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Friday, February 22, 2013

Horny Goat Brewing's Brownie Flavored Porter

  • Style: Porter (supposedly.  I have my doubts)
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • Season: Fall/Winter
  • Ease to locate: Midwest distribution mainly.  Their website only lists places in WI and one MN store, but since I purchased this in Chicago, I  assume it's an incomplete list.  Imagine that.
  • Color: Light brown/amber
  • Head: Decent 1 & 1/2 finger foam with virtually no lacing
  • Aroma: Cinnamon and brown sugar.  No chocolate, coffee or dark fruit scents at all
  • Mouthfeel: Light to medium.  It reminded me of a glass of flat cream soda.
  • Finish: Medium with an artificial sugar note lingering on the end
  • Food friendly: Well, I did have to eat a cookie to get the taste of the beer out of my mouth.... 

 Nobody sets out to make a bad beer.  What would be the purpose in that?  Just like no producer has ever purposely tried to make a horrible movie.  Yes, directors such as Ed Wood, Roger Corman and Michael Bay have made films that could give you pause as to whether anyone actually informed them that the camera was rolling for most of the footage.  But even these people (well, OK, you could make a case against Bay on this one) created their movies from the heart.  When a brewery creates a recipe for a new beer, of course they hope that it will be tasty.  Of course they hope that people will love it.  Of course the reaction they are hoping for is a resounding "MORE BEER" from the thirst quenched masses.  I'd also like to be 5'9 and never have to do a sit up again in my life.  Things don't always work out the way we wish.

Oddest looking brownie I've ever seen

Horny Goat Brewing is a brewery/brewpub in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  They make an array of beers, some that sound less appetizing than others (watermelon wheat beer, anyone?  Really?  No takers?)  During the winter months, I'm  a stout & porter sort of girl.  And, truth be told, I'm pretty much an all season brownie  sort of girl.  So a brownie porter sounded like a match made in heaven.  My boss loves this brewery and on his recommendation, I picked up a bottle of their brew to review (and to get him to stop saying "horny goat" to me.  It was getting uncomfortable.)    

Nice lacing.  But I guess even Hitler had his good points


My Brownie Porter poured a light brown with red tints.  It looked pretty enough, but nothing like I'm used to for a beer labeled a porter.  Honestly?  It reminded me of a brown ale in appearance.  A white one and a half finger head foamed and quickly fell to a shallow film covering the surface of the beer.  I was surprised that the head was so snow white, since in my experience, most heads found on porters are off white to a robust dark tan.  The lacing was impressive with large chucks of foam clinging to the glass.   In fact, it was the wonderful lacing that gave me some hope.  I mean, a beer that has decent lacing might turn out alright in the long run, right?  And Damien was just a misunderstood kid with an unusual birthmark.  

This was a good Omen. 

The heady scent of the "porter" (and yes, I'm going to use quotation marks when calling this beer a porter from now on.  Feel free to imagine my eyes rolling as well) was unlike any sort of porter I've ever tried.  The heaviest note was that of cinnamon, but not in a snooker doodle cookie or lovey warm pastry shop sort of way.  More like sticking your face in a bowl of cinnamon spice and snorting it sort of way.  Almost as heavy was the aroma of brown sugar.  To say that these two scents were overloaded was an understatement.  I placed the pint glass on a table to snap a photo of the head and I could smell the spice and sugar without even lowering my  head.  There was no chocolate or coffee scents that I usually associate with most porters.  Let's just say that my expectations weren't sky high when I actually took a sip of the beer.  It pretty much tasted just as it smelled.  An abundance of cinnamon and brown sugar.  I detected a bit of roasted malts thankfully, but it did little to improve the odd dominant  flavors.  There was an unpleasant undernote that tasted artificial, like a bad diet cookie (and that's saying something because I don't personally think that there are any good diet cookies out there.)  The mouthfeel was thin to medium with no carbonation at all.  For all intensive purposes, it reminded me of a flat, off brand diet pop (click here if you aren't from the midwest .)  The finish was mercifully short, with the artificial belch flavor  lingering ever so slightly.

This happened in less than a minute.  This was not a good omen
I feel that I need to take some of the blame here.  I was the one who entered into this drinking session with certain, obviously unattainable, expectations.  Since the name of the beer was listed as "brownie porter" I actually expected the beer to reflect the attributes of at least a brownie and/or  a porter.  Silly, silly, stupid me.  My best guess here is that the brewers themselves were eating brownies and drinking porters when they came up with this beer (and I'll leave you to figure out what kind of brownies they might have been ingesting.  I mean, the brewery is called Horny Goat.)  They never meant for you and I to associate their beer with the dark, chocolatey mochaness of either brownies or porters.  If a beer ever needed a fine print, this is it.  I can't help but wonder if they had named the beer something along the line of "Roasted Cinnamon Nuts Ale" or "This is Not A Brownie Porter" I may have gone a little easier on them.  I still would have drain poured half the glass and ate a cookie to get the taste out of my mouth, but I wouldn't have had to use those quotation marks as much when reviewing.