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Beer Reviews

Contorter Porter

Ale Asylum
Madison, WI

Style: Porter

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)

When Dean Coffey left Madison’s Angelic Brewpub to start Ale Asylum, expectations in the beer dork community were about as high as it gets. Here was a guy with almost two decades of brewing experience, a solid body of work as brewmaster at Angelic, and a flair for Belgian-style ales. So far, though, his brewery, while pumping out solid, drinkable beers, hasn’t lived up to the potential a lot of us know is there.

Ale Asylum’s latest offering is Contorter Porter, an “English Porter,” as opposed, I assume, to a Baltic. It pours a dark brown with quite a bit of sediment in the glass. The light tan head is damn near perfect, a thick-bubbled, goopy crown. The aroma is a hint of chocolate amid a pretty quiet nose.

The taste isn’t much louder. Muted chocolate notes hide behind an overly lively carbonation. The fizzies give way to some slight smokiness in the middle of the sip that adds a much needed shot of character. This smokiness plays up those fleeting light chocolate notes and lets both extend into an otherwise tepid finish.

That high carbonation mixes with a soft palate and a medium body to make this porter too watery and bland for the style. If Dean Coffey and company had dialed the fizz down and pumped up the smokiness they could have had something special. But, once again, Ale Asylum fails to deliver on a highly promising start. Give it a try if you like your porters on the lighter side, but if you’re like me and want your “entires” a bit meatier, give the Contorter a pass.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on May 29, 2008.
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