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Highway 666 is One Devil of a Beer

grain bin logoI visited Grande Prairie a couple of weeks ago to attend a music festival (first ever Bear Creek Folk Festival – great time!). Being who I am I took some time out to visit the two new breweries in town, GP Brewing and Grain Bin. I didn’t succeed in an effort to visit with the GP folks (although did pop into their tap room), but did have a great visit with Grain Bin’s Dalen Landis (and his adorable daughter).

I will talk about the visit and the brewery in a future post – I am working on a report of my summer brewery tours. I will say for the moment the beer I sampled at the brewery had me feeling very optimistic about this new brewery; there is no question they are on the right track. While there I picked up a couple bottles of the only beer Grain Gin had in bottles at the time (they are mostly a keg-only brewery).

It was their Highway 666 Robust Porter. Clocking in at 8.8% the word robust might be an understatement. I cracked one of the bottles a few days ago (after my customary travel shock rest). It pours a dark, opaque brown. It looks more like a stout, actually. It creates a dark tan, medium sized head that hangs around for a long time. The aroma offers up molasses, dark chocolate, plum, and dark fruit. I also get hints of coffee roast lurking in background.

The sip begins with a similar strong dark fruit and molasses upfront. The middle brings out an estery sweetness and some alcohol. The finish dries out a bit and offers the quietest touch of coffee roast in the background, just enough to sharpen the beer. The linger is alcohol warming. Overall it has a rounded impression with an assertive ester profile.

I will say straight up this beer reminds me more of a Baltic Porter than a Robust Porter. Its size is the first giveaway. 8.8% is way above the Robust category. (Yes, I know Robust Porter has been erased in the 2015 BJCP Guidelines – but Grain Bin started it with their name and my brain still knows what a Robust Porter should taste like.) It also has the estery characteristics of a Baltic Porter.

I like this beer. It offers a complex array of flavours, especially as it warms up. I found I appreciated the beer more as I sipped it, which is always a good sing. The beer is also a demonstration that Grain Bin is a brewery that should not be trifled with – they know what they are doing. The old curmudgeon in me would have preferred they call it a Baltic Porter, but who the hell in Grande Prairie knows what that is? What I do know is they have created a very enjoyable strong porter that, in my opinion, would score quite high as a Baltic Porter.

Not bad for a beginner!

3 comments to Highway 666 is One Devil of a Beer

  • Andrew I

    I just had that brew on Thursday. Wow. I was very impessed. I also I have a bottle of his Spruce Tip Pale Ale that would should dive into.

    Grear article. I hope more people drink Grain Bin beer!

  • Brady

    Maybe start by not denigrating a city of ~50 thousand people by way of insulting the entirety of their beer knowledge. I know of a number of beer savvy people there who are quite happy with the recent openings of GP Brewing and Grain Bin, and who might have an inkling as to what constitutes a Baltic Porter. On a lighter note, as far as said style goes, I suggest that you check out a recent arrival to Alberta – Trinity Brewing’s Chilly Water.

    • beerguy

      Brady, my comment was not intended as a slight on the good folks of Grande Prairie. My instinct is that the bulk of beer consumers in ANY city would be hard pressed to understand the difference between a robust porter and a baltic porter. That is beer geek territory. Even that statement is not a criticism of beer drinkers, just an acknowledgement that beer styles in general have a long way to go (irrelevantly, how many wine drinkers get the difference between a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Cabernet Franc?).

      If any Grande Prairie residents reading this feel slighted, I apologize. It is not my intention. I am simply recognizing that the parsed world of beer sub-styles belongs to an unfortunate few in the beer world.

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