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Cygnus X-1 | Flat Earth Brewing Company

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Cygnus X-1Cygnus X-1

Brewed by:
Flat Earth Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: English Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
English Porter made with all imported English malt and hops, except for the rye malt.

Added by tavernjef on 09-12-2007

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Reviews: 106 | Ratings: 208
Photo of kojevergas
3.07/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle into nonic willi glass in me friend's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average.

A: Pours a half finger khaki colour head of fair cream and thickness, but merely below average retention. Body colour is a solid dark black; nontransparent and opaque. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Chocolate, roast, hints of vanilla, dark malts, and some sweetness. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Chocolate, dark malts, a bit of vanilla, but not much roast. Simply built, but decently balanced. I want more complexity and subtlety from it, but I don't get it.

Mf: A bit thin for the style. Smooth and wet. Overcarbonated. Doesn't really complement the flavours. Too heavy on the palate for its lack of flavour.

Dr: Drinkable but not great for the style. Hides its ABV decently. I wouldn't want to finish the bottle by meself.

Low C+

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Photo of zeff80
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, black color with a one-finger, tan head of thin bubbly foam. It left some thin rings of lace.

S - It smelled of chocolate, toffee and caramel. Slightly floral, too.

T - It tasted of chocolate, some roasty notes with toffee. Just enough bitterness to add balance.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A light to medium bodied beer.

D - This is a really nice English-style porter. Very easy drinking and tasty.

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Photo of oline73
3.15/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color with a half finger of off white head. As the head fades it leaves a ring but no lacing.

Smell: Mild overall with some roast and dark chocolate notes. I'm getting some coffee like notes along with dark fruit.

Taste: Roasty up front with some mild dark chocolate. The malt sweetness has a hint of dark fruit like tartness to it. The finish is still tart and a bit roasty.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with aggressive carbonation that's a bit much. The finish is slightly dry.

Overall: I didn't get much from the rye. I can't say I was a big fan of this beer. I don't think I would want another.

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Photo of chinchill
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

16 oz can of this English style porter poured near black and near opaque with a good head. The roasty flavor is good but not up to the level of the very appealing aroma. Tasting does bring out some light smoke that adds to the dry finish. Suggestions of black coffee here rather than the toffee that's apparent in the nose.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

"In the constellation of Cygnus
There lurks a mysterious, invisible force
The Black Hole
Of Cygnus X-1"


This porter isn't even close to being a black hole, but it still looks good. A sandalwood hued crown of firm creaminess sits atop a beer that is pecan shell brown, unless backlit. It then becomes darkest russet with coppery orange trim. Nothing but positives so far.

X-1 smells incredible. First of all, I don't have to worry about getting the tip of my nose wet to appreciate it. Aromas of bittersweet chocolate, dark fruit and spicy rye burst out of the glass. Here's hoping the beer tastes as wonderfully complex as it smells.

According to the Flat Earth website, all of the ingredients (other than rye malt and water) are from the U.K. Excellent decision, because the final product tastes more like an English porter than an American one in some indefinable way. I could probably try to figure it out, but I'd rather just describe and enjoy the contents of the bottle.

For those used to over-the-top, American-style beer, X-1 is on the subtle side. Having said that, it's sneakily complex if one pays attention from beer entry to beer exit and beyond. I love the contrast between sweet (mild), bitter (also mild), lactic sour (moderate) and spicy (mild-moderate). Well done.

The flavor profile consists of well-toasted barley and a dash of rye, cocoa powder, ground coffee beans and a woodsy smokiness that barely creeps in on the back end. This is one of those beers that is gone in a flash because I keep tipping up the glass to try to figure out what makes it so delicious.

Given the style and ABV, the mouthfeel is a fraction thin. This really is the only attribute that could use some work. More malt should firm things up with no trouble at all. Despite the recent reports of bottle bombs, the carbonation is right on the money.

Cygnus X-1 is a terrific English porter that is only a bit more barley shy of blowing both my socks off rather than just the one. I will wait until I've had the other two Flat Earth beers that are in my cellar before passing final judgment on this relatively new brewery. So far, though, it looks like they have a bright future. Thanks feloniousmonk.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.15/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review from notes 4/8/11. Thanks to bwiechmann for sending this to me for winning his LIF.

A: Pours a very very deep brown, almost black with a chunky one finger head. Nice retention and some random bubbles patches left behind.

S: Lots of roasted/burnt malt with some coffee and hints of chocolate.

