Yulli’s Brews Fat Nerd Vanilla Porter

Total Score: 6.6/10 Coffee1Vanilla1Chocolate1Nonicpint1

So I found this one in a small bottleshop in Byron Bay and I was quite… not enamoured… and not unenthused (otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it back to Brisbane with me for the purposes of reviewing it)… let’s just say I was quite polysemous about this beer [thank you thesaurus!]. So yeah, who’s Yulli? And why does he have more than one brew? And what’s with the singling out of nerds who are also overweight? And does this beer even taste good? Is it a vanilla Porter in that it has vanilla added to it? Or does it just taste like it has vanilla? And what’s the deal with airline peanuts? Why are those peanut bags so hard to open? These and many other questions may or may not [most likely not] be answered, so read on!

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint.

A: Slightly hazed deep brown, mahogany like so many leather bound books, body with a lovely 1 centimetre beige head that hangs around for a while before dropping down to a blanket on top. Some lace sticks to the side of the glass. This looks all G. 8/10.

S: Roasted espresso coffee, dark chocolate and hints of vanilla… AHA! The can label answers a question: Vanilla bean has indeed been added. Interesting – you’d expect a bit more vanilla in the aroma if you were adding vanilla bean, at least I would. Other than that the aroma is nice and bold, if a little bit singular. 7/10.

T: Smooth flavours of the above: Roasted espresso coffee, dark chocolate and hints of vanilla. Yep, that’s it. I’m striving to find anything else but this is just a bit lacking in complexity. Don’t get me wrong though – what this beer does it does well, but yeah, I need a bit more excitement than this Fat Nerd can provide [and that is my winner for weirdest statement I’ve made this week!]. Finish is semi-dry with a roasted char and espresso bitterness coming in. Needs more vanilla too. 6/10.

M: Mouthfeel is decent… ish… mid to light bodied, borderline medium, but a touch watery as well, with a dense/sharp carbonation. That’s got to be a: 7/10.

D: Fat Nerd doesn’t disappoint, but it also doesn’t inspire greatness, it’s a bitza of a brew, the sum is less than the value of the parts, and overall whilst I didn’t not enjoy this I won’t go out of my way to track it down. That said there are plenty of worse Aussie Porters out there as well (there’s a list as long as my arm right there!). So yeah, Fat Nerd Vanilla Porter – a run-o-mill craft Porter that neither pleases or disappoints… add it to the “OK” list. 7/10.

Food match: Hmmm… stew? No, too obvious… chocolate cake? Yes.

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Sierra Nevada Porter

Total Score: 6.75/10 Chocolate1 Smoke1 Earth1 Nonicpint1

Perhaps the last piece in the Porter puzzle comes from Sierra Nevada, a brewer I have long admired from afar in my home country of Oz-stralia. We know upfront that Sierra Nevada is well known for any beer with the words “pale” and “ale” in them, but how well do they approach the Porter style – with a slam-dunk like the equally-impressive-at-brewing-pale-ales Founders, or with a beer that is barely recognisable as a Porter like the example I just tried by Anchor? I suspect they’ll fall in between those two, but there is only one way to find out (aka ‘the fun part!’).

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Quite light, more like a hazed darkened Amber than the usual black/browns you would get from a Porter – that in itself is a worrying sign of things to come – with a 2 cm wispy off-white head that sticks around well. Way too light is the final verdict here. 6/10.

S: Aroma is definitely more in the Porter ball-park than Anchor’s offering – with a dusty chocolate, earthy coffee aroma, and some lingering coffee cherry notes. I scored the Anchor higher because I like molasses, and that had bags of it, whereas this aroma is more in the right direction it definitely is lacking some heft. 7/10.

T: The above aromas are present in the flavour (with some added camp-fire smokiness) however it never really lifts the game from the aroma and is most certainly lacking in the flavour department. To wit – I’ve had better Australian Porters/Stouts than this, and Australia is hardly a Mecca for Porters. 7/10.

M: Body is much better than the Anchor lot – with a mid to light, borderline medium body, light carbonation, eminently drinkable but not Founders smooth (not many beers are Founders smooth). 7/10.

