Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Zywiec Porter (2011 original review)

This episode contains quite a few "firsts." It's the first time I'm ever reviewing a beer from Poland as requested by http://youtube.com/PiotrWeselak Secondly it's my first-ever Baltic Porter (in the review I mistakenly refer to it as an "imperial porter"). Lastly, it's the first time I've ever done a food pairing with a dark beer (usually I pair a meal with an IPA to see how the hops affect the drinkability).

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (644) - Albany, USA - OCT 2, 2011
I poured a 500ml bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black all around. Forms a large, dark off-white/light brown frothy head which retains and laces extremely well.

Smell: You wouldn’t know this is such a strong beer from the aroma as it smells like any other pub-style porter. Sweet malts, a slight medicine quality and slight sour grape.

Taste: I’ve never had an "imperial" porter before (if such a thing exists), but Zywiec Porter at 9.5% ABV would certainly seem to fit that description. I’m not usually a big fan of regular porters since they tend to taste like weaker stouts (the stout style originated by brewing stronger porters). But by golly, this beer tastes more or less the same as all the other porters out there, only with more density.

Up front it’s quite sweet with a burnt toffee and caramel-like flavor, it transitions to toasted/roasted malts which imparts some bitterness but not to the extent of an imperial stout. There’s some subtle alcohol presence all along combined with a sour red grape taste but not nearly to the extent you’d find in a Russian Imperial Stout. The finish is even more sweet and a linger, slightly bitter aftertaste - like peanut brittle and burnt toast. An impressive and tasty combination of flavors to be sure. Not quite mind-blowing, but definitely better than your average pub porter.

Mouthfeel: Slightly thick, full-bodied; soft, gentle, tepid with a mildly dry aftertaste sensation.

Drinkability: Where Zywiec Porter stands out from the crowd is the fact it’s such a "big" beer at 9.5% ABV and yet it drinks like a sessionable pub porter. It’s so comfortable in the mouth and the palate does a fantastic job of working with the alcohol. It hits the tongue with a thud, but the alcohol is never distracting. I paired this with a medium-rare steak and it stood up to it wonderfully. The smooth finish is the icing on the cake (speaking of which, this would pair just as well with cake and ice cream or as a dessert itself).

Overall, Zywiec Porter is a very good beer and definitely one of the best porters I’ve ever had. At only $2.50 a bottle it’s probably one of the best values on the craft beer market today considering how potent and how tasty and drinkable it is.

Grade: 8/10

NOTE: Read my 2017 re-review here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2017/01/zywiec-porter-2017-re-review.html