Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Port Brewing Hot Rocks Lager

A lager from Port Brewing is certainly a surprise, given their predilection for high powered, high octane ales; as they state themselves on the bottle, it's not often they make a beer that requires mind over matter.

This was a collaboration between Port and Tonya Cornett of Bend Brewing.  They made this in the traditional Stein manner by dropping glowing rocks, heated by fire, directly into the wort.  This creates all sorts of smoke, steam, and rolling boils because of the extreme heat of the rocks, not to mention is a bit of a time machine back to some of the earliest days of brewing.

Port's decision to use Black Granite was obviously a good one, because as Lagers go, this one isn't bad at all.  Typical lack of aroma lager with a very dark amber color and fairly rich body.  The lager starts off as you would expect, as though sitting in a beer garden in Munich.  But as the taste develops, the Lager is heightened by what I can only imagine is the effects of the hot rocks, and the brilliance of the Port brewers.

An infusion of dark coffee notes that are indistinguishable in their roasted quality from the caramel malts finish with  a subtle hop bitterness; there's a nutty flavor mixed in there somewhere that I can't quite discern.  It's tempting to say the nut flavor comes from the addition of hazlenut because of the coffee and caramel, but I can't really be sure since it is very subtle.

This is a complex and delicious creation from Port.  As can be the case with Lagers, there's a slight lingering yeast flavor that comes through both in the aroma and the aftertaste, but certainly not enough to make you dislike this beer.  If you just picked up the glass without knowing the story, you'd probably think it was just a quality German Dunkel, but there's just enough creative additions in here to make it something more.

Hot Rocks Lager: ****

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