Lost and Found

Jeffrey Wiser, September 16, 2013

A couple of years back, something strange happened to me. I completely lost my taste for dark beers.

Wait, let me back up.

One of the first beers I ever had that I actually liked was Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter. As an Oregonian, you have to drink that beer. It’s served everywhere and you can find it in every grocery store or mini mart, plus Deschutes is arguably the most popular micobrewery in a state that loves it’s microbrews.

Soon I ventured into winter seasonals. These dark beauties were full of flavors, sometimes so many at a time that there was no way my amateur palate could figure out what was going on. All I knew was that they went really well with a sweater and wood burning in the fireplace. I look good in sweaters.

Then I found a couple of stouts I liked. I can’t remember most of them, but those with some coffee flavor were always my favorites. They finished with that lingering taste of coffee beans that I absolutely loved, and if they had some chocolate notes, even better. Plus they were called “stouts,” which could only increase my manliness.

And then it happened. A friend said to me while sipping a Black Butte, “Can you taste all of that black licorice?” Ughhh! I hate black licorice! I took another sip and sure enough, anise was all I could taste.

That was the beginning of the end. I took a very long break from dark beers. I may have mixed a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale in there once or twice, but I just didn’t drink dark stuff. Moving to Phoenix made it even easier because rarely did a dark beer sound good.

Until the other night. I visited the Sun Up Brewery with a good friend because our ladies were doing their thing and we had an evening to kill at the local beer joint. I was telling my friend this story about losing my taste for dark beers and he encouraged me to end the streak. I saw their Vanilla Porter on tap and decided to be bold, bold like a porter.

To my amazement, the beer was really enjoyable. Brewed with real vanilla beans and not  syrup, I found the vanilla taste to be readily available without being overbearing. There were also some elegant chocolate notes and hints of coffee in the aftertaste, too, rounding out a really nice, clean porter. You can view the beer here and check the specs below:

  • Appearance: just what you’d expect from something called Vanilla Porter - black (4)
  • Smell: lots of clean vanilla notes (3)
  • Taste: you can’t put this beer in your mouth and not taste the vanilla. The coffee aftertaste and faint chocolate notes were a very pleasant surprise (3.5)
  • Mouthfeel: a nice tingle up front, that went down smooth and finished with the coffee aftertaste (3.5)
  • Overall: Excellent, full of flavor with just enough balance to be keep from being overwhelming. Some more complex flavors for those that are willing to search for them. I love beers that hold surprises (3.5)

What was once lost may have just been found. I feel like this porter put dark beers back on my radar. And to think it all stems from the brewery down the street is even better. I think I’ll try another dark beer this weekend and see if this is for real or not. I have a strong feeling that it is.