By Santa Fe Brewing Company
Black. Very black. Impressive. I can't get light to penetrate it, even when backlit. Lovely brunette head, tightly compacted bubbles, at the apex the foam was a healthy two fingers tall. Head retention was excellent, the head slowly faded to a thin cap. Subsequent lacing was very impressive. Damn near solid sheets of lacing coated my glass. This is a great looking beer, rich color, healthy head and great lacing. This is everything I am looking for and more in a beer.
The nose is not as robust as I was expecting or hoping. I detect some roasted maltines, cookie dough, light spiciness, oak, smoke, coffee, chocolate, and some dried dark fruit notes. I do have to work at it a bit to pick up these aromas but it was rewarding looking for them. Low potency, not so chatty... the aromas I can pick up are lovely. However, what do I compare this to? Flying Dog Gonzo? Nøgne Ø Porter? Okocim Porter? This beer doesn't need to be the same as one of the aforementioned but I think those beers (which are similar style and ABV) have a better aroma. That was my only point.
I love the long roasted, coffee-charred-chocolate maltiness. Upfront, there is a soft, sweet, chocolate milk vibe which morphs into a fig, raisin, cookie dough, spicy, woody taste. The finish is drier, more mocha coffee like with some warm alcohol notes. The total package is excellent, it is robust with and edge and yet not overdone. It is quite complex and enjoyable; great aftertaste, big maltiness with wonderful alcohol heat. My only knock is I wish the maltiness was fuller, richer, and "fatter" if you will. Maybe I am asking too much, I often do. When I taste really good beers I think of a similar beer with an attribute that would make the current beer I am drinking even that much better. For State Pen Imperial Porter I can't help but envision a 3F Dark Lord-like malt fullness. I talk crazy talk.
Slightly fuller then medium in body, smooth and fairly rich mouthfeel; low but natural carbonation. I like the mouthfeel, it would be even better if it was fuller in body but by no mean is it thin or lacking.
For a beer this robust and high in alcohol I am impressed at the drinkability. It isn't easy to drink, per se. I am sipping and savoring but it is so tasty (and not too sluggish on the tongue) I keep going back for more. Damn good. I was hoping beyond hope that this was a "hidden" world class beer. It isn't. But very, very few beers are. I think this is an excellent beer and as good as many higher echelon beers. I am very happy this beer is available in Nebraska. Cheers to Santa Fe and happy 20th anniversary.
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4.5
State Pen Imperial Porter
By Santa Fe Brewing Company