89 / 100
Pours a slightly reddish murky-brown colour. Head is extremely generous when poured - a little too generous really, as it retains well so needn't be so strong. Silly head. Small beige bubbles about 3-4 fingers thick, lace is a bit thin. Looks pretty good overall, don't really need so much head though. Once a night usually does me.
Smells pleasant. Lightly roasted grain with nice toasty notes. Sweet, with hints of chocolate and some raisins adding tartness. Slight woody character at the back. An appealing nose but also a great porter character. Dark and roasty but mild and modestly sweet. Excellent stuff.
Taste is also mild, but really smooth. Mouthfeel is lovely, just glides through with no harshness but a modestly full body adding a very slight viscosity in the mouth. Flavour is softly roasty, with a gentle espresso flavour on the front proceeding to light roasted grain, a very slight maple syrup character providing sweetness, then some more dark notes for the finish. Just pleasantly bitter with a touch of cocoa and some woody hop flavours emerging that dry out the palate a bit, but don't add any harshness, just complement the roasty flavours perfectly.
The bottle claims its contents are "perfectly balanced" and I'm inclined to agree. It's not often I drink a porter that makes me say "wow", nor am I often awed by a beer's mild-mannered drinkability, but Sierra Nevada have created something really special here. This is the sort of beer that could really turn a pale-lager-drinker's head towards the darker side of life and love. Something to savour or indeed to scull pints of all night.