Anyone who regularly reads this blog (I think Google Analytics identified 5 of you in the last year: thank you) knows that I have a deep, deep, deep, deep, deep love of Port Brewing. This San Diego brewer, which I visited last Labor Day weekend, is one of the most unabashed hoppers of beer on the planet. They don't care. They just hop everything. They have four incredibly hoppy, tropical IPA's, all terrific, which are the Wipe Out, Hop-15 double, Mongo, and High Tide. Their Shark Attack is a brutal hop affair of the red ale variety. Even their Anniversary Ale is an uncanny hop punishment. Port's love of humulus lupulus knows no bounds. I should also mention that I dug the folks out there, their carefree attitude, and their low key brewery and pizza saloon in Solana Beach.
Yet, for all of their hop appreciation, they can show delicate touch when it comes to brewing as well (not that IPA's don't require some nuance, but hopping beers to that level can cover up for some mistakes, if any). Of course, there's The Lost Abbey lineup of beers which are acclaimed Belgian-styled brews. But often overlooked in favor of the Angel's Share is Port's Old Viscosity couplet, which includes Old Viscosity and it's fully bourbon brother, Older Viscosity. Do not ignore these beers.
Old Viscosity is listed at Port's website as being an American dark ale made of roasted malts. Twenty percent of the batch of OV is made from an earlier batch of OV that has been bourbon barreled for some time. This mostly stainless steel barreled variety is dark, thick, and sludgy with a wonderfully viscous mouthfeel and drinking it makes you feel like a longshoreman. In fact, some bars won't serve it to you unless you come in sporting a longshoreman's coat or a pea coat. Rumor has it that a guy wearing yachting whites took a fierce beating from some harbor toughs for simply trying to order one of these at a bar. Consult Snopes for confirmation on this one.
Anyway, the fully bourbon barreled version, Older Viscosity, is pretty remarkable. One look at it tells you that it's not quite a stout or a porter as it's dark but more translucent than those types of beer. There's a slight redness to it that sets it apart from imperial stouts and the like. It smells of berries, vanilla, and rasins, and feels like coffee but it's seamlessly smooth. Maybe the feel is more like port wine. Exacting description is unimportant, for this beer refuses classification. This is the curious result of some homebrewers playing around with too many roasted malts and a whole bunch of whiskey barrels. Here, the whiskey contributes a ton of alcohol, which you can certainly taste a bit, a 12.5% ABV, and vanilla flavors, raspberries, rasins, liquid smoke, and dark chocolate. It's a bit sweet but bittersweet more aptly describes this. The thickness and the obvious and rather naked alcohol flavor forces you to consume this one slowly. It's exceedingly satisfying and one I should visit more often.
Bombers of this are not inexpensive, as is the case with any barrel aged beers, but I believe I've seen this for a reasonable $20. You can obviously age it forever. Just don't get caught drinking it while wearing summer whites.
4.8 of 5 stars.