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Bonfire - Imperial Porter - Napa Smith Brewery

Not Rated.
Bonfire - Imperial PorterBonfire - Imperial Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

99 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 99
Reviews: 56
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 15.45%
Wants: 4
Gots: 5 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: clickpush on 12-05-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 99 | Reviews: 56 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

t0rin0, Nov 22, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.43/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, caramel, and slight cocoa aromas. Taste is much the same with a char flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp but almost flat mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the smell and mouthfeel each leave something to be desired for the style.

UCLABrewN84, Mar 20, 2013
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.

metter98, Oct 16, 2012
Photo of brentk56
3.2/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a translucent coffee color with ruby highlights; the two fingered head pancakes the liquid and leaves a smattering of lace behind

Smell: Vaguely aromatic, with a surprisingly vinous character; some fusel alcohol and peat adds to the overall impression

Taste: Fruity opening, with prune and black grape flavors that are joined by a peaty, licorice aspect that moves in a charcoal direction by mid-palate; after the swallow, the char dominates, though the fruity elements return in the finish

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkable: In so many ways this beer appears to miss the mark - the mouthfeel is thin for an imperial and the flavor profile is missing the chocolate and dark bread elements; still drinkable and, I guess, a very different take on the style that is typical

brentk56, Jan 01, 2011
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.

BEERchitect, Oct 12, 2011
Photo of mikesgroove
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

mikesgroove, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of GRG1313
2.45/5  rDev -31.2%
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.

GRG1313, Nov 28, 2009
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle - $1.99 at Hop City in Atlanta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown body, a little flash of mahogany at the edges in the right light, and underneath a thin, tenuous, off-white head.

Smell: Roasty, toasty maltiness with a noted overtone of moist dark fruits and subtler hints of chocolate powder, caramel, and alcohol.

Taste: Well-toasted bread with a roasty coffee tone and some soft touches of bittersweet chocolate, even less when it comes to some mild caramel. Growing raisiny dark fruitiness. Lightly piney, spruce-like hop accents with a middling bitterness pairing with the roasted grains. Slight alcohol presence, picking up a tawny port hint. Predominately a trail of the bittersweet chocolate until the warming, lightly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Just a half-notch past medium carbonation.

Overall: It's OK. One of the better releases from the Napa Smith lineup, though that's not saying a whole helluva lot.

ChainGangGuy, Dec 15, 2011
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.

mactrail, Jun 30, 2012
Photo of kojevergas
2.96/5  rDev -16.9%
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

kojevergas, Jul 22, 2013
Photo of GClarkage
3.88/5  rDev +9%
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.

GClarkage, Mar 26, 2009
Photo of barleywinefiend
2.28/5  rDev -36%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured a deep brown with good carbonation and a tannish head that seemed to stick around but the pour seemed thin foran Imperial brew. Uh oh. Nose is some grain, roastiness, malt, bakers powder cocoa. Taste is thin, flat, over carbonated warming alcohol with some funky sourness and cocoa hidig until the end. Mouthfeel is thin, effervescent, warm and roasty with small hints of cocoa. Drinkability is not good. With a beer that boasts Imperial and 8 ABv with not good taste or mouthfeel I would find it very hard to recommend or finish this bottle. Compared to other Imp Porters around such as Pugsely or Full Sail this falls way, way short. I found this brew hard to drink after a few sips. Avoid.

barleywinefiend, Nov 08, 2009
Photo of Billolick
3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
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

Billolick, Feb 25, 2012
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

Georgiabeer, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of DoubleJ
3.33/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Napa Smith is showing up in SoCal...or I've never taken notice of this brewery. 22 ounce bottle, on to the beer:

Black like ink, whispy french vanilla colored head, thick, retaining itself well, yes. The nose gives me a little bit of clean hops, but where's my dark malt? I can smell molasses, and not much else from the malt. Call the nose okay.

The front half of my tongue doesn't get much, the back half gets very intense flavor. It's not the most well-made beer around, but it's doable. Black licorice, big hits of molasses, grape, and charred flavors. Plenty of hops as the beer dries. I'd say that this beer *just* hits the target. It feels fine in the mouth. Medium in volume.

Ummm, it's not bad. It's respectable.

DoubleJ, Mar 24, 2010
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.

Zorro, Nov 08, 2009
Photo of wrightst
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%

wrightst, Thursday at 03:41 AM
Photo of chinchill
3.79/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

chinchill, Feb 12, 2012
Photo of GarthDanielson
2.73/5  rDev -23.3%
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.

GarthDanielson, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of DrDemento456
3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

DrDemento456, Jun 20, 2012
Photo of tavernjef
3.95/5  rDev +11%
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.

tavernjef, Sep 24, 2011
Photo of Cyberkedi
4.15/5  rDev +16.6%
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!

Cyberkedi, Feb 26, 2012
Photo of Gobzilla
3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown with brown highlights that had a half finger of head a left good lacing sticking to the glass. The nose did have a touch of a bonfire but was really light. It was more sweet with chocolate and malts but did have slight molasses, cocoa, and hop notes. Bonfire was a bit more sweet than and hoppy with chocolatey accents alongside hops which I was not really expecting from a porter. The brew was medium body with a good amount of carbonation that had a sweet, silky, and slight hop bitter finish. It drank really well but I not too excited to try to seek this beer out again. I still have to try to taste more beers from this brewery to make a final judgement on the quality.

Gobzilla, Sep 10, 2010
Photo of popery
3.45/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle, home. Not bad but fairly boring for a big porter. Deep ruby with a head that puffs up and fades relatively quickly, leaving no lacing. Aroma is plums, apricots, apples, chocolate, very mild roast and some alcohol - it's pretty good, leaning toward the fruity malt side of things without entirely leaving the chocolate/roast out. Flavor is sweet and fairly boring. There's none of the ashy flavors of most good porters or the rich fruitiness of others. It's just kind of a mild sweetness with a bit of hops in the finish. Feel is good enough. This is a fine beer and not a bad price, but it's just another relatively boring beer from Napa Smith.

popery, Mar 30, 2010
Photo of scottfrie
3.48/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

scottfrie, Feb 16, 2012
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Bonfire - Imperial Porter from Napa Smith Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 99 ratings.