3.7AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
The Cooperstown Brewing Company is a very small operation located just south of the Baseball Hall of Fame in upstate New York. Not surprisingly, this brewery has a baseball theme to all of its beers. I decided to start with the possibly ironically-named Benchwarmer Porter. In sports terms, a benchwarmer is a lousy player but in the case of this beer it’s actually a solid performer. If this is the benchwarmer, the rest of the team must be outstanding!
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I poured a 12oz bottle into an Irish tulip pint glass. It flowed out of the bottle like water and produced next to no head. What developed was a coating of tan, soapy suds - although I was able to generate a thicker head with a forceful swirl of the glass. The color was typical for a porter: nearly opaque black but with dark ruby red highlights around the edges.
The aroma was standard for a porter: malty with a touch of dark fruit and yeast. Fairly sweet and no alcohol notes.
The brewer’s describe this beer as being brewed in the tradition of English porters and I could tell this was the case upon the first sip. Much like its brethren from across the pond, Benchwarmer Porter is noticeably mild and surprisingly light body as soon as it hits the palate. There’s a dark fruit flavor and a slightly yeasty texture followed by a strong milk chocolate and coffee aftertaste.
This beer reminded me of Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter throughout the first half of my glass. As I continued to drink on I found the chocolate and coffee flavors seemed to weaken out but the fruits and malts from the front became more prominent. Eventually it all became a mélange of flavors typically found in British pub beers. I’d prefer something more robust, but the palate here was quite pleasing even if it was mild.
British pub ales are known for their high drinkability and much like the taste, Benchwarmer Porter also follows the formula with its extreme smoothness. The mouthfeel is light, thin, and almost doesn’t seem carbonated as it goes down like water. The sweet aftertaste is really pleasant, although it becomes quite dry as the beer warms.
For a beer with a potency of 6.3% ABV, this drinks like a much lighter brew. Between the tepid body and mild palate it’s quite impressive how well the alcohol is hidden both in the palate and on your system. This beer would pair well with a red meat dinner or substitute two bottles for dessert.
It takes a lot for a porter to wow me but Cooperstown Brewing’s Benchwarmer came awfully close. I liked the taste for what it was but couldn’t help wanting more all around. Still, it’s so drinkable it’s the kind of beer I could see myself buying more often.