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Bonfire - Imperial Porter - Napa Smith Brewery

Not Rated.
Bonfire - Imperial PorterBonfire - Imperial Porter

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BA SCORE
81
good

105 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 105
Reviews: 57
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 14.89%
Wants: 4
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Napa Smith Brewery visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  8.00% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: clickpush on 12-05-2008

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (20) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 105 | Reviews: 57
Reviews by moochmonster:
More User Reviews:
Photo of Billolick
3.88/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler filled at Top Hops in NYC (great new place, even if it was a tad over priced at $20 for the growler)

Pours darkest of browns, darker tan/mocha head, lasting and lasting, then a thicker film, and heavier blobs and bits of lace.

Nose of darker malts, darker toast and honey goodness. Notes of dark and milk chocolate, some vanilla, some - no make that a lot of chocolate milk shake feel.

Nice stuff - well done and well worth trying

Photo of JupiterJesus
3.92/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Porter seems like a misnomer - this is like a slightly roastier American Barleywine. Sweet, dark fruit flavors, sweet, a bit hoppy, sweet, slight chocolate and sweet. Also, sweet.

This is a unique take on porter (slash barleywine?) that could be improved with less sweetness, more roast, more body and lower carbonation. Still good, but it tries to tow the line between drinkable & light and heavy & complex, and doesn't quite achieve either.

Photo of mj001jk
4.02/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Toronado, SF.

My notes for this beer are a little thin so I apologize, but the main characteristics that stood out for me was:

A very fresh feeling with nice fruity esters such as pear and quince with light and crisp malts. Hints of coffee, chocolate and tobacco.

I really liked this beer and almost thought it was a schwartz lager before I knew it was an imperial porter. The alcohol is well hidden and it is waaay too easy to drink.

Kudos for another great beer.

Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

served from a 12 oz bottle

A: very dark brown pour capped with a medium size tan head.

S: clean, not earthy; dark malty aroma with some chocolate and toffee.

Taste: chocolate malt with hints of toffee, roasted nuts and dark fruits. Rather mellow and drinkable for style compared to, for instance, a Thomas Hooker.

M: very nicely smooth; semi-creamy; medium body.

Overall: a bit less aggressive/extreme than some others in this class. This means more drinkable and session-able even thought both the feel and flavor are a tad too boozy.

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.08/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance - Pours deep, dark cordovan brown with a light tan, razor thin head. Poor retention, leads to a very thin, broken film of microbubbles on top. No lacing.

Smell - Metallic tones around hints of caramel. Slightly sour. Not a very aromatic brew.

Taste - Metallic, earthy and sour character upfront, gives way to moderate notes of caramel and stale coffee mid-taste and into the finish. Ghostly traces of chocolate picked up at the tail end before fading away.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Sharp, bitey edge.

Overall - Not a very good porter, even less impressive considering the 'Imperial' moniker. Drinkable, but very forgettable. With so many other great porters out there, this is one I won't be buying again.

Photo of HerdNo1
2.86/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Just a quickie review. Poured from a bottle into a tulip. An off white head fades quickly and leaves little lacing in the glass. The major problem with this brew hits you with the first deep sniff and that is the sniff of alcohol. Unfortunately, that is precisely what I get in taste as well. The alcohol simply overwhelms the beer. At 8.5%, it really shouldn't be all that noticeable but it is. I compare it to something like several good Imperial Stouts with a.b.v's in excess of 10% but the alcohol is almost completely hidden. Mouthfeel is fairly thin in this beer. Quite honestly, it's nearly impossible to assess the quality of the underlying porter because the alcohol is so noticeable.

I haven't had other imperial porters so I don't know how well other beers of the style stand up to the higher alcohol but this is a disappointment.

Photo of HalfFull
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice deep brown into a large wine glass. Half an inch of tan foam recedes to a thin film after a few minutes. Deep ruby highlights are offered from this unfamiliar offering from Leucadia Liquor.

Nose is somewhat fruity up front with a bit of milk chocolate, some roasted malts and light notes of dried fruits. Quite clean overall and with a somewhat shallow depth, though pleasant, and yet hoppy through the foam.

