By: Daniel Marcoux
Change. Sometimes welcomed, sometimes feared, often written about by past-prime artists. Take David Bowie for example. He ever so poetically said, “Ch-ch-ch-ch changes… Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.” The late (…or maybe not?) Tupac (2Pac) Shakur said, “And I still see no changes! Can’t a brother get a little peace? There’s war on the streets and war in the Middle East.” Former Surreal Lifestar, Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth ironically said, “We could all use a little chaaaaaaaaannnnge.” Some refuse to embrace the shared philosophies of these lyrical wizards, but for those who do, there’s Fluxus… for the rest of us.
The scholarly Allagash Brewing, from the fair city of Portland, ME, brings us their offering of change from 2013, Fluxus (the Latin word for change). The cool thing about this brew, as the name suggests, is that every year Fluxus changes. In 2012, it was a saison brewed with peppercorns (which was awesome), this year (or should I say last year) it is/was a traditional porter brewed with blood oranges. The interesting thing here is that Allagash is known for making great Belgian style beers, however it’s not often that you see a porter coming from the land of chocolate. More intriguing, it’s not often that you see citrus being coupled with a porter. Will this beer bring change that we can believe in, or will it falter quicker than Rob Ford’s political career? Time to find out.
First Impression: Weird man. Oranges with porter? If anybody could pull it off, it would be Allagash. I love how this brewery isn’t afraid to do a little exploration with their beers. Their four packs are all pretty traditional, but whatever they make adorned with a cork top is always a bit quirky (no pun intended). Curieux – a triple in bourbon; Interlude – aged in red wine; Confluence – brett added; Coolship – spontaneously fermented; Merveilleux – a blend of beers aged in bourbon and wine… this list goes on. I’m excited to pop this one open.
Pour: Jet-black with a dark tan head. At the bottom of the glass though, you can see a dark amber/brownish color, but that’s really it. No lacing on the glass as I drank. The smells coming off of this guy were really dominated by dark, roasted grain.
Taste: Wow… what a fantastic brew. First sip, my mouth is engulfed with dark malts, roasted grain, and angels singing from heaven. The grainy, malt flavor in the brew is unbelievable, but the body isn’t nearly as thick or robust as the flavor. The blood oranges are really hidden in this guy, however towards the finish of the beer, you get the slightest tang of citrus, inviting you back into the glass for another sip. The biggest flavor coming from the brew is definitely the spent grain smell one would achieve after doing a batch of all grain home-brew. It’s very roasty (hovering on the line of burnt) and is more bready and biscuity than other porters that I have had, and tastes somewhat smokey too with a tobacco taste hanging around. If I had to taste this blindly, I might have said it’s a smoked porter. At first taste, the smokiness is not as pronounced, but as you empty your pint, it’s more noticeable.
As mentioned before, the body on here is not as thick and creamy as they typically are on stouts or even other big porters (which in my opinion makes it perfect for a mild winter day). The one big flaw that I see with this beer is its carbonation. For my liking, its a bit too bubbly for a porter – if it was toned down, I think the flavors would last longer on your tongue than they do.
Final Impression: The subtleties of this beer make is so nice. The blood oranges are very inconspicuous in this brew allowing the true star to be the tobacco, roasty, and smokey tastes of the grain used in here. I’m OK with the lack of blood orange flavor in the beer, but its carbonation brings it down slightly. If you’re expecting an over exaggeration of orange flavor, stay away from this beer and if you don’t enjoy really roasty porters, you may find this too assertive for your liking. The 2013 version Fluxus is wonderful, but get it before it’s gone – drinking this makes change seem cruel.
IBU: Who cares? It’s a porter.