The weekend task I set myself was to compare and contrast a couple of porters in my beer box. The first of these is from Yorkshire brewer Saltaire who I am becoming a big fan of. The second is from one of the new wave of London micros, Sambrooks, from whom I am yet to sample any beers.
Hazelnut Coffee Porter from Saltaire (4.6% ABV)
The name of this beer doesn't lie at all. It is exactly what it says although my wife did question where the hazelnut was hiding. I think she needed to try a few more sips because it is definitely there. The first thing you notice about this porter is the colour. It isn't black. Instead it has a muddy brown appearance although it does have plenty of life and a nice head to it. Not since trying the Batemans Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie have I tried a beer that has the total taste description in the name. The hazelnut is to the fore and the coffee is in the finish. This finish is very dry and bitter and tastes quite harsh. It is not totally to my taste as I am not a coffee drinker although coffee bitterness in beer has not been too much of a problem for me in the past. This is probably the most extreme I have tried though. Some people will know doubt love it but for me I can only give it a 6/10.
Powerhouse Porter from Sambrooks (4.9% ABV)
If you are a chocaholic on a diet, as I am, you will adore this beer. Who needs the solid stuff when you can drink this. After pouring it looks fantastic although the small head did disappear fairly quickly. There was still enough carbonation in there as too much would have spoiled the silky smoothness of this beer. The aroma was not overpowering with hints of roasted malts. The taste of this particular beer has everything I look for in a porter. There's a subtle coffee bitterness and there's a sweet chocolatey richness. The balance in this beer is spot on. It just slides down the gullet with ease. Put me in an armchair in front of a roaring fire and bring me a case of this beer and I won't move for hours. Simply magnificent and I have to award this beer top marks. 10/10.
No guessing which porter here I prefer. The Hazelnut Coffee Porter was a good full-bodied beer that was simply not to my taste. Saltaire produce excellent beers and I will continue to enjoy them but this is one I won't be going back to. Sambrooks have produced a porter I simply adore and now I have to check out more from this Battersea-based micro.