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Friday, March 1, 2013

Smuttynose Brewery Co's Robust Porter

  • Style: Porter
  • ABV: 6.20%
  • Season: Year Round
  • Ease to locate: Well distributed East of the Mississippi with an emphasis in New England.  Apologies to my West Coast friends.  But you get the good weather, so suck it up
  • Color: A rich, dark brown
  • Head: Generous two fingers with tasty looking lacing
  • Aroma: Roasted coffee beans, dark chocolate, caramel sweetness and bit of dark fruit 
  • Mouthfeel: Medium body
  • Finish: Long and satisfying.  A bit of hops on the tail
  • Food friendly: Barbeque meats, grilled portobello mushrooms and any sort of hearty, meaty dishes.  Pair it with buttery cheeses like Havarti and Swiss.

 Is there such as thing as truth in advertizing?  Not too long ago, there was a huge brouhaha over false claims by the dairy industry regarding milk's ability to help you lose weight.  Apparently it's illegal to imply that people can become Superman if they drink a glass of milk.  Who knew?  Personally I'm more concerned that people are being lead to believe that this guy is actually Superman.

Man of aluminum
So when I picked up a bottle of Smuttynose's Robust Porter, I had to wonder if a beer with such a simple and direct name could deliver on it's promise.  We live in a craft world filled with beers named things like Blood of the Unicorn and Prolonged Enjoyment.  There's a certain graceful elegance  in naming your beer something so to the point.  There's also a bit of bravado there too.  Robust Porter.  With a name like that, Smuttynose basically has thrown down the gauntlet and had better deliver on their claim of brewing a big, hearty porter.    Any sort of muted flavors or watery mouthfeel wouldn't just disappoint me.  I'd be forced to take it as a personal affront and demand retribution Kill Bill style (minus the bumble bee jogging suit.  I just don't look good in yellow.)   

Like waves on a rough sea.  Because sailors are a robust lot.  Except for Disney pirates.  
You almost need a spork. 

My Robust Porter poured a rich, oaky, dark brown color.  It was a solid looking beer, no hints of any color but brown, even when held to the light.  It produced a hearty, two finger head with thick, light tan foam.  Amazing lacing stuck to the sides of the pint, like puffy, fermented Colorforms (and no, there aren't any beer specific  Colorforms.  Yet.)  The head takes it's time in settling down to a dense layer that lasted for almost all of the drink. The beer itself smelled wonderful.  Roasted, almost burnt, coffee beans hit me first.  Good coffee.  Like "I'm willing to pay 5 bucks for a tiny paper cup of it" coffee.   Bittersweet dark chocolate  and sweet caramel aromas mixed on the nose.  The overall result was not too sweet, just enough to balance out the almost burnt quality of the coffee.  The porter's taste reflected the nose extraordinarily well.  Dark roasted coffee, dark bitter chocolate and dark chewy fruits mingled like rejected American Idol contestants at a Karaoke night open bar.  There was a bit of sweet, nutty toffee to lift the dark veil a bit.  As the porter warmed a little, I could also detect a smidgen of smokiness and a tinge of earth there too, which lent the beer some extra depth.  The mouthfeel was on the high end of medium, thicker than a regular porter but not as lush as a good imperial stout (which it wasn't claiming to be.)   I think the fair amount of carbonation helped make the chewiness of this beer work.  I never felt as if it was too much to handle mainly because of the fizziness of the bubbles. The finish was long and complex.  It started off with the coffee and chocolate flavors and smoothly transitioned to a slightly hopped up, yet satisfyingly dry, finish.   I noticed some coffee ground-like flecks of sediment at the bottom of my glass after finishing most of my beer (robust to the last drop indeed.)  Next time I'll remember to pour a bit more carefully.      

The gorgeous head was still robust after a few minutes

I would pair Smuttynose's Robust Porter with dishes that I think of as Ron Swanson foods (and if you know who I'm talking about, a) you're awesome and b) you need to check this out for food pairings.).  You want to serve this beer with big, bold foods, but I also think that a hearty stew of roasted root vegetables  would be a great vegetarian option (as I understand it, vegetarians like good beer too.)   Robust Porter was one of the better balanced porters out there.  There was no hype, no gimmicks, no unreasonable, unfulfilled  expectations.  Smuttynose promised robust and they delivered.  I can't help but wish that more companies (breweries and otherwise) would follow suit.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to use my Shamwow to clean up the spots that the Glass Wizard  missed on my window after things got a bit out of hand while mincing some Chia Pet Herbs with my Slap Chop .