Beer Review 0447: Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale

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New brewery to the site today — Atwater Brewery, based in the Rivertown district of Detroit, Michigan.

Founded in 1997, the brewery is housed in a 1919 factory warehouse. All of Atwater’s brewing equipment was imported from Germany; the lagers they make are all made with German hops and malts, while their ales use only American hops. Atwater’s motto is “We drink all we can and sell the rest.”

Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale is an English-style Porter brewed with chocolate extract; the extract contains a blend of three chocolates, and is designed to be a full, rich taste instead of an overwhelming sweetness. This beer is 5.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) and just 11 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

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The pour issued a small, light tan head that was soapy in texture and diminished quickly. The color of the beer was dark brown with some ruby red highlights; body was very clear and featured no particles or sediment. Lacing was a no-go, not leaving even the slightest of a trace of suds on the glass.

On the nose, we’ve got what smells like a pretty good beer: decadent chocolate, indeed. This is all chocolate with perhaps a hint of caramel — it’s sweet, and really reminded me of a White Russian mixed drink or one of those coffee creamers you find in the dairy section of the supermarket. It’s syrupy sweet milk chocolate with just a hint of a vanilla edge. The aroma definitely makes me want to have a sip…

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And, surprise: disappointment. Unfortunately, that awesome aroma doesn’t quite hold up on the palate. When the beer meets tongue, the initial notes are of burnt toast and caramel with a slight above average carbonation and a hint of metal. The chocolate comes on in the middle, and it’s like what you’d get out of a squirt bottle, only diluted with water. There’s a bit of hazelnut in there, too, and perhaps some raw vanilla bean and burnt sugar, but the finish is gone as quick as it comes. Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale is medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

Sigh. After sniffing the nose, you are expecting one thing but it never delivers. I’m thinking if you are enjoying this beer as a dessert, you will be disappointed as it just plain lacks body and the deep chocolate flavors that it promises. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a lower alcohol beer that has some chocolate flavor, this might be your ticket — but if you really want full flavor chocolate, you’re going to have to go elsewhere.

Atwater Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale, 79 points. Price: $1.99 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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