Long Trail Brewing Co., Imperial Porter

Grade: B
Long Trail Brewing Co.

A dark mocha head leaps up from the glass, with rocky foam that slowly recedes into nice lacing. While the color is most certainly black and opaque, when put up to a light source some red hues can be seen. When viewed this way, you can see that the beer actually is crystal clear (no haze or cloudiness). Alcohol notes, with sweet caramel and toffee are the first on the scene aroma-wise. A quick swirl brings out the coffee, roast, and dark chocolate. A medium body hits the tongue, with a moderate amount of carbonation that doesn't offend, but puts it a little outside the norm for porter. Traditionally porters are served with very low carbonation, like most English style beers. The first thing I notice about the flavor of this beer is how clean it is. Universally, Long Trail beers seemed to be scrubbed and polished until they squeak with cleanliness. Often (to my palate) that is a negative thing. Filtering tends to strip many elements of flavor that make up the balance of a beer.

The coffee and roast are there in the flavor, backed by some sweeter caramels. Alcohol is noticeable, but not distracting. It's appropriate for an imperial porter to have some alcohol elements present in the flavor. The finish is fairly dry, without much lingering flavor on the tongue. Some dark fruit can be sensed in the background, but it's very slight, and takes a definitive backseat to the roast and coffee. I warmed my sample slightly, hoping to bring out more flavors, but it seems like the lack of complexity is simply a recipe issue. While not the most full flavored porter I've ever had, it remains extremely drinkable.

Long Trail seems to design their beers for the median beer drinker. These are people who have just come off Coors and Bud and are looking for something more, without venturing into the double IPAs and oak aged espresso stouts. Throughout Long Trail's portfolio, drinkability (to borrow a phrase from the Evil Empire known as Budweiser) has always been a major element. Pick up any Long Trail beer and you can finish that beer without difficulty. In these Brewmaster Series beers they try to push the envelope, yet seem to still cling to that mantra of "approachable" beer. While solid and very quaffable, the Brewmaster Series Imperial Porter by Long Trail doesn't exactly curl my toes. Although, sometimes you just want a good, solid beer to drink. And when that mood strikes me, more often than not I reach for a Long Trail.