Fruit and malt forward on the palate and with a touch of spice. Rather thin in body yet without any notes of alcohol. Simple on the feel without any notable positive or negative factors, though somewhat thin overall for the style. Decent for its ABV but a bit light in character.

Photo of GRG1313
2.47/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Dark copper/brown with a nice light tan head.

Nose is simple sweet candi sugar and citric cotton candy. Some ripe pear or plums in the nose.

Mouthfeel is thin and watery.

Flavors are sort of clumsy malt with a sour malt/sugar character. No real porter character; no distinguishing character or flavor profile. Not balanced and has a sour malt character to it.

Bit of a grapefruit/pine finish.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Grabbed this one our of the cellar last night. It had come in while I was away and my wife opened up everything and put it there, so I really don't know where it came from, but it was looking good so I grabbed it. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 12/21/2009.
 
Nice pour here with a deep, dark brown color and a nice tan head of maybe two inches on the top. Settled down quickly though and only left behind moderate lacing. Aroma was interesting. Lots of molasses like aromas, hints of caramel, and a boat load of peat and roasted malts. Warming brings out a ton of chocolate now as well. Rich with a hint of a light booziness as well. First sip was rich and warm with roasted malts and chocolate making the most of it. Hints of smoke dotted the finish and a nice, but light vanilla flavor could be picked up as well. My only gripe is that it seemed a bit thin to me. I know it's a porter but I was still a bit underwhelmed with it as it felt a little bit thin to me. Still though decent warming after the first few sips and a nice, but even flavor leaves the tongue as the last drops filter out and the deep smoke and sweet flavors come to the front.
 
Overall this was pretty good I have to admit, nothing earth shattering, but solid and really nicely done. I would not mind trying it again and can only imagine it would translate over well in a barrel.

Photo of Immortale25
2.75/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Not good at all. Strange acrid roast flavor with an inappropriate hop bitterness.

Photo of metter98
3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is close to being black in color, but is clear and very dark red in color when viewed against a bright light. It has a moderate amount of visible carbonation and poured with a thin tan head that never quite faded away and left lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of dark fruits and chocolate are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but is relatively sweet and a bit more complex with additional notes of licorice and molasses. No burnt/roasted flavors or bitterness are detectable.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little thin on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: While this is an "imperial" porter, it seems like the extra malts used in this beer could be better balanced with more hops to eliminate the sweetness. The beer isn't that difficult to drink because the alcohol is well hidden from the taste.

Photo of endincolorado
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep, dark brown with a small tan head. Decent lacing.

Moderately toasty aroma. Dry hops balanced by decent, bready malt and some faint cocoa.

Initial sweetness, followed by some fruitiness. Kind of disappointing, especially for an imperial.

Light body- slightly overcarbonated.

A pretty disappointing experience, since I thought there pale ale was pretty darn good.

Photo of JamnesCameron
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an English pint glass.

Pours a deep ruby with a thin wisp of a head. Leaves a thin layer of "almost" foam.

Aromas of a light roasty sourness. Winey, with a slight woodiness. Light chocolate and coffee notes.

First sip is chocolatey, slight woody sourness, and a tannic bitterness. Short finish is roasty and chocolatey with a hint of drying bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium, dry and resiny.

Overall very drinkable, nice complex mixture of flavors. Hides alcohol very well. Could easily mistake this for a session beer.

Photo of DrDemento456
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fall release so it's aged over 6 months.

A - Color looks good for a porter yet the head depletes rather quickly giving me no lace and calm waters.

S - Smell is of mild faded citrus hops, tough of ashy malts and a filler of cocoa like chocolate malts.

T - Quite good actually and still good warm. Like others said at this point is roast then some sweet chocolate malts and a finish of citrus hops. It works rather well providing little chalky yeast yet I kind of wanted more smoke from this "bonfire"

M - Medium to thick and quick slick on the tongue.

Overall - I like this beer. It provides a sweet malt body with a slightly drying finish and a good bit of hops. If I see it again I might buy it since the price was good at just over 2 bucks.

Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear dark brown colored beer with a small brown colored head. This beer has ruby highlights when held up to the light and is one of the lighter colored examples of the style.

