Fearful Symmetries

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22 December, 2016

An American Porter in Holland: Smoked Pecan Porter by Brouwerij Kees



The folks at Brouwerij Kees in The Netherlands seem to be taking a page from the Schell playbook in that I can find no mention of their Smoked Pecan Porter on their website just as I found no trace of Schell's highly palatable Prost Pack on their site. To the best of my knowledge Smoked Pecan Porter was released this fall so it's not like a deep dive into the archives is required.

This is my first Brouwerij Kees brew. Looking over their website it appears to be a very Americanized brewery with various varieties of eyepahs, plenty of Simcoe and Cascade hops, and the obligatory barrel aged beers. I dread to think what it must cost to have whiskey barrels sent over from England or the States. Or the hops, for that matter. No Simcoe wet hopping for them. Unless they've begun growing American hops over there. And now that I think about it, pecans are an American ingredient too.

Now you don't see pecans very often on a beer label. Indeed, this is only the second time that I've had such a brew, the first being Lazy Magnolia's palate pleasing Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale. While nuts seem like the perfect complement to malt, I suppose it is their price that keeps them from being utilized in brewing as often as I'd like.

Smoked Pecan Porter was a very deep copper color although a casual glance at my glass only revealed silky blackness. I don't know if it was poor wrist action on my part or who but I managed to pour the beer with no head. Sure, there was a smattering of tan bubbles but not really a head. No luscious tan foamy goodness. The beer was clear, however, and I caught a fair number of bubbles inside the reddish brown confines.

The beer's aroma took my by surprise. OK, not the roasted grain part but the stone fruit sweetness and the whiskey smell. It's only 6% yet my nose swore that it inhaled something that was not totally unlike whiskey. And there were both that malty flavor as well as that sharp, pungent burn. Despite just having used words to indicate a big, bold smell, the whiskey as well as the sweetness were fairly mild. I just wasn't expecting them in a porter. Sadly for me, the smoky scent was something more hinted at than actually realized.

Grainy flavors that ranged from lightly roasted to slightly more roasted stood out. For some reason I could discern no smoke. I wasn't expecting a whole lot judging by the aroma but I was rather anticipating some. There was a little nuttiness which went perfectly not only with the initial grainy tastes but also with the mild rye spiciness. Whiskey and fruity sweetness followed the roasty grains from the smell.

The smoke finally made an appearance on the finish, albeit a brief one, where it was joined by a pleasant bit of herbal hoppiness and (finally!) dark grainy bitterness. Not a bad ending by any stretch. Lacing was decent with a couple generous streaks and a few foamy spots.

The label here indicates that Simcoe and Cascade hops were used but I tasted neither tropical fruits nor pine. I'm not complaining but it's suspicious. Caramel malts must have been responsible for the sweetness I tasted. Honestly, though, I tasted more whiskey than I did dark grains which only came out at the end. And the smoke was so restrained that you'd think smoked malt was worth its weight in gold. I mean we're talking near homeopathic levels. On the other hand I really enjoyed the nutty taste and the rye too. But overall this beer just tasted old or somehow mistreated on its way over. It lacked not only the dark grainy presence I expect from a porter but also the vital spark of fresh beer. None of the flavors were sharp or sprightly; rather they tasted dull and worn.

Regardless of this beer, I wholeheartedly endorse smoked rye porters made with pecans. Or any nut, for that matter.

Junk food pairing: After pouring your Smoked Pecan Porter, cozy up to a bowl of BBQ potato chips or some Buffalo Blue Cheese Combos.

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|| Palmer, 7:30 PM

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