5/10/15: Smuttynose Brewing Company's Robust Porter

5:16 PM

Back in January I referred to myself as a porter man. Since making that statement I haven't put my money where my mouth is. You'd think I'd've discussed at least one porter, right? Nope. I've completely dropped the ball and am unspeakably ashamed.

But soon I won't be! You see I have not one but two porter posts coming at you soon (well, I guess there's only one after this one but you still get my point).


Today's porter post is about none other than Smuttynose's Robust Porter. I knew nothing about this brew before sitting down to write this post. But, upon researching the brew by going directly to Smuttynose's website, I found that Andy Crouch, of Great American Craft Beer fame (it's a book about domestic craft brews), called it "...the quintessential Porter...". That's a glowing review. Do I agree with it?

Find out after, per usual, a brief history lesson. Smuttynose Brewing Company hails from Hampton, New Hampshire, where it's made its home since early this year. Before that, and for two decades, it operated out of Portsmouth, NH.  The brewery' founder, Peter Egelston, continues to lead the company to this day. Check out Smuttynose's history page for more in-depth info.

According to the page for the Robust Porter (see the first hyperlink in this post for that), the brew is Smuttynose's winningest beer. The brew's taken home six awards (two of which come from France). Pretty impressive.

What do I think of the brew? Aroma-wise it has everything I want from a porter. It's rich and contains hints of chocolate and coffee (thank you, roasted malts). I've given it a few deep whiffs, but Purrl gave it a total of eight cat sniffs. As far as her nose is concerned, Robust Porter lives up to its hype.


The flavor threw me through one hell of a loop, though. I took my first swig of the beer before I really explored the brewery's online description of it. Had I read through what they say about it first I may have been prepared for what I got. But, because I did not, its hoppiness knocked me on my ass.

Porters aren't usually known for their hop factor. That's one of the reasons why I enjoy them so much. Robust Porter's flavor was wholly unexpected. I'm currently halfway through the bottle so I'm used to the kick now, but man, what a shock. The brew's profile says that the hops accentuate the coffee and chocolate flavors but, in my opinion, it masks them. However, the more beer I drink, the more prevalent these standard porter touches become.

The porter's only lightly carbonated which is what I typically expect from a brew of its style. But, and maybe due its hop quotient, it's not a full as a porter normally is. That said, it sure does go down easy.

The first time I every had a beer that had any noticeable hop content was at the very end of my senior year. Jackie O's, the brewery in Athens, OH, had recently opened a taproom behind my house and my friends and I went there celebrate being done with school. One of us ordered something with a lot of hops (for the life of me, I can't remember what it was). Anyway, he offered me a sip and I choked it down. I like to think I've progressed in my beer consumerness since then (I can drink hoppy brews now!) but that initial shock of it is what Robust Porter brings to mind.

I'm really worried that I've made this porter seems too hoppy. It isn't. Is it what I expect from a porter? No way. Do I like it? Yes, enough to give it an 8.0/10 (the 6.6% ABV helps take some of the edge off of the flavor, if hops aren't your thing). Like I said, I got used to it as I drank it. But, should you desire to try this brew, be warned: Smuttynose Brewing Company's Robust Porter isn't what you'd expect.

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