Sunday, December 13, 2009

Review: Bell's Porter in a cask at Boston's Bistro

On a fairly regular basis, Dave Boston of Boston's Bistro taps a firkin of some delicious cask-conditioned ale. This week, it was Bell's Porter. I've reviewed this beer before, and confessed it to be one of my favorites--one of the two or three beers I'd be happy to be stuck on a desert island with (you know, assuming an unlimited supply, refrigeration, etc). So I was pretty excited to get to try the cask version.
The first sip was not what I was expecting. In fact, the first pint was a huge let-down because of a lingering musty after-taste. I mentioned it to the bartender, who told the owner, and they swapped out the beer engine. Turns out the beer was fine; the beer engine needed a good bath.
After the wash-down, I ordered another pint, and this was the beer I had come for. I love the complexity of this beer, with some rich, roasty chocolate and coffee flavors. On CO2, there's always a bite at the end that I like, but in the cask, that edge is completely gone. In fact, I can't believe how smooth this beer is in a cask--it's like drinking a tall frothy glass of chocolate milk! I could have had this all night, and would have if I wasn't driving and hadn't promised to be home in time to tuck the kids into bed. Below are some notes I pounded out on my phone while tasting it, although they hardly do the beer justice.

A: black as William Blake's soul

S: roasted malt, light coffee, cocoa

T: chocolate and black patent malt, in a brilliant balance; less assertiveness than draft; there is a chocolate up-note that is usually a little harsher, like a dark, bitter chocolate; this is more smooth chocolate milk, with the kind of warm embrace of a heavy quilt on a cold winter's morning--wrap me up in a blanket of this and let me hibernate.

M: smooth, low carbonation, silky

D: this is an all night session beer; did I mention sssssmmmmmoooooooottttthhhhh?

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