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Beer Review: Nethergate Old Growler Porter

January 10, 2007

Old GrowlerI wanted to start off this blog with a beer I had never tried before. I visited one of my favorite beer retailers on my way home from work….I hadn’t been there in a while and they have a lot I have never tried before or even seen in the Nashville area. I picked this Old Growler Porter because I have just been itching for a good porter since mid-fall.

 The guy who rang up my purchase told me when I bought it that this was his favorite porter. I was anxious to get it home and try it, but honestly was not expecting too much. A lot of brewers seem to overdo their porters. Plus, strange as it sounds, the bulldog on the bottle made me expect less from it. Maybe because it made me think of Red Dog beer. Remember Red Dog?

Nethergate is a brewer out of England. Here is a bit about them, taken directly from their Web site:

We have brewed traditional ales in the Stour Valley since 1986, firstly in the small town of Clare, in Suffolk, and then in 2005 moving to a larger brewery on the south bank of the river Stour a mile or two down river at Pentlow.
From the very start our beers have been recognised by their excellence, winning many awards, both regionally and nationally. Our most recent major award was at the Chicago International Beer Festival where we were awarded the prestigious Platinum Medal for our Old Growler, the top award.

So I take the beer home and crack it open. A wonderful aroma drifts up to me from the bottle. It smells like heavenly chocolatey nirvana in there! There are faint hints of coffee in the aroma, but the chocolate is the most noticeable for me.

 I tilt my glass and pour slowly down the side of the glass, and notice its very dark hue. Very little, if any, light passes through the glass. Looks like a very strong cup of coffee without cream. As the glass fills halfway, I turn the glass upright and give it a more forceful pour, building up a good 2 inch thick head. The head is a nice soft caramel color and really doesn’t leave much lacing on the glass. The head does not last all that long.

I bring my nose almost into the pint glass and take several good snootfuls of the aroma. Still heavy on the chocolate. I take my first taste. The initial taste is almost the reverse of the aroma….much more coffee than chocolate to it. It has a rich mouthfeel, the beer almost coating your mouth.

As I had a few more tastes, I notice what I only know how to describe as a sort of dustiness to the beer. Not a bad thing at all…just a little dryness I suppose. After tasting that, I can smell it in the aroma as well. It makes for a very pleasant experience, despite how it may sound with me calling it “dustiness”.  :)

There is nothing overpowering in the beer, and I appreciate that. It is subtle and understated, with a good bit of complexity. At times a swallow of this elixir almost makes you feel as if you could chew it. It’s more the taste than anything else. Sometimes you get a taste that comes across similar to a Riesen’s candy.

All in all, an excellent porter, to be enjoyed as an experience. A lot of people like to pair their beers with food, but I tend to focus simply on the beer. This is one beer you can sit and savor….with this much depth and complexity, it’s a new experience with each sip.

Recommended: Highly!
Price: I paid a little over $4 for a 500ml bottle (basically a pint and a quarter?)
ABV: 5%

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5 comments

  1. I used to like you, but now I don’t. Don’t worry its purely jealousy, I need to move to a town where you can actually get unique beers. Its a rather Irish town so I can get Guinness or occasionally Murphy’s but I don’t think they know what a porter is around here. the only thing we do have going for us is Labatte Blue and Yuengling, both are about the price of Bud, but they are decent, they’re good for the money, hey Im broke. Yuengling does have the honor of being the oldest brewery in the US, its from Pennsylvania. And I mention Labatte only because it wasn’t long ago that I found out that the Canadian Beers aren’t available everywhere, and that if you head south its harder to find. I could be wrong about that though. And we recently started getting Molsen XXX, which is not very good but its 7.3% alcohol, so its beer for people trying to get drunk, period.
    Back to the jealousy, I visited my sister in Pittsburgh, we went into a bar that had 80 beers on tap, and another 200 in the fridge, thats the night that I learned about Belgian beer, very good, very small glass snifter thing, and very expensive. That is the one good thing about broke little town like mine, we might not have a great variety of beers, but if someone tried to charge more than 3.50 at a bar they would probably get stabbed. We like our drinks cheap around here.
    this comment is so random.
    but you needed a first comment to get you started.

    We do have one decent beer store might be able to learn from your experiences.
    I’d give some reviews myself but it would be more, um it was dark, it was pretty good some odd spice sorta flavor or something, and it’ll get ya drunk. I give it a b+ I think it was a lager.

    Oh and I like the pic for the header.


  2. Thanks….the background behind the beer glass is basically the background that came with the template, but I fade it out so it wasn’t as much in the foreground


  3. Wow, I haven’t seen a bottle of Old Growler in ages. It’s not my favorite beer (that’d be Köstritzer), but it’s way, way up there.


  4. Jim, this is the first time I’ve tried it and it is fantastic. I am glad I found out….I’ll have to give your favorite a try if I can ever get my hands on it


  5. I’ve had a few Old Growlers in my time.

    Lold growler



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