The first chocolate whiff of Permafrost Wheat porter conjures memories of my first true love in craft beer, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald. This sweet chocolate is accompanied by just a hint of ethanol on the nose. It’s hazy and dark brown in color, not unlike a bar of dark chocolate.
The porter from new Columbus brewery Hoof Hearted begins with sweet flavors – toffee, scorched caramel, milk chocolate. Some breadiness fades in, and the milk chocolate turns to unsweetened cocoa, somewhat bitter on the finish. Some alcohol makes an appearance on the finish too, but not objectionably so given the 6.66% ABV. Somewhat surprisingly, coffee notes are largely absent from the brew. While I love the archetypal chocolate-coffee combination, the change of pace wasn’t bad.
Contrasted with my beloved Edmund Fitzgerald, Permafrost has a lighter body and drier finish. This should not disappoint – think English brown porter, not American robust porter. The wheat in the grain bill lends the beer a pleasing, silky-smooth mouthfeel.
Of all the beers I have tried from our town’s new breweries, Permafrost Wheat has (I believe) the broadest appeal. It is approachable; it isn’t a hop bomb, doesn’t have any Belgian funk, and even the Bud Light-chugging crowd is aware of ‘dark’ beer. On the other hand, it showcases balance and enough complexity to keep the attention of the hardcore beer nerds. This not an easy feat, and something Hoof Hearted should be proud of. I expect more great things from them in the future.
Hoof Hearted’s Permafrost Wheat Porter is currently on tap… well, nowhere, as it’s in high demand, but you can try it at the North Market Microbrew Festival September 14-16, in addition to a “special sauce” version of the porter that has been infused with Mexican Altura Coffee locally roasted by Backroom Coffee Roasters.