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Donkey Venom | Bellwoods Brewery

very good
10 Reviews
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Donkey VenomDonkey Venom

Brewed by:
Bellwoods Brewery
Ontario, Canada | website

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Who knew the venom of a magical donkey would taste so good? Aged in barrels with Brettanomyces and other bugs for 6-12 months, what was once a strong porter has emerged anew. Donkey Venom presents a well-rounded range of flavours, balancing roasted malt and tart characteristics. Deceivingly drinkable for its high ABV, this tart porter is among our more unique offerings.

Added by MasterSki on 10-19-2013

User Reviews
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Reviews: 10 | Ratings: 50
Photo of Bunman3
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The last bottle of a CANBIF trade. Lovely taste, feel and appearance. Deep dark, with a substantial brown head. The overall mix of roasted malt, dark chocolate and tart cherry make this an extremely unique beer. It is very substantial - the sort of thing you would want to save for special occasions.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.08/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the brewery. Date October 2015. Served in a wine glass.

A - A dark mocha foam settles to a thick collar and near-complete cap, leaving behind minimal lacing. Very dark brown that approaches black, but reveals some transparent mahogany at the edges of the glass.

S - Roasted malts, baker's chocolate, some biscuit, hints of vanilla, and notes of tart cherry and musty funk. Perhaps a hint of some grape-based beverage; definitely not aged in whiskey barrels, and fairly low in wood presence in general. Well-hidden alcohol.

T - Taste has more of the tart cherry and vinous fruit notes, with a slightly plasticy brett note late. Base porter is less present here, providing notes of roast, char, and dark chocolate. Less sweetness than the aroma.

M - Hearty, medium, body with surprisingly zesty carbonation. Dry, roasty, and laden with tannins. Again, well-hidden booze.

D - Split a bottle with the wife and had no problems. Wild porters and stouts are generally my favorite style, but this is one of the best examples of the style. Would happily drink again, just not often.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.6/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at the Bellwoods bottle shop for around $9.00 or so for a 500ml bottle. Pricy to say the least

A- Opens well and pours a 2" high brown head that films out in a minute. Very dark brown

S- Lots of brett. Sour

T- Sour. This is a confused porter. Does not have the undertones of a porter nor the malt backbone. Not a good blend at all. Mismatched flavors.

M- Dry and tart

O- Not very good. If this was the LCBO it would be returned. Not a good blend at all and am glad I didn't buy two

Food Pairing

This ok brew went well with.... Pad Thai


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Photo of mick303
4.14/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from the brewery, probably about a year old, no date. Pour is a dark brown near black with a solid initial head and good retention of film.

S - of the start there is a nice kick of brett, horse blanket, hay/barnyardy, lemony notes with a slight acidity. With a dry roasty malt character, dark roast coffee, woody, with some sticky molasses notes, coffee and molasses in a barn loft would sum it up well.

T - similar profile with a bit bretty character, gentle acidic feel w sour lemon. Also coffee beans and a woody dark malt character, Roastiness is actually quite mild but the considerable spiciness, and maybe smokiness? cigar tobacco?, also sour cherries, play really nicely into the bretty barny character which melds with the deeper flavours. Gentle tartness but with a nice horsey/hayloft character. Balance is quite nice and satisfying.

M - very nice, big but the strength is hidden. Also while this substitutes a creamy porter for an acidic brett touch, I find it works well and adds a uniquely refreshing aspect to this beer. Moderate carbonation. Pleasant, with a robust profile.

Very enjoyable and balanced beer, all the flavours are there, don't overwhelm each other and play off very nicely, it does have a significant brett character and acidity so be warned if looking for a traditional porter. It does have a nice dark malt, coffee, licorice spice to it though with is complimented by the fruity and spice notes off the yeast. One to try and I would recommend it. Very unique, and very delicous

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Photo of mmapes
4/5  rDev -1%

Wow, what an interesting beer! (Thanks to Andrew for the trade.) I'm not usually a fan of Brett beers, but this one doesn't have any of the dirty aftertaste of a brett-forward beer. In addition, the flavor is dry, a little tart, a lot like a red wine. Interesting stuff, without the barnyard taste I dislike about bretts.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.34/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque black with a modest coffee colored head that lasts a good while. Foam and chunks of lace drape the glass. Tartness, acrid black malt and coffee mix with a bit of barnyard funk in the nose. The taste is an interesting mix of lactic tartness and brett funk and roasted malt and coffee flavors. Berry and citrus fruityness shows in the background. A strong bready malt balast keeps any tartness from getting out of control. Hops are basically awol throughout – just a bit of requisite bitterness. The mouthfeel is full bodied and mouth coating with a moderate carbonation level. The finish is roasty and dry with a bit of tartness. The alcohol is very well hidden for 9.5.

