Bellwoods Brewery Donkey Venom – Baltic Porter at 9.5% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Donkey Venom Baltic Porter at 9.5% ABV (C$10.62 at Bellwoods Brewery, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 29-Aug-2016, reviewed 30-Aug-2016)

Appearance: opaque deep brown with one finger of thin beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tart red wine, dried fruit, chocolate, oak, leather. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Medium-full body, moderate carbonation, medium duration moderately tart finish. (4/5)

Whoa. That’s a Baltic that might make you change your mind about Baltics. I usually find the style to be too sweet, often to the point of being sickly, but this is all about the tart. In fact, the vinous tart, and to a lesser degree, the oaky woodiness, dominate this so completely that I’m not getting much of the “Brettanomyces and other bugs” it was supposedly aged with, at all. To the point where I’m equal parts disappointed and intrigued by the hypothetical: “What would happen if I aged this for a year or three, just to give the Brett a chance to really take hold?” The other really noteworthy thing about this is the thing that’s barely noticeable at all. Sort of a “Hound of the Baskervilles” thing, if you follow: the ABV. This is almost 10%, but if it’s a sipper at all – and I submit it need not be – it’s because the vinous tart makes you adopt red wine drinking behaviour, not because it’s hot, because it isn’t. At all. In fact, it’s dangerously easy to drink. All of which isn’t to say I consider this without fault. It’s got a fairly serious flaw, and I’m not being facetious at all here: it’s too simple. This is all about the big barrel woody tart, and nothing else. “All right, all right!” I hear you say, “Bottom line it for me. Enough waffling. What’s your opinion of it?” Well, I’ll tell you this: it’s good enough that I don’t regret drinking a porter during the summer. ‘Nuff said? (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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