Friday, February 10, 2012

Roebling Imperial Robust Porter

You might remember that I did a beer trade with Max Spang of around Christmas, and I reviewed one of the beers from that trade right away. But I've just been sitting on the other bottles he sent me for about a month and a half! I thought I was way overdue in reviewing them, so I had Craig of help me review this imperial flavored porter. From the description alone it sounded like a beer we both would love - but did we? Watch and find out!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (615) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 4, 2012
There are some beers whose descriptions make you drool before you’ve even taken a swig. The problem is, not everything lives up to its own hyperbole and Roebling Imperial Robust Porter is a perfect example. This beer has everything I tend to love in a strong dark sweet beer, but just not delivered in the way I’d prefer, or what would be best for the average drink (I think). It’s a flawed masterpiece to an almost extreme level.

I received a 12oz bottle in a trade with "Snobby Beer Reviews" (thanks, Max!). I split it with a friend and poured it into a beer festival tasting glass.

Appearance: Cola-like look of a thin, black, extremely carbonated and thin beverage. Produces a very small, khaki-colored head which quickly evaporates and leaves no lacing.

Smell: Much like the appearance - soda plus a lot of coffee and vanilla flavoring. There’s little roasty or toasty malt scents, but strong scent of iced coffee with a lot of sugar and cream.

Taste: Roebling Imperial Robust Porter looked and smelled a lot like a soft drink and it’s not surprising it tasted a lot like one, too. Immediate sugary sweetness of a vanilla-flavored cola. Although the label indicates it’s made with real vanilla beans and raw cane sugar, it does seem quite reminiscent of a Coke or Pepsi product that didn’t catch on. That’s not to say it’s bad, just a non-authentic.

The second half comes with a strong coffee flavor, or more accurately - iced coffee. It tastes like coffee with all the cream and sugar and without much bitterness. There is a very delayed aftertaste of vanilla ice cream or some kind of dessert or pastry-like flavor. And yet, despite all these sweet flavors, this is not a rich, sticky, cloying beer. It certainly maintains its porter roots by not being a roasted malt-centric palate. While the sweet flavors are appetizing, they do seem a tad artificial and there’s a lack of balance to the palate overall. The kind of beer you’d have for dessert on a weeknight, not something gourmet or special like a Southern Tier Blackwater stout.

Drinkability: The first thing I noticed about Roebling Imperial Robust Porter wasn’t the flavor per se, but the thin, cold, fizzy mouthfeel. It’s like taking a swig directly from a freshly-popped can of Pepsi. It’s a thin mouthfeel with extremely fine carbonation which actually does the brew a disservice as it acts as a palate cleanser. Those who find stouts, especially imperial stouts, too thick and sticky would likely enjoy this presentation. It’s apparently 7.8% ABV, but doesn’t have the weight or body of something that big (it seems more like a ~5% brew). I think the flavors of this beer put in the body of a much bigger (or even smaller) brew would make for something really excellent. As it is, it’s good but a little disappointing because it seems like it should be great.
Grade: 7/10

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