Week 12…or so. I think we missed a week or two in there. Anyhow, I hope you’re all keeping well and safe out there. And treating yourself to a nice meal and bevvie from time to time.
This week I taste tested something that sounded a bit different – Breckenridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter. If it sounds like a drinkable candy for adults… well, it’s not quite. But it isn’t far off either.
Breckenridge is a Colorado brewery begun in 1990 in the town it was named after. Apparently the little craft brewery and restaurant/tasting room is still there, but they quickly outgrew that spot’s output capability so they moved. They built a large brewery in downtown Denver in 1992, right across the road from the Rockies’ baseball stadium, but in time that too became too crowded to meet demand so they relocated to 12 acres in nearby Littleton where they now have their main brewery and a farmhouse restaurant featuring “dining …indoors or a leisurely outdoor experience around fire pits, playing bocce ball” and enjoying their majestic views of the Rocky Mountains.
The company is, like many smaller craft breweries, altruistic and donate to any number of local charities including a local conservation group, Metro State University and food banks, of which they proudly have donated over 100 000 meals to. Most unusually, they also say they last year donated over 500 cases of their beer to non-profits! And why not? After a hard day volunteering handing out some boxes of food, or planting trees, why not reward the folks with a cold one?
Breckenridge seems to specialize in darker, heavier or more unusually-flavored beers than many of the larger competitors or even than some of the IPA-focused other microbrews of the Great Plains. The vanilla porter is one of their regular mainstay brews, along with Hop Peak IPA, an oatmeal stout and Agave wheat beer as well as “nitro” nitrogen-charged cans which just about explode the beer out with “velvety cascading heads.” Among the flavors that come nitro-blasted are the vanilla, Chocolate orange stout and an Irish stout.
Speaking of which… porter? Stout? Draft mag says they are very similar but porters are a little less bitter than stouts, both are “well-hopped and dark” due to their use of unusually brown malts. Guinness is probably the quintessential stout.
So that leads to my Vanilla Porter. I would have liked to pop open one of those nitrogen-exploding cans but settled happily for a conventional 12 ounce bottle. I had it with a mighty fine jalapeno-topped cheeseburger and a few finger-food veggies on the side.
Popping open the bottle,and pouring it, I was reminded very much of Guinness. Why not – remember, stout, porter, tomatOH, tomAHtoe. It was very dark, and produced a thick, caramel-colored head that filled half the glass. Swigging the remaining ounce or two from the bottle, it came across as intriguing. Definitely a strong flavor, but with a hint of sweetness and a remarkably smooth, creamy feel to it. It rates at 5.4% alcohol, about average to a Canadian like me but just a bit stronger than norm in the U.S. Kicking into the burger, the beer really ramped it up a notch … while still strong enough to taste, it blended wonderfully and cut the heat of the jalapeno which had a lot more character than I expected! Somehow, it added an unexpected layer of flavor to both the food and the drink and left a decent feel to the mouth. It did still have a bit of an aftertaste, not unpleasant but odd , both bitter and a wee bit vanilla at the same time. And to note, while there is a definite vanilla hint to the flavor, this is not like a dark, melted ice cream.
All things considered, a nice drink that seems to do well with a strongly flavored meal. I give it 8 out of 10 for strength and 7 out of 10 for flavor and
four out of five mountain goats for the Colorado brew.