Tasting the Mill St. Coffee Porter

In Toronto there is a preeminent brewery which since opening in 2002 has brought in awards for their craft beers and their brewery year after year. The Mill St. Brewery has won the Best Microbrewery in the Greater Toronto Area award from 2003 to 2008, and the Canadian Brewery of the Year award from 2007 to 2009. Beyond that their beers have raked in awards at local and international beer competitions around the world, including their Coffee Porter which was won four gold medals in the past five years in Canadian Competitions.

It is available at practically every LCBO in six packs of 341ml bottles for $12.55. It is 5.5% and is really among the best examples of a coffee porter I have had, and maybe the best available in Ontario. It is nice to have such a perfect Coffee Porter regularly available in bottles, but this beer shines smooth and creamiest when served on draught at the Mill St. Brew Pub located in Toronto’s historic Distillery District.

The Brew Pub is without a doubt worth the trip, but but grab a six pack, sit back, and prepare to be soothed into a creamy world of coffee, roasted malts and chocolate.

Because this isn’t a huge porter, I would serve it cool around 10C (50F) which will provide for a smooth and also refreshing experience, while still benefiting from the aromas and more roasted flavors that will begin to pour out of it as it warms in the glass. Mill Street’s serving glass is a standard shaker glass, what you will find at many pubs and bars, but really is not the best container for this beer. This beer will do much better in a round bottom glass with a slight tulip; a snifter or even red wine glass will do perfectly if you do not have a prefered beer tasting glass.

Pour it slowly and almost straight down into the glass. This porter shows great smoothness and builds a creamy airy head rich in mocha browns and dark khaki tan colors.  It will not raise more than an inch above the beer, regardless of what this picture depicts, and it will fade to a short film with some time. The beer is deep black with amber browns and a glimmer and ruby as the light hits it.

The nose is soft but full with fresh roasted coffee beans, toasted malts, bitter chocolate, some creamy nuts, mild hops and some warm dough. A good sip of it reveals the strength of the coffee in full force but it is supremely balanced with roasted dark and caramel malts, bitter chocolate, fresh hops, and slight ripe fruit sweetness.

The coffee beans come in first with sweetness guided from the malts, and swoosh into your cheeks with more roast and light smoke. The chocolate and caramel malts become easily apparent then as a generic amount of carbonation helps lift bitter off your tongue and bring savory and sweet in. The beer has an overall nutty creamy flavor which helps ad further balance and great texture to the Coffee Porter.

It finishes dry with more coffee, slight earthy hops, and another wisp of roasted malts. The mouthfeel is nice, but somewhat generic. I do wish it was either much creamier, or that the existing carbonation was more delicate. Everything being said, it is extremely enjoyable, especially on tap. In fact, when served from the cask it eliminates my only criticisms of the beer’s artificial carbonation.

No matter where you find it, try it with sausage, stews, roasted meats, pub fare, oysters, and mushroom risotto; it will promise an enjoyable ride.

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