Style: American Porter
Serving style: Bottle poured into glass
Location: My apartment during Nor’easter
Cost: $14 for a six-pack from the local bodega
ABV: 4.7 percent
Appearance: The Vanilla Porter’s pour is dark and somewhat intimidating. It initially looks straight-up black, similar to the color of a thick Sharpie marker, but under brighter lights, soft undertones of ruby and brown emerge. It held a thin head for a moment, which quickly vanished.
Aroma: Wafting the brew brings a scent of vanilla to the nostrils, but considering “vanilla” is in the name, the potency is not nearly on the level you might expect. It works nicely with the rest of the beer’s aroma, which is a blend of nuttiness, chocolate, and coffee. These smells are successful in covering up any “real beer” scents. I practically submerged my nose in the porter, and still couldn’t tell you if it contains hops or not. (It probably does.)
Taste: It’s sweet, malty, and creamy. The vanilla is a bit subdued, but is here more in the taste than the scent. There is a nice, healthy amount of chocolate flavor, too–but it’s not heavy or overbearing.
Mouthfeel: Quite smooth, without much body or carbonation at all. It’s very easy to drink, but do it fast because if you let the Vanilla Porter linger for long, it quickly loses its body. After spending too much time with one bottle in the six-pack, the consistency was like when you accidentally take a 4 p.m. sip of the coffee that’s been on your desk since 9 a.m.
Overall Experience: I have many friends–and admittedly, I’m sometimes this way–who turn their noses up at weirdly flavored beers, whether they’re created with fruit, chocolate, coffee, or in this case, vanilla. But if you take the Vanilla Porter for what it is–a low-alcohol dessert drink–the brew can truly be quite enjoyable.