D: Sierra Nevada’s least impressive beer? I can safely say “umm, sure, why not” I may be assassinated (beerlitically) for saying this but this is by far the worst SN brew I’ve had so far, however that isn’t saying too much as all their other brews have been so bloody brilliant, they just dropped the ball on this one as far as I’m concerned. I’m not overly disappointed though, there are plenty of awesome Porters out there and there’s little need for SN to fill this niche for me, as long as they keep up the standard they’ve been keeping with their Pale Ales and IPAs I will continue to be a happy man. 6/10.

Food match: Despite (or due to) being a watered-down version of a Porter this brew would work well at that most classic of backyard functions – the BBQ.

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Anchor Porter

Total Score: 6.4/10 Caramel1 DarkFruits1 Nut1 Nonicpint1

Anchor Porter, the latest on my ever-slowly-growing Christmas list of Anchor beers is (as will be the next beer I review) an anomaly – a blip stylistically – from a brewer better known for another beer type (in this case their patented “Steam Beer”). With the trepidation of a beer explorer going into the jungles of Porter from a brewer that is knowingly focused on another style, and armed with terribly conjured metaphors, I ventured forth… will I ever see my loved ones again? Perhaps I shall write them a letter.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Dark, hazed cola body with a massive 1 inch tan head that slowly settles down to a centimetre, in the process confusing my American readers by mixing Imperial and metric measurements – bad beer! 8/10.

S: Unroasted coffee beans, chocolate and dark fruits give this Porter a touch of English Strong Ale, hint of molasses brings us back to the US of A. Further whiffs (and as is trademark to my reviews: taking too long in writing my thoughts and letting the beer warm considerably) releases a lot more molasses, to the point that you would think this beer was a Southern gentleman who enjoys repeating the word “molasses” with an added grunt ad nauseam. 8/10.

T: Flavour is molasses up front with dark fruits, some nuttiness (interesting) and earthy/herbal hop bitterness in the finish. Overall flavour is more like a Strong or Brown Ale than a Porter, and as such creates a distraction for a well-versed Stout drinker like myself. Where are the heavier/darker flavours of coffee/chocolate characters I wonder? Aftertaste is a bitter herbal note. Not a fan of this Porter. 6/10.

M: Watery, mid to light bodied with a wafer-thin carbonation… it is indeed lacking here over other Porters I’ve had. 5/10.

D: Don’t get me wrong, I do like a good English Strong Ale (I regularly keep Hook Norton’s Twelve Days in my fridge) but this Porter is so far off style it’s difficult to recommend it over other Porters like: Founders, Harviestoun, Samuel Smith’s or Fuller’s London Porter… I can easily keep naming decent Porters et al. – all of which have the classic Porter flavour profile that I know and love, trust me on this reader – I know a good Porter when I taste one, I have the same ability with Dalmatians (knowing them when tasting them). 6/10.

Food match: The overt (unroasted!) maltiness of this brew would suit game bird.

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Founders Porter

Total Score: 8.6/10 Coffee1 Caramel1 Earth1 Nonicpint1

Well. Founders Porter. It has taken me a while to get to you hasn’t it? As the saying goes: “The longer the wait, the sweeter the reward.” And you Founders do make some of the sweetest rewards there are to be had in the Beerosphere (aka Earth). I guess for me the biding of time has been a result of hearing not the greatest things about this Porter, and little did I want to see the mighty Founders fall from grace, however having seen other reviews on this Porter and the decent aggregate score on BeerAdvocate I guess there really is little for me to fear – and I do love Stouts, whoops; Porters dearly.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Look we all know what to expect: Opaque obsidian body, rich caramel coloured half centimetre head… and Founders delivers with a beer that is as black as my black heart (I am after all an ivory trader). The head does hang around very long but who cares with that delightful inky black body inviting us to sup on its roasty nectar? 9/10.

S: Charred coffee bean, hints of ripe red coffee bean, light caramel (yes caramel, not chocolate) malts and a wild forest berry background all ties together and presents a formidable Stout Porter aroma. There is very little to fault here – it’s dark, it’s roasty, it’s wild, I’m loving it so far. 9/10.

