Beer Review 0009: Highland Oatmeal Porter

Highland Brewing Company’s Oatmeal Porter is produced here in my home state of North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The brewery isn’t very old and started of modest means in 1994, producing only 6,500 barrels per year. After farming out some production to another state in 1998, today Highland brews all its beer locally back in Asheville.

Highland beers are only distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Information about the brewery is limited as their website isn’t terribly detailed and the packaging isn’t informative, either. However, the Oatmeal Porter that I sampled on January 20 is advertised as being “black in color, very malty with hints of chocolate-roasted flavor and a well balanced hop character.”

The pour delivered an average head, maybe a finger in size, that diminished slowly leaving a creamy film similar to that found over a cappuccino in color and texture. This Oatmeal Porter has a beautiful color which I can’t describe as fully black but almost as there is a trace of ruby red floating around. Lacing was superb all the way down the glass, leaving behind a tan sticky trail.

I found the aromatics to be somewhat subdued, but they came out when the drink was allowed to warm. What malty goodness; a grainy, coffee aroma with notes of smoky and roasted nuts and bittersweet chocolate. I knew a treat was awaiting my palate.

Sure enough, this Oatmeal Porter delivered. I couldn’t get over how creamy and smooth this beer was. Velvet would be an appropriate word to describe its texture; the flavors of roasted coffee were at the forefront leading to a smoky bittersweet chocolate finish that lasted quite awhile and turned to sweet cocoa on the end.

Finally, an Oatmeal Porter one could drink all evening. It’s full flavored so this is definitely not light, but it has an airy quality about it that lends to a high drinkability while yet not compromising at all on brilliant, sharp, strong flavors. It’s also well balanced; the bittersweet finish jumps from bitter to sweet and back again, leaving your palate satisfied.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and was surprised how good it actually was as this type of beer isn’t a personal favorite.

Highland’s Oatmeal Porter was awarded 14 points for a beautiful appearance, 12 for a great but somewhat subdued aroma, 32 for its full flavors yet delicate mouthfeel and 31 points for overall drinkability.

I know this one has limited availability but seek it out if you have a chance. I promise you will not be disappointed. It’s just a really good beer, and sometimes that’s all you can say.

Highland Oatmeal Porter, 89 points. Price: $8.99 US for six pack.


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