Style: Baltic Porter
OG: 23.5 Plato
From: Framingham, MA
Brewer’s Note: “Big, Bold, and Black. This unusual lager style has many similarities to Imperial Stouts. A lengthy conditioning period creates a silky smooth chocolaty mouth feel enhanced by the use of oats and brown sugar. Noticeable sweetness gets balanced by roasted malt and hop bitterness. At 10% alcohol by volume, this beer is sure to keep you warm on a cold winter night.”
The beer’s label is the standard Jack’s Abby label. You can read my thoughts on Jack’s Abby labels if you meander through my other Jack’s Abby reviews…
The beer pours practically like motor oil, thick and black with just a hint of coffee “browness” reflecting back at the eyes. It forms a beautiful, dark tan head of creamy, small bubbles that settle around a finger’s width above the glass. In body, the beer’s clarity is hard to discern, seeing as how it is totally opaque. The beer seems thick and viscous, but clear of any particles or cloudiness, but that is just going off of what I saw pour into my glass. On the nose, the beer smells magnificent. Dark roasted coffee with a thick nuance of dark fruits like brown sugar and raisins, plums, and just a touch of sweet cherries. Soft char, and a nuttiness also make their way into the nose, along with spicy licorice. Touches of caramel and toffee do blend in with the coffee as the beer swirls around the glass. On the tongue, the beer tastes initially sweet, but then dries out beautifully into gentle coffee bitters with touches of dark fruitiness, and even a light sense of spice. Acidity is light to nonexistent on the palate. Alcohol is just an afterthought at the end of the sip, providing a light heat and spice to the finish, which is very impressive given the beer’s 10% ABV. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet bread, but swiftly unfurls into light char, rich coffee, dark and bitter chocolate, and touches of molasses. Burnt raisins and brown sugar come to mind as the sip hits the mid-palate, along with a nice nuttiness that I also found in Jack’s Evil Brew, and even a touch of toffee on the finish. In the third quarter of the sip is a burst of spice blending a touch of cinnamon with licorice for a nice burst of flavor. The finish is strong but muddled. The flavoring is peculiarly light with coffee, and brings more spice, light alcoholic heat, and even a touch of cherry into play on the palate. There is even a bit of meaty flavoring on the end of the finish, almost like a Christmas Ham… The aftertaste is more expected with roasted malt, coffee, and char lingering on the tongue. I love this beer until the finish, and though it is not awful, the muddling has me confused. In the mouth, the beer feels full bodied and smooth. Velvety carbonation of an above average rate helps to coat the tongue in softness as the beer displays its chewy, yet smooth quality. The mouth is left wet all over with a lingering roast-bitter tingle and a slight warmth in the gullet. Overall, this is a great thick beer that is perfect for sipping in front of a fire. I wasn’t quite as fond of it as I was of its barrel-aged variant, mostly because of the oddness of the finish. The flavors are not awful by any stretch, but merely peculiar and out of place with what I was expecting. This is a good beer that gets even better after sitting down in a barrel.