This one-off seasonal ale from my favorite local brewery is billed as “the perfect dark beer for a warm spring afternoon,” and I can attest that it is so. I’m still working on my first can of this lovely concoction on this late spring day that could be classified as warm, in the upper 60s with mixed clouds and sun with a shower or two thrown in.
I’ve always enjoyed a good dark beer, even when here in the States that meant the dark lager you’d occasionally find at a pizza parlor. Finally in the late ’80s or early ’90s you could get Guinness’s stout porter in most places, and since then with the craft beer revolution you can get a decent porter or stout in just about any pub you find.
In the past few years, however, at least here in the Western U.S., it’s hard to find a porter or stout that’s not flavored with chocolate or vanilla or (shudder) peanut butter. That’s why I immediately picked up a four-pack of pint cans as soon as Block 15 released The London Chronicle, sub-titled London-Style Porter. I’ve not yet had the pleasure of drinking porter in London, so I can’t address the veracity of that bit of marketing, but I’ve no reason to doubt the description. The folks at Block 15 have never led me astray with their descriptions of any of their beers that I’ve tried, and I’ve tried many.
The description on their website continues: “… balancing a complex malt profile full of chocolatey, nutty grist character with refreshing drinkability and a crisp, roasty finish.” Again, spot on. It’s not a one-note malt taste (as is the Guinness you’ll find here in the States), due to the presence of several chocolate malted wheats and barleys, plus it has a bit of crispness from German magnum and golding hops. Now, I’ve had some chocolate and cocoa porters that I truly enjoyed, but this one demonstrates that if a porter is done well, there’s no need to add any actual chocolate to the pot, because these malts create plenty of chocolate tasting notes on their own.
As with most good porters and stouts (and even a good IPA), the flavor notes come through a lot better if you let this one warm up a bit from your typical fridge temperature. I find I’m tasting a lot more flavors as I near the bottom of the glass. At 5.5% ABV, it’s quite suitable for afternoon sipping. And I just discovered that it goes quite well with Trader Joe’s Sesame Honey Cashews – they’re like slightly higher class beer nuts, and I definitely should review them sometime!
Unfortunately for you unless you live in Oregon or Washington, it’ll be difficult for you to try this beer. Block 15, located in Corvallis, Oregon, does its own distributing and only in the Pacific Northwest. But do check out their website for their list of brews both year-rounds and seasonals, and keep an eye out for their beers at quality regional retailers if you’re in the neighborhood. Their website has a list of retailers that carry their products.