3.4AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
More often than not I find myself in situations where I really want to like a beer, but once I drink it I realize I cannot simply make myself enjoy something by sheer will power. Samuel Adams Holiday Porter is a good example of this. I was fully expecting a tasty, robust beer, but what I got was only average at best. I think it’s drinker-friendly, however, drinkability alone doesn’t cut it for me.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
This beer pours to a seemingly black body which is actually a dark shade of maroon when held up to the light. It forms a generous layer of off-white, soapy head which dissolves fairly slowly, but almost completely, and leaves some lacing on the glass.
The aroma is fairly unremarkable with a touch of chocolate and vanilla sweetness as well as a general malty scent. It’s neither inviting, nor off-putting.
Having thoroughly researched this beer before I drank it I came into my review with some expectations. Porters, much like stouts, tend to have a robust palate with chocolate or roasted malts (or both), but Holiday Porter did not have much of either.
What I noticed up front was a faint sour red grape followed by a burnt chocolate finish and a bitter, dry aftertaste. I’ve encountered these flavors before in imperial stouts, but they were much more intense. Here, they’re surprisingly mild.
The palate is surprisingly watery, as well. I did notice and enjoy a general malty sweetness, which would have been great had it lingered rather than been replaced with such a dry aftertaste. It’s not repulsive in the least, but a beer like this should be much more intense.
Considering the target audience for this beer, I think Sam Adams’ Holiday Porter at least hits its target. Even though it doesn’t have a lot in the way of big flavor, its drinkability is commendable. Of course, it doesn’t really surprise me the beer is so smooth since it’s so mild. And at 5.8% ABV it’s just a tad heavier than the average beer drinker might be used to, but nothing Joe or Jane Six Pack couldn’t handle. It would work well with dinner, or substitute two bottles of this for dessert.
Frankly, there isn’t much to say about Samuel Adams Holiday Porter since it’s one of those rare beers that lies directly on the line between good and bad. It’s got some flavor to it, but what’s there is entirely too weak for my taste. However, considering its target audience and how easy it is to drink is almost enough to make up for it… almost.