So this is my last review before Halloween, so I figured I ought to pick out a beer with an ominous and spooky sounding name- Heretic Brewing Company’s “Shallow Grave” porter seems to fit that bill just fine. Not only that, but this beer won a Silver Medal at this year’s Great American Beer Festival- so you know it’s good. Heretic was opened in 2011 by Jamil Zainasheff- a legend in the homebrewing world for being the most award-winning homebrewer of all time. Just about every person who gets into the hobby of homebrewing at some point thinks to themselves “I should open a brewery!” (I am included in this statement). The realities of opening up a brewery, however, are much more daunting (or scary…you know- for Halloween), but Jamil is basically living the dream of most homebrewers, and he is killing it with his beers. Check it out:
Beer Name: Shallow Grave
Brewery: Heretic Brewing Co.
Brewery Location: Fairfield, CA
Beer Style: American Porter
Shallow Grave pours an opaque dark brown (near black) color with an off-white/tan lacing that fades gradually over time.
Dark chocolate is the most prevalent aroma that I detected along with hints of coffee and molasses.
Taste & Aftertaste
A lusciously smooth, dark chocolate character coats your tongue on the first sip. A distinct flavor of coffee is present, though not overpowering, along with a slight nutty flavor. I also get very mild hints of a molasses-like character that, when I focus hard on that characteristic, reminds me vaguely of licorice. When I close my eyes and breathe out through my nose after each sip, I am almost reminded of freshly baked brownies. As the beer warms up, the caramel/molasses character pops more This beer finishes semi-sweet, but dries up on your palate a second or two after swallowing. There is some alcohol warmth that tingles the tip of your tongue, but is by no means excessively boozey. There is no detectable hop character- which is appropriate for the style. Furthermore, this beer is ridiculously smooth. Unlike many porters and stouts, this beer is not ashy or acrid from the use of dark malts- which I absolutely love in a porter because it makes for an easier drinking dark beer.
Shallow Grave is stellar because it has everything that I want in my ideal porter. It is smooth; sweet but not overly so; and has a perfect balance of chocolate, caramel, and coffee notes without being too “ashy”. Personally, it turns me off when a porter or stout tastes overly “ashy” because it makes the beer taste unpleasantly bitter and gritty. This beer does not do that- it is dangerously smooth, and I think it would pair well with some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on a cool autumn night. For me, this beer is basically candy. Shallow Grave is one of those beers that, as a homebrewer, gets me thinking about how I could make a beer similar to this at home- it’s that good! Go out and grab this beer! I’ll be busy designing my next homebrew recipe.