This is a very interesting Baltic Porter. Lots of brett flavor and barrel aging funkyness. Highly recommended for a unique experience.

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Photo of peensteen
4.01/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nearly jet black, ring of tan head, some spots of lace as well. Smell is quite funky, cherry and vinious oak jump out, lemony and a bit of musty brett, chocolate is in there as well with a bit of roast. Taste is tart and funky up front, more of that lemony-cherry from the nose, oak and wine like flavours, washes away with chocolate and coffee, some roast flavours, oaky aftertaste, more porter flavour as it warms. Medium carbonation, drying medium body. Pretty good stuff here, similar to No Sleep Til Brooklyn with a bit more funk but still good in its own right.

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Photo of biegaman
4.04/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I'd love to know how the brewery came up with the name 'Donkey Venom' - safe to say, you won't see any trademark infringement lawsuits over this one. Safe to say also that 4 months confinement in the barrel probably didn't turn this porter any darker or opaque than it already was; this is solid black, its only colour being the brownish tint of its head.

The aroma shares one or two characteristics with a wet dog. Barrel-aging the beer with Brettanomyces has accomplished exactly what it set out to do: funk-i-fy things. This porter smells like curdled chocolate milk (creamy and chocolatey but with a soured lactose twang) with the oak contributing a complimenting pinch of vanilla.

Barnyard 'funk' and malty remnants of coffee and black licorice are impressed immediately but it's the notes of sour cherries and over-ripe plums that prove to have the most staying power. Its faint rum cake-like flavour makes it slightly vinous tasting (overlooking the roast qualities, of course). It tastes like a cherry- and Kahlua-infused hot chocolate. Ginger or cinnamon too?

Despite an enthusiastic start the 'funk' proves surprisingly docile in the long run; warming brings more 'coffee and cream' sweetness and less 'farm animal funk'. As is typically the case with the big bad Brett, alcohol is less a factor than yeast; the texture is leathery and the finish tart like festering fruits. The bitterness of raw cocoa beans is dusted over the finish.

The only thing I've tried that compares to Donkey Venom (quality- and character-wise) is Jolly Pumpkin's Madrugada Obscura. Considering that brewery specializes exclusively in sours and Bellwoods still merely experiments with them, that's a mighty impressive fact. It is an offering as unique as its name and as good as you'd expect from one of Canada's best microbreweries.

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Photo of ludachris
3.99/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A soapy cap of khaki coloured head rests on top of its nearly black body. Only a glimpse of its truly deep chestnut brown hue is revealed by light. Alcohol legs stick to where the head once was as it recedes.

The Brett is the dominating character in the nose. It's tangy, tart, and dry. Sweet cherry skin and even wet dog is there as well. Right behind it comes soft oaky vanilla. Underneath Brett's funky influence is the essence of a big Porter. Cocoa, dark chocolate, and sweet alcohol all manage to make an appearance. It's a little bit roasty and a little bit nutty as well. This is a very complex smelling Porter.

As soon as hits your lips you get the tingly pinch of Brett and its tart and dry ways. I find its character more akin to green grape skins in the taste with a wine-like dryness. The influence of the barrels encases everything with a soft and subtle sweet oakiness, helping to round out some of the intensity coming from both the Brett and the alcohol. The alcohol itself gives all the flavours a bit of punch and leaves a long warming feel in the chest. Its Porter quality is an underlying factor. There's some roastiness, some nuttiness, and a little bit of chocolate that becomes more apparent as it nears the finish.

A constant I've noticed in Bellwoods beers is how clean the feel is on all of them and this is of no exception. Its good drinkability is a result of this. The body is medium to full with a sticky dryness and a pinch of astringency.

In my opinion, the craft beer scene in Ontario and several other provinces are a few years behind our neighbours to the South. However, Bellwoods and beers like this are helping to close this gap. Their willingness to be bold, daring, and innovative, as demonstrated by their bottled version of a 9.5% barrel aged Porter innoculated with Brett not only legitimizes Bellwoods spot as one of the best in Ontario, but Ontario's craft beer scene as a whole and how far it's come in recent years. As much as I enjoyed this, I respect their effort even more. Well done Bellwoods!

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Photo of jrenihan
4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On-cask during Cask Days. This is the Lost River Baltic Porter aged in barrels with Brett.

Beer is black with a minimally-sized tan head.

Nose betrays a slight tartness, along with cocoa and oak.

Taste is very nice. Moderately sour, with cocoa, cherry and oak. A bit of roasted malt. Yum.

Full bodied, low carbonation.

Overall, very nice stuff. Look forward to more of this when Bellwoods releases it properly.

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Donkey Venom from Bellwoods Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 10 ratings.