FOUNDERS PORTER is the kind of beer Rembrandt would have brewed. Its individual strokes, dark and bold, elegantly blend into a dusky portrait that’s smooth and warm yet still striking and full of implicit depth. At least, that’s the impression one gets after gazing at the pale beauty gracing the beer’s label. Sketched with the same affinity for shadow and elegant intimacy that were the Dutch master’s signature, the portrait seems a natural continuation of the beer itself.
Initially a little shy, once warmed up the aroma cycles through cocoa, smidges of licorice and black cherry, deep molasses and toffee. Black patent malt gives this porter its impenetrable color as well as its fining edge of charcoal, but they don’t constitute enough of the grain bill to leave overmuch coffee char on the tongue. Rather, the complexion of dark grains is nearly velvety, patiently percolating through roasted malt, a light vanilla sweetness, slight air of alcohol (6.5% ABV), and a lengthy finish that has no husky heat, only leaning on roasted notes as its temperature rises. Unexpectedly soft water frames the malty midsection nicely—a ray of light amidst all this shadow. Hops are very much a secondary presence (45 IBUs) as a behind-the-scenes balancing act, perhaps contributing a little complexity to the finish yet with less bitterness overall than expected. The dark tan, while a little short-lived, supplies a decent dose of creaminess in the early going, while the liquid contains just enough carbonation to belie its oily opacity with a crispness that subtly eases its flavors across the palate. A full-flavored porter full of implicit depth and all of it finely clad, Founders Porter fully earns its dark heart.
Served: 12 oz bottled 10/15/13