Weekly Beer Geek: Black Jack Porter
- Written by Luke G
- August 16, 2012
Black Jack Porter
Left Hand Brewing Company
The Beginning: One of my favorite parts of this time of year is summer nights, and I’m not talking about the Grease soundtrack. There’s something awesome about just kicking back in the warm night air with a cold drink and a good friend. The glaring sunlight makes makes me want to wet my whistle with something light and crisp, but when the sun goes down I can go after something a bit smoother and heavier. Something like a porter, for instance (what a segue!)
The Brewer’s Pitch: Hey look at that! Even Left Hand is down with my interpretation of this as a night beer. Bringing the deep darkness of dark chocolate and espresso to fill the palate and engulf your tongue, Black Jack keeps things deep and smooth. There is an herbaceous hop blend to keep things a bit spicy and playful, as well. In more detailed specs, it’s an English Porter coming in a hair on the strong side at 6.8% ABV. With only 35 IBUs it should stay fairly sweet and mellow as well, without a hard bitter bite.
The Beer: Black Jack pours a super dark brown/black with a half-finger of dull tan head that fades to a solid scrim in a few moments. The nose is very subtle, a bit of coffee and smoke that barely lingers. The beer is more moderate in body than I expected but has a solid base to it and a smooth roll on the tongue. The initial thrust of the taste is a push of dark semi-sweet chocolate and roast malt. This is followed by the hops that come in low and subtle. They are not sharp or biting, but have a peppery burn that rests low on the palate along with the roast and smoke. Toward the very end the more characteristic floral notes rise up and give the beer a very sharp bite at the very back of the palate.
The Breakdown: I’m struggling to give this beer a fair shake, because it’s markedly not what I wanted. If I’m going to drink a dark beer on a hot night it needs to be smooth and mellow and this one had a bit too much bite and a bit too little body to fully satisfy. It’s more of a fall beer in my mind; at an October tailgate, the pepper and sharpness would blend perfectly with the warming of the roast and the punch of the dark chocolate. I guess I may need to grab another bottle in a few months. As it is, this is a solid beer that I can’t stand to rate bad just because it didn’t read my mind.
The Bottom Line: You know what? If you want that dark sweetness, go grab a Xingu. Trust me.