- Style: English Porter
- AVB: 6.40%
- Season: Year Round
- Ease to locate: Most large grocery & liquor stores (I got mine at Marianos)
- Color: Dark black/brown like strong coffee
- Head: Half a finger
- Aroma: Strong chocolate malts, coffee & dark fruit as the beer warmed
- Mouthfeel: Medium, but smooth
- Finish: Shorter than expected
- Food friendly: Roasted red meats, any sort of Bar-B-Que, earthy cheeses
Maybe make that three.
English Porter was first brewed as a cheap & filling drink for British transportation workers, hence the name "porter." And thank god for them. As far as I know, all that American porters have given us is a decent Johnny Cash song, but how far can that take you on a cool November night? Traditionally it's a blend of three different ales: stale or sour ale, brown or pale ale and a mild ale. Basically, it was a concoction of whatever the brewer had left sitting around in his carboys, much like a hotel restaurant will
Left Hand's Black Jack Porter poured a deep, rich chocolate color, a thick black/brown. There were scarlet highlights towards the bottom when held up to a light. I had expected a thick head and was surprised when only about a half a finger of tan foam appeared. The head settled almost immediately and left a thin sheet of lacing, almost like a biting rain sliding down a window pane. The aroma was heavy with chocolate and malts. This beer was not playing coy. The scent immediately told you exactly what you were in for taste-wise. In addition to the sweet notes of chocolate and toasty malts, I could also distinguish the bitterness of roasted coffee and toffee nuttiness. As the beer warmed slightly, subtle dark fruit flavors emerged. It became less sweet as it sat for a bit and the depth of flavors made it a much more interesting beer than the first sip had promised. The mouthfeel was only medium, which struck me as odd for such a thick looking and heavily scented beer. I don't think that the moderate mouthfeel detracted from the porter, but I was expecting a bit more creaminess and a longer finish. I did really like that Left Hand brewed a porter that was lower in ABV without sacrificing the flavor profile. It was a smooth and easy to drink porter that ultimately just didn't live up to it's full potential (like many politicians, if you ask me.)
Black Jack Porter is a year round option from Left Hand Brewing Co., but I can't imagine enjoying this beer in the middle of July. On a cool November night? Hell yes, it hits the spot. I think that the disappointing mouthfeel and finish actually enhances the food friendliness of this beer. This porter would be brilliant drunk with a traditional beef stew or a pot roast, served with carrots and potatoes cooked in the roast's own juices. It would also be delicious with any sort of bar-b-qued meats. Personally I'm think ribs, sticky with a molasses and coffee sauce. If you're putting together a cheese plate, match it with an earthy cheese, such as a Wisconsin goat milk white cheddar. Sit tight, have a beer and know that political ad season will be all over soon. Just in time for the Christmas commercials to start.