Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Nefarious Ten Pin

"It takes character to brew beer with character."  So say the brewers at Ska Brewing in Durango, Colorado.  I have previously reviewed one of Ska Brewing's beers, the Decadent IPA, which had a lot of character.  The Decadent IPA is one of the "Robust Reincarnations" brewed regularly by Ska Brewing.  Another such reincarnation is the Nefarious Ten Pin Imperial Porter.

Just like the Decadent, I would buy this based on label alone (if I in fact bought beer based upon the labels).  Adorning the ska skeleton with a crown and a robe, as well as providing a mace topped with a golden pin, that image could catch my attention from across a store.  

However, no beer can be judged on the label alone; instead, the beer should be judged according to standards such as the Beer Judge Certification Program ("BCJP").  However, the BJCP does not have style standards for imperial porters such as the Nefarious Ten Pin.  The BCJP relegates imperial porters to the catch-all category of "specialty beers." 

Notwithstanding the lack of guidelines, there are expectations, which this imperial porter easily satisfies.  The Nefarious Ten Pin pours a near black color, with a thin, wispy foam that coats the surface.  The brewers describe this beer as "creamy, chocolaty sweet with hints of coffee and bing cherry."   The description is largely correct.  The roasted malts used in the brewing of this beer provides a nice coffee aroma to the beer.  The aroma also has elements of chocolate, but that element is much more prominent in the flavor.  The beer is creamy and smooth, with a good amount of chocolate flavor.  There was a sweetness to the taste of this beer, which helps it to stand out from other imperial porters.  

The brewers suggest that this beer pairs well with sweet, rich desserts, like cheesecake and chocolate.  Others offer some more interesting pairings, such as pizza and Thai cuisine. I am not sure that any imperial porter goes well with either pizza or Thai cuisine, but pairing often turns on individual senses and preferences.  

In any event, this beer has limited distribution east of the Mississippi.  I have been able to find it at beer stores in Chicago, but not in any stores further east.  Still, if you see a bottle, it is worth a try, even if you do not pair it with pizza.  


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