T: Damn it, those Founders bastards have done it again (how do they keep making great beers!?) with a flavour profile that is every bit of the above aromas combined with a sublime balance between the sweet (more molasses than caramel) malts and that slight smoky charred coffee bean that provides ample enough bitterness to carry through to the finish. The aftertaste leaves a bitter note on the tongue that makes you go back for another sip… it’s almost perfect… almost. 9/10.

M: Smooth, Founders mid to heavy bodied, and did I mention smooth? It’s no Marvin Gaye smooth but it is indeed a respectable Barry White. 9/10.

D: Well I was not disappointed by this Stout Porter [what’s the deal with Stouts and Porters Doc?] if you want to know google “stout porter history” and you will learn that a Stout is a Porter – the style began as “Stout Porter” or a heavier version of a Porter, which this Founders really is at 6.5% ABV. Now we come to the crux of it with this brew, for me at least, it’s a redundant beer: between FBS and FIS I see little reason to buy this brew, and that is a shame. 7/10.

Food match: I’m going to go Medieval banquet on this brew – or chargrilled steaks.

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Stoke Dark

Total Score: 6.6/10 Chocolate1 Coffee1 Smoke1 Nonicpint1

Yes, I’m on a Stout/Porter quest at the moment and the latest dark beer to find itself in my crosshairs is McCashin’s Brewery Stoke Dark. McCashin’s are (for me at least) famous for their Mac’s Hop Rocker and (to a lesser extent) their Sassy Red, both decent brews. Then in 1999 Lion (that macro giant) bought out Mac’s and they reformed as McCashin’s Brewery (aka Stoke). I wish I could say that the new Stoke brews I’ve tried (Bohemian Ale and Bomber Kiwi Pale Ale) are as good as the old Mac’s ones, but alas they are not. Is Stoke Dark going to be McCashin’s Dark Knight?*

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Hazy dark ruby body with a khaki half centimetre head that settles down to a thin blanket on top. Looks like a good Porter. 7/10.

S: Quite funky… *checks BB date of 12/11/15… no problem there* Aroma is cocoa powder, hints of drip coffee, some roasted caramel malt and sour cherry. A bit all over the place but I’ll forgive it as being interesting. 7/10.

T: The cocoa powder note comes to the fore and sets the tone well as an easy drinking chocolate Porter, the sort you would have with cookies and a bed time story. The rest of the flavour profile falls dangerously close to blandsville but thankfully isn’t bland, just close to bland (let it warm up a little to bring out the flavour). Hints of drip coffee provide a bitter and roasted note to the finish. Touch of smoke in the aftertaste. Sour cherry noted above is non-existent along with that funk, phew! Bigger flavour intensity would have given this a bigger score. 7/10.

M: Light(ish) body, definitely a Porter sore point for me after reviewing that luxurious Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout the other day, with a light carbonation. Goes down a bit wishy-washy. 5/10.

D: Well it certainly is one easy-drinking Porter, playing to a strength perhaps, but after sipping the nectar of the gods that is Founder’s Breakfast Stout and even Sam Smith’s OS, I can’t say that I’m a big fan of easy-drinking/watery Porters anymore [was I ever?!]. Damn shame I bought a six pack of this… at least it won’t take me long to finish it off. 6/10.

Food match: Cookies and a bed time story… or roast beef sandwich (pub style).

*Unintentional beer reference as Murray’s make a Dark Knight Porter, go me.

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Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter

Total Score: 7.85/10 Chocolate1 Coffee1 DarkFruits1 Nonicpint1

Warning: This beverage does not contain any tadpoles. That disappointment aside I am really looking forward to rating Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter, as I tried and reviewed their Oatmeal Stout quite recently (like today) and I found it to be, in the words of the great Bill and Ted; “Most excellent”. As I do have a preference for my beers thick (much like my gravies), an Oatmeal Stout is always going to win my charms with their charming charminess, so let’s find out if this Porter can also bring home the bacon and fry it in the pan… figuratively (literally would just be weird).

