I think not.
And while I was looking forward to enjoying this vanilla porter from Canadian craft brewers, Beau's All Natural Brewing Company, I was in for a bronze medal.
It's a winner, but not the best. It's not what I remember it to be, that is.
I first tried this porter about a year ago, at the 2013 WinterBrewed festival. That year, the event was held on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa, and the festival ran over one of the coldest weekends of the season. Patrons of the festival huddled around outdoor heaters and fire pits while vendors struggled with hair dryers to thaw their frozen tap lines. As the photographer of the event, I had to constantly swap the battery from my camera, warming the cold battery under my arm while the other tried to maintain its charge.
When I visited the Beau's kiosk, not far from its ice bar, I was pleased to find their vanilla porter flowing. I remember the taste and marvelling at the fresh vanilla flavour. As it was frigid outdoors and the porter was colder than it should have been, I could hold the liquid in my mouth and draw out the flavours as it warmed.
I loved it.
Flash forward to today, when I opened a bottle of this ale, which had been sitting in my basement since the Christmas holidays. After the 2014 WinterBrewed, I was ready to try this porter that had warmed my heart a year earlier.
Burnt Rock Vanilla Porter (4.9% ABV)Appearance: deep brown to black, with a foamy, taupe head that settles to a thin cap.
Beau's All Natural Brewing Company
Vankleek Hill, ON
Beer O'Clock rating: 3
Nose: dark-roasted espresso and full malts, with hints of dark chocolate.
Palate: burnt vanilla and oak, with a dash of clove. There is a light, almost watery finish.
Overall impression: I don't know if the recipe has changed since last year's batch, but I don't remember the finish dropping off as sharply, and I found it disappointing to have such a strong start, with its robust aroma and initial mouth feel. This porter starts high and ends on a bit of a low.
But it's still a great porter, worthy of a try. It can still be found at the brewery, and some LCBO stores may still have the festival four pack on their shelves. Shop around.