Soaking up the suds with James Crane


Shake It!
Coffee seems to have a Pavlovian effect on me. Though I switched to tea a few years ago, the scent of a good strong cup of coffee in the morning still makes me feel good. It’s an instant wake-up, the very smell having a very similar effect to that of the hot brew itself. Those nutty roasted scents seem to enliven every cell.
I believe that a very similar phenomenon plays into my love of stouts and porters. To achieve the dark color of these beers, the malts themselves are roasted. If stopped early, you could use those malts to brew a nice red ale. Let them go a little longer, however, and they get a nice dark black. That toasty roasted flavor invades the finished product, often times with a flavor very reminiscent of that other delicious black brew with its roasted beans.
If you’re under the impression that I’m reviewing a coffee porter this week, I apologize. Truth be told, the porter I am drinking revolves around another roasted bean, that of the cacao plant. The chocolate flavor is commonly paired with porters or coffee. What if all three of these roasted wonderful things were put together? Your tongue very well might just quit afterward, knowing that it will never experience anything that good again.
That is the risk I take this week as I drink Boulder Brewing Company’s Shake Chocolate Porter. Though billed as a chocolate porter, I was to find there was much more coffee qualities to it than expected. I was ready for a simple and delicious chocolate brew.  What I received was layered and velvety, expressing strong robust taste with many little intricacies underneath.
The pour was every bit as black as one might expect by all the prior descriptions. It was topped with a thin tan head that dissipated quickly.  The liquid looked thick and inviting. The scent was what really sold me, however. Right from first sniff, I knew I was in for something good.
First, I was hit by strong coffee notes. It was enlivening and exciting. Upon further sniffs, the beautiful roasted malts hit my nose followed by the bitter sweet chocolate. I spent a while taking in this incredibly pleasing smell before indulging in my first sip. I was delighted to find that all the same notes were found in the taste as well.
After the initial swallow, my mouth was full of roasted goodness. That savoriness drowned out almost everything else. As my tongue acclimated, wonderful depths of malt opened up upon it. The bottle promises five different grains, one being chocolate wheat. It certainly delivers on that promise, accentuating them up with a delightful semi-sweet chocolate finish. There is a backing coffee-like flavor that ties it all beautifully together while adding that much more delicious depth. All this exists within a velvety smooth and creamy brew that delights with the mouth feel it imparts as well.
Though the chocolate is certainly present, it isn’t in any way over powering. This is a porter first and chocolate second. Every element in this bottle just enhances the rest, blending together to create a great sensorial symphony of excellence.  It certainly is coffee, chocolate, and porter all in one bottle. Even if my tongue does decide to quit after I finish this bottle, I mark it as an experience that was well worth it.