As it is Black Beer Friday, I had to make sure I reviewed something nice and dark for today. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll manage to get out a post that has something to do with what I drink on the actual day, but for now you can read about a good choice for your black beer decision. I actually tasted this beer a few weeks ago, and I’ve been holding onto the notes until I was ready to post about it. Well black friday seemed like the perfect day to post about a beer called Dead Reckoning. It’s black for the day, but it also seemed like an appropriate name for the meaning. Dead reckoning is a term used by sailors when they could only rely on pure skill to get from their starting point to their destination. Kind of sounds like what some shoppers are doing.
Troegs gets a lot of recognition for some brews, but others seem to get a little overlooked. We have just entered perhaps their biggest recognition period. Mad Elf is perhaps the most popular brew they make. I’ve heard of some people who stockpile it to have all throughout the Christmas and winter season. Their other popular beers seem to deal mostly with hops. Their Hopback Amber and Perpetual IPA were also quite popular in my area, so much so, that my shop had to put a limit on the number they were allowing their customers to purchase. There are a few others in their line up that people enjoy, but you don’t see them going crazy for them.
This is the second year in a row where I’ve noticed this beer on the shelf. It’s one of those beers where I continually think it could be a good one, but I never pick it up. And, since no one is scrambling to get it, I’ve felt no rush to pick it up. This year I lucked out and saw it as a single at my local store. Sometimes it’s just hard to grab a six pack of something you don’t know you’ll want to drink over and over again. Troeg’s describes this porter as “an unfiltered and aggressively hopped porter. Dead Reckoning’s flavor originates in the chocolate and roasted malts, then follows through with sharp, earthy bitterness and a rich, smooth cocoa mouthfeel.” I’m not sure any of these sound like flavors that are “out there” or unexpected, but they sound like just the flavors I seek out in the winter.
This one pours a very dark black coffee color. There is a very light tan head that develops on top of the glass, and you have some very good lacing. The lacing also results in some great sticky residue as well. There are some very light bubbles left over on top. The beer is, once again, far too dark to get a sense of clarity; however, there does seem to be some light activity in the glass despite the fact that you can’t see any real carbonation.
The aroma is fairly well balanced overall. There are some light coffee smells that combine with some pleasant and light roasted notes. The chocolate notes seem to be quite a bit bigger than the coffee or roasted aromas. There is an interesting mild citrus aroma that I would blame on the hops, especially since you get some of that earthy hopiness on the nose as well. There is a little light licorice to round out the aroma.
While the nose seems really well balanced, I wouldn’t say the flavor profile is the same way. The roasted flavors kick up right away and hang around for the entire tasting. They start light at the beginning of the brew, but they are still quite obviously there. These light roasted notes combine with some sweet chocolate malts. Some light citrus notes lead into some very apparent hops near the middle of the brew. The roasted flavors really kick up in the second half of the beer with some very bold coffee flavors as well. More of the citrus and hop flavors mix in on the back half following up the big coffee and roasted flavors. The beer has a slightly off flavor as the hops and roasted notes mix in for the finish.
The beer starts with some pretty big carbonation; however, it turns into a much more syrupy beer when the big roasted notes come in. The hops are certainly a little strong for such bold roasted flavors. I don’t mind an aggressive use of hops in a porter, but I like them to back down a little bit on the roasted flavors. Check out my review on Ska Brewing – Ten Pin Porter for what I mean. I do like the way the big roasted notes finish the beer.
As I said earlier, I’ve seen this brew on the shelves a lot. I’m glad I got around to trying it, but it won’t make my list of top porters out there. While I do love hops, I think they need to back off a little more for this brew. Either that or, tone it down on the roasted flavors so the flavors can meld together slightly better. It’s not bad, but it didn’t really give me what I want. If you want hops in a porter, go check out the one from Ska instead. You’ll be happy you did.
Teacher Grade: C