Bourbon Cask Aged Black Watch Cream Porter | Portland Brewing Company

very good
32 Ratings
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Bourbon Cask  Aged Black Watch Cream PorterBourbon Cask  Aged Black Watch Cream Porter

Brewed by:
Portland Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-03-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 32 |  Reviews: 32
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.18/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2003 bottle date. Pours with a thick brown head that rests on top of a black beer. Aromas of vanilla & oak & some bourbon waft from my glass. Upon the first taste I get roasted malt character, then toasted oak notes followed by vanilla & a certain buttery flavor (which, I don't think is diacetyl induced, perhaps it is oak derived). The bourbon barrel really dominates the flavor profile, the porter is not quite strong enough to stand up to it. A little less barrel age would have left this a bit more balanced. Interesting idea but the execution was a bit lacking.

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Photo of tfinn
3.32/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was a big fan of Portland Brewing back in the mid 90s; my girlfriend (now wife) and I used to enjoy mactarnahan's and zigzag quite a bit. But the last few years either my palate has changed, or there's been some fundamental change at Portland Brewing, and after a friend pointed it out to me, I've noticed a sugary "sheen" to everything they've been brewing recently.

I saw the 2003 limited edition and crossed my fingers.

The bourbon barrel aging definitely does impart a unique aroma. There's a distinct element to it that I've smelled before, but I can't recall the context. It's quite pleasant, but not terribly complex.

Color is very dark, although I can detect a reddish twinge. The finely bubbled head dies down quickly and provides little to no lacing on my glass.

Taste? It's not bad. There is a relatively strong coffee flavor which fades to toffee / caramel, but honestly I expected more balls for the price and the fuss. It just kinda does its thing and leaves with an overly lactic caramel tail.

The sheen is still there. So sad.

What happened, Portland Brewing?

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Photo of Crosling
3.4/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3


Nose of mainly vanilla, along with toffee, caramel, coffee beans, dark cherries and infused bouron.

Dry and woody, very thin body, along with notes of vanilla, chocolate and dark fruits and finishes with a lingering taste of bourbon.

This was okay.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.48/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22 oz. Bottle

Appearance: This beer had a deep ebony appearance as it sat in the glass. There were some dark caramel hints around the edges if it was held up to the light. The tan head rose up quickly to three fingers, even with an easy pour. It was course, though, and disappeared quickly, leaving a rough layer of bubbles lingering on top of the brew. The lacing was patchy at best.

Smell: The bourbon definitely came through on the nose. It dominated at times, but was not overpowering. It intermingled with other aromas of cocoa, coffee, vanilla, and roasted malt.

Mouthfeel: Rather thin-bodied and watery. It was also over-carbonated, which didn't help the mouthfeel any.

Taste: Initially, the flavor was sweet chocolate, vanilla, cream and a light touch of roasted malt. Then on the finish came the bourbon flavor. It lingered into the aftertaste where it was joined by a stronger, roasted flavor. Occasionally, the bourbon overpowered the other flavors and I found this rather distracting. But there were other sips where everything balanced out well.

I had been looking forward to trying this beer for months, but it didn't quite live up to what I was expecting. While still an enjoyable brew, it was thin in both consistency and flavor. Plus, 22 ounces of over-carbonated beer made me feel bloated as hell. Not bad, but not worth the $7.99 ($6.79 with discount) that I paid for it.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.51/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is almost black. I see shades of ruby though. A medium tan head is erected upon the pour and sticks around for about a minute before it becomes a thin film. Sporadic rings are left for lace. Aroma is not very strong. Some faint barrel character. A little bourbon. Milk chocolate. Pretty average though. The body of this beer is medium at best. Mouthfeel is quite smooth. The flavors are so mellow and subtle. I was looking for something a little more pronounced in this beer, but what is there is pretty nice. Lactic sweetness. Slight winey character. A little oak. And just a tad of roasted bitterness. All in all, decent, but I was expecting more from this given the style, limited availability, price and effort I put in to get it.

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Photo of mcallister
3.55/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a nice looking porter especially considering it's age. Dark ruby with tootsie roll tones. A fully carbonated pure mocha head is large but fades quickly and leaves some lace. Some floaties are there as should be. Could have decanted a little better.

