Rock Art Brewery Midnight Madness Smoked Porter
By: Benjamin Welton
The German rauchbier certainly falls under the “acquired taste” headline. Few people enjoy the taste of smoke, and even less people enjoy the taste of smoky, barreled brews. In my life, most of my acquaintances and friends prefer the lighter stuff—you know, lagers, pilsners, and the like. The tribe of dark beer drinkers is a small one, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t strong or vociferous. In fact, nine out of ten times, the person who drinks dark beer exclusively can usually be found at the bar’s end, carrying on about how other styles of beer are deficient.
The intensity of this obsession is strange, and it certainly has a cult-like atmosphere. At times, you’d expect porter and stout enthusiasts to the take to the mountains with drums and flutes. Well, that’s what the good people at Vermont’s Rock Art Brewery want them to do, for their Midnight Madness brew is a smoked porter that captures all of the cold comfort of rural New England in wintertime. This beer is pagan too, with its hints of the fire and its aged taste. Like the Kokopelli (a fertility deity worshipped by the Native American tribes of the Southwest) that adorns the bottle, the Midnight Madness feels like old music dancing on the tongue.
First Impression: There’s no trick here: from the label to the packaging, everything about this beer is dark. Rock Art knows their audience, so there’s not much aesthetic charm going on here. The Midnight Madness is presented simply, with a purple and black color scheme that is both spooky and calming. Weird, right?
Pour: Like most porters, the Midnight Madness has a strong head and a deep black coloring. Although the website calls it “dark ruby red,” this beer is darker than Danzig’s hair. Also, while the website states that this beer has a “medium body,” my eyes and taste buds call it heavy. If the Midnight Madness were a professional wrestler, it’d be ECW-era Taz—stocky, strong, and intimating
Taste: The beachwood smoke is there, but it’s not overpowering. Although this is a pungent beer with black and crystal grain hops, it’s smoother than one would think. Conversely, this beer (which looks like tar) won’t crinkle your face with too much bitterness. As far as porters go, it’s neither outstanding nor abysmal. But, compared to the usual fare one finds at most bars, the Midnight Madness is a witches’ brew made for that double vision that Foreigner once sang about.
IBU: Approx. 35