Breckenridge Vanilla Porter

Also From This Brewery

If you’ve ever “closed down” a bar, then you know that the dreaded words “last call” can be as unwelcome to a beer drinker as any on the planet. But when it comes to the craft beer brewing business in general, could a last call of sorts be on the way? That analogy may be a bit overdramatic, but there is trouble brewing ahead for the beer industry and beer drinkers in general.

The main culprit? High oil prices. It may seem a no-brainer that as energy prices rise, so will the cost of brewing beer. After all, it takes a lot of energy to heat that brew kettle to a boil, to run a bottling line, to truck all those bottles of beer to market. But there’s more to it than that. Oil is increasing the price of barley, too, and leading to downright shortages. If you think we should be up in arms about an energy crisis, just wait until America has to face a beer crisis.

That’s because more acreage is being devoted to growing corn, some of which is being used to make alcohol to fuel cars with. Shame that, since we all know the real purpose of alcohol is to fuel wild Saturday night parties, not Chevy Suburbans. Be that as it may, small craft brewers are finding themselves in a bind.

And eventually, that means that the price of beer is going to go up, too. Remarkably, we as consumers have not really seen much of an increase in beer prices over the years. I recall paying about $5.99 for beers like Samuel Adams 20 years ago; today you can usually buy it for $6.49 or so. That may change soon, however, as we start to pay more for our craft beer. Beer like Breckenridge Vanilla Porter.

I picked up a sixer of Breckenridge Vanilla Porter for $7.99 the other day, not a bad price when you think about it. I had never tried this one before, but was eager to do so. I find that the combination of spicy vanilla and dark roasted malts can often make for a very good beer indeed.

Breckenridge makes their version with two row pale, chocolate, caramel, and black malts along with some roasted barley and Tettnang, Perle, Goulding and Chinook hops. Vanilla beans from Madagascar and Papua New Guinea provide the featured spice. The beer is about average in strength at 4.7% by volume.

Anyway, I was all excited about my Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. When I poured it, I immediately noticed that the beer wasn’t entirely opaque, and light easily passed through. Indeed, holding it up to the light reveals a dark brown rather than black color. A creamy tan head formed atop my pour, and a thin layer of Brussels lace coasted the sides of my glass. The nose reveals hints of fruit and spicy vanilla.

Thankfully, when I sipped the body was not as thin as I feared it might be. Still, it was a bit thinner than I would have liked. I did get some light notes of chocolate, a bit of coffee, and roasted barley up front. A hint of fruit and some rich vanilla also are easily discernible. The vanilla is nicely accentuated here, not overpowering to my taste, and it helps dry the beer in the finish.

I like this one. I do think it could use just a tad more body, but it’s still a very drinkable and flavorful beer. With the impressive grain bill that the brewery cites, one would think that there would be more body, but then they don’t tell you how much of that malt they use. I’ve had vanilla porters I liked better in the past (remember Gravity Brewing, all you beer geeks out there? Or Poor Henry’s Vanilla Porter? ), but this one is around, and those aren’t. Magic Hat does still produce Ravell Porter, a vanilla porter fermented with Ringwood yeast that I recall liking better than this one.
 

And I will buy Breckenridge Vanilla Porter again. Even if I have to pay a little more for it next time.

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Review Date: October 16, 2007

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