Saturday, June 16, 2012

Firestone Walker Walker's Reserve Porter

Another California craft beer, but this time it's a porter, not an IPA. I haven't had a Firestone Walker beer in a while so I picked up a bottle of their "Walker's Reserve Porter." Oh, the bottle was well over a year old.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (676) - Albany, New York, USA - JUN 13, 2012
Making a standard porter that’s really impressive is extremely difficult in the craft beer world (it can be done, but they are few and far between). That’s not to say everything else is the same or a waste of time. Firestone Walker Walker’s Reserve Porter certainly was worth my time and money to drink as it has everything I want and expect in a porter. It’s even a little unique in certain ways. That doesn’t mean it’s an automatic "A" in my book, though.

I poured a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Opaque black body, but with a remarkably light, tan, frothy head. It retains well but doesn’t lace the glass much.

Smell: I could smell the classic porter aroma as soon as I popped the cap. Plenty of dark fruit, a slight black licorice scent, and minor syrupy notes as well.

Taste: It comes as no surprise that Walker’s Reserve Porter is noticeably hoppy for the style (this is made by a California brewery after all). What’s also notable is that it seems to be a little sweeter and fruity than most of the style. I notice a distinct Dr. Pepper-like flavor to the palate here: dark cherry or prune fruitiness combined with a malty sweetness. It doesn’t go overboard, though. The palate is still under control - it’s not a syrup bomb at all. There’s prominent dry bitterness through the middle with a bit of a coffee flavor and bitterness on the finish and momentarily in the aftertaste. There’s a residual toffee and black licorice flavor as well - but at no point does it become cloying.

That’s not to say this is an absolutely delectable, amazing palate. It does have that standard cough medicine-like component to it, and the abundance of hops seems a little overdone. Still, it works as a standard porter with a bit of eccentricity.

Drinkability: Walker’s Reserve Porter is a fun and easy beer to drink. The mouthfeel is a little thicker than most, but it’s not spastic and not sticky - which is impressive considering how sweet the palate is. It has a smooth texture with a subtle carbonation level. It goes down smooth and finishes fairly clean for the most part (once it warms up the hops begin to linger). At 5.8% ABV it’s a little big for a porter, but I had no trouble drinking an entire 22oz bottle myself and I didn’t feel full or overwhelmed at the end of it. I could see this standing up to a meal, as a liquid dessert, or on its own.

Grade: 8/10

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