Porters have their history in the streets of London, but it is in America that the lovely porter has blown the lid off of its own category. I love the traditional British style in beers like Fuller's, but I also am fascinated by Craft brewers here that explore the realms of what a porter can be. Check out these three examples:
Wild Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo Porter, 9.5% ABV: One of the most enjoyable beers of Oakquinox 2012, my friend and I loved the comforting notes of caramel and toffee alongside the perfect dose of bitterness.
According to the brewery, Gonzo was "aged and seasoned for three months in wood barrels from our neighbors at Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey." I have had this whiskey, and I was an instant admirer. The whiskey notes are in happy, delicious harmony with the oak, vanilla, chocolate, and tobacco.
As a longtime fan of the original Gonzo, I was especially pleased with the success of this offering from Flying Dog. Well done guys.
Ladyface Picture City Porter in Merlot barrels, 5.8% ABV: You've gotta stick your nose down in there, but with a good sniffer, you can find restrained notes of smoke, black cherry and blackberry. Slightly vinous on the palate with a big dose of oakiness. Pretty well balanced, but the oak presence does take over a bit too much, and I would like to see this porter sans barrel.
*I VERY much enjoyed Ladyface's other offerings, and I look forward to tasting more of their lineup on a visit to the brewery.
Cigar City Imperial Milk Porter (aged in Stranahan Whiskey Barrels), 8.5% ABV: Ok, I'm going to say this flat out. I LOVED this beer. What a fantastic nose of milk chocolate, molasses, sweet bourbon, vanilla, and oak. I could see myself serving this at a cold weather brunch with friends, complete with pancakes, waffles, bacon, gravy biscuits, and country ham. Absolutely lovely with a pleasant alcohol burn on the finish, this is a beer that I shared with friends, and only hope I can have again someday. Bravo, Cigar City!
(I tasted this beer at near to room temperature, and I am always glad when I do. You can't hide anything, and this one doesn't need to hide. Everything is balanced and in it's place. Quality. Which is why light swill macro beer is undrinkable past high chill...)