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Bonfire - Imperial Porter - Napa Smith Brewery

Not Rated.
Bonfire - Imperial PorterBonfire - Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

56 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 56
Hads: 107
Avg: 3.51
pDev: 15.1%
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 56 | Hads: 107
Photo of Heffy
4.97/5  rDev +41.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Third time I have had this wonderful brew. I have traveled all over the world and when I run across a Napa Smith all is good. I rated this beer a few weeks ago with all 5's. This still stands except someone dosen't believe in a perfect score. (then whey score?) somehow the write up got lost. Here's #2

Every time I taste a Bonfire, I go back to England with the local pubs magnificent beer and wonderful food. The total experience from beginning to end is wonderful. Smooth flavors that vary with the atmosphere and the foods one is also tasting. Smoky nutty fragrances with a smooth finish that sweetens rather than drys the pallet.

The flavors, texture, and appearance bring an undeniable pleasure that everyone should experience at least three times in their life time!

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Photo of thrash420
4.75/5  rDev +35.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Napa Smith Brewery - Bonfire - Imperial Porter

smell - smells heavily of dark roasted malts with hints of fruit and spices

taste - mild taste, you can taste the malts more than the hops, would go very well with a european chocolate bar I presume. i expected a stronger taste at 8%, but im not complaining it makes it easier to drink more! my wife considered it having a taste similar to wine and mild fruit tastes were brought out. i think its one of the best porters ive experienced, but I still prefer IPA's.

appearance - kept this in the bottle but i can still see a good amount of lacing and head inside the bottle and can tell it is of dark and slight reddish color

mouthfeel - medium carbonation, medium body but sticks to the mouth a bit, quite refreshing

drinkability - goes down easy, would love to enjoy another :)

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Photo of aforbes10
4.3/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Woodstock's, which was exciting because i'd only seen the pale ale, amber and wheat in bottles so this must be a current draft-only offering. Poured a dark brown with reddish notes, and a nice soft light brown head. Smelled of mildly roasted malts, vague dark fruits and dark chocolate. Flavor was a nice full roasted malt punch, a little touch of charcoal, dark chocolate, and then a nice grassy hop tang, followed by an encore of the roasty flavors. Very clean and easy to drink. All of the Napa Smith brews are well-crafted to the style, which i like. This one was very, very good and i look forward to seeing it in bottles.

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Photo of MisterClean
4.24/5  rDev +20.8%
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.

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Photo of clickpush
4.13/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought at City Beer Store in SF for $4.99. Great price for a bomber these days, though two years ago it was much easier to find big beers for that price.

Poured into a pint glass with a dark brown, ruby hued body like the exterior of a horse-chestnut. Plenty of big bubbles throughout the beer and about one finger's worth of head that recedes slowly to nice lacing. Definitely an appetizing looking beer. The aroma is rich with caramel and dark fruits, along with the expected roasty notes of coffee & toast. Flavor is much the same, though not at all sweet. The 8% is masked very nicely and this drinks like a much lighter beer. Flavors of roasted grains, coffee, and chocolate all in a very drinkable beer. Mouth feel is slightly less crisp than I would have liked, being creamy instead, but it is well suited for this beer. I look forward to finding this one on a nitro pour somewhere for something really special.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.11/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Strong, smoky aroma has a sweet overtone and notes of honey, caramel and molasses. It pours an opaque sable just a flea’s eyebrow above black with a thick and somewhat persistent light tan head that leaves generous lacing. Flavor has smoky, earthy, nutty and coffee notes with hints of unsweet chocolate and licorice. Smooth texture has firm, if not robust, body and a goodly amount of fizz. Let this bonfire warm the cockles of your beer-o-phile heart!

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Photo of JamnesCameron
4.1/5  rDev +16.8%
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.

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Photo of MaltAndHopsFC
4.07/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a stemmed tulip glass.

Appearance: pours like a porter, super dark brown/almost black with a beige finger of head, looks pretty good.

Aroma: smells very malty, I get sweet notes of caramel, dark fruit, licorice, cocoa, and roasted malts. Smells like a porter with attitude.

Taste: much like the nose but a tad sweeter. I get a taste of caramel, bittersweet chocolate, roasted malt, and subtle hints of alcohol burn. Finishes roasty and culminates with a return of the bittersweet chocolate but this time it lingers in the aftertaste.