Smells very malty indeed. Malt syrup, vanilla and toffee are the strong scents. Slighter berry and chocolate smell with a faint coffee and smoke scent. But there can be no doubt this is a malty smelling beer.

Starts out mildly sweet with a strong bitter coca powder flavor and subtle bitter bite. The taste pretty much stays the same all the way through bitter chocolate.

Mouthfeel is medium not a thick porter.

Not a bad beer at all. What you are getting here is basically a semi-bitter chocolate beer.

Photo of cyclonece09
3.91/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a pitch black with a nice brown head that dissipates slowly and leaves lacing. Smells of coffee, nuts and light fruit aroma. Tastes of bitter coffee with slight nutty and fruity overtones. Beer has a good level of carbonation for its light/medium body and finishes well. Overall, a very good beer.

Photo of GarthDanielson
2.78/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass, this beer is an opaque brown coloring with a one and a half inch dense, foamy, chunky head. Aromas of nut and toffee come off on first sniffing, with some coffee tones on further investigation. This is a good looking beer. The taste is a bit on the sugary caramel side, with none of the darker flavors that I love about Porters. The flavor is almost sweet enough, and the body light enough, to be an Amber or a Red. The body is very light, almost to the point of being watery. The caramel sweet flavors only have the slightest hint of bitter, and who knows if it is from hopping or coffee notes, although there is neither really present in the flavor. The aftertaste is super sweet, and the finish is clean, but lingering. I love Porters, but this one was leaning towards the disappointing side for me.

Photo of kojevergas
3/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Nabbed this'n at Wine Expo in Santa Monica. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with appealing label art and branded pry-off cap acquired for $2.39 USD and served into a Mitchells of Lancaster flared stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average; Napa Smith has turned out some decent brews and it sounds appealing. Label identifies it as an "Imperial Porter" so I'm reviewing as such. 8.0% ABV confirmed per the label.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger wide head of khaki-tan colour. Nice creaminess. Decent frothiness. Soft smooth complexion. Retention is above average, about 3 minutes. Even consistent lacing as the head recedes.

Body colour is an opaque dark black; not quite a jet black but dark. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Overall, it's appealing, if standard fare for the style. No overt flaws are obvious. Not unique or special.

Sm: Caramel, vanilla, chocolate malt, marshmallow, sticky sweet dark malts. I also get some toffee and biscuit notes redolent more of an old ale or wee heavy than a porter. In any case, it's surprisingly appealing. Not getting any hops, yeast, or alcohol from the aroma. Slightly toasty. A pleasant aroma of mild strength.

T: Dark fruits, with some prune and maybe date. Raisin. Vague dark grape notes. Caramel, toffee. Some toasted malt. Sweet dark malts and chocolate malts form the simple body. No real hop profile is noticeable. Duration, intensity, and depth of flavour are all average for the style. Singed pecan. Caramelized walnut. Toffee. Biscuit. A bit of alcohol does creep in. I don't get any yeast character. Balance is okay. Average complexity and subtlety, though there's not much going on here compared to other Imperial Porters. I like it in a general sense, but it's nothing to write home about. I'd love a roasty character.

The nutty notes are a definite highlight.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Lightly creamy. A bit syrupy. Sticky. Chewy. Unrefreshing, but approachable. Decent presence on the palate. Strange thickness isn't uniform; inconsistent. Not oily, harsh, or gushed. Facilitates delivery of the flavours, but it's not custom-tailored to them. Pretty run of the mill. Not unique or special.

Dr: Drinkable but pedestrian. The aroma promised a lot more than the taste delivered. I wouldn't trifle with this again, especially at its high price point for the quality. A middling effort from Napa Smith. I wouldn't recommend it to friends or get another.

C

Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A fortified Porter with deep focus on burnt woods, bittersweet cocoa, and malt richness. Though the beer rivals the strength of stronger stouts, it falls short of it's "imperial" advertising.

Aromas of burnt molasses, dark nuts, French press coffee, cocoa, heavy toast, and mild roast all fill the nose with greater than expected intensity. A very masucline scent with a barley-rich backbone.

