It’s strange how creating something that’s squarely “middle of the road” can work against you. Decadent, for all intents and purposes, does everything right. Yet, maybe because the name sets the bar so high, it feels like there is something missing with this English style porter.
The beer is a dark ale brewed with chocolate. That “dark chocolate ale” label had me thinking of bitter chocolates, and the pour reinforces that expectation—this baby pours a deep and dark brown that’s almost as opaque as coffee, but with less body. In other words, the beer seems decadent: it smells of brownies and milk, maybe some German cake in there as well, and the expectations that it will be something rich and velvety begin to form. Alas, the beer is not as complex as that first impression would lead you to believe; Decadent has more in common with a glass of chocolate milk than the decadent glass of dark sipping chocolate implied by the label.
The first sip is a highly carbonated blast that awakens the taste buds, quickly turning dessert-like with a slightly watery base that vanishes quickly, replaced with a blast from a chocolate fountain. In a fairly typical beer build, the taste peaks hard, then a concise hop presence bites it off. What’s unique here, is the chocolate fades with a slightly roasted note that carries with it just a tiny hint of smoky malt, before the hops take over so efficiently, they almost goes unnoticed. At the end of the sip, you’re left with a lingering, and rather anticlimactic, taste of chocolate milk.
After all that dessert talk, at the end of the day, Decadent is a dark ale, which means it’s sessionable, easy drinking, and mid-bodied. It’s more like a cookie or a brownie or, yes, even a simple glass of chocolate milk than anything you might consider to be “decadent.” It’s good. It’s sweet. But to name this beer “Decadent” is like pointing to the fence and merely hitting a double.
Decadent’s fault is that it’s a beer built for the session instead of being indulgently powerful. Maybe that’s not a fault at all, but when you set the expectations so high, it’s hard not to be disappointed.
Brewery: Atwater Brewery
City: Detroit, MI
Style: English style porter
ABV: 4.5% ABV
Availability: 12 oz. 6-packs bottles