New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colo.
Portage is a new seasonal beer from the veteran brewers at New Belgium Brewing. The label features a gorgeous wooden canoe in a wheeled carrier ready for a portage, reflecting the name of the beer. After prying off the cap, an aggressive pour results in a one-finger head of off-white foam that quickly dissipates. This certainly looks the part of a porter with a slightly opaque brownish color and it leaves some hop lacing on the glass. The beer smells very roasty with chocolate and coffee aromas and some slight hints of spice or nuttiness. It’s a nice nose that serves to welcome you into the beer. The flavors mirror the nose with a lot of roasted goodness. There’s a touch of sweetness at the start and it finishes with some nicely balanced hops. It’s got everything a porter should have: some hearty chocolate and coffee up front, and some nice roasty malts and bitterness in the end. This is a beer that’s done to style. The flavors are very well-executed. The beer is also medium- to full-bodied and slightly creamy – perfect for the porter style. Portage is a great beer for a winter or spring day that will reward the drinker after a chilly paddle down his or her favorite northern Michigan river or any outdoor activity. New Belgium’s new offering is destined to become a favorite seasonal beer, even if it’s not breaking any new ground. It’s a classic porter – and a damn fine one to boot.