Saturday, February 5, 2011

Random Fridge Beer - Mill Street Coffee Porter

Beer: Mill Street Coffee Porter
Brewery: Mill Street Brewery (Toronto)
Type: Porter
ABV: 5.5%

Had a birthday shindig last weekend - good beer, good laughs, and as usual, one hell of a cleanup the following day.  Actually, it took me the better part of the week to get the house somewhat back to normal, especially the fridge, which had been so jammed full of booze and leftovers that only just the other day did we get around to sorting out.  Whenever one has a party, one invariably will discover left-behinds the next morning - dishes, food, personal effects, and of course beer.  It seems to be a custom in this country to leave behind whatever beer you didn't get around to consuming as sort of a bonus for the hosts - something they can consume while cleaning up the mess you made.  In most cases, however, I believe that left behind beer is more a product of a chaotic party exit ("Cab's outside now! Grab your shit!") than any specific beer-related altruism.  In either case, the host tends to win out in the end - or at least is recompensed for the broken glasses or stains on the floor - by finding fun goodies the next day.  It's like Christmas, in a way.  This single bottle was one such MIA soldier, which I happily obliged to relieve of duty. 

I've had Mill Street Coffee Porter many times before, but it has been a while since my last go.  I think this bottle suffered a bit from over-refrigeration - extended periods in the cold can seriously harm certain beers - so I'll base some of this review on notes I made previously.

Poured into a Mill St. pint glass.  Very deep brown, light tan head, a bit of lacing.  I remember the brew looking better before - this time around, the head dissipated very quickly, resulting in an end product that looked a great deal like Coca Cola. Again, I really think this is the result of being neglected in the fridge for about a week.

The smell is most certainly a pronounced ground coffee, which is one of my favourite scents so I can't help but mark high here.  A bit of roasted maltiness in the back, with some cream and bold chocolate.

As we've seen before, most porters and stouts, by nature of the roasting process will naturally possess elements of coffee, chocolate and caramel in their flavor profiles, just like weizenbiers will naturally possess coriander, lemon and other citrus notes.  In order to really make the flavors pop, however, some brewers will add extra coffee or chocolate into the fermenting mix, a procedure that generally works well, but sometimes can fail disastrously if the end product feels 'forced'.  Fortunately, in this case, Mill Street is a case of the former.  Their porter possesses a good blend of coffee, dark chocolate, malt and caramel flavors that blend together nicely. The mouthfeel is about right for a porter: thick, creamy, and with a moderate carbonation.

A solid porter all around.  Mill Street chose to add some pretty damned good coffee to the mix: a special blend from Balzac's, which is an excellent mini-chain of coffee houses found in southwestern Ontario and Toronto.  One just opened up in Kitchener recently, and I'm hoping to make a trip down that way very soon.    Because of this, the flavors found within their Coffee porter feel somewhat natural, instead of being the result of deliberate additions, which should always be the end result of making a "flavored" beer.  Mill Street Coffee Porter would pair well with any dessert - and would make a terrific breakfast beer.  (Grade: B+)

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