Monday, December 23, 2013

DuClaw - Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter

DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus! Porter

Brewery: DuClaw (SC)
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.5%
Grade: A-

To be fair, my first conscious reaction to DuClaw's cutely-named peanut butter porter had nothing to do with child deities — it was simply "wow." Not being the hugest fan of peanut butter (I mean, it's fine... I just don't get all the fuss), I really didn't know what to expect with this one. Some breweries go way too far with their "flavored" beers, and others nail that flavor perfectly, but most of the time, in either case, it simply makes the beer taste too artificial. So, yeah, wow, Sweet Baby Jesus! really smells like peanut butter. And not even an artificial ice-cream-flavor-version of peanut butter, but just dry, salty, nutty peanut butter. Fairly impressive, I have to admit.

The flavor is less straight-up obviously peanuty, but that's for the best, allowing some beerier elements to come into play. Mercifully, Sweet Baby Jesus! is actually on the dry side for a porter, and the malt character is very clean, with a snappy crisp finish. I'm not even sure how they achieved such a nice balance between rich, thick flavors and a balanced, drinkable beer profile. Perhaps the deal with the (baby?) Devil they made was to sacrifice body — ultimately my only complaint here. I definitely didn't need this to be some over-charged imperial malt-bomb, but still, the finish is a bit too thin for what this beer implies. That's an extremely minor quibble, though, and with all that thick roasty nut character and lurking chocolate, this has a sweet creamy presence at first that only leaves me wanting for the briefest of moments at the end.

One of my co-workers has been going on for months about the lack of peanut butter-flavored coffee beverages at Starbucks and similar chains — he thinks it's a natural pairing. While I think any peanut butter-flavored concoction released by Starbucks would probably be gross, I hope their Chief of Flavor Development somehow stumbles upon a bottle of Sweet Baby Jesus! first. This is how it should be done — natural tasting, vividly-flavored, just rich enough. A pleasant surprise from a realm of beer I usually wouldn't give much thought to.

Availability: Year-round release. Available in 12 ounce bottles.

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