Firestone Walker, Porter

Firestone Walker
Grade: A-

Firestone Walker is known for their huge, amazing, expertly crafted beers aged in their famous barrel program in Paso Robles, California. What a lot of East Coasters like myself are slow to learn is that their "normal" beers are anything but. Firestone's porter is another of those beers that I think should be held up as the best example of a style. Yeah those guys can do a mean oak-aged IPA, but they can also put out a beer so solid and flavorful that I want a perpetual tap of it at my house.

Nice and dark, with a dark red glow when you hold it up to the light. The light tan head comes up readily and falls to a foamy coating on the beer. Clean caramel and toffee aromas come up when it is swirled, some bread and coffee are in there as well, but it's not aggressive overall. The flavor is full of chocolate, roast, dark toasted bread, and caramel. The body is medium and finishes dry, very nicely balanced with a solid level of carbonation adding a little tingle. Overall the beer is smooth and a little creamy, which may be from the oat flakes used.

There are none of the acrid, burnt, or overly bitter elements in this beer that I've had with other porters. Too often porter and stout are used interchangeably, just another name for a dark beer. Where stout is meant to have some bitter edge to it, porter is supposed to be a supremely 'sessionable' beer. Walkers Reserve is a good example of what a smooth, low alcohol, and very high flavor beer porter really is. In this age of "Imperial Everything," sometimes we need to step back and realize the skill, effort, and nuance some of these lower alcohol beers have. And it just plain drinks good! Tons of flavor with drinkability? Sign me up.