Black Lightning Porter | Lightning Brewery

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Black Lightning PorterBlack Lightning Porter
76 Ratings
Black Lightning PorterBlack Lightning Porter

Brewed by:
Lightning Brewery
California, United States

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by dbalsock on 02-07-2007

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 76 |  Reviews: 54
Reviews by RustyDiamond:
Photo of RustyDiamond
3.97/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black Lightning burst out of the bottle into my SA special glass! Really carbonated...4 fingers of tan froth real quick like.
Dark, brown blackish appearance...cocoa aroma.
First sip was huge...tons of flavor smacking me in the mouth. Cocoa, alcohol fumes, hop bitterness. Somehow the taste had a flash of creaminess before the sharp, hoppy finish. Big alcohol taste with that common Baltic Porter spice (?) Licorice, anise? Not too sure. Nice whiff of smoke flavor as the ale warmed up too.
Definitely a West Coast take on a Baltic Porter...aggressive and flavorful.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of magictrokini
3.88/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark mahogany with a thick, cascading tan head of tiny bubbles. Heavy caramel nose with chocolate-covered malted milk balls. Rich, yet very drinkable taste. Rich coffee, baker's chocolate, and milk chocolate are prevalent. A strong molasses/simple syrup sugar flavor is there as well with cream. A biting, sour finish attibuted to the hops. Nice beer.

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Photo of chinchill
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, undated, served in a snifter at about 50-55F.

This porter pours nearly black with a small, dark tan head that has weak retention but leaves good lacing.

The complex aroma has an attractive mix of malted and dark roasted grains with hints of toffee and dark fruits.

Flavor: strong, complex and rich, with a load of dark roasted grains. Clear suggestions of both coffee and dark chocolate add to the flavor. Some burnt grain with a touch of smoke but in proportion to the other dark roasted grain flavors. Lightly acidic. Hops not obvious except in the mildly bitter balance of this bitter+sweet porter. (3.8+)

Feel: Soft, low carbonation. Full bodied. Creamy smooth.

O: an extreme porter with fairly well hidden alcohol.

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Photo of pwoods
4.06/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Mikesgroove for this brew.

22oz. brown bomber poured into a snifter.

A: Pours black, opaque. Huge dark khaki head forms damn tight and stays up for a very long time. Good lacing in the snifter.

S: Very grapy, like grape soda. Sweet but fruit sweet. Some notes of milky chocolate and a touch of bitter chocolate.

T/M: Nice alcohol. Not stinging, just a bit of warmth, but very flavorful. More of the juicy dark fruit and grape soda flavor, as well as the milky chocolate and depth from bitter coffee but more like the grounds. Body is medium full and carbonation is above average.

D: Even with the alcohol, this will be imbibed quite easily.

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Photo of InfernoBoss
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of mbunje
3.68/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz poured into a Tulip Glass

A - Very dark with a medium brown 1/4" head. Cannot see through this at all....head recedes to a thin film. Not much lacing. Looks promising

S - Sweet roasted malt, coffee. A little esthery/alcohol in the background

T- Mildly sweet coffee/roasted taste with some dark fruit, a mild hop bitterness in the end

MF - Pretty highly carbonated for a stout, but with tight bubbles (Euro yeast?) Not overly thick or syrupy. Very pleasant and medium bodied

D - Very drinkable for an 8.5% ABV. The smell and taste are pretty mild, but overall drinkability is good. $0.30 per oz. is moderately priced for this style.

Overall, not a style leader, but very pleasant to drink and worth a try.

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Photo of mrelizabeth
3/5  rDev -18.5%

Photo of augustgarage
3.79/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood. Served in a generic wide-mouth tulip.

Bistre body with a dark chocolate finger of cream. Admirable retention as I stare at the beer waiting for it to warm a bit. Diving in, the lacing is a mi of solid sheets, whispy arcs, and a corner of big soapy bubbles. When the glass was nearly empty, a gentle swirl brought back the collar right away.

Earthy, malt ball, carob-tinged aroma - but very subdued overall. Even when it warmed up, everything was very neutral in the nose.

Roast malt, hazlenuts, and light duona on the palate. Faint caraway and pepper in the finish. Dry, almost woody throughout. While rich, the malt lacks the depth and potency of the best examples of the style. Very clean profile.