Mouth Feel: smooth and medium bodied

Overall: Not a bad porter, certainly more assertive than what I am used to. A little too sweet for my liking but the presence of bittersweet chocolate in the taste was enjoyable. At 8% it makes for a good sipping beer on a cold night in front of the television. I wouldn’t seek this out again, but I would enjoy it if I found it on tap somewhere.

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Photo of MarvinSnyder
4.07/5  rDev +16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 fl.oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours an almost opaque dark brown with a small head that stays strong throughout. Lacing is sporadic at best.

Smell: On the nose expect roasted malt, coffee, molasses, caramel, and chocolate. There is also a distinct, albeit subtle hop presence.

Taste: The same as the nose. The hop presence really helps provide a good balance in this beer. The alcohol comes forward, but for me is never a nuisance.

Mouthfeel: Smooth over the palate with a sweet finish. Medium-bodied.

Overall: I liked this beer. A beer of the month selection. The first beer I have tried from this California brewery.

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Photo of mj001jk
4.02/5  rDev +14.5%
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.

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +14%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +14%
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.

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Photo of Huffs
3.99/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Sam Adams glass, developed a short dark tan head which held a short time and had little lacing. Appearance was dark brown to black with the aroma complex and consisting of strong notes of smoke, coffee and chocolate with lesser notes of bread and malt. Taste was very chocolate with toffee and smoke hints and slight dry hop on the back. Mouthfeel was full and creamy with a dry finish.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.97/5  rDev +13.1%
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.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.95/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Typical porter brown pour capped with a modest tan foam about a pinky finger high not lasting long before tending to a thin collar ring and the lacing is etched about the glass with some ink blot sheeting.

Nice clean and darkly malty aroma with some tootsie roll chocolate and toffee breezed with a bit of smokey maple. It's not a huge nose, but what's there is clean and appetizing.

Taste is a near mirror display of the nose with a clean, smooth tone of chocolate malt over the top while some slight touches of toffee, maple, dates, raisin, and smokey puffs about it in the finish. Which has a subtle little finish of the smokey stuff dancing lightly with a leftover tangy smooth dark malt tone.

Smooth, semi creamy and firm, lighter medium body. For being labaled as an Imperial porter, the body doesn't come close to that which it is labeled. A bit to quick and thin where it needs to be lengthy and thicker. "That's what she said."

Overall, a smooth little subtle porter with some nice things going for it. And for the price per the bomber,$5.69 Cellars Roseville, its worth getting.

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Photo of JupiterJesus
3.92/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.91/5  rDev +11.4%
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.

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Photo of Billolick
3.88/5  rDev +10.5%
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

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Photo of ISmith87
3.87/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.85/5  rDev +9.7%
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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Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.8/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on-tap at Toronado in San Francisco. Pours pitch black with a very tan head. Smells slightly vinous with a touch of dark fruit, roastiness, and a touch of bitter espresso. Tastes smooth, a little sweet up front, followed by tangy dark fruit, some sherry-like notes, and a light touch of bitter chocolate. Very smooth in the mouth. Not bad, but the sherry note is a little overdone and distracts a bi from the rest of the flavors.

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Photo of mentor
3.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle left over after GABF judging and given to me as a reward for my volunteer efforts. Pours a finger and a half of fizzy light-brown head, held a bit more than a soda pop would. Pitch liquid without edging when held to light. Smells of cardboard oxidation, which is an aroma that I actually don't find particularly offensive. Black malt, chocolate malt, clean alcohol, vanilla, and blackberry.

Tastes robustly of dark malts and fruity esters layered on strong malt sweet. Malt flavors are cocoa nibs, scorch, and tame coffee. Fig, molasses, and earthy blackberry from something like Northern Brewer hops. The hop flavor works well to blend the other independent flavors together. Moderate hop bitterness and medium-chewy in the mouth. Roast rises slowly and works with scorch to dry the aftertaste while leaving a molasses sweet along the edge of the tongue. After less than a pint, the scorch is wearing; I will have a difficult time finishing the bomber.

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Photo of Seanibus
3.7/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep purplish black with a slight head. The aroma is roasted but fairly slight, with a rye-ish tang. The flavor is sweet and dark, with wood and dark caramel, a little cherry smoke, and a whiff of booze. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth with a very dry finish and a woody bitterness on the back end.

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Bonfire - Imperial Porter from Napa Smith Brewery
80 out of 100 based on 56 ratings.