I have decided to re-create this blog from scratch (hence the minimalist template), and I could not imagine a better way to kick-off than by sampling Box Steam Brewery's Funnel Blower Porter (see picture).
The description of the beer on the label is intriguing; "bitterness of roasted barley and malts with a subtle vanilla sweetness". The label itself is very elegant. Artsy, yet with precise curves and lines on a graph-like background to appeal to the math geek in me.
As for the beer itself, it has a thick, ebony hue, barely translucent when held up to a light. Just from looking at it I would say it is very rich, with its creamy, white head bringing to mind whipped cream topping a dark chocolate mousse.
So far, the Funnel Blower Porter has proven to be quite aesthetically pleasing, but this brew is so much more. The nose on this Porter is sweet enough to make one reminisce back to the days of yore, hanging around in the kitchen while mom and grandma bake goodies for the holidays. The first scent I pick up is mainly vanilla, with a hint of toffee. Much like a vanilla cake coated with a melted toffee or butterscotch topping. Another sniff brings out some roasted malts (which bring a somewhat chocolatey, slightly coffee-esque scent). I am also sensing a very subtle hint of berry. Possibly cranberry, but as I said, extremely subtle.
Upon first taste, I get a lot of malt bitterness, but as the label states, the vanilla sweetness counterbalances the malts, the result of which is almost too tasty for words. Almost. Nearly every flavour that I could smell, I can taste. Save for the berries. Dark chocolate is a dominant element upon first taste, which is derived from the malt bitterness. The vanilla is not as prominent as it was in the nose, but that is all for the better, as it does not upstage any of the other flavours. Instead of berries, I get more of a dried stone fruit note, probably apricot. The finish on this beer isn't as long as I thought it would be, I would say medium length. As for flavour, the malt bitterness is quite prominent, again with a hint of vanilla to create a nice finish. Calling this an aftertaste would be a travesty.
This is a very creamy brew, medium-bodied with very little hops and a medium malt content. I'm willing to bet that this beer would go well with vanilla ice cream, or a nice warm brownie. You could also try a cheese that's a little on the nutty side. Although it wasn't a bad pair, it definitely did take away from the wonderful chocolate/vanilla combo that I experienced in the initial tasting. But with a rich, chocolatey dessert, you will likely come out a winner. To be quite honest, you will do quite well just drinking the beer!
Now, about the brewery. There are six different offerings, according to the Web site (http://www.boxsteambrewery.co.uk):
- The Golden Bolt golden bitter
- Chuffin' Ale brown bitter
- Tunnel Vision traditional bitter
- Steam Porter
- Piston Broke golden ale
Until next time...