Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter
In our ongoing Father and Son Beer Love Thursday night review series, we decided it was time to test a “local” beer – the Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter. A mere 4 hour drive from the home base of The BeerFathers (East) is the The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, located in Farmville, NC. Duck Rabbit touts themselves as “The Dark Beer Specialist” and trust us when we say it’s not bragging if you can do it. They make some terrific beers – ales, porters and stouts – and we’ve yet to have one we didn’t love. They’re new to the game (they sold their first beer in August 2004) but really are one of the new gems of the craft beer market. By the way, here’s a great back story on their logo, for those interested.
You may also be wondering how a Baltic Porter differs from a regular Porter. To help you out just visit our esteemed beer colleagues at All About Beer for their great write-up on Baltic Porters. In short, the story is a bit like that of the IPA – it has to do with shipping and these porters of over 200 years ago were stronger and more robust than standard porters and could be shipped across the Baltic and North Seas, hence a Baltic Porter. It actually shares quite a bit in common with an Imperial Stout.
For this review we poured our 12 oz, 9% ABV Baltic Porter into a tulip glass and got an initial beer temperature of 52.5 F. The pour produced a small 3/4″ frothy medium to dark brown head that dissipated quickly and left virtually no lacing. There was little carbonation to speak of and the body was an opaque black.
The aromas were dark chocolate, espresso, molasses, roasted malts, earth, alcohol, black licorice, dark cherry, pepper, smoke and soy sauce. It’s a nice grouping of smells that really works nicely together. The great smoke smell gets stronger as it warms. I had this beer in the home office with the door closed during the review and when my wife walked in she noted the potent smell – this sucker is strong.
The taste has a great sweet edge to it that is unbelievably smooth. We were able to taste all the malt aromas – dark chocolate, espresso, molasses and roasted malts (that are almost burnt). We also tasted some of the the other aromas – alcohol, black licorice, smoke and soy sauce and also got one note we didn’t get in the smell – plum. The dark fruits start to come out a bit more in the taste as it warms up. The initial flavor notes came in as a moderate to heavy sweet and the finish flavor evolves to a heavy sweet, moderate bitter and light saltiness. There’s no body lacing to speak of, surprising considering the mouthfeel is somewhat syrupy.
One of the best parts of this beer is the finish. This is the longest aftertaste of any beer we’ve had – it’s very long and hangs around forever. And drinking water lessens it, but doesn’t make it go away completely. The initial malts slide with the aftertaste towards a little bit of hoppiness that results in a pretty well balanced beer. On our patented malt to hop scale (patent number 15,824,193.5) , it comes in at a derived 4 – just a bit on the malty side of balanced. The initial notes comes in at a 3 and the finish comes in right at a 5, perfectly balanced, so we gave it the composite score of 4. This is one beer where you really feel the slide from initial taste to finish.
For our bottom line notes – it’s highly drinkable, balanced, has a beautiful harmony to it, is memorable, has a wow factor and we’d love to buy it again. The only thing we marked no for is repeatability and that is because though we would gladly drink another one, it would almost be a waste of such a fine beer as your palate couldn’t fully appreciate it as much on the second go. Save it for when it can be your first beer of the day and you can fully enjoy it for it’s great complexity and smoothness.
The bottle says that it’s “Proudly hand made in small batches” and this approach to brewing really shows in a top quality end product. Compared to one of our other favorites – the Foothills Sexual Chocolate – the Duck Rabbit has more coffee notes, less chocolate notes and more smokiness. Remember we mentioned that the Baltic Porters share a lot in common with the Imperial Stouts? Well the Foothills Sexual Chocolate is an Imperial Stout, also made here in North Carolina.
The only real down side to the Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter is availability – which tends to occur in the fall in a relatively small regional area. It is a world class example of not only a Baltic Porter, but the entire porter class. This one should be purchased any time it is found. I got this at Brawley’s Beverage here in Charlotte and at the time he was limiting purchases to one six pack per customer. Don a Groucho Marx mask if you need to and trust me when I say get as many as you can.
Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter Rating: 10 out of 10 (?)
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