Port Brewing, that home of extreme beers down in San Marcos, Calif., likes to compare this beer to crankcase oil. It certainly has the color, having been brewed with caramel and chocolate malts like a stout. It also has a faint note of vanilla from being partly aged in used bourbon barrels.
Yes, partly aged. Port says it "blurs the boundaries of Porter, Stout, Old Ale and Barleywines." Translation: Like the original 19th-century style of porter, it's a blend of freshly brewed and barrel-aged ales, in this case 80% new ale, 20% aged. But it's not as sweet as a porter because the fermentation has been carried out to the point that it's as strong as a wine, 10.5% alcohol by volume. In short, this is a suave, very malty dark beer with a kick that sneaks up on you; think twice before trying to kill the bottle yourself.
-- Charles Perry
Style: Strong, dry porter for a chilly evening
Price: $5.99 for 22 ounces
Where you find it: Beverages & More, www.bevmo.com; Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463 or (800) 331-3005, www.hitimewine.net; Red Carpet Wine, 400 E. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, (800) 339-0609, www.redcarpetwine.com.