The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2012

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GADD'S SIXPACK Bear Market Lost Coast Brewing Downtown Brown The cola-like color and roasty-toasty nose and palate veer strongly in the direction of porter, but this dapper downtowner from Eureka, CA stops a few shades short of a dark beer. I can easily imagine W. C. Fields slurping this affable ale at his favorite saloon while telling tall tales about adventuring at Lake Titicaca or giving some poor sucker bad advice about his checkers game. It's a Walter Mitty among beers, but that suits me just fine. Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale A certifiable classic from Indio This new Mexican entry from Heineken has a burnished copper color and dusky malt notes with vinous overtones on the nose. It goes right up against that other Mexican brown beer like Itzcoatl raiding a Tlaxcalan village, with mouthfilling malt-ball flavors on a texture as creamy as horchata. And you thought Mexican beers were only for summer. HEINEKEN USA Tadcaster in North Yorkshire, where they don't go for any nonsense in their beers. Tangy acidity leads on the palate, clearing the path for sudsy-textured, toast-tinged malts and crisp, racy autumnal flavors with a sweet-and- sour complexity. The finish is properly bitter and goes on will into the sunset. My favorite in the excellent Samuel Smith line. MERCHANT DU VIN Sea Dog Riverdriver Hazelnut Porter The toasty, nutty, brown-sugar nose on this Maine- brewed porter invites you in like Grandma standing at her kitchen door with a fresh-baked spice cake. (Five minutes later, as 66 / the tasting panel / september 2012 HIBERNATION SEASON IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER, SO IT'S TIME TO STOCK YOUR CAVE WITH THESE BROWN BEERS you're scarfing down a still-warm chunk, she mentions that her gutters really could use cleaning). Having graduated long ago from hazelnut-flavored coffee to strong, black, unadulterated java, I looked askance at the "Natural Hazelnut Flavor Added" memo on the label, but this brew's homespun honesty won me over. Almost like dessert, but without the chores. Petrus Dubbel Bruin Ale The vinegar- laced nose is fair warning that this Belgian "living beer" with active yeasts may not be to every taste. The color is Fudgesicle brown and the texture could not be bet- tered, even by papal decree. There are lovely malt tones and (way understated) hops on the palate, but it's the love-it- or-leave-it undercurrent of artisanal sourness that separates the believers from the skeptics here. Check your belief system at the door. GLOBAL BEER NETWORK Widmer Brothers Oatmeal Porter A lovely foamy, creamy mouthfeel brings autumnal tones of molasses, Maypo and sassafras. The nice little clench of hops on the finish just serves to tighten the fat purse. This brew proves the point that porters are the gentle giants of the beer world: brown as a blacksmith, but put yourself in its arms and it will rock you to sleep like a nursemaid.

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