Atwater Block Brewery — Vanilla Java Porter

Atwater Block Brewing Vanilla Coffee Porter

is a brewery in Detroit, right downtown on the river.  When they first opened up, I was living in the city, and this was a frequent stop.  They had a good pub to go along with good lagers.  It was a great place to hit before or after a Wings game.  Anyway, when I saw a bottle of Atwater for sale as a single while I as back visiting, I had to give it a try.  I was surprised to see it was a porter, as they strictly brewed lagers when I lived there, but hey, times change.

Bottle calls it a robust porter brewed with chocolate and coffee malts, and then “the finest coffee and vanilla” are added.  The website says it is 5.5% ABV

Appearance — black, with hints of red at the edges as the light comes through, a decent 2 finger head that faded fairly quickly.

Aroma — No hops, strong vanilla scent with a caramel and coffee background.  It smells like a cup of coffee with a shot of bourbon poured into it.

Taste — sweet vanilla taste, followed by a faint roasted note.  There is a bitterness at the end, and it was pretty dry.  The mouth feel is surprisingly thin.

Critique — To quote my younger son when we put food on his plate he does not want, “That is not my favorite”.  The aroma is better then the taste, and even the aroma seems pretty one dimensional.  I like vanilla as a booster of other flavors, it tends to give depth, which is why it is used so much in cooking/baking, but when it is moved to the fore, I don’t enjoy it as much.  Food and drinks that are strongly flavored of vanilla often taste…synthetic, and this is the same.  Furthermore, the insipid mouth feel, bitter finish, and lack of caramel to round out the flavors just are not right.  I really don’t taste much coffee either.   One was enough.  I am really disappointed in this.

I am sure part of my disappointment is nostalgia.  The Atwater I remember brewed serious German Style lagers, paired it with German and American pub grub, and were quite good at doing both.  I remember chatting with the brewmaster a year or two after they first opened, and yes, he was German.  He was at the bar after finishing his day, and he was lamenting the lack of proper 1 liter mugs.  They only had half liters at the bar, and the beer was worthy of a full liter mug.  I guess I was looking for a beer that was worthy of  Eine Maß, and this is not it.  I did not bring back any other Atwaters, I hope the rest of the line is not this bad.

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