Bent Paddle is a relatively young brewery (just over a year old) operating in Duluth, practically on the bank of Lake Superior. It’s the land of canoes, thus the name of the brewery. It’s also the land of good beer, thanks in part to the access to Lake Superior water, which is, by most accounts, superior.
I had the opportunity to visit the brewery in person, and knocked back a few of their solid pales and a killer Smoked Red Rye. They also have all sorts of goodies on nitro in the tap house. But I’m here to talk about their Black Ale, which I’m drinking right now out of the can in the Duluth airport—my home away from home for more time than I’d like to recount.
Bent Paddle calls the Black a cross between a porter and a stout—a beer that straddles those style guidelines by borrowing characteristics from both sides of the spectrum. The beer pours a dense black, with a thick tan head. The nose is subtle, with just slight notes of roasted coffee.
Digging in, you find an ale with a relatively thin mouthfeel, but robust notes of dark chocolate that hit you with a roasted sweetness upfront, then follow up with a vaguely dark chocolate bitterness. There’s nothing crazy going on in this can of beer—no grand experimentation, but also no off notes. We’re talking about a killer canned stout that’s satisfying without being overly complex.
Bent Paddle didn’t have the Black on nitro when I was there, but I’d imagine the package would only improve with all the creaminess that comes from using that alternative gas. Or maybe one day they’ll stick this beer in some bourbon barrels and see what comes of it. In the meantime, I’ll just be happy with the simple cans in this airport that I’m stuck in for God knows how long.
Brewery: Bent Paddle Brewing Company
Location: Duluth, Minn.
Availability: Year-round, 12-oz. cans