In you told me a few years ago how many fruit infused beers I would drink and enjoy, I would have never believed you. In fairness, the majority of fruit beers on the market even a few years ago were still lighter wheat ales with massive doses of cloying artificial fruit flavor. Over the last couple years creative breweries have found a number of delicious ways to incorporate fresh fruit flavors into an array of beer styles. The most obvious examples are the citrus and tropical fruit infused IPAs and fruit flavored sour beer styles. Some brewers have found even more creative ways to add subtle fruit flavors to a wide range of beer styles, even some combinations that sound strange at first glance. A good example is the Blackberry Porter from RiverWalk Brewing Company. I am a huge fan of porters, but I don’t know that I’ve even tried a fruit infused version of the style. I can see how it would work, good porters have chocolate and coffee notes, and subtle fruit flavors can complement these types of dark malts. RiverWalk Blackberry Porter is available now on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
RiverWalk Blackberry Porter pours pitch black with a massive purple-tined tan head. The aroma is mostly dark malts, roasty and sweet. The flavor is also malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, espresso and caramel. The blackberry flavor is subtle, enough to add complexity without being assertive. The beer has minimal hop flavor and just enough bitterness to crisp up the finish. Blackberry Porter is full bodied but drinks very easy for a beer with 8.5% ABV. The finish is rich with some lingering dark malt flavor. This is a really well made porter with an interesting twist, definitely a good beer for the upcoming winter months. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Riverwalk Reviews:
RiverWalk Winter Porter, RiverWalk Farm to Kettle 2015, RiverWalk Screen Door
I didn’t do an end of the year re-cap, or a favorite beers of the year, or a best new beers/breweries of 2015 article. I do four seasonal best-of articles and thought it would be a little redundant to rehash it all again. That being said, I read a number of these recap articles, especially those written by other local beer writers. I always like to see which beers stood out for others, even if I don’t always agree. These lists also clue me in on some beers that I might have overlooked during the year and gives me a chance to go back and give them a shot. One beer that popped up on a couple different “best of 2015” lists was RiverWalk Brewing Company’s Winter Porter. I have enjoyed a few different RiverWalk beers but hadn’t had a chance to try this one, and now that it’s porter month on Hoppy Boston it seemed like an opportune time. RiverWalk starts with a rich and malty robust porter recipe and then adds vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks for complexity. RiverWalk Winter Porter is available during the winter months on draft and in 500 mL bottles.
RiverWalk Winter Porter pours pitch black with a mild tan head. The scent is a mixture of roasted malts and vanilla. The beer is very malt forward, notes of milk chocolate, espresso, caramel and molasses. The vanilla and cinnamon are present but subdued adding some pleasant complexity but letting the malt flavor shine. The hops are mild, just a little added bitterness and balance. Winter Porter is medium bodied and drinks pretty easy at 6.3% ABV. The finish is clean with some lingering roasted malt flavor. I really enjoyed Winter Porter, I understand why some of my fellow beer writers added it to their best of 2015 lists. I am also really glad that RiverWalk beers are readily available now so I can keep sampling their creations! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous RiverWalk Reviews:
RiverWalk Farm to Kettle 2015, RiverWalk Screen Door
The discussion of fall seasonal beers typically revolves around pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests, which is interesting because these two styles both lack the big hop flavors that dominate the current beer scene. This is why its no surprise that another fall style that is quickly gaining popularity is fresh hopped beers. Hops are harvested in the fall and most are dried immediately for use throughout the year. This drying process results in some loss of flavor and aroma due to the evaporation of volatile aromatic compounds. Fresh hopped beers are made with hops that have just been harvested, usually within a day or two of harvest to maximize the flavor and aroma of the hops. Most fresh-hopped beers are American pale ales or IPAs, but RiverWalk Brewing Company out of Newburyport, MA has started brewing a different style of fresh hopped beer each fall. Their 2015 version of Farm to Kettle is a Belgian IPA, brewed with expressive Belgian style yeast along with hops freshly harvested from nearby Tamarack Farmstead. RiverWalk Farm to Kettle 2015 is available for a limited time on draft and in bottles.
RiverWalk Farm to Kettle 2015 pours a clear golden yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a mixture of citrusy hops and fruity yeast. The fresh hops come through strongly in the flavor, notes of pine, grass and lemon along with an herbal quality that is distinct to freshly harvested hops. The hops also add a solid hit of bitterness. The Belgian style yeast forms a nice interplay with the hops adding touches of green apple, pepper and pear. The beer is rounded out with some light malts, hints of crackers and white bread. The beer is crisp and easy to drink, and moderately alcoholic at 6.5% ABV. Farm to Kettle finishes with a bitter kick and some lingering yeasty esters. I really enjoyed this beer, the combination of the Belgian style yeast and the fresh hops really work well together. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous RiverWalk Reviews:
RiverWalk Screen Door
I love it when breweries start to bottle or can their beers. To be perfectly honest I am not a huge fan of growlers. You need to drink them quickly, especially once they are open, and 64 oz. (or even 36) is a pretty big commitment. If I visit a brewery and they have cans or bottles available I will always choose them over a growler fill. While I love visiting breweries and buying beer directly from the source, I would guess that I buy 80-90% of the beers I review at my local bottle shop (usually Craft Beer Cellar in Newton). I know it is different for different people, but the most common reason I haven’t tried a specific local beer/brewery is that they don’t bottle their beer. RiverWalk Brewery out of Newburyport distributed their beer in growlers and on draft for a while, but recently launched a new line of 500 mL bottles. I don’t have a ton of experience with RiverWalk beers, but I’ve heard good things and I look forward to sampling their whole lineup. I’ll start it off with Screen Door, their summer seasonal. RiverWalk Screen Door is a hoppy version of an American wheat ale, available during the summer months on draft and in the aforementioned 500 mL bottles.
RiverWalk Screen Door pours a clear deep yellow with a substantial white head. The scent is solidly hoppy, with the distinct citrus and tropical fruit aromas of New World hop varieties. The flavor is also very hop-forward, notes of grapefruit, mango, lemon and orange along with a crisp but mild bitterness. This is balanced by a light malt backbone, crusty bread and a touch of wheat. Screen Door is very light bodied and easy to drink, perfect for the porch at 5.5% ABV. The finish is very clean with just a hint of lingering hop flavor. RiverWalk Screen Door is a tasty and well-rounded beer that melds an American pale ale and wheat ale, with plenty of hop flavor and drinkability. I’ll definitely check out some more RiverWalk beers in the near future! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.