Nick Carr on February 2, 2015 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Smog City Brewing Co. Location: Torrance, CA Style: Robust Porter ABV: 6% IBUs: ? Appearance: Like a Black-Hole in a Glass; Two Fingers of Mocha-Colored Foam; Aroma: Bold Coffee With Notes of Bitter Chocolate & Roasted Malts Flavor: Robust Espresso Coffee at the Front; Hints of Baking Chocolate, Bittered Sweetness & Dark Roasted Malts; No Discernible Hops Availability: Year-Round Pairs With: Porterhouse Steak, BBQ Ribs, Pulled Pork, Asiago & Gruyère Cheese, Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, Double Chocolate Brownies I love coffee. I like beer. I drink coffee with the sunrise and often have a beer in the evening while I read or cook dinner. Now, a truer test there never was, as trying to combine these two into something that gets the blood stirring in both the coffee connoisseur and the beer buff. Overall I’ve never been terribly disappointed with coffee beer, but usually I don’t hold them to too high a standard either. I’ve had good ones; Santa Fe’s Imperial Java and Peak Organic’s Espresso Amber are a couple that come to mind; and I’m always on the lookout for new renditions to try. Well, here’s a new rendition. Smog City Brewing is a small brewing company based in Torrance California, and their beer doesn’t get distributed anywhere close to my home base, so I have a thoughtful fiancée and a trip to San Diego to thank for this award winning beer. Smog City Brewing has done some impressive things in its short four year lifespan. It was started by husband/wife team Jonathan and Laurie Porter (yes, their last name is Porter… how great is that!) That’s like an ice cream man named Cone or a library investigator with the last name Bookman (Seinfeld anybody?) In October of 2011 they started brewing beer at the Tustin Brewing Company, brewing around 300 barrels a year, and working hard to become a talked about part of the craft beer scene. It worked. In 2012 this very beer won gold in the Great American Beer Festival and the Porters’ found themselves doing well enough to consider expanding into a place of their own. After several months of hard work installing a 15bbl system and twenty tap tasting room, they opened there new home in Torrance California. “Porting coffee a porter did come, the marrow of married libations’ sum.” The first thing you’ll notice about this coffee porter is the great label. It’s a Coffee Bot. Yes a Coffee Bot. Bug eyed with hop cone pupils, a coffee carafe chest, and a good head of steam going, He holds a spilling coffee mug in one iron claw and a sloshing beer bottle in the other. The caffeine sensors a top his head (at least that’s what I’m calling them) are blinking “danger zone red” relaying the fact that this guy’s probably over his Coffee Porter limit. Yeah, this is a playfully awesome label. The Pour and Aroma Wow. Pours black as all get-out, like a black-hole sitting in a glass. Even when I held my glass up to the sun, only the barest trace filtered through those dark depths and hung, a ruby twinkle, centered and surrounded by void. A nice two finger mocha colored head of pillowed foam tops the blackness. Sticky lacing spider-webs the glass as the head recedes to a respectable surface cap. Coffee, coffee, coffee. Man, but high quality coffee with subtleties and boldness both. Bitter chocolate plays ghostly background, while the roasted malts camouflage among the coffee. If I were handed a mug of this, blindfolded, and smelled it… I’d think it was a high quality espresso. Mouthfeel and Taste Round, with a medium-full body. Low carbonation hides nothing from the palate giving it a cask-conditioned roundness that is very pleasant and adds to its “coffeeness.” The dark roasted malts and coffee lend some astringency and there is a glow of alcohol warming on the swallow. My, my. The taste is more coffeesque than some coffee I’ve had. I’m not kidding. Big, robust espresso coffee at the front; bitter with hints of baking chocolate. Mid-palate brings a mild, bittered sweetness, and the added depth of dark roast malts. Coffee pops again on the swallow. No discernible hops, but then I’d be surprised if I were able to pinpoint the hops through such busy bitterness. Aftertaste is strongly coffee at first, but then mellows and sweetens to becoming pleasant. Finishing The Impression How do they get so much coffee goodness into the beer you may wonder? Well, the coffee used in this beer is organic and sustainably sourced by Groundwork Coffee, a local roaster; and more than five pounds of this exceptional coffee goes into every barrel of Coffee Porter. If ever there was a beer striving to become coffee this is the one. As the bottle states, drinking it is much like biting into a chocolate covered espresso bean; bitter, but with just enough chocolaty sweet to restrain. If you like coffee and beer then you have no choice but to go find this beer. I will warn you that this beer is not to be taken lightly. It’s one to sip and enjoy, and it’s so robust you’ll probably have your fill, for a sitting, with just one bottle… but oh, how good that one bottle.