For someone who overwhelmingly prefers beers with some variation on “wheat” or “white” in the title, regardless of language, strangely I’ve been on something of a Porter and Stout binge lately. Maybe it’s all the cruddy weather we’ve experienced in NoVA for what has passed as “Spring” 2016, but more likely it’s the sudden discovery of a number of superlative entries around the region. This isn’t exactly a new beer for me, but given its backstory it will be for the overwhelming majority of folks who encounter it in these coming months…and encounter it they will. For me, it was a joyous discovery of an old friend in a new place thanks to a serendipitous bit of fortune for Mustang Sally Head Brewer Bret Kimbrough.
Porter, Mustang Sally Brewing Co. (Chantilly, VA)
English-Style Porter, ABV 6.0%, IBU 15
Presentation: Growler pour into tulip.
Appearance: Deep and dark resembling a Stout, but the frothy toffee head nods back to a Porter. Even after a few days, a delightful amount of movement from the pour creates that late-forming head almost like one would expect from a Coke or Pepsi. It’s mild and short lived, as is a lattice which eventually drains down the glass.
Taste: The brewery would steer you to caramel, but after a number of pints I still don’t get any. The result I do find is simply delightful, however. The nose lends itself to a Breakfast Blend sort of coffee, and as we noted previously on our first foray with MSB, a nitro presentation for this beer might really bring out some of those flavors. As you let the beer sit on your tongue, you get a bit more roasted elements, in this case leaning towards cacao (which would be those chocolate malts talking to you). This isn’t really cacao in a dark chocolate sense, but more towards a powdered baking chocolate which really forms the backbone of this beer’s finish. It’s eminently drinkable as a result.
Mouth Feel: The carbonation is present but not overly playful. There’s no real bitterness though the malts are more savory than sweet. Very smooth and refreshing.
Overall: If you never had the chance to venture out to Leesburg to a spot called Vintage 50/The Beer Joint, you didn’t miss much prior to their closing, but it’s not why you’d think and certainly not due to the beer. If you did get there, a jaunt to MSB is that old friend experience as Bret was able to keep the overwhelming majority of his recipes as he transitioned to his new gig. A few tweaks here and there, but he confirmed that this Porter is essentially the same beer. It’s great to see that original hard work continue to shine, and he intimated they can barely keep up with all the orders flowing in after they celebrated their grand opening last Spring. Do yourself a favor and snag a beer of theirs if you find one in a pub or restaurant in NoVA, with the flagship Porter being a priority.