Village Brewing and Dandy Brewing Company are clearly hanging out a lot these days. Last fall the two Calgary breweries released a Saison, called the Village Dandy, brewed in collaboration at the Dandy brewhouse in northeast Calgary. I didn’t get a chance to try that particular brew.
Now, just a few months later they have just released their second collaboration (could we say they are officially dating now? How many collaborations until they are going steady?). This one was brewed at Village and is Village Friend Dandy Baltic Porter. As the name implies it is a rich, deep, and alcoholic baltic porter, clocking in at 10%.
Baltic porters are rare in these parts as they can be a bit of an acquired taste. They lack the overall balance of a regular porter and add a degree of intensity to the whole project. They have the challenge of being both big but without falling into the stout or old ale range. So it is an interesting choice. The bottle credits the guys at Dandy for the idea.
Village Friend pours inky black just like a stout. Opaque and exuding richness in its mere appearance. It forms a moderate, tightly beaded tan had that leaves some decent lacing. In the aroma I detect dark chocolate, licorice, Sumatra coffee, some nuttiness – chestnut and walnut in particular – and a noted fruitiness.
The taste hits you hard and again. At first I get deep licorice, dark sugar, chocolate and a rich fruitiness of dark cherry. I also find some hints of bourbon and touches of molasses. The middle picks up a light coffee roast but doesn’t get too big for the style. The finish is sharp, edgy and, oh, so hot. Lots of esters build on the roof of the mouth and the linger builds an intense alcohol warmness combined with a light roast and some astringency. Did I mention there is a noted alcoholic finish to this beer?
In some respects this beer hits the style right on the money. All the required flavours are there. It is big, brash and alcoholic, but stops short of being a roastier stout or a more-rounded winter ale. So credit for nailing the parameters.
Except I find the beer is just too stark at the moment. The flavours don’t blend at all and the finish is simply too hot. It is a beer that almost seems too big for its britches at the moment. Part of it is that it is a couple percentage points stronger than a Baltic Porter should be (which is normally in the 7-8% range). But, mostly, I truly believe this beer needs six months to mellow. Give it some time to soften the alcohol warming and blend the flavours a touch and I think it might be the beer it is aiming to be.
I think I will go out and buy a second bottle and do exactly that. I might report back in a few months on the results.