21st Amendment/Elysian “He Said” Baltic-style Porter is 8.2% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz can into a stout glass.
Appearance: I poured this steadily, with a little vigor at the end. I got some espresso-crema head, which slowly dissipated to a ring around the sides of the glass. There was no lacing. The color on this is an impenetrable dark brown. I see bubbles suggestive of light carbonation.
Smell: I get a great roasty malt aroma to start, and some just solid earthy dark malt. There is a molasses sweetness, alongside some vegetal pumpkin. I also get some warm spicing of something like cinnamon and something else harder to discern, and some notes of dark fruit. This smells rich and robust.
Taste: This has powerful dark and roasty malt, some sweetness of molasses and chewy dark sugar, vegetal pumpkin, and a warm spice profile. For the spice profile I am getting cinnamon, and something sort of woody and rustic. The flavors are great, and artfully crafted. There are also some notes of dark fruits and earth. The pumpkin in this is on the vegetal side, stands up pretty well to the strong roast from the malt, though it isn’t incredibly strong. This finishes with the dark molasses sweetness coming in a bit stronger and fading into the roast. The aftertaste has quite a bit of roast on the palate.
Feel: This is medium to full bodied, though a bit lighter than I was expecting for body. The roast, spices, pumpkin, and sweetness are balanced pretty well such as to not overwhelm in any one direction. This is on the sweet side, but it is not sticky or cloying or anything. The warmth from the roast and some of the spicing makes the feel really enjoyable.
Drinkability: This is pretty good on this score. It is more full-bodied, which would make this hard to gulp. But it is so smooth, doesn’t feel like it is 8+%, and doesn’t assault you even though it has powerful flavors. For something this bold, good marks here.
Overall: This is a very tasty beer, with nice roasted malt, some earthiness, and a more subdued spice profile. It has some vegetal pumpkin that comes through clearer in parts. And the flavors are all nicely balanced. I could go for a bit more pumpkin, and maybe a bit less sugar. But in any case, this is a good craft beer. It is a lovely alternative to the army of “pumpkin pie” ales (many of which I love) that typically dominate the market. I will certainly get some of this when it hits here.
Overall Rating: ***
21st, Elysian, and the other “He Said”: I’ve written about the other face of this two-beer collaboration, the “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel, as well as the story behind this big pumpkin beer project in my last post. That “He Said” was delicious, as this beer is. 21st Amendment, famous for their great beers and their off-the-beaten-path watermelon beer, “Hell of High Watermelon” has done some other serious collaborations in the past. I remember their lovely collaboration with Ninkasi, “Allies Win the War”, which was a strong ale brewed with dates. In any case, Shaun Sullivan, who is the brewmaster at 21st, is no stranger to good and interesting brewing ideas. I asked him about his collaboration work, and how he is able to take on such big projects that involve a lot of moving pieces outside of his brewery. His answer was simple. He loves to brew beer, and experiment with friends. The secret is just to return the emails.
“He Said” Baltic-style porter is brewed with 2-row, Carafa II, Carafa III, Cara-Vienne, and Dark Munich malts. As in the other face of this 2-beer collaboration, they use both pumpkin juice and pumpkin puree. They also add a bit of spice in the whirlpool to add to the complexity of flavor. Dick Cantwell, master brewer at Elysian, spoke about liking the ability to dry spice at the end. For this beer and that purpose they use Vietnamese cinnamon (which also goes in Elysian’s “Dark O’ The Moon” pumpkin stout) and caraway seed. Shaun and Dick spoke about having a hard time getting the light spices in the kettle, and agreeing on how much to add. Dick wanted to add 17 pounds of cinnamon into the whirlpool. For the milder hop presence that this beer has, they use German Northern Brewer and Syrian Golding hops. As I said about the other “He Said” Belgian-style Tripel, I suspect that these won’t be lingering at beer stores for long.