Porter. Chocolate porter. Chocolate porter with vanilla. Chocolate porter with vanilla and coffee. This is starting to sound familiar.
To be fair, the Shake is among one of the first such porters I encountered and I’ll say at the outset that they managed to hammer out what they were trying to do in a fair, even handed and altogether enjoyable fashion. But in this beer we are presented with something that could almost be a cliché, were it not for the fact that they really make it work. In a way that is similar to the way that leopard print can be worn by Zsa Zsa Gabor, but not quite as well as the average hood-rat who thinks that drum and bass is still a thing and that the alkaline flavor in her drink is the sort vodka that went into it and not a packet of amyl-nitrates that is going to lead to another abortion down the line.
Not to get too far off into the topic of rust belt night clubs and their urban enclave equivalents and how such compares to beer, if the watered down milk chocolate black lagers disguised as porters that many breweries try passing off are mid-nineties Saabs, this is effectively an early nineties Mercedes. Sure, they’re both safe, they’re both European, but you know one is going to ultimately be a massive letdown while the other will leave you with fond enough memories to want another after it’s gone. In this, while not the finest thing on Earth, you’ll like it more than some others.
So what we have here is a lovely chocolate porter with a number of layers that altogether work rather nicely together. At 5.9% ABV, it promises a modicum of alcohol without much in the way of aceric or fusel punch. To the nose we find the old standard one-two punch of malt and dark cacao nibs riding high in the nostrils and sinus cavity. Following this scent up with a notably strong dark chocolate semi-sweetness in the opening and finish of the sip, the progressing notes of chocolate, cream, vanilla and finally hints of coffee, all supported by a base foundation of malt and all suspended within a heavy-medium body all seem to swirl into something lovely that when taken in totality, really do resemble the tactile experience of a proper chocolate milkshake.
On top of these factors however, even the basic aesthetic of the thick and leggy foam head which forms atop the glass all suggest the “shake” nature to this beer. Altogether, as I’ve had a “chocolate milk” stout, this porter lives up to its name in such a brilliantly obvious way, the only genuine criticism I can offer it is one rooted in my own subjective tastes, which prefer the dank and dark motor oil textures of imperial stouts to the lighter and loftier feels of porters in general. And truth to tell it, the richness of flavor here just about makes up for that on its own.
So to Boulder Beer, to this milk shake in a glass and to you, I say as always…
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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