Smooth, medium-bodied, and very slightly sticky (a fine film seems to adhere to your teeth and gums).

A solid offering from this brewery, worth a try if you get the chance...

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Photo of GRG1313
4.05/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a nice tan head. Cooked pineapple and candy sugar nose with sweet light coffee undertones and sweet black licorice nose.

Very creamy, thick mouth feel with flavors of burnt sweet coffee/espresso with undertones and black licorice in the mid palate. A bit of grassy, light grapefruit hops but the "stout character" of this beer really overcomes any real hop character, although the hops are there; just subtle and really helping the balance.

Finishes with flavors of "chewed espresso beans." Really nice character, balance and flavors. Interesting, smells like Porter but tastes like a wonderful stout. The coffee finish goes on forever!

I'm a bit surprised that more people aren't talking about this beer. It's very rich and full and with lots of flavors. It might even do well with just a bit of age.

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Photo of Bung
3.2/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22 oz. Heavy black pour, bubbly tan head. Laces ok.

Aroma, Dark chocolate, roast malt, plum, port.

Taste, quite a husky roast to me. Overpowers it quite a bit, dark chocolate and malt and blasted away with ashy coffee and burnt toast. There were some dark red fruits in there as well, but again kind of overshadowed.

Solid medium body, carbonation was at a nice level. No real alcohol presence. Struggled to finish this though from the acridity.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.02/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with a half inch tan head that lingered around for a long time. There's also a good amount of lacing. The aroma is nice, the brew smells like roasted/burnt malt, coffee, chocolate and dark fruit. Taste is similar to the aroma, it tastes like roasted/burnt malt, dark fruit, bittersweet chocolate, molasses, coffee, and a bit of licorice. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's somewhat creamy and has moderate carbonation. I think it's a good, bitter roasty porter. $11.49 a bottle.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Great Divide tulip glass. Pours an opaque black. Great three finger fine medium tan head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of roasted malt, some char and coffee. Flavor is very well integrated roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, slight char. Finishes with roasted malt and a nice hop bite. Somewhat subdured flavors, but so nicely blended that this was a pleasure to drink. Medium bodied with some creaminess. I liked this a lot and hope to try other styles from this brewery.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.58/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First off a big thanks goes out to Joey for this one. I had never even heard of it before and he told me I just had to try it, and I am very glad that I did.
A 22oz bomber that was served at cellar temperature and poured into a Middle Ages imperial pint glass.

A - Poured a very dark brown, essentially black with an enormous head of chocolate colored lace and foam. It seriously must have reached a height of close to four inches before finally settling down and relaxing to a nice layer of approximately an inch in height. But, it did leave behind a rather nice calling card, literally tons of thick spider web like, chocolate colored lace, just literally tons of the stuff, so much that you could not see though the glass and I literally had to scrub it clean the next day, it was really impressive. The look on it was so thick and rich, I mean this was clearly a stout, but yet it was a Baltic Porter, what to do in this situation, you go on and you figure it out.

S - What the shit is this all about? The aroma on this is intense and that is the understatement of the year. The first wave came rolling through with rich creamy chocolate goodness. Intense wave of it at first, in then turned bitter on me, bringing out hints of coffee and some kind of tart fruit. I really could not place it at first, well or later either. It was sort of like a cherry smell, but not nearly as sweet, really bitter and sharp, but definitely fruity. As it warmed it started to get even more complex, brining on hints of licorice now, nice black licorice, really making things interesting, then maybe It was a touch of smoke that was coming through, whatever it was, it was nice and dark. There was no hint at all of any kind of ABV in here; this was just a rich dark smell that was about it. This was now starting to get very interesting and I was looking more and more at this as something a wee bit bigger then I thought it was going to be.

