Review: Kona Pipeline Porter

Kona says:

Pipeline Porter is smooth and dark with a distinctive roasty aroma and earthy complexity from its diverse blends of premium malted barley. This celebration of malt unites with freshly roasted 100% Kona coffee grown at Cornwell Estate on Hawaii’s Big Island, lending a unique roasted aroma and flavor. A delicate blend of hops rounds out this palate-pleasing brew.

Kona Pipeline Porter
Porter, 5.4% ABV

IMG_1221*This beer was provided by the brewer for the purpose of a review.

If you haven’t noticed, we’re big fans of porters around here: dry, robust, sweet, coffee-infused — we like ‘em all. Kona Pipeline Porter definitely leans heavy on the coffee, so if you’re into that sort of thing then you’re in for a treat.

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Deschutes Has Come To Illinois. So, How Is It?

Over the past month or two, the near-totality of beer press has revolved around the arrival of super popular West Coast brewery Deschutes.

IMG_0682They’re from Portland! People adore their porter! We couldn’t previously get their beer without some serious travel or shipping costs so let’s freak out for just a bit!

We’re equally to blame. We’ve covered the announcements, the distribution staffing changes, even the market managers. But what we haven’t seen is a description of the beers itself – until now.

IMG_0684We were provided the core beers from Deschutes gratis, for review purposes. We figured instead of straight reviews, why not put together quick snapshots of each beer and then give a Midwestern comparison? What is the Chainbreaker IPA most like? If you like which Midwestern porter, will you take to the Black Butte? All those questions and more, will be answered with the following:

Black Butte Porter

Like a stronger, bolder porter turned down to about 70% strength, there’s flavor here but it’s not “jump up and punch you in the face” kind of heartiness.

Midwestern Comparison: It’s got some nice richness and some peanut butter savoriness in the finish, but overall this beer reminds me more of a Bell’s Porter than a Founders or a Revolution Eugene.

When you don’t want to think too much about your porter, and are looking for something with some presence but nothing too aggressive, this porter will work for you.

Chainbreaker White IPA

Now this is what we’re talking about. This beer smells good, tastes good, looks good.

IMG_0683Nice and bright lemon in the aroma and the flavor, hazy light color like an early spring afternoon, Plenty of citrus and bitterness in this brew, which finishes with a healthy amount of sharp hoppiness along with continued fruit flavor.

Midwestern Comparison: Fans of 5 Lizard (and we certainly count ourselves among them) will recognize a lot to like in this beer – it’s quite similar in flavor and appearance, if considerably less creamy in body.

Mirror Pond Pale Ale

The lightest and pale-est pale I’ve had in a while, this brew poured with next to no aroma, and very restrained flavors overall. Perhaps I’ve just become used to the hardcore, sharp, super-bitter pale ales (yes, Zombie Dust comes to mind here) but this is almost like a pale ale with training wheels on.

Midwestern Comparison: A good entry point to the style for those who are hops-averse, but overall fairly tame. Nowhere near as aggressive as a Daisy Cutter or even a Green Line, we’re going to call this one close to Point’s Cascade Pale Ale although it’s admittedly been a while since we’ve had one.

Falling Into Fall (Beers)

If you followed our advice then you’re likely staring into an empty fridge that has been cleaned out of all of your summer favorites. No more Krankshaft, no more Oberon and no more Ruby Redbird.

And if you didn’t follow our counsel, no biggie, but I bet you’ll start thinking about fall beers soon.

Regardless of which camp you fall into we took it upon ourselves to compile a handy, dandy guide of our favorites for Fall.

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From The Cellar: Short’s Black Cherry Porter 2010

Short’s says:

“One of our biggest beers offered, the Black Cherry Porter is a full flavored strong porter brewed with sweet black cherries. The formula consists of several different malts, lending deep opaque color with purple lace from the fresh fruit it’s fermented with. Nearly 4 lbs. of fresh sweet black cherries go into each gallon of brew. A flavor of deep lustrous malt complexity and fullness, yet smooth with soft hints of toasted chocolate and pleasurable black cherry flavors. This beer has become one of our most sought after seasonal selections.”

Short’s Black Cherry Porter
Porter, 9% ABV



Karl: As a kid, my favorite generic soda was the nice 40-cent can of Jewel-Osco Black Cherry soda. When those came out of the cooler after a Park District t-ball game, I was a happy boy indeed. When Ryan told me there would be a day in my near future where I could merge those joyous Black Cherry summer childhood memories with something that could get me intoxicated, you could say my anticipation level was spiked.

We sat down with the Short’s Black Cherry Porter after an evening of PUMPKINSANITY and to say that we could use a break would be an understatement. I was very much looking forward to this beer in general, and most definitely was looking for a new sense of flavor after a long evening of nutmeg, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, nutmeg and the occasional taste of pumpkin. I got that new flavor, but whereas I was hoping for a balls-out in-your-face black cherry profile, I received relative restraint. Still, it was good. I have hopes for more in the future, tho. Continue reading

Review: Slumbrew Porter Square Porter

Slumbrew says:

“Rich black porter with a unique blend of chocolate, coffee, roasted and nutty flavors. We brewed this beer with cocoa powder and will be conditioning the fermented beer with cacao nibs from our friends at Taza Chocolate here in Somerville.”

