Monday, December 5, 2011

DuClaw Brewing Co. H.E.R.O. Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter

On paper, a chocolate peanut butter porter sounds like the greatest thing ever! But it’s the kind of beer that can go very, very wrong if it’s not 100 percent perfectly concocted. It could easily end up too sweet or way out of balance or terribly “fake” tasting. Nine times out of ten, a peanut butter porter is likely to be pretty awful. But one time out of ten, it’s gonna be amazing. And that’s what we’ve got with DuClaw’s H.E.R.O. Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. Winner of DuClaw’s homebrew contest, this creation of Tony Huckestein and Doug DeLeo is no “gimmick” beer. It’s a delicious, drinkable porter full of tried-and-true roasted malts and chocolate/coffee notes. The addition of peanuts, while an unusual tweak, genuinely works!

Rewind to last Wednesday night. I tell my wife I’m almost out of beer. She surprises me be telling me that she’s going to take me on a beer shopping trek on Saturday. As a bonus, there’s going to be a side trip to the DuClaw brew pub. I immediately feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve. We look up the new arrivals at our beer store. The H.E.R.O. immediately grabs our attention. A chocolate peanut butter porter? I must have it! It goes to the top of the list I’m submitting to Santa Claus. On Saturday I buy two bomber bottles of the stuff. I drink one the very next day. Let me tell you- I wish I’d gotten more!

In all honesty, I’ve never been blown away by DuClaw beers. Their Oktoberfest is semi-ok at best, and their black ale is solid but nothing spectacular. I had their house porter and their seasonal Scottish ale on draught Saturday. I liked ‘em both, but they were “B” beers. I’m always looking for an “A”. I got precisely that with the H.E.R.O.!

Maybe it’s just because I’m partial to the porter style, but the H.E.R.O. might be one of my top ten beers for 2011. Porters always make me think of John Wayne in The Quiet Man, asking for “one of those black beers”. Man, was there ever a lot of porter being downed in that movie! I would have loved to have been a regular in that bar. And while porter purists might find it sacrilegious to add peanut butter to this classic black ale, Messieurs Huckestein and DeLeo have brewed up a porter that’s in most ways respectful to tradition. The addition of peanuts, while significant, is quite subtle. They didn’t just toss a ton of peanuts in there and call it a day. I drink a lot of porters, and this one’s top shelf. It’s smooth and robust with a creamy mouthfeel. The peanut butter element is discernible in the nose and upon the first sip, but it’s not overdone. Like any great porter, it gives you a nice mix of bitter, roasty, and sweet notes. The peanut butter is complementary to all of that. So while this is not quite a liquid Reese’s cup, it borrows a little bit of that sensibility. The novelty factor may be what grabs everyone’s attention, but it’s the amazing taste that will keep people going back for more. If you’re a porter geek like me and have access to DuClaw products, you need this beer. Really!

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