T - I have to preface this by saying right off the bat that this was outstanding. Very few things blow me away, if I have not seen it coming, this was one of them. The first flavor that hit me was a huge wave of chocolate, deep bitter dark chocolate that came off so thick I was honestly a bit surprised by the depth here. Lots of flavors now mixing in as well. That odd dark fruit from the aroma was not easily picked up in the flavor, and I am still at a loss to figure out what it actually is. It really comes across as a dark cherry kinda of flavor, but there is no sweetness to it, very weird, with a good bit of twang to it as well, this will really make your day. No hint of alcohol in here what so ever, just smooth as silk. Lots of earthy and woody tones starting to come through now, oak maybe, and some molasses can be picked up in it as well, really adding a touch of sweetness. A good bit of coffee coming into play now as well, very bitter coffee, almost like coffee grinds type of a flavor, really well done and blended almost perfectly with everything else. Not overly strong, just totally complex. Lots of licorice, especially in the finish as we draw to the end here. There was a bit of a hoppy touch to it as well, though nothing hugely pronounced, but nonetheless enough to really dry out the finish nicely and prolong that long tart fruity flavor. The flavor on this one was nothing short of extraordinary, really quite in depth and a lot fuller then I really thought it was going to be. I am really starting to get blown away by this one now.

M - The feel on this one as well was just superb, and soo much more then I had expected from it. A very rich and creamy feel this was easily a full-bodied ale; there was no question about that at all. Such a great carbonation profile, tons of tightly packed streams of carbonation. This was simply astounding. It never got dull, or thin, hell it never lightened up; this was a serious beer here.

D - Now this is where it gets interesting. As big and complex as this was, it went down like a milk shake, a fine tasting and strong one at that. It was super smooth and full-bodied, but it was not overly filling. There was no hint of the alcohol in here at all; none and that can be dangerous. The flavor was soo smooth and so well done it was honestly amazing how good it really was. I would have easily had another one if I had another one if the house to have. It was just that good.

Overall I have to say not only should you try and pick this up if you see one at your local store, but you should actively seek this one out. It was really insane how good it was. I really have not had many a Baltic Porter that could hold a candle to this. There was just something about it that was soo much better then others I have had. I would love to get more, and in fact have more on the way. I cannot wait to try this one again, and share it with some friends this time. This is one to go get and I really feel we will be hearing more from this brewery in the very near future.

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Photo of wcudwight
4.01/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to mikesgroove and the Kansas Jayhawks for the beer.
Wow what a beautiful beer. I can't think of any other word to describe it except sexy. Pitch dark black with a creamy 3 finger mocha colored head.
Wonderful aroma that interplays between wheat, grains and coffee beans.
Much more chocolate in the flavor than I got in the nose. Nice harsh hoppy bitterness in the finish which I also didn't smell. Maybe my nose is screwed up today. Rich coffee flavors and a hint of chocolate covered cherries. This beer has a lot going on for it. This is one of the top Baltic Porters I've had. It would be the top baltic porter except the carbonation is a bit much. It kind of reminds me of seltzer water in the mouthfeel. That's my only complaint and with that said it's still a beer worth seeking out. This was a nice suprise beer for me. Thanks mikesgroove.

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Photo of Dijeriduster
2.78/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Small Bar SD

A - Dark with a hint of brown and a nice thick and creamy head that was quite brown from the grains. Tender had a hell of a time pouring it but once the head settled it was nice.

S - Oddly sour with a hint of astringency. Some of the roasty flavours come thru too. More than a hint of booze.

T - Strange pucker taste happening. Not like a true sour beer, but like the astringency of the grain bill and a bit of their soury lager yeast. Tons of booze present that cuts right thru the roastiness.

M - Funny mouthfeel in that it was thick and fluffy on the tongue but finishes quite dry.

O - Interesting interpretation of a baltic porter. I like that the yeast character is present, but the astringency and heavy booze presence makes this much less drinkable. Good idea, not the best follow thru.

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Photo of rallison
4.2/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Great black color with a 1 finger light brown head. Lots of lacing as well.

S: Lots of dark chocolate with a bit of coffee. Smells very good.

T: Roasted coffee/espresso, dark chocolate. Some dark fruits in the background. A nice warming alcohol presence rounds it out well. Hops add a nice bite at the end. I love the interplay between all the flavors here. Excellent. After having a fair bit, the alcohol does become noticeable. I think maybe 4-6 months aging would round this out just right.

M: Rich, good carbonation. Warming alcohol. Mouthfeel is just as I like it.

D: Being this tasty, I find it extremely drinkable.

Highly recommended. One excellent Baltic Porter from an under-appreciated San Diego. If you can get this, try it!

