This was one of the surprises from my crate of porters and stouts, a replacement, and my does it come in an interesting bottle. The use of the brown leaf as a motif makes me think that this is designed for the autumn but here I am having it in the late spring as we look toward Summer, because I am different doncha know! Also, it is late in the evening and it is the sort of time that is ripe for something a bit darker and heavier regardless of weather or situation. I am reviewing the rather interesting looking KeTo RePorter by Birra del Borgo and rather looking forward to it.
Anyone would think that I have a thing for stouts that I am finally getting to indulge. Well, anyone would be right about that. Would you like to know more?
This is an Italian porter from what I can tell and so I should expect something a bit different really. It pours very much like most porters I've had but with the thick head I would expect more in a stout in that it was thick and dense with a caramel tone and a biscuit-like aspect to it. Plenty of sound too, with bubbles popping all around like the sound of a tide washing up at Brighton beach in the evening of a summer's day after the sun has gone down and the heat is fading. Definite coffee on the nose but nothing so strong as being roasted or anything like that, more the kind of sweetened coffee smell one gets from the chocolates in the Milk Tray box that are left until last because, well, they're coffee flavoured. Rubbish in a chocolate but not so bad in an ale. It's fresh and it is thin, it feels as though there's more air getting through than there actually is too, it's only when you take a good sniff of your surroundings that you realise the slightly airy smell is actually from the ale too. Not sure what to make of that.
Good and dark colour on this good and dark evening long after the family have retired to bed. Obviously I am not drinking this on the Tuesday, I don't have school in the morning, so I can afford to sit up late and drink it. That strange airy quality dominates the nose as I lean in for a taste and then its all over the front of the mouth. Not the thick and smooth taste of a milk stout here, nor the dry and roasted feeling that I am used to with stouts and porters. This sort of slips by all of that with a strangely thin feeling, but not in a bad way, and with a very liquid quality. I want to say there are elements of oatmeal in this one, it has that Horlick's quality to it, but the thickness that usually accompanies such as sensation just isn't there. It swirls into the sides of the mouth and fills the arena like a load of prisoners rounded up from Rome's jails thrown in to please the baying crowd and save money but without the badly shaved faces and rough affect that one would assume of such a crowd, more as if they were all Italian businessmen of the sort to have just returned from making deals with the Russian Mafia.
There is something of a milk aspect too, strangely enough, just enough to suggest its presence and then it is gone before I can nail it down. It tastes like dark. It tastes like porter. It tastes like it has a bit about itself but I cannot precisely say exactly how it does it. Before you can really get a feel for it the fizz comes, almost lager like in power, then fades rapidly to leave a biscuit-coloured feeling and then it swirls down to the back of the throat and into a dry and almost oatmeal aftertaste that hangs around revving the scooter at the lights with a ridiculous little engine, saying 'ciao' all the time and winking. I don't know, is that a particularly bad thing? I feel like Eddie Izzard is going to pop up at any moment to tell me all about cats and chainsaws, that's the best way I have of describing this aftertaste. It's not a bad aftertaste by any means, but nor is it really socking it to me. At 6.5% ABV you'd expect it to have a bit of an alcohol kick but it is remarkably well hidden here. It tastes like something half the strength and I suppose therein lies the real danger of trying it.
Having never visited Rome or Italy it is hard to work out exactly what this represents but it just doesn't fit with any locale that I can lay my mind's eye upon, nor time I've ever read about. It is, for that, somewhat unique. It is an Italian businessman just back from a shady deal, all slicked hair and immaculate suit but as a veneer over the chipboard of dangerous petty-criminal who women will fawn over, well, women of a certain type. It oozes porter-like charm and it definitely looks the part but lacks the underlying substance to fully pull it off. No, that's not totally fair, the underlying parts of this ale do not match the veneer to such an extent that I find them impossible to work out or to report. They are not bad, they are simply ineffable.
Enjoy this best when in the mood to wow a friend with a strangely shaped glass in a restaurant that charges ridiculous prices for simple farm-based fayre in some major city surrounded by steel and glass. Wear some power jewellry and mismatched sun-glasses that also enhance the rather expensive suit you and your friend are wearing. Order in loud voices but talk in whispers, ostentatiously place your top-of-the-line phone on the table but never check it nor use it throughout the meal. Have hair that is professionally untidy and immaculately unstyled. Pop a few olives and drink deep, you've probably earned it.