Sweet Kentucky bourbon aromas dominate with a big toasty vanilla oak and black cherry not far behind. Hints on licorice and stale coffee with an ever so slight bit of bakers chocolate squares.

This beer is still good but is past it's prime. If not for the bourbon aging it would probably be dead. Mainly bourbon with hints of chocolate and coffee, a bit of vanilla, anise, black tea, spicey qualities with an herbacious feel.

Mouthfeel is thin and somewhat dissapointing. If this beer is left on some shelves I'd definitely buy a bottle for sample or even to taste and experience with others as depending on aging I think this could be hit or miss.

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Photo of rkhaze
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 release. Poured a real dark chocolate brown with a huge creamy tan head that dissapated rather quickly. Didn't leave a lot of lace. Aromas of chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts and an almost oaky grassiness.
Tasted of chocolate, coffee and roasted malt. Finished with an earthy tangy dry oakiness and some bourbon. I could certainly taste the cask but not so much the bourbon. Other bourbon aged beers I have had in the past were more upfront with the whole caramel/vanilla/bourbon flavor profile.
Creamy yet thin mouthfeel and lots of carbonation lead to a fairly drinkable beer. Different but worth a try.

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Photo of aracauna
3.82/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark black with a smallish, creamy tan head. The bourbon aging is evident in the aroma and smells like coffee with oatmeal laced with bourbon. You can taste a good bit of the wood in the flavor along with a touch of dark chocolate. I’m not sure how this would stand up on it’s own. It seems to be lacking a bit of body, but the whiskey doesn’t completely overpower this and I’m enjoying it.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – Very dark brown, almost black, with a decent tan head that left little pits on top of the body.

Smell – This is almost like a cookies-n-cream mix of dark and white chocolate with a milky, bready malt. There’s a noticeable dose of sugar in there as well, but this one is mostly creamy white/dark chocolate with maybe a hint of coffee.

Taste – This is quite interesting. A hop balance comes out at the taste, making this one well-balanced indeed. And, the chocolate flavors go way back, almost out of sight, replaced by a tangy almost light sherry flavor. It’s very good.

Mouthfeel – Medium-bodied with some light carbonation and very refreshing. It’s not a big hop busting porter, but it’s balanced.

Drinkability – This went down well. It’s probably off a little bit from my personal preferences, but a class act for sure that will have many fans.

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Photo of RedDiamond
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opaque with a retained head. The aroma and flavor mirror one another closely, making the smell and the taste synergistically inseparable. The flavor is certainly distinctive though some may not equate such distinction with desirability.

I enjoyed this beer for the quizzical invitation it delivers to travel beyond familiar territories. There is an obvious whiskey-like bent here that is either an exotic enhancement or a cumbersome intrusion, depending on the run of your personal tastes.

“Cream” suggests smooth, but Blackwatch’s texture is more piquant than smooth, not creamy at all. From my notes: “It tastes like jewelry – sharp edged, semi-precious.” A curious assessment. Some may find such luster appealing. I myself don’t wear jewelry. All of which is to say that MacTarnahan’s bourbon cask aged Blackwatch Cream Porter (a mouthful) is a refined and distinctive brew that does not appeal to my personal tastes though I’m sure others may value it highly.

Another point I simply can’t pass by is a descriptive on the bottle noting that the beverage is “enhanced by slow aging in cask barrels.” So is there another type of aging process besides “slow aging”? Might we otherwise assume the beer was enhanced by “fast aging”?

Ultimately MacTarnahan’s Blackwatch Cream Porter is a fine beer. It needs little further refinement. Just a bit of editing.

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Photo of jtfest
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep, rich brown in color -- almost black in the glass -- with a smallish brown head that rapidly thins to a film. The aroma is sweet and malty with woody tones, but not as powerful as I'd expected (hoped?). The mouthfeel is thick, creamy, and slightly carbonated, with tastes of oak, coffee, and toasted tones. A little disappointing as I was expecting much greater bourbon/whiskey flavor, but very nice for what it is. It's definitely the regular Blackwatch kicked up a notch. Highly drinkable.