Flavors closely follow with a bold blend of black strap molasses and burnt sugar sweetness to start the session. The burnt flavor transitions to synged woods, roasted walnuts, and heavy toast before finishing with a mild ashy taste. Bold roast coffee flavors stop shy of espresso and add to the roasty overlay. Hop bitterness weave into the woody flavors and provide the bitterness to accompany the roast taste in balance.

Rich and lushly textured, the beer retains its structure until very deep in the taste before warming alcohol lightly irritate the throat for a malty-dry finish and light ashy/powdery feel late.

The beer exhibits all of the proportions and flavor of Porters while borrowing some roasty elements from Stouts. Still, the beer is big for a Porter, but not enough to be considered an imperial anything.

Photo of ISmith87
3.87/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The beer itself is brown-black colored with no real head at all. The smell is red wine , dark fruits, roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, alcohol. Taste is roasty malts,dark fruits, red wine, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, caramel. mouthfeel - alc present a little too much, aftertaste is alcohol. Body too thin for a porter. Woudnt buy again.

Photo of scottfrie
3.46/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a tall glass at some restaurant in Oakland. Pretty sure it’s from a bottle. Reviewed from notes.

A: Served a near black color with a dense dark brown head that held great retention. Streaky lacing was left down the glass.
S: I get sweet notes of toffee and caramel. The nose is also very roasted and toasted smelling.
T: Flavors of marshmallows, toasted grains, and toasted oatmeal stick out with a touch of caramel, vinous grapes and a little bit of wood. The finish is sweet and I get notes of brown sugar and slight chocolate.
M: Full body, soft full carbonation, and a fullish mouthfeel that isn’t as thick as a stout.
O: A solid porter overall that went well with my meal. It lacks a bit of depth though, and I thought it was on the sweet side. A good drinking beer overall though.

Photo of mactrail
3.4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very dark with a reddish cast in the New Belgium snifter. Decent head and carbonation. Fairly heavy body but not viscous. Raisins and mince meat pie in the nose.

Distinct taste of milk chocolate. Quite rich and more on the sweet side. Reminds me of a milk stout with a deeper, darker, fruitier flavor. Dark caramel and pomegranate. A touch of something rusty and a hint the band-aid taste. Some bitterness in the aftertaste. Not especially drinkable

From the 22 oz bottle.

Photo of emmasdad
3.01/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Saw this at Holiday Wine Cellar on my last trip to San Diego, and kind of assumed it was a smoked imperial porter by the name; sadly it isn't. Nothing really interesting going on here. Pours a very dark brown color, with hints of red along the edges and a big light brown head. I get some dark fruits on the nose, along with some dark candi sugar. More dark fruit on the palate (dates, plums) , along with chocolate and maybe, maybe a hint of smoke at the end (although that could be my imagination).

Photo of MisterClean
4.24/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased from Nugget in Roseville.

A - Pours a deep mahogany hew, with 1 finger of chocolate head, dissipates moderately.

S - Chocolate, smoke, roast coffee, plums, and bitter hops.

T - See above, not much difference.

M - IMO, beer may be over-hopped as the bitterness slightly dominates the malts. Slightly dry too.

D - Good overall. No smell or taste from alcohol.

Photo of GClarkage
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

03/26/09- Purchased at Mollie Stones in Burlingame, CA.

Presentation- 22oz bottle with no freshness info. Poured into my 20oz Pizza Port glass.

Appearance- Deep brown color with some dark cherry-ruby highlights around the edges. 1/2 inch head upon pour...fades after about a minute. Leaves some light watery lace markings behind.

Smell- Detected a light metallic scent in the nose upon first smell. A tiny bit of this remains throughout the entire consumption of the beer, though the end is less noticeable. Dark roasted malt and watery chocolate nose. A touch of alcohol as well.

Taste- Metalic notes are present in the first few sips and then they pretty much disappear. Malt is mid range to darker roasted. Chocolate comes out and pairs nicely. As do the hops which assert themselves nicely. Well rounded flavors.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation level...a bit less as the beer breathes. A somewhat lasting hoppy and malt aftertaste. About a medium thickness per the abv level.

Drikability- Minus the metallic notes in the beginning; you have a perfectly good baltic porter here. Not really too many flaws. Holds togther nicely.

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Bonfire - Imperial Porter from Napa Smith Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 105 ratings.