Monday, December 1, 2008

Homebrew Review: Vanilla Coffee Porter

This beer was my first attempt at a porter, and overall I'm really pleased with it. It was done as a partial mash, starting with a porter extract kit and some specialty grains. I made my own vanilla extract by steeping vanilla beans in vodka and added them to the secondary fermenter. Also added to the secondary was 2 cups of very strong french-pressed coffee (I used about 4 oz. of high quality fair trade beans). It aged in the secondary for a mere two weeks before packaging. I bottled a few for sharing, and kegged the rest. This review is that of the kegged version; if the bottles taste any different, I'll let you all know.

Appearance: Pours a mahogany brown, with slight deep caramel tones along the edges when held up to the light. Slightly cloudy. Tan-colored head, fair retention (I seem to always have issues with head retention unless I've made a wheat beer, but for a porter a mild head retention is acceptable).

Aroma: The overwhelming note here is dark chocolate/cocoa. I think this is actually an odd symbiotic aromatic dance between the vanilla and the coffee... or perhaps it's simply coming out from the chocolatey notes in the dark malt. Regardless, this beer smells a whole lot more like chocolate than coffee. In fact, I get little else here in the aroma other than a hint of malt and a very mild sweet floral note (the vanilla?). No hop aroma.
Taste: At first the chocolate aroma carries over into the taste of this beer. Soon however you get the rich maltiness and toastiness of the porter itself. There is a slight tartness to this beer -- I'm almost positive that it's from the vanilla. I noted a definite sour quality when I tasted the vanilla before adding it to the secondary. The finish is where the coffee shines; the bitterness of the coffee actually seems to take the place of what minor hop presence there would be in this beer, and lingers. The finish leaves a nice coffee aftertaste in the mouth.

This beer improves drastically as it sits out and warms up, I definitely need to turn down the keg fridge. The flavors blend much better as the beer loses its chill.

Mouthfeel: Added carapils insures that this isn't a watery beer, but it's definitely on the lighter-bodied side for a porter. The carbonation seems just about right for a porter -- it comes in on the finish rather than being up front. The last thing I wanted was a "spritzy" beer. I've had a tendency to overcarbonate my brews in the past, so I tried to be very careful with my keg temps and CO2 pressures this time.

Drinkability: I'm pleased with the drinkability of this beer. The body and alcohol content is light enough to make downing more than a pint of this beer absolutely doable. The coffee is dominant in the flavor but not so overwhelming that the tastebuds get overloaded.

So yeah. Stop on by, have yourself a pint, and tell me if you agree. :)


no_relation said...


Jen said...

well if the commute wasn't so damn far...

Mike said...

Wow Jen! Now when I think of tasting notes...that is what I think of. You put my palate to shame! It sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

My husband has been homebrewing for about 6 months. I wish I could get him to blog about it like this! He's definitely loving it but I'm not sure he could break it down into these kinda notes. Usually I ge a "This one is okay" or "This one kinda sucks" or "This is the best damn beer I've ever had". LOL