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Photo of scottoale
3.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this ontap at O'Brien's, served in the usual pint glass. This one poured a very dark brown with nearly a wisp of head and mild carbonation.

Light aroma of toffee, caramel, licorice, coffee and chocolate...a bit of sweet dark fruit and molassas. Smells good and gets better as it warms some.

The taste is much like the smell with some added prune and brown sugar, coupled with some underlying alcohol that brings this brew to interest. A little light in the body for a beer of this size, the mouthfeel is somewhat smooth, yet slick.

Good on the drinkability, it's the best thing I've tasted from Lightning so far...keep it up.

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Photo of yokken
4/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of Thorpe429
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of JohnCoctosin. Served in a Mikasa tulip.

Pours black with a thin mocha head that dissipates pretty quickly without leaving much behind. The nose carries some heavy roasted malt and espresso. Good amount of dark chocolate in the background and a fair amount of licorice as well. The flavor brings some heavy roast and bold coffee to the forefront. Anise/licorice is there as well. Body is medium and slightly harsh. Roasted dryness and a bit of an ashy character. Not a bad porter.

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Photo of riored4v
4.15/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 5/20/10

Poured into a pint glass. Pitch black body with a 1 finger, dense, tan head. Good lacing. Had a nice velvety appearance to the head.

Smell was of burnt malt, licorice, molasses and chocolate. Some raisins, mellow bitterness. Slightly sweet.

Taste had lots of chocolate and molasses. Burnt malt bitterness in the finish. Seems to be a mild bitterness throughout the body of the beer, earthy in flavor. Good amount of chocolate. Slightly boozey. Hints of vanilla as well.

Mouthfeel was medium/heavy while the carbonation was medium/low. Sticky and slick mouthfeel.

Drinkability was good but the abv/booze shows a bit.

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Photo of hopdog
4.12/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle.

Pouerd a dark, dark brown color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of lots of chocolate, caramel, roast, lighter coffee, and licorice. Tastes of chocolate, lots of it, dark fruits, roastiness, caramel, and lighter coffee. Medium sweet with a light bitter finish. Alcohol content well hidden.

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Photo of GarretD
3.75/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of PDXHops
2.97/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into a tall Ephemere tulip. One of those sneaky huge tan heads that suddenly erupts to 4 fingers. Pretty dense, plenty tenacious and leaves a ton of soapy lacing behind. Nice and dark down below.

The tangy roast in the nose veers slightly into sour territory, overwhelming the coffee and modest chocolate notes. In terms of variety, the flavor profile shows more promise, with dark chocolate and fruitiness in particular being more developed. Kind of a mishmash of flavors that doesn't entirely work, though. The combo of astringency, slight sourness, char and a pronounced earthy bite don't exactly jive. Aggressive carbonation blasts through an otherwise pleasantly smooth body. A middling take on the style fresh, although I wouldn't be too surprised if this was one of those beers that improved dramatically with age.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.58/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The pour is a deep dark one, black in color with a nice tan head on top.

S: The usual coffee and roast aromas as you would expect with a hint of licorice and some alcohol presence.

T: This one doesn't quite taste like any other porter that I've come across, but I cannot quite pinpoint the reason. Certainly some roasted malt, coffee, and dark chocolate. But there is also an almost tart character to it, yet it is not sour.

M: The body is medium with a fairly generous amount of carbonation for the style and ABV.

D: It would seem as though this beer might have been exhibiting some early stages of infection, but I cannot say for certain. There seemed to be some potential here, however.

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Photo of dbalsock
3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

App: Dark brown (almost black) with a nice tan head and very nice head retention.

Smell: caramel, coffee and a very light hint of hops comes through on the aroma.

Taste: Fairly intense caramel and coffee aided by a slight chocolate taste. The alcohol is also fairly strong, but makes the rest of the tastes stand out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with great carbonation and a very nice roasted malt bitterness on the finish. The alcohol is noticeable as well.

Drinkability: The alcohol keeps me from wanting this again after a first glass, but the beer is nice enough for me to try again. I imagine it being very nice on cask, but I don't think the brewery is doing that yet.

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Black Lightning Porter from Lightning Brewery
Beer rating: 3.68 out of 5 with 76 ratings