This week I was lucky enough to find something of real quality and almost universal acclaim. Introduced to me by way of a fellow beer lover, I tried one of Port Brewing Company’s flagship brews, Old Viscosity. As the name implies, this San Marcos, California beer, is known to be one of the thickest, chewiest, darkest beers around. In fact, the name the brewers use to refer to it is “The Big Black Nasty”.
The mix of six types of malts, German Magnum hops, and their own proprietary yeast blend come together to make a very dark beer. It’s not made in a specific style, but it is closest to a porter, a barley-wine and an Old Ale. This one is actually a blend, using 80 percent of the brewed beer itself and 20 percent of the same beer from a previous batch that was aged in bourbon barrels. The alcohol by volume of this one is a hefty 10 percent, but it doesn’t affect the drinkability one bit.
The first thing you notice with this one is just how dense it is. You pick it up, and it’s almost like syrup. Well, it may be pretty viscous for a beer, but not that viscous. I popped this one and poured it into a tulip glass for closer inspection. There is a good sized creamy brown head. It dissolves slowly with good lacing left behind. The aroma it gives off is noticeably woody, but a kind of wet wood. The bourbon comes along with this too, but it may be from the boozy head bubbling off and the barrel-aged portion. Either way, I was pleased with a note of some earthy hops and roasted malts. Just the nose of this was already so complex, I was raring to dive in and start giving this beer a good once-over.
The first thing that hits you is the obvious carbonation. For such a strong, thick, heavy beer, I thought it was going to be nearly flat. It serves the beer well in that it really opens up those chocolate and roasted notes of the malt. The taste moves into a sweet coffee flavor, hinting to just a bit of the alcoholic properties. The mouth-feel of it is the real winner; just as smooth as silk, but nice and chewy. Kind of a milky mocha when considering the chocolate and coffee tastes, but still an unequivocally full bodied beer. The hops kick in to remind us of this fact, ending with their earthy, vegetal bitterness, combined with a bit of oak. This brew finishes off great, really prompting for another taste.
This isn’t just a great example of a stout, or whatever you would like to characterize this as; this is one of the most interesting and unique all-around dark beers I’ve ever come in contact with. Like the name says, Old Viscosity is nothing if not thick. One could go so far as calling it a beer erring towards a meal. Truly an enjoyable experience, and one I hope to relive soon.