3.7AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012 I’ve never understood the appeal of the porter style beer. To me, they tend to taste like cough syrup because they are so malty in the palate and otherwise flat. But after having tried Southern Tier Porter Dark I’m now convinced this style might be something I could like after all. Perhaps it’s due to the fact it reminded me more a stout. Regardless, I’ll take it.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Like most porters, Southern Tier pours extremely smooth and forms a very tiny head unless purposely poured rough. If poured smooth it creates a very thin layer of light brown, soapy head which lingers throughout the life of the beer and leaves trace amounts of lacing on the glass. If poured rough it generates a thick layer of tan, creamy head similar to a stout which leaves plenty of lacing on the glass.
The body is an opaque shade of black, although close inspection reveals it to be very dark maroon. Very little carbonation is present. The scent is pure malt and has a rich, sugary aroma with a hint of chocolate detectable.
It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised by a beer, and Southern Tier Porter Dark certainly threw me for a loop. From the appearance and aroma I was expecting yet another overly-malty, dry beer but once it actually hit my lips I knew it was anything but. The first sensation I encountered was a deeply roasted taste, similar to a stout. There was actually something to taste here!
Upon repeated swigs I picked up a subtle taste of dark chocolate and some coffee notes. The brewer’s website indicates the beer is made with “overtones” of espresso beans, which would explain the flavor. It was nice and sweet without being gimmicky or sugary. The only bummer was the flavor seemed a little weak and fairly watery. Since it’s such a dark beer I allowed it to warm a little in hopes the taste would improve, but to no avail.
As much as I dislike porters in general, I will have to admit they are some of the smoothest beers across the board. This one in particular was quite easy to drink, likely due to the low carbonation factor and fairly thin body. It also had a soft mouthfeel, so there were no surprises, either.
As I’ve mentioned, the beer seemed to have a bit of a flat, watery composition which explains why it’s not nearly as heavy a brew as you’d expect. At 5.2% ABV this is actually fairly light for a porter. I was able to drink two bottles back-to-back without feeling the least bit overwhelmed.
Southern Tier Porter Dark would be a good introductory dark beer for people who don’t usually like beers of the sort (although they probably fail to comprehend that you drink with you mouth, not your eyes!). It certainly sold me on the notion that not all porters taste like cough syrup.