Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ithaca Gorges Smoked Porter

Although this bottle bears a copyright date of 2004, I've never seen it for sale here in Albany (is it just me?). I've never reviewed a smoked porter on this show before, so why not start out with a New York state beer?

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (583) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 5, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Mostly opaque midnight black with ruby red hues around the edges. Forms a small, dark tan, creamy head which completely dissolves and leaves no lacing.

Smell: All smoke with hints of milk chocolate and roasted barley.

Taste: The palate to Ithaca Gorges Smoked Porter comes in three distinct stages: sweetness, smokiness, and sweetness again. For a moment there it’s like a cherry cola, then it transitions to dry woody smoke flavor. Not so much bacon as it is the smoke itself (like standing over a campfire when you’ve thrown some birch bark in to it). The initial sweetness returns with a noticeable milk chocolate candy-like taste. Not much hop presence or bitterness to speak of, which is fine because the smoke character plays that role here.

As I drink on I notice this beer is indeed a typical porter with a taste that hints of dairy and what I call a "cough medicine" flavor. The smokiness fades a little and all the flavors homogenize into a very interesting palate of bitter dark chocolate without rich, sugary, cloying qualities.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied all around, but it seems to become tepid rather quickly. Although there is a subtle milk chocolate aftertaste that’s mildly dry but completely tolerable.

Drinkability: I didn’t know the ABV of Ithaca Gorges Smoked Porter going into it, and estimated it at under 6% due to the lack of boozy qualities and the relatively thin, lighter body. It turns out it’s 7.5% ABV, which is impressive since it doesn’t seem to have the weight (or energy level) of that big of a beer. It’s very smooth going down and versatile enough that you could pair it with any kind of BBQ food or just enjoy it as a dessert beer.
Grade: 8/10

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