29 December 2017

The 2017 Polkies - Into The Darkness (Porters and Stouts)


We hit the midway point on this year's Awards and it's getting dark and roasty in here. Porters and stouts were my first loves when it comes to craft beer and it is perhaps my hardest choice each year to pick my favourite 5 in each style. This year I have chosen to split stouts into 3 categories because of the sheer number of amazing ones Ontario has produced. I may have to do something similar with porters next year if the style continues to evolve. It is time to go to the Dark Side but fear not, it's where all the good folks are.
  Here we go!


1. Silky - Fairweather Brewing

A brewery in it's first year isn't supposed to be this good. But damn it, Fairweather Brewing is doing amazing things and this smooth, roasty gem of a porter is just the tip of the iceberg. Silky was just that and more! Making multiple appearances in my reviews as I couldn't resist spreading the word about this hometown brewer who was doing what was thought couldn't be done. From the review :
"Pours smooth with a tan head that lingers on the surface and rings the glass. Smelling roasted coffee, dark chocolate. On the sip, it lives up to its name with a smooth roasted malt body, textured and sticky with a delightfully bittersweet dark chocolate, bitter black coffee, a nutty kick  and a lingering darkness that fills your heart with joy. Not a high ABV slow sipper, but it feels like one."
  A tough category that could have a whole lot of top choices, Silky is deserving of the praise it has received.

2. Bourbon Barrel Porter - Shacklands Brewing

  A little late to the party but in just under the wire to take top spot in an increasingly competitive category. From the just over a year old Shacklands Brewing in Toronto comes this Bourbon Barrel Porter which gave both myself and Mrs. Polk pause as we slow sipped it on Christmas day. The balance of boozy bourbon and dark roasted malt flavours was so good. Ageing one, so this may come back for another shot in 2018. From the review :

"Pours deep and black with a tan head that lingers for quite some time. Smelling a nice vanilla oak bourbon and dark chocolate. On the sip, smooth and roasty with a warming alcohol and bourbon backing containing a lovely dark chocolate, vanilla, oak and some lingering bourbon heat."
  Very well done, bringing the porter to another level.

3. MVP - Cowbell Brewing
4. Porter - Clifford Brewing
5. Porter - Muddy York Brewing


1. Sweet Jesus - Left Field Brewery

  As foretold by the good book of roasted malts comes this year's favourite stout. Sweet Jesus from Left Field Brewery was a revelation when it first poured into my glass in January. Subsequent research provided more proof that this was my favourite stout in 2017. From the review :
"Pours deep black with a tan head that lingers on the surface. Smelling cocoa and coffee. On the sip, creamy and smooth toasted malt body with a big cocoa and black coffee note. The lactose adds to the absolutely delicious texture and I can't get enough of its dark and bittersweet chocolate and coffee flavours. The finish is dry, but sticky and filled with the roasted bean and more cocoa."
  The best part of this one is that when it gets released in 2018 you can order online and make sure not to miss out on this amazing stout.

2. Starry Night - Bobcaygeon Brewing

 A real surprise as the year winds down and that is a good thing. From Bobcaygeon Brewing comes Starry Night and it shook up my stout rankings right at the finish line. From the review :
 "Pouring black with some light bleeding through around the edges, it has a tan head that fades to the sides. Smelling dark chocolate with a hint of coffee. On the sip, smooth and roasty with a beautiful bittersweet dark chocolate front that leads to a nice coffee note and a sticky but sweet chocolate finish. I really like the balance in this between bitter and sweet, it's an excellent addition to my evening."
  It was so smooth and roasty, I can almost taste it now....

3. Friendly Confines - Left Field Brewery/Bellwoods Brewery
4. Stork Derby - Muddy York Brewing
5. Skinny Dippin' Stout - Sawdust City Brewing

Imperial Stouts

1. Long Dark Voyage to Uranus - Sawdust City Brewing

  My favourite Imperial Stout from 2015 makes a triumphant comeback this year and reclaims top spot with its bold and roasty goodness. Long Dark Voyage to Uranus from Sawdust City Brewing makes me smile with it's name and be joyful with it's contents. I had it in early January and still feel its siren call 11 months later. From the review :
"Pours thick and dark with a tan head that lingers on the surface. Smelling chocolate and coffee.  On the sip, smooth and creamy with a whole Lotta chocolate love going on. Coffee, cocoa and a sharp, bitter and very dry backend.  A beer whose name makes me laugh and whose contents make me break out into a smile from ear to ear is something you need in your life. Lingering bittersweet dark chocolate and bitter hops make this an early contender for favourite stout of 2017."
  Oddly prophetic and true. Look for it when it and order online, you will be so very happy!

2. Inkwell Imperial Stout - Muddy York Brewing

 If there is one constant of my countdowns every year, it is the inclusion of great beer from Muddy York Brewing. A late in the year entry, Inkwell Imperial Stout is deserving of its spot in the top of the style for 2017. From the review :
"Pouring thick and dark, it has a tan head that fades to the sides. It smells of dark chocolate and roasty coffee. On the sip, smooth and bold with a full on roasted malt dark chocolate, some light tobacco, coffee, warming but not boozy and a sticky backend that lingers with some heat, coffee and finishes dark chocolate. An absolute gem and as usual, the epitome of the style."
  If you haven't been to Muddy York, that is a deficit you must correct in 2018.

3. Blood of Cthulhu - Sawdust City Brewing
4. Bottle Imp - Beau's All Natural
5. Winter - Highlander Brew Co.

Imperial Barrel Aged Stouts

1. 2016 Double Tempest - Amsterdam Brewery
  When you put a bottle in the cellar, it is with all the hopes and dreams you can muster. When that bottle returns to lay claim to everything you think it should then you know it's a winner. Imperial Bourbon Barrel Aged 2016 Double Tempest from Amsterdam Brewery has done that and more. Patience is rewarded and then some with this amazing roasted beauty. From the review :"Pours slick and black with a tan head that lingers a bit before fading. On the sip, age has leant a balance and smoothness to an already excellent beer. Big roasty dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon and coffee with a nice warming backend. It finished with a little heat, more big  roasted malt notes of dark chocolate and that amazing boozy vanilla and bourbon flavour. Damn. This one is worthy of waiting over a year for."
  The best things in life are worth waiting for...that's for Dam sure!

2. 2016 Kentucky Bastard - Nickel Brook Brewing

  The most simple way to describe Nickel Brook Brewing's 2016 Kentucky Bastard is delectable. Even at this young age early in 2017, it had the chops of one of the best. I have one waiting for early 2018 and I have the feeling we will be discussing this beer again a year from now, one spot higher. From the review
"Pours black as night with a deep tan head that lingers a bit before fading. Smells dark chocolate, fruits, coffee and an oaky vanilla. On the sip, smooth, dark and bold. Dark chocolate, cherry, fig, coffee, plum woody oak and vanilla on the tongue with a big, warming and boozy backend. Lingering bourbon and chocolate, this is a beer that demands, nay deserves your time to truly enjoy."
  Not sure what else to say except it's good to be a Bastard.

3. 2016 Café Del Bastardo - Nickel Brook Brewing
4. Solstice - Great Lakes Brewery
5. Fortissimo - Tooth and Nail Brewing

  This one wasn't easy but together we survived. Look for my Least Favourite beer of 2017 later today and then tomorrow we get



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