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Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hopdog for this...
Appears a black with a small light tan head that retains for a minute and spotty lacing left around the glass.
Smell is of anise, rich caramel, cocoa, cream, and milk sugar.
Taste is of the same aromas kicked down a slight notch.
Mouthfeel is creamy, and sugary smooth. A very enticing beer.

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

2003 Vintage

Pours a nice black color, little carbonation, small tan head, with some nice little islands. The nose is malty, bourbon, chocolate. The taste is sweet, malty, nice bourbon notes, with some nice oaky tones. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a very tasty brew for a 2003. Thanks Eric.

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Photo of genaro
4.07/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The experience started off with a big coffee colored head that was pretty constant throughout. The lace was excellent. The aroma was full of roasted coffee and caramel. The taste was smooth, sweet, milky, and rich with coffee with traces of caramel. I could have done with a little more hops for bittering and flavor to offset the sweetness and low carbonation, but that's just my taste. Definately a bit chewey, but a friend who tasted it with me suggested it was only one chew, her opinion. The finish was pretty sweet and just a little dry. I had difficulty in tasting anything of the cask wood (oak?) used for aging that was implied on the label. All in all a great dessert beer, but a bit heavy and rich for me. Definately worth trying though.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Dark black color. Large foamy white head. Aroma is chocolate, coffee and a touch of dark fruit. A medium to light bodied porter. Hops are slightly bitter. A very smooth tasting porter. Touches of oak and dried fruit are complemented by a bourbon-like sweetness. Perhaps a bit thin tasting for a porter, but I have been noticing this trait in a lot of porters lately, so it may just be me. A very drinkable winter warmer porter. Etched/painted beer bottle. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly sweet.

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Photo of jcalabre
4.22/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sampled a bomber of the 2003 bourbon barrel aged Black Watch.
Appearance: This brew pours black w/ orangish-red bricking. The head was tan & tightly bubbled. It quickly disappeared
Aroma: You can definitely smell the bourbon barrel and some vanilla.
Flavor: I tasted creamy vanilla with some roasted notes.
The body of this brew is pretty light for a porter. However, it is extremely drinkable and has a lot of nice complexity to it.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle. Pours a dark brown color , slight head fizzles fast but leaves a nice lace. Reeks of french vanilla, hot cocoa. A huge vanilla taste assaults the tongue with a roasted smoked malt flavor in the background. Super smooth, creamy mouthfeel.Very easy drinking, cream porter aptly describes this brew.


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Photo of ElGordo
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black color out of a 22oz bottle with a creamy, off-white head that dissipates relatively quickly. Mocha, toffee, maple, and sweet molasses on the nose. Flavor is amazingly complex. Elements of coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, and of course bourbon are prevalent. Finishes very smoothly with a mocha and/or bourbon flourish, depending on the temp. Colder it finishes with the bourbon, as it warms it's more of a mocha flavor. An amazing beer from one of my favorite breweries around. Blackwatch Porter without cask-conditioning is one of the better American dark beers, and the added element of the bourbon cask is simply amazing. Hats off to Kornheuser and the gang for this winner.

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Photo of magictrokini
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 bottle found at Keg & Bottle #2. Pours dark brown with a small tan head. Aroma is ripe with bourbon, vanilla, and malts. The taste is very rich; chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. The bourbon and barrel taste comes out in the end. There is a strange sourness in the aftertaste. Overall, a great porter that just didn't store well.

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Photo of IronDjinn
4.29/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up while in Vegas, the 2003 limited release. Poured from a 650 ml brown bottle, front and back labels are silk-screened on in a creamy/beige colour. The body is a dense black, with mahogany highlights when held up to direct light. Thin spongy tan head that settles out to a creamy ring. The aroma is amazing, vanilla, creamy milk chocolate, burnt malt, coffee, and bourbon, with light notes of wood. Like some fancy Italian dessert. The flavour is complex and rolls along in layers, like the undulating tide of some secluded lagoon--sit back in peace and serenity and let it slowly swell and crash across you. Roasted malt and dark chocolate up front, with a sour boozy kick shortly afterwards, then sweeter milk chocolate slowly swells up towards the middle where it starts melding into notes of capuccino and light vanilla, and somewhat of a sour cherry finish. A lot going on here. Mouthfeel is a little acidic from the bourbon presence, and a bit sticky on the finish, fairly light for such intense flavours. An intense experience of aroma and flavours, but not something I could drink on a regular basis, this needs to be broken out for special occasions. A big thanks to DESTRO for recommending this to me.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle with a painted label that reads "Limited Release Porter Aged In Bourbon Barrels 2003".

