Last year Leinenkugel decided to replace its winter seasonal Fireside Nut Brown with Snowdrift Vanilla Porter. I shuddered upon hearing the news because Leines generally over does flavoring in beer. Berry Weiss, Sunset Wheat, and their dreadful shandies all are more akin to a Boone's Farm product than a beer enhanced by fruit. I figured that the vanilla would simply replace the fruit in the fateful scheme of fruit flavoring. Were my fears justified?
Snowdrift is a nice looking beer, I'll give it that. It's a very deep brown to the point of being nearly opaque although there were plenty of tiny bubbles making their way up. My pour had a nice head which lasted a fair while. As I was trying to get a decent photograph, Snowdrift's splendiferous odor emanating from its frothy head hit my nose. The roasted grain was most prominent but there was also a toffee aroma there along with a sweet raisin scent. Oddly enough, the vanilla was very faint.
I should have stopped there but no. In the interest of all that is good and holy about beer I actually drank it. It was medium-bodied, which was pleasant, but lacking in actual porter taste. What it did taste like was vanilla extract. This flavor was front and center along with an astringent taste akin to the flavor of alcohol in a very big beer. Snowdrift is only 6% ABV but my tongue wasn't convinced that it wasn't an imperial something or other with so much alcohol that no amount of malt could cover up the taste. I actually took multiple sips to try and taste the grains. A nice roasted flavor was there but buried underneath a sea of vanilla that was a bit too sweet for my palate.
The hops came though at the end and teamed with the carbonation for a fairly dry finish which was a nice contrast to that which came before.
I thought Snowdrift was bad. To its credit, it is not cloyingly sweet like Leinenkugel's fruit concoctions. I feared this beer would be like a milkshake so at least Leines avoided that. But there's too little roasted grain. I mean, porters are supposed to have some burnt grain in the grain bill, right? The vanilla and that astringent flavor dominated and that was not pleasant at all.
Junk food pairing: Don't bother to drink this beer and save your comestibles for something else.
Labels: Beer, Leinenkugel, Porter