A good friend of mine from the “live free or die” state recently brought me a bomber of Campfire Smoked Porter by a small brewery named Throwback Brewery. Throwback is located in North Hampton, NH and from what I see on their website, currently only distribute within the state. They pride themselves on using local ingredients and strive to eventually be 100% local all the way down to the malt as was done by many small breweries pre-prohibition (Hence the name Throwback).
I thought a porter would be a good follow-up to my last review on Sierra’s Narwhal Stout. What is the difference between a Porter and a stout you may be asking? Well, I was asking and it is actually a good question that does not seem to have one answer. Some say it is simply that a stout is a stronger version of a Porter. Others note the use of roasted barley in Stouts gives a more roasted taste. The problem is there are many exceptions to many rules, especially in today’s craft brewing scene. Not to mention variations of each like Baltic Porters and Milk Stouts.
Yeah, so I didn’t answer the question either. Moving on…
The Campfire Smoked Porter weighs in at 6.4% ABV and 48 IBUs. The” smoked” portion of this beer is created by smoking the malts of New Hampshire applewood. I don’t usually talk pairings, but the Throwback suggests barbecue or s’mores off a campfire. S’mores? Seriously? Well ok, I probably would try it if I was ever around a campfire.
Now down to business. After I let the bottle sit out for about 15-20 minutes to warm up, I pour from the 22oz bottle into my tulip glass. Appearance is a black body with a khaki head; a lot of head as seen in the picture. I actually poured two glasses thinking I made a bad pour the first time.
The aromas are smoke and well, that is really all I can detect. I could actually smell the smokiness immediately after opening the bottle. This smells exactly like a German Rauchbier (maybe on the lighter side).
When I take my first sip, the smoke jumps out immediately, but not as overwhelming as I expected based on the aroma. I taste the bitterness of the hops coming through followed by a beautiful espresso finish. Little bit of that bitterness lingers. Exceptional balance for sure.
The mouth feel is that of a full-bodied beer with plenty of carbonation present. Stings the tongue a little at first and leaves a slightly syrupy layer in the mouth.
Overall I am a bit conflicted with this beer. I don’t like that flood of smoke in the aroma every time I stick my nose into the glass while taking a sip. However; the taste of smoke, hops, and coffee flavors are extremely well-balanced and have me going back for more. I am going to rate this 3.75 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale. I recommend this beer as a “try it if you see it” if you like a little smoke in beers, if not it may not be your thing so step away unless feeling adventurous. I definitely will be requesting another Throwback beer from my NH connection on his next trip home.
To learn more about Throwback Brewery, check out their website at: http://throwbackbrewery.com/. If you are interested in the porter vs stout conversation, here is one of the articles I read by the respected magazine Beer Connoisseur: http://www.beerconnoisseur.com/porter-versus-stout. Cheers!