A thin, gleaming highlight of mahogany peeks out at the base of the glass from beneath an otherwise black body. the foamy tan head rises up full as it's poured, then gently settles to a short but solid cap. The retention is good and it maintains a 1/8" surface covering throughout most of the pint. A simple swirl of the glass brings the head back up to a 1/2" or more. Some initial, wide and crooked rings of lace add greatly to its appearance.

Notes of sweet chocolate, vanilla, coconut, and a coffee-like roastiness appear in the nose. It doesn't quite jump out at you, but it's quite pleasant and welcoming.

In the mouth it walks a fine line between crisp and creamy; always teetering but never falling to one side. The body is medium/full and the carbonation is gently restrained at maybe 2.3 or 2.4 volumes CO2/litre. As it warms it softens a bit, and slides gracefully across the tongue.

The bourbon cask aging is immediately evident at first sip with a bright note of vanilla upfront. As it warms across the palate some tropical fruit becomes apparent with cocoanut, pineapple, papaya and soft melon followed by notes of chocolate and coffee. At times it even displays an actual bourbon flavor. It finishes surprisingly dry considering the delicately balancing bitterness and amount of sweet malts present. It does leave some lingering sweet malt, however, along with a touch of wood and a light hint of drying alcohol.

Quite nice! An excellent example of how bourbon barrel aging can enhance the character of an already fine beer. It's very well done, adding just the right amount of vanilla and fruit without going overboard. Certainly worth trying!

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Photo of beernut7
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had been waiting anxiously to pop open this beauty since I ordered it from the West Coast. The pour is a deep mahogany with a creamy mocha head. The aroma of oak and bourbon is unmistakable with a background of nice mellow roasted malt. The body is creamy and heavy supporting an initial huge rounded complex flavor beginning with roast and chocolate notes and building to a very rounded bourbon flavor. The finish holds hints of vanilla. An absolutely excellent concoction that I cannot wait to find more of next season.

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Photo of ZAP
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Damn near pitch black...nice creamy tan head fades to little to nothing...nose is sweet cocoa, leather, some whiskey notes...body is medium to full...sits right in the mouth....

Taste is very enjoyable...cocoa beans..nice roasted flavor....some whiskey notes...easy drinking and tasty..expected more substance and higher gravity but a very well done porter...not an imperial porter by any means but a true treat to my buds...very easy drinking....better as it notch porter in my book...

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Photo of ark57
4.39/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It pours black with slight ruby tinges around the edges and a khaki colored head. It looks like any average porter or stout, but is much more. There is vanilla, coconut, and chocolate in the nose. It starts out sweet and creamy with some roasted malt (mostly chocolate and some coffee), and then the coconut and wood notes kick in. It finishes somewhat dry. It is lip smacking good. With the coconut and chocolate notes it sort of reminds me of a coconut pattie. Forget the candy, I would rather drink this beer.

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Photo of Charthepirate
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bomber labeled 2003.

Beer is dark black, with an off white/grey head. Head has a creamy appearance and leaves a nice, thick lacing. Lots of very small bubbles coming through in the carbonation.

The aroma is a delightful mixture of bourbon and , instead theres mostly a smell of mild hops, and coffee.

Initially the beer tastes sweet, with dark fruity esthers coming through. Following is a slight dryness, with some coffee notes. Quickly the flavor of the bourbon and wood mixes in. The combination of coffee and bourbon is WONDERFUL. It all finishes ince and warming, with the hops coming in at the back.

Feels nice and creamy in the mouth. Great stuff.

Great beer.

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Bourbon Cask Aged Black Watch Cream Porter from Portland Brewing Company
4.11 out of 5 based on 32 ratings.
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