Vanilla Porter - Breckenridge Brewery, Breckenridge
Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter was a big surprise to me when I had my first bottle last year. This beer has a generous amount of vanilla brewed in, and this is abundantly apparent upon taking your first sip. You'll notice right off the bat that this beer isn't (as) bitter, despite being a pitch black Porter. Rather, this beer is sweet like dark chocolate with a creamy vanilla element that makes everything go down really smoothly. You don't need a sweet tooth to enjoy this beer though. While you can pick up on hints of caramel, chocolate and bourbon - this beer is never overbearing. There are a lot of different sweet flavors in this beer and that's because it takes a lot of sweetness to make up for the bitterness that usually comes with being a Porter.
What I like most about Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter is... well, the vanilla. The vanilla flavor in this beer can't really be compared to vanilla ice cream or icing. This beer was brewed with vanilla beans so the the flavor that comes through is more along the lines of cooking extract. I mean that in a good way, not like "The peach flavor in this beer tastes like extract..." The vanilla here is a little sweet, but tastes a bit more like dark chocolate. This works really well with the bitterness of the Porter and the dark malts. This beer, while being a VANILLA Porter, does come perilously close to Chocolate Stout territory. It may be a difficult comparison to comprehend, but try the two beers back-to-back and you'll notice the similarities are, well, similar... Where the Vanilla Porter edges ahead though is in the bitterness category, or lack thereof. The vanilla really mellow out that bitterness and makes takes this beer into session territory. You could easily sit down with a sixer of Vanilla Porter and make an evening of it.