and we’re pretty darn happy with the results! We used a brown porter as a base (slightly less roast and lower ABV than the more common robust porters).  The porter consists of all English style ingredients with some chocolate and brown malt for the color, with ginger and bitter orange peel added at the end of the boil. The light refreshing nature of the ginger, subtle sweetness and citrus of the orange and light chocolate notes combine to a great, delicate aroma and flavor in a light bodied beer. The result is a full flavored, but very light bodied, easy drinking beer.

Malts: ESB, chocolate, crystal, brown. Hops: Golding (+ Ginger root and bitter orange peel).  ABV: ~4.7%

untitle8dThe beer pours deep brown in color with a cream colored head. The nose is bold – significant notes of ginger, orange peel and roasted malt with hints of coffee and chocolate in the background; it is hard to believe this beer is under 5% ABV. The beer drinks very layered, starting out with pleasant malt with hints of roast and chocolate before beginning to show the ginger coupled with a slight touch of spicy heat from the root and a very mild bitterness before moving into pleasant orange peel and chocolate. The flavors build on each other and all appear on the very long finish with a nice tongue tingle. The use of ginger is restrained and acts as a supporting player, allowing all of the other complex players to come through in a well-balanced and deep beer.

NW Peaks Kendall Porter rolls into the station with 5 Red Lines out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Imperial Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2Hey, how about this – a new beer from Reuben’s and I am posting it when it is still available on tap. They decided to do an Imperial Porter which is exciting since I love porters and I don’t think I have ever tried and imperial version of one.  This is a hefty beer, clocking in at 9.0% ABV and 53 IBU, so not for the faint of heart.

The beer pours jet black with a creamy brown head. Notes of dark chocolate and roasted malt dominate the nose with hints of caramel and sugar. The beer starts out with just a hint of sugar before moving into strong flavors of chocolate and roast with a pleasant bitterness and very light coffee and vanilla notes. The finish lingers like a nice cup of coffee. Deep and complex, the beer drinks like a stellar coffee with an incredible richness and just a hint of bitterness that compliments rather than detracts from the beer. The most amazing part is that the alcohol is not noticeable at all, making this beer just a bit too easy going down for my own good – it is definitely one that I could easily find myself ordering 2 or 3.

Reuben’s Imperial Porters meets me in the lobby and carries my luggage to my room with a perfect 5 luxury hotels out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Unita Sea Legs Baltic Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

ssdsadweI am always surprised that breweries coming out of Utah are able to make anything resembling good beer, considering the draconian laws they have around alcohol in that state. Breweries like Unita and Epic have really shown that a brewery can both survive and thrive in that environment. Unita does distribute to Seattle and has some pretty good beers, so a trip to Chuck’s where there was one on tap that I had never seen before – Sea Legs Baltic Porter, was a nice surprise.

From the Unita website:

December 18, 2012 SALT LAKE CITY– Uinta Brewing Company introduces the newest addition to their Crooked Line of beers, Sea Legs Baltic Porter. Sea Legs is a limited release, only 1,500 cases were produced.

Complex and drinkable, Sea Legs delivers flavors of roasted malt and chocolate. Sea Legs was aged in Bourbon Barrels for nearly 12 months adding toasted vanilla and bourbon notes to the flavor profile. This Medium-bodied Baltic Porter has a complex malt profile and mild hop bitterness. With a hidden ABV of 8%, Sea Legs is a siren of a beer.

The beer pours jet black with lots of chocolate, licorice and vanilla dominating the nose with roasted barley hiding in the background. The initial sip yields notes of vanilla with hints of roast before moving into a slightly woody/licorice middle and finally finishing with a long chocolate finish with strong notes of licorice. The wood is somewhat unexpected (and wood I mean like pine rather than oak barrel, which is odd since it is aged in bourbon barrels) and the licorice seems slightly out of balance with the other flavors in terms of dominating them, making this somewhat off-putting. It is an interesting beer and might give it another shot, but it definitely wasn’t one that I would run out to try again.

Unita’s Sea Legs Baltic Porter stumbles into port with 2 broken rudders out of 5.


Beer of the Week: Elysian Raconteur

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle3dThe beauty of Elysian’s beers is that they not only have some grate creativity, but they do produce a good number of tribute beers – beers that are clones of very well known, but not necessarily great beers.  One they did recently was a clone of Yuengling Porter as a tribute to one of their employees. In case you are not aware, Yuengling from Pottsville, PA, is the oldest continuously operating brewery in the United States, brewing beer back to 1829, and their porter holds a soft spot in my heart as one of the first dark beers that I truly loved 20+ years ago (although calling the beer a porter is a bit of a misnomer, it is actually a black lager and not a true porter).  The beer was only available on tap and clocked in at just 25 IBU and 4% ABV.

