Tonight I thought that I would enjoy something from the same stable as the lovely West Indies Porter (link) that was such a great find earlier in the year. This was similarly on offer in the local supermarket and thus easily acquired, and the label promised much old world charm about this Dublin Porter. Also, after failing to have any Black Cab Porter when I was out in London (link) I was rather looking forward to filling that Porter-shaped hole that I had developed.
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I have to say that the bottle is a good look - the design does rather suggest something uncomplicated and almost 'hipster' in being an original porter that will delight all the senses as well as making you feel like you are being 'authentic' - whatever that actually means. Furthermore there was a minimum of fuss on opening and a decent bicuit-y head was formed relatively quickly atop a lovely black and smooth looking liquid. I'll admit that it all looked a little thinner than the image above suggests and I did have a faint worry that this would be going the same way as Oyster Stout (link) but I put that to one side and moved into the smelling.
The smell, atop a quick head that rapidly formed and then faded worryingly quickly for a porter, was one of chocolate orange, reminding me faintly of Christmas spent round my grandparents the time that out dog managed to eat all of the Terry's Chocolate oranges from the bedroom and lick the foil flat and clean. Now, by rights she ought to have been sick. Something in her mongrel constitution meant that she was able to not only survive but enjoy it so much that she carried out similar raids three times that year. I digress, the smell was very similar to that time of year and the promise of something good. However, it also had a great deal of fizz that spattered my face a little more than I would have expected from such a dark looking brew. I guess that this isn't really a stout or a mild but very much on the fizzy side of the spectrum, and that isn't always a good thing. Still, at 3.8% ABV it is no bad thing to have a lively side to you.
Or so I thought. That rich darkness on the nose simply disappeared without trace upon tasting, a thin mouthfeel was the first indication that all was not as it should be, shooting through with a light malt straight for the back of the throat with no indication of that rich orange chocolate aroma that began proceedings. It was stripped down and back, like an armoured vehicle amended for road use and thus denuded of its primary function. It put me in mind of Schwarzenegger driving around California with bottled water - at once pointless and deeply insulting to the public - and that is not what I was really looking for late on an evening after a hard week of getting marking done and looking forward to the planning of new courses. In all, this was disappointing and remained a bit light throughout. Certainly there was some biscuit to the taste and this was welcome but this was eclipsed by there being rather too much fizz with no real action to justify the activity.
In that sense it puts one in mind of any kind of election battle bus after 1997, when political leaders tour the country hoping to galvanise support but, instead, simply annoy commuters and make others roll their eyes at the imposition. I suppose it is better than using a private jet but, in the grand scheme of things, that's not even faint praise to damn it with and this porter lives very much in that zone. As the pint continued there was a faint hint of something mocha about this, but that just brought to mind the excellent Mocha (link) by Batemans and served to further highlight the lack of connection between the initial promise and the eventual delivery in this ale.
Perhaps this works best in Ireland, away from the sorts of brews one associates with London and the south-east, back in the place where tourists expect a certain element of drinking lager in their otherwise ale-inspired brews - in that sense, this porter does a decent job and would be best used to fill a hole on a holiday when there's nothing else available. If unable to find a decent thick stout or mild, or even a decent porter, this would fill a hole that would be better served by a decent blonde or golden ale. A good companion to the Criminales (link) stable I would posit. Porter for people who don't usually drink ale.