Smuttynose – Robust Porter

There is one thing that makes me very happy when I go looking for new beer: create your own six pack.  I always really want to try new things, but it’s hard when a lot of the good stuff comes in a 750 ml bottle.  They take up room, and I need to sit down and polish of a larger bottle when maybe I’d rather only drink 12oz.  So, finding a place with a good selection where you can create your own six pack is great.  Thanks to a little earthquake the other week, I managed to end up down in the Annapolis harbor at Mill’s Fine Wine & Spirits on a random day off.  Now they don’t have a massive selection for create your own, but they do have a descent good selection of different beers to experiment with.  While there I picked up three oktoberfests I have never had, a brown, a dark beer from Brazil, and this porter from Smuttynose.  Not a terrible haul for $11, which would be another benefit of the create your own feature.

Being in a dark beer phase right now, I was really interested in this one.  True my last consumption of a Smuttynose product wasn’t my favorite, but I have really loved porters as of late.  Plus, the label is great.  As of a year ago, I would say I had never really consumed too many porters.  I had one every once in a while, but now I really search them out.  Looking into the history of porters a little bit, I found it interesting, and not all that surprising, that porters and stouts are not all that far apart.  Porters really birthed the stout.  Stouts really only came about because people kept brewing darker and heavier porters.  So, like when someone calls an IPA a double IPA or extra IPA, they would brew these beers that they would call extra porter, double porter, or stout porter.  Eventually, people just dropped the porter and the term stout was born.

This one pours out a very dark brown color.  I think you can see enough of the hue difference between it being dark brown and black to not call it black.  There is a small half inch brownish chocolate head that develops on top of the beer.  Swirling the glass brings about some really nice lacing and brings back the light head on top.  It looks like there is a nice rich quality to this one based on the color and creamy head.

There is a really nice rich smell smell to this beer.  You can really pull out the nice earthy malt scent.  It is definitely the backbone to this beer.  You can really pull out the coffee and chocolate notes that are present.  They don’t seem to overwhelm too much which is a little surprising on a porter.  Most that I have had of late have a very overwhelming smell of these two.  Coffee normally overpowers.  There really are no hops present at all in the nose.  I know some brewers like to throw some light hops in there for some depth to the taste, but the nose doesn’t give any of this away.

The taste is really surprising.  It is very clean at the onset.  I always expect more of an initial kick of coffee to jump start a porter, but this one has more of a clean malt flavor.  There is a mix of a mellow chocolate flavor that blend well with the malts.  A very smooth transition from the chocolate flavors into a nice expresso flavor seems to create a really nice balance.   The expresso coffee flavor really isn’t too overwhelming.  I doubt non-coffee drinkers would really like the strength of the coffee flavor, but I think most people who enjoy coffee flavors would like the nice clean coffee flavor here.  The expresso flavor has a very nice woody taste mixed in there as well.  The chocolate and coffee flavors hold into the aftertaste.  The aftertaste is really mellow and not overwhelming.  I think this has to be one of the most well balanced porters I’ve had.

The mouthfeel is really clean on this one.  There is a really pleasant amount of carbonation.  The carbonation helps to mellow the coffee tones that tend to overpower a lot of the other porters.  I tend to enjoy a heft amount of coffee tastes that a lot of porters have, but this one is a nice porter for everyone.  All of the flavors involved in this one really sync up very well together.

If you haven’t ventured into the porters as of yet, I would definitely recommend picking this bottle up yet.  Porters have very quickly become one of my favorite beers, and this one is definitely one of the better ones I’ve had.  Some porters can really overwhelm the palate, which I think can be great in some instances.  Smuttynose has instead created one of the more drinkable porters.  I wish I had another one in my fridge.  Guess I won’t be picking this one up in a create your own six pack next time.  Next time I buy a whole six pack.

Teacher Grade: A+



  1. Thats a shining recommendation, for sure! Have you seen this anywhere around Eastern Market? Also do you know anywhere around the District that you can get a CYO 6 pack? I will definitely keep my eyes out for this one.

    • Off the top of my head, actual cyo in dc is hard to think of. The place that I go to, Rick’s in Va, does do some cyo. However, they really carry more pre-made six packs and big 750 ml bottles. I believe Total Wine also in VA does that as well. I sadly am more than willing to drive to get what I want. I haven’t seen this particular one around Eastern Market, but I think I’m stopping by Schneiders today so I’ll check.

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