Bacchus Brewing Balt Action Porter (Oak Edition)

Total Score: 8.05/10 DarkFruits1Wood1Vanilla1Tulipglass1

It’s time for us to go Marty! “Where?” Back to the Bacchus! – Doc Hops. So this one came as recommended from Ross Kenrick himself – a Baltic Porter, which is brewed with Lager yeast, so you learn something new every day… problem is that I forgot 2 things I knew every day… at this rate I’ll have early-onset dementia in a less than a decade (I shouldn’t jest – dementia is a pretty serious health issue hey). So Bacchus makes a Balt Action Porter and an oak edition of the Balt Action, now everyone knows that oak is better right? No? Well it is – now you know. Flavours expected in this 9.8% ABV behemoth are dark fruits, maybe a touch of acidic sourness (as Baltic Porters are known for), brown sugar, and vanilla from the oak… this should be one tasty brew!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep cola-coloured body, difficult to tell if it’s cloudy or not, 2 centimetre tan head that fizzles down gradually like a soft drink (the fizzing is fairly audible). Stops at about 3mm, impressive that there even was a head at 9.8% ABV. 8/10.

S: Red coffee cherries and dark fruit forward aroma, notes of a slight Greek yoghurt sourness as well, oak character? Hard to tell through that predominant coffee cherries/dark fruit aroma. The lack of oak on the nose and much else apart from that which is noted means this brew falls a little short in the aroma for me. 6/10.

T: Flavour is pretty damn good though – this is deceptively easy drinking! Not too sweet either – which can be a problem with any brew north of 8%. Coffee hints, dark fruits pirouetting on the taste buds, that subtle yoghurt acidic kiss, wood character, vanilla, yes it’s got oak as vaunted on the label, all lead towards a dry/woody finish. It’s got a drying aftertaste as well. Tasty, and an excellent representation of the style – another reason for me to drink more Baltic Porters right here. 9/10.

M: Body though… needs more body at this ABV… medium bodied with a thin and crisp carbonation. Oats or lactose in the next batch perhaps Mr. Kenrick? 6/10.

D: Overall a rather tasty, nay excellent, Baltic Porter. The thin body and two-note aroma were the only things holding this back, it’s tough when you’re brewing with Lager yeast though – it’s prone to a thinner mouthfeel and crispness in general. The oak came through in the flavour though, excellent. Also the drinkability of this brew is surprisingly dangerous: 3.9 standard drinks, time for bed now methinks! 9/10.

Food match: Chargrilled steak and roast veggies… throw in a Yorkie and Diane too.

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Stone 20th Anniversary Encore Series: 6th Anniversary Porter

Total Score: 7.8/10 Wood1Vanilla1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

This rerelease is based on a beer based on an anniversary for Stone, it’s a veritable Inception of beers – like a beer within a beer within a beer… it’s BEERCEPTION! Anyhow I really quite enjoyed Stone’s actual 20th Anniversary beer: Citracado, so I figured this rerelease of their 6th Anniversary Porter would go down a treat, plus in 2002 (the year the original was released) I was drinking mostly Guinness and there was no way in hell a craft beer from the states would even have gotten to Australia, so I guess my only chance to try 6th Anniversary Porter is right now in 2017, yay the future!

Poured from a 650ml “bomber” bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep chocolate brown almost jet black body with a nice thin tan head that quickly fades to leave a thin lace ring and bubbles on top. At 8% ABV seeing a head disappear like this is not uncommon, and I do like the look of a dark beer… so: 8/10.

S: Beechwood upfront provides a nice bacon(y) foil to the dark chocolate/coffee grinds aroma of this Porter. Can’t really go past that Beechwood smoke though – it’s reminiscent of the best (Schlenkerla comes to mind), hint of nuttiness in there as well. This aroma has plenty of character, as Stone are known to provide in most of their brews. Really looking forward to the next bit. 8/10.

T: F**ken tasty this! Bold dark chocolate/coffee front palate, mid hits with bacon and Beechwood smoke, vanilla sweetness enters (and quickly departs) as this delightful brew finishes with what I would call an overly assertive astringent bitterness in the finish. That bitterness wrecks the palate a little bit and holds it back from being a truly great brew, but the journey is still good. Aftertaste lingers with some sharp bitterness. Did I mention woody? Yes, woody too. 8/10.

M: Mid to heavy bodied with a dense/creamy carbonation, great stuff! 8/10.

D: Apart from that sharp lingering bitterness in the finish and aftertaste this is one decent Porter from those fine chaps (and chapettes) at Stone. The simple fact is: This is a real assertively bitter American Porter. If you’re a Russian Imperial Stout drinker… or nearly any Stout drinker, chances are this will be too OTT bitter. However if your favourite beer tipple begins with ‘I’ and ends ‘A’ you’ll probably get right into this. Me, I feel I straddle both worlds – I love a Stout and an IPA, and this Stone was edging a little too much for me with bitterness. 7/10.

