Troegs Dead Reckoning Porter: It's alive!
You never know what you're really going to get when you pop open a porter you've never tried before. Porters are the Frankensteins of beer styles. A little bit of this, a little of that. Almost anything goes. There is no standard any brewer seems to bother aiming toward. Basically, porters tend to come out tasting like a mix of a stout and something else with hops. To me they seem more like a kitchen mistake, as if an inexperienced cook decided to get creative and threw together a bunch of ingredients that usually don't go together. There's usually a good reason why they don't go together. Even when a porter works well enough, you just get the feeling that something's not quite right there. Such is the case with Troegs stab at the genre.
One thing you usually don't see in your glass of porter is floating yeast particles, but if you pick a porter you must be open for a surprise. The yeast was the first thing I noticed in the Dead Reckoning, mainly because it was the last thing I expected. Not that it was unwelcome; I like unfiltered beers, it just seemed out of place. Other than that, it looks like your typical stout -- dark brown and topped by a decent tan head that fades to lacing. It smells like somebody poured their lager into your typical stout, which is to say, just about like a porter should. The chocolate and coffee aroma is swirled around with some hops, but it is all on the faint side.
Dead Reckoning also tastes like somebody poured their lager into your stout. Not much of it. The result is still mostly your stout, only with the floating yeast and a hint of hops. The chocolate, coffee and caramel from the stout side still predominate. It's not at all bad. You might wish they'd have left your stout unadulterated, but you'll happily finish the glass off. You might even want another. The alcohol content of 5.8% is only slightly higher than the original stout probably carried, and the body is medium at best. Several of these could be polished off, especially if you have a slab of ribs that needs eating.
Porters aren't among my favorite beers, but there's nothing particular about them that I don't like. Usually I know exactly what variety of beer my mood or situation is calling for. On the odd occasion when I do fancy a stout mixed with something else, I order a black and tan. Those are basically what porters are, but at least then you know what you're getting -- generally half a Guinness and half a Harp, but you can call the shot. Order a porter, and you're going to get whatever the mad scientist of the brewery decided to whip up. Could be anywhere from light brown to black; light to heavy bodied; high alcohol to barely any; great taste to dirty dishwater.
Troegs Dead Reckoning is a very decent porter. They keep it to the stout side, but throw the yeast in and just enough hops to let you know they are paying attention. It's a respectable beer, and I'd imagine mixing in the smattering of hops will make it a better lawn mowing beer in the summer. It's definitely a good choice for a cookout. It'll taste even better after the ice melts in the cooler and it gets a chance to warm up slightly. For a Frankenstein beer, this one is not very scary. I just have to wonder whether these monsters are worth the bother to begin with.