Slumbrew Porter Square Porter
Porter, 6.5% ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

KARL: I love new beer. It’s all shiny and fresh with that fancy new-beer smell. And for whatever reason, when I saw that Slumbrew from the Somerville Brewing Company was now available in Chicago, I figured hey – how about some brand new (to us) beer? And so it came to pass that I swung by Binny’s and grabbed m’self some Porter Square Porter.

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On Hallowed Ground: We Went To Shorts (Finally)

KARL: It should come as no surprise that we like Shorts. Combine a minimalistic sensibility with an aptitude for amazing specialty brews and experimental fruit beers (paired with a little bit of demand from market limitation) and you’ve got a recipe for Shorts, and we like it. Despite being in Northern Michigan just a short drive up the road from Traverse City, a place I find myself semi-regularly, I’ve never found my way through the tree-lined state roads to Bellaire, Michigan. Until Friday night, that is.

As part of an 8-hour trip to the northeastern tip of the mitten, we went a good 90 minutes out of our way to find the wide spot in the road where the Shorts brewpub sat. Based on our tiny little bit of observation of the geography, Shorts appears to be the only game in town – and on Friday night with the sun going down over the woods, they were in full swing.

Each brewpub is a different animal, and at this beast you stand in a long, winding line through practically half the building to place your food and drink order. Menu-wise, Shorts has a nice selection of sandwiches, pizza and other items, much like Marshall’s Dark Horse, but the vibe is “log cabin lodge house” versus “biker garage.”

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“12 Beers of Christmas” Review: Three Floyds Alpha Klaus

Three Floyds says:

“Alpha Klaus is Alpha King’s festive cousin. A big American Christmas Porter brewed with English chocolate malt, Mexican sugar and of course, tons of strange American hops. Cheers!”

Three Floyds Alpha Klaus
Porter, 6% ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

Andrew: Last summer, while attending a party at Ryan’s place, I walked away from a bottle of beer while I made a quick trip to the restroom. Little did I know, while I was gone, someone dropped a cigarette butt into bottle thinking it was empty. Upon my return, I eagerly took a swig of my beer and tasted nothing but cigarette ash. That’s how I felt drinking the Alpha Klaus…like the combination of an ash tray with the bottom of a charcoal grill.

Harsh? Maybe. True? Absolutely. Continue reading

Review: Atwater Vanilla Java Porter

Atwater says:

“Made with fine-roasted coffee beans and vanilla extract, this is one of the most admired beers Atwater offers. Unique and flavorful, with a chocolate malt finish, this beer is a perfect balance of complimentary ingredients.”

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
Porter, 6% ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

I tried this beer a few years ago when I first started to get in to craft beer. It was not love at first sight. I picked up one bottle as part of a mixed six pack and that one bottle, essentially, exploded when I popped off the cap. Head went everywhere and I was left with a half of a glass of what tasted like a carbonated milkshake. Blech. Being very impressionable at the time, and also stubborn, I vowed to never drink an Atwater beer again because of that experience. Despite attempts from other friends who had enjoyed this beer, I would not cave. Until last week. I was in a porter kind of mood, saw a bottle in the cooler and thought, “maybe I should give it a second chance?”

So, I did. Continue reading

Review: Founders Porter

Founders says:

“Pours silky black with a creamy tan head. The nose is sweet with strong chocolate and caramel malt presence. No absence of hops gives Founders’ robust porter the full flavor you deserve and expect. Cozy like velvet. It’s a lover, not a fighter.

Founders Porter
Porter, 6.5% ABV

“I could drink only Founders Porter for the rest of my life and be a happy man.”

I sent that exact text to Karl while sipping on two of these at Dusty’s Tap Room in Okemos, MI. It was the first real day of fall. The temperature was a little brisk, definitely jacket weather, and leaves on the trees along I-94 were starting to show some subtle changes. Which meant as quickly as the weather changed so did my beer tastes. I am very much a seasonal beer drinker. Once the temperature dips below 60 or 65 I am rendered incapable of drinking any and all wheat beers and kolschs. Sometimes I’m even hard pressed to drink an IPA. The colder it gets the darker, heavier and more complex my beers must get. That day, it was porter weather and I had my heart set on one as soon as I walked through the door. To my dismay, the tap handles showed almost all summer beers – except for one.

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Review: Heavy Seas Letter Of Marque 2010 (Rye Porter)

Heavy Seas says:

“Winners from our 2009 Letter of Marque Homebrew Competition will work along side our brewers to create this one time special release. Letter of Marque will feature a different beer every year selected from our national homebrew competition. This year’s recipe is from Frank Butt and Neil Heinlein.”

Heavy Seas Letter of Marque 2010 (Rye Porter)
Porter, 7.8% ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

Karl: My familiarity with Heavy Seas’ work is nil, and wandering into their boundary waters with this beer is an interesting point of entry. This is essentially a homebrew recipe, put together in conjunction with the HS people in the background, so I’m not going to try and assume that this is representative of all Heavy Seas’ work…because really, I don’t know. It could be. Continue reading