Raconteur looks very much like Yuengling in the glass – a slightly opaque black, not the deep black that you might expect from a porter. Chocolate malt with hints of grain dominate the nose, with much a more pronounced aroma than the original. There is lots of grain up front on the initial sip with notes of chocolate and caramel interspersed – much bolder than the original, with a long and slightly hoppy finish. You get a great deal of the lager character on this beer, same as the original, but the malt, roasted flavors and hops are amped up making the copy a bolder and better beer than the original while still retaining much of the original character of the recipe. Raconteur takes a stab at an American classic and delivers a fine tribute while taking the flavors from a mass consumption beer to a fine specialty beer.

Raconteur brings me back to my college days and delivers a solid 3 TEP’s out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Pumpkin Spice Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMPopuluxe Brewing decided to venture into the realm of pumpkin beers, albeit with a bit of apprehension, with their Pumpkin Spice Porter. Given my love of their base Porter and my overall love of pumpkin beers, I had to give this one a shot. Pumpkin Spice is a bit bigger than their regular porter, clocking in at 6.9% ABV.

The beer pours very dark brown but not completely opaque with notes of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg coupled with a nice roasted malt background on the nose. The beer starts out on the roasted side of the flavors with hints of chocolate before progressing into the spice realm –a nice lineup from cinnamon to cloves to allspice, each distinct without being overpowering or palate deadening. The spice balances rather than dominates the roasted notes, bringing a pleasantly warming feel to the beer – nice for sipping on a chilly fall day. The spices are well-integrated into the beer and the alcohol is barely noticeable with being warming rather than burning. The only thing really missing is a nice background pumpkin flavor – that would have brought this beer to a higher plane.

Populuxe Pumpkin Spice Porter hangs out in the pumpkin patch for a limited time with a solid 4 gourds out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Ate2Four Plum Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMA few months back, Populuxe brewed a plum porter which I was very much enamored with. Since it was just about plum season, I offered them up the plums off my trees, which they took me up on. In exchange for the plums, the kind folks at Populuxe let me name the beer. I bounced around the names for a while and I finally decided to name it after my house number – 824. Being the deranged mind that I have, I couldn’t just use the number, so I decided to engage in a bit of word play – hence Ate2Four. Hey, it may not be the best name, but I get a kick out of it, and my goal in life is to crack myself up, so tough.

The beer pars dark black with strong notes of chocolate and coffee on the nose. The beer starts out with some bold but not overpowering flavors of chocolate and coffee on the initial taste with a strong malt character. Those flavors linger before finishing with mild balancing notes of dried fruit and raisins that linger for quite a long time. Those notes are there but are not dominating the beer, so you may not recognize them unless you knew they were there. This beer is very well balanced and is not your typical fruit beer – the plums compliment the roasted coffee and chocolate notes of the beer, acting as a balancing flavor rather than a dominant one in the beer.  Think of this one as a really nice brown porter with a supporting plum flavor instead of a plum beer that is porter based.

The other day, this beer was poured at Brew at the Zoo. The keg kicked in about 1 hour 15 minutes – helped along by it being the most interesting beer being poured at the list and was one of a small handful of dark beers being poured. For those who did not get to try this beer, it may be making a comeback in the fall. Check out the Populuxe Facebook site for their current tap list.

I am very happy to have contributed to the success of this beer and yes, I am biased, but the Ate2Four version of the Plum Porter was every bit as good as the original, copying its brother with a perfect 5 Xerox out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Experimental Sour Brown Porter

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMA few months back, Populuxe brewed a small batch of their Brown Porter as a sour beer. I tried it and thought that it was one of the better sours available and, for a while, thought it was the best beer that Populuxe brewed. It somehow got buried in my notebook and did not make it onto the blog as a result. It is time to correct that and oh, did I mention that the beer might be available on tap soon?

The beer pours medium brown in color with notes of chocolate and roasted malt dominating the nose with hints of light sour in the background. The first sip produces medium notes of chocolate and coffee at the front of the palate, yielding to malt and light English yeast in the middle before finishing off with a mildly sour/sweet malt finish. The sour lingers, not in a lip puckering way, but in a light and pleasant experience, almost like a sourball candy. The sour and chocolate flavors become slightly more pronounced as the beer warms, but neither ever become too heavy and dominate the beer. This isn’t a Flanders Ale – it has a great richness and complexity that you would expect in a porter and just enough sour to let you know that there is something beyond the porter going on here. The sourness integrates well with the malt character of the porter, leaving you with a complex and interesting drinking experience. The Experimental Brown Porter would be a good way to get someone who doesn’t like sours to try one – a number of friends who fall into this category tried this beer and liked it.

Populuxe Experimental Sour Brown Porter bellies up to the counter with a stellar 5 penny candies out of 5.