Redux Review 0003: Highland Oatmeal Porter

Almost a year ago to the day, I reviewed Highland Brewing Company’s Oatmeal Porter. It scored the following in the categories I use to rate beer:

Appearance: 14 of 15 points
Aroma: 12 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 32 of 35 points
Drinkability/Overall Experience: 31 of 35 points

Final Score: 89 points, or very good to excellent on my rating scale.

Ever gotten beer as a form of payment? Recently, I did some work on a Mac computer for a buddy of mine. He wanted a Windows partition deleted from the hard drive, and wanted more memory installed. Two very easy things for me to do, and he wanted to pay me to do it. I didn’t want to take any money, but he offered to buy me some beer, and I took him up on it.

In a barrage of text messages from him, sending me different pictures of beer he was looking at in a grocery store, I picked out Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (which I rated 95 points) and Highland Oatmeal Porter. Thus, the Oatmeal Porter becomes the third review of my Redux Reviews, in which I look back at a beer I’ve previously reviewed and put it through its paces again, with the goal of seeing if anything has changed with the beer, or if anything has changed with my palate.

Since I last had this beer on January 20, 2011, Highland have put up a brand new website — highlandbrewing.com — and where information was once hard to come by, there is now plenty of it. This beer is to be very malty with a well balanced hop character, and uses flaked oatmeal to attain a silky mouthfeel.

Highland is a local brewery to me; located in Asheville, North Carolina, it’s about three hours from where I live. The brewery began production in 1994, and they have a limited distribution, so this beer might be hard to find for most. Other beers I’ve reviewed from Highland include Cold Mountain (92 points), and Kashmir IPA (79 points).

So for a second time…

The pour made for an average size head, almost on the small end of things. It faded quickly to just a thin bubbly cover, atop a very dark brown beer that has weak coffee highlights around the edges when held to light. The body was free of particles or sediment, although the beer was opaque. Lacing left behind was of excellent quality, leaving sticky sheets all the way down the glass.

For the aromatics, things were very malty, with a near even mix of chocolate, coffee, and caramel hints. All of this is supported by a fruity hop background. I thought the aromas to be a little weak, maybe a little watery.

The palate is greeted with a surprise at first taste; the hops are forward with a moderate bitterness, followed by a wave of coffee, finishing on some bittersweet chocolate. As the taste concludes, there are some burnt notes that lend a bit of acidity to the flavors, and is quite nice. The texture is as described, silky and creamy, but there is a bit of a drying effect on the mouth at play here.

I was a little disappointment by my revisit to this beer. I recalled a bit more flavor the first time. As I said in my first review, this isn’t one of my favorite styles, but I have been drinking more Porter here lately, especially for the reviews, so I think since I have expanded my drinking of this style, my palate has expanded as well. This is a very drinkable and nice beer, but I was left wanting a little more in terms of flavor and aroma.

So, in redux:

Appearance: 14 of 15 points
Aroma: 11 of 15 points
Flavor and Palate: 30 of 35 points
Drinkability/Overall Experience: 29 of 30 points

Highland Oatmeal Porter, redux score of 84 points. Price: $8.99 US for a six pack.

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