Poured from a 550ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Conducive to hard pouring these Sam Smith bottles – again I ended up with too much head [insert the classic Michael Scott catchphrase: “That’s what she said”] a big 1 inch tan head that dissipated to a thin lace on top. The body presents a deep dark hazy ruby red. TBH the Oatmeal Stout (hereto forth abbreviated as SOS) looked a bit tastier. 7/10.

S: More chocolate/coffee notes than the SOS, again with dark fruits lurking around like a bunch of punks in a nearby dark alley. Sweet molasses provides the base upon which this Porter is built. Rich, dark, formidable and (more importantly) an appetizing aroma that sits on par with the SOS. 8/10.

T: Again similar to the SOS but different enough to warrant its own existence. Whereas the SOS had a definite oat/coffee slant this Porter simply replaces oat notes with chocolate ones (both brews have a lingering background dark fruit, specifically plum, flourish). The molasses middle carries through to finish which is a light burnt bitter coffee. Still damn tasty but the SOS edges it slightly for me. 8/10.

M: Thinner than the medium bodied SOS (of course – there aren’t any oat starches in this brew to buff out its body) with a light carbonation. Good not great. 7/10.

D: Let’s face it – SOS was a hard brew to top – in fact I just went back and gave SOS some extra points in ‘drinkability’ so it would appear higher up in my ratings, ‘cause that’s how I roll yo. Overall I did like this Porter, it’s definitely got quite a bit going for it, but it couldn’t compete with the SOS for me. 8/10.

Food match: Roast beef, heavy gravy, vegetables (also roasted), seconds, wafer mint, cigar, death from over consumption – in that order.

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Browar Amber Grand Imperial Porter

Total Score: 4.75/10 BrownSugar1 DarkFruits1 Caramel1 Tulipglass1

Browar Amber, brewers of the delightful Koźlak (aka the Bock that isn’t), are far too difficult to resist with such a delightfully dark Imperial Porter such as their Grand, and TBH resisting Imperial anything these days has been a challenge whilst seeking the headiest of beer encounters in my elusive quest towards 500 reviews (to blog readers who haven’t read my other 400 odd reviews and think I am still just above the 100 mark – I will begin uploading my old reviews once I’ve reached the 500th review milestone, please be patient or read some of the magazines I have in my waiting room, huh how did that dog tailed 1992 issue of Camping and Caravanning end up in my waiting room?).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip (I almost typed ‘Duvall’ tulip and now I’m thinking Robert Duvall should release his own tulip glass, could be a winner).

A: Pours like a heavy ass big Browar Amber brew, much like the Lak (yes I have shortened Koźlak now that I’m quite familiar with it). Body is more a deep brown than obsidian, with a tan head that reduces to a lace ring. 6/10.

S: Aroma is almost exactly like the Lak: Caramel, fig, dates and rye bread. Certainly lacking in the chocolate so prominently displayed on the label… or coffee for that matter. I’m detecting raisin as well, but overall this is not a Porter, you can’t play the same trick twice Browar Amber – we all had a good laugh and enjoyed the Lak but playtime is over – brewing beer is serious business. 4/10.

T: Lays it over the tongue like a truckload of raisin and sugar, none of the chocolate or coffee noted on the label is present (maybe a slight hint of bitter coffee in the aftertaste). I thought we were friends Koźlak? Overall the flavour relies far too much on sweetness and lacks the characters that make Porters rock (such as chocolate, caramel, coffee, vanilla, that velvety texture). Whereas Koźlak was a Doppelbock in Bocks clothing this is a Doppelbock fairly naked… and boring. Too sweet. 5/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, slightly watery, with an almost flat carbonation. 4/10.

D: Wow, how could Browar Amber produce something as tasty as Koźlak, amp up the flavour and ABV and produce something as terrible as Grand Imperial Porter? For Gods sakes put some smoke or roasted characters in to make this slightly more interesting! Better yet add chocolate or coffee to the mix and counter the overbearing sweetness in this beverage with something… or anything! 5/10.

Food match: Insulin is where I would start with this brew.

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