Food match: The smokinest Cuban cigar you can conjure up for less than $50.

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BrewCult Acid Freaks Balsamic Baltic Porter

Total Score: 8.45/10 DarkFruits1BrownSugar1RedWine1Tulipglass1

Recently had this at a new, and might I add: pretty awesome, little craft beer bar called “Saccharomyces Beer Cafe” in South Brisbane. First off they have 10 taps of various craft beers carefully curated to provide something for everyone’s tastes, including my what some might say peculiar liking of dark beers in summer. Secondly they have pinball. You need to check it out. Nuff said. Anyway the beer – I’ve always liked BrewCult but felt they could sometimes use a bit more umpf. In that respect I was pleasantly surprised by this rather big and tasty Baltic Porter including Balsamic vinegar.

Poured from tap into a fancy Schooner-sized brandy snifter.

A: Presents with a hazy, almost opaque, cola-coloured body, and a nice off-white lace ring – which for a beer at 7.5% ABV is about as good as it usually gets. Personally I quite fancied the colour of the body, it looks exactly as you would imagine a beer/balsamic mix would turn out. 9/10.

S: Very prominent balsamic vinegar note upfront followed by dark fruits and brown sugar. Spot on aroma for a Baltic Porter (dark fruit and brown sugar) with the balsamic providing the acidity you would get from a classic Baltic Porter stale ale addition (as some were known to be mixed with). 9/10.

T: Flavours noted as above with a nice interplay between sweet/sour/bitter flavours – the balance is top-notch (with bitterness slightly lacking and sour a touch stronger). The balsamic is not as bold as noticed in the aroma but is nonetheless decent. Aftertaste is lightly sour and sweet. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a light carbonation. The texture of this beer is rather excellent – I do love body in my beers and this has, for an Australian beer at least, a good heft to it. 8/10.

D: Wow, this is the best BrewCult beer I’ve had to date – it’s full of flavour, it touches on 3 of the taste senses (whereas most beers only do sweet/bitter), I can imagine pairing this with so many different foods, and it’s a new take on the Baltic Porter style. Bravo BrewCult for creating this intriguing brew. Oh yeah, and balsamic + beer = mad genius. Would definitely get this on tap again if I ever see it, cheers! 9/10.

Food match: This beer and a traditional Italian buffalo cheese, prosciutto and rocket pizza would be freaking awesome.

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4 Pines Keller Door Oaked Baltic Porter

Total Score: 8.65/10 Bread1 DarkFruits1 BrownSugar1 Nonicpint1

Not the biggest fan of 4 Pines, or Baltic Porters for that matter, I find their beers overhyped and under delivering, not unlike Baltic Porters. Looks like one of the most overhyped/under delivering brewers has brewed one of the most overhyped/under delivering styles… this should be interesting. That said most of their Keller Door brews have been excellent – I wish they applied that heady Keller Door experimentation to their year-round releases but that appears to be an unrealistic wish for any Australian craft brewer (exhibit A: Little Creatures Small Batch) these days. Regardless I am looking forward to this brew. PS: Love the label design!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: A nice Porter cloudy dirt brown body with a thin tan head – as far as Porters go this is near perfect, except: LET ME FINISH!!! It could use a bit more head… [couldn’t we all?] *ahem* pretty beer though. 8/10.

S: Aroma is sweet, bready, woody, vanilly(?) goodness. It has that typical Baltic Porter heavy bread character mingling with dark fruit sweetness and the wood/vanilla notes from the oak are spot on just what this beer, and by my association with said beer: I, needs. Tasty. 9/10.

T: Funky and not for the light-hearted brewventurer – some sour rye bread character upfront, overripe almost rotting sour dark fruit esters come to the fore, then it hits with vanilla-woody overtones, brown sugar, ethyl acetate (nail polish remover) and finishes with a battle between herbal bitters and a sour flourish. This is the most interesting brew I’ve had since I became familiar with Flanders Red Ales. Again a rookie craft beer drinker might mistake this for a brewing blunder but these flavours are intended and make for some intriguing drinking. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied with a light but dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: Well I wasn’t expecting anything this challenging – easily the best Baltic Porter I’ve had thus far and I think the best Keller Door brew I’ve had… checking my scores… confirmed! If you, like me, are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary but you don’t want a face-evaporating-sour brew like Lindemans Kriek Cuvée René then give this ago… one negative: Like all the Keller Door releases the price is $10 for 500ml – I haven’t brought up beer prices in a while but even this is a bit rich for my blood, a point has been detracted for said reason. 8/10.

Food match: Some sort of meat with some sort of jus is in order for this brew – beef and red wine – done, also sharp cheese platter, done.

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