Friday, June 5, 2015

#40 Denny Conn's Bourbon Vanilla Porter - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 8.2%-8.7%
IBU: 32
Serving Temp: 40F
Carbonation: <2.4 vol
Grade: A

Wait, wait, no THIS is the best thing I've brewed.  I think I've said that before, but really I'm serious this time.  If I had to choose my favorite style of beer--really I like all beer, but if I HAD to--I would probably pick an imperial stout or porter, a slightly darker black one, with a rich mouthfeel, deep complex malt flavors, maybe a touch of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, oak or bourbon as the mood strikes, and a dry finish.  Well, this beer kind of nailed it.  A compelling recipe and technically solid; it don't get no better than solid.

First off, this beer is black.  Like get arrested for walking on the sidewalk black.  No ifs, ands or buts about it, this thing is dark, and the only hints of mahogany are at the very corners when I shine light through it on purpose--everything you would expect from a robust porter.  However I think the most remarkable aspect to this beer's appearance is the foam--the fine, smooth, persistent foam.  I find this beer somewhat peculiar in that the head is particularly tight, sliding down the sides of the glass without any lacing, to somehow always maintains the same volume.  No matter how hard I pour, I get little more than half an inch (as shown above) of foam.  Yet no matter how slowly I drink, a quarter inch always remains.  I find it astonishing how consistent the it is, so I took this video with my phone as I took a sip.  You can judge for yourself how effective the camera work is.  I don't know what causes this behavior--maybe I should consult Dr. Bamforth--but I really like it.

So on to the important part: what's it like going down?  Awesome.  I am not possessed of the finest olfactory sense, so unless the hops stampede their way through my sinuses, I rarely consciously detect much.  If pressed, I would say I find a trace of the richer end of the spectrum vanilla and maybe chocolate... but only if pressed.

Then once it hits your lips it's so good!  A rich, smooth, chocolatey porter with the vanilla and warm bourbony flavors taking things to the next level.  This is a beer first, not a vanilla-bourbon cocktail, so it depends on what you're looking for, but it perfectly suite my tastes.

Up until this point I've treated this post as a single beer.  However if you remember the recipe post, I split the batch two ways: (A) good old fashioned Chico yeast, and (B) Denny's favorite 50 yeast.  Everything I've said is true for both, but there are some differences in the flavor.  As I learned in the session ale, Denny's has less fruitiness and emphasizes the malt flavor more than Chico.  I particularly like that quality in this beer.  The fruitiness (faint apple is how I usually percieve it) of the Chico sort of balances the roastiness, and mutes it a bit, while tying the whole beer together.  Denny's on the other hand lets the malt flavor run wild.  I like that effect since I'm trying to make a porter and want all the rich, chocolaty malt flavor I can get.

So there you have it.  I love this beer.  If (and/or when) I brew something like this again, I think I would drop the carbonation a little bit.  It tastes great and all, but I feel like the carbonation makes it feel just a tiny bit thinner and crisper than the gravity sample at bottling, and as it warms and loses carbonation it tastes better and better.  A small quibble though, as I think in Denny's yeast I've finally my yeast for dark and malty beers.

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