T: Overwhelmingly coffee flavored, which really is not my type of beer. There is also some chocolate and a little bit of sweetness.

M: Light to medium bodied, seemed a touch thin. Finishes a little dry.

O: Not a huge fan, mostly of the flavor profile. It was just too much coffee for me. If it had a little more chocolate or roast and was a little thicker, I think it would have done the trick for me.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 06/04/11 notes. Bottle shared by nmann08; thanks Nate. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip.

a - Pours a dark brown color with light carbonation evident and less than one inch of off white head.

s - Smells of roasted malts, chocolate, sweet fruit, toasted malts. Nice and sweet, I liked the nose.

t - Tastes of chocolate, roasted malts, sweet milk chocolate, and toasted malts.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth and easy to drink.

o - Overall a pretty nice porter. I liked the nose a lot and thought there was a lot of sweet chocolate. Would like to try again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.32/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Some confusion at first on this one...one source initially called it a "Canadian Bourbon-Infused Porter"...others set the record straight and dubbed it an English Porter, brewed with rye...that's more like it...so, I went and had one at Ye Olde Happy Gnome, and here's what I thought...

Poured to the top in a Flat Earth snifter/goblet...full-on blackness, thin ring of roasted cocoa head. Very nice.

Roasty nose, dark chocolate, some anise, molasses, slightly sweet and still toasty/roasty...the kind of porter-y aroma that makes me want to keep my nose in there and search out more delights.

Smooth, even-handed on the tongue...medium- bodied, rich in porter-y goodness, then dry sliding out. Some caramel peeps out in the flavor, nicely roasted, but I end up wanting more body from this guy.

Good effort, though...one of my favorite Flat Earths, and one I'll try again, for sure. Good to see more quality dark brews coming out from the locals.

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Photo of tempest
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fairly smooth and tasty porter. There's a hint of something like whiskey, probably rye, around the edges that really comes out as this beer warms (and really, you need to let this one warm up). The taste is a subtle mix of chocolate malts and espresso with a very smooth body that reminds me of Firestone Walker's Reserve porter. Not as big and bold as some American porters, but worth trying.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Bright black with a 2" light tan foam collar that clings to the glass providing thick lace.
S: Dark malt, chocolate, light grains.
T: This leans to the roast malts with light caramel flavors and has a big underlying grain flavor finishing dry.
F: Medium full body, medium carbonation.
O: An easy to drink, dryer porter

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber received from WankerWeasel. Thanks!

A: Deep brown with ruby red highlights. Dense, frothy head that crackles like a sulfur pit

S: A wonderful roasty aroma with coffee, roasted nuts, caramel. Very good

T: Roasted and burnt malts with a hint of cream, coffee and a little chocolate. The finish is dry and pleasantly bitter

M: A little less carbonated than would be ideal and just a little drier in body than I'd like but the finish is great and it'd be wrong to fault this terribly.

D: Oh, this is an easy one to drink!

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Photo of Bighuge
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear mahogany. A silky smooth light brown head forms with the pour. It recedes to a thin pool of oily froth that coats nicely as I drink. Very nice aroma. Chocolatey and muddy and earthy and malty. Yeah, lots of good stuff going on there. Most of that translates nice over to the palate along with a nice, chalky dry cocoa feel. The rye shows its face with some spicy accents. Nice roasty bitterness lingers as well. This is a very nice porter.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.12/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I bought this at Stimmel's in OH for $5.99 a month ago, never seen it for sale again before or since. The beer is dark reddish brown colored, clear but with low light transmission, with an enourmous poofy foam that takes forever to recede. The smell is good, and in fact is the strongest attribute in my opinion. Loads of roasted malt and chocolate. The taste has a surprising amount of sourness in it, so much that I suspect there's something wrong with my bottle (maybe the bottle wasn't disinfected properly before filling, the flavor seems similar to a homebrew problem I had once). Anyway I can still get some chocolate flavor out of if but the sourness makes it difficult to enjoy. I'll try this again if I see it in MN, hopefully from a different batch, and revise the review in case I had a bad bottle.

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Photo of maximum12
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been enjoying this brew for quite a while, but never sat down to review it proper-like. And I've sent a fair share around the country as extras, hope all that have received it have enjoyed it!

Pour is dark brown, with an evil red glimmering deep within the bowels of the glass. Quite a noseful on this brew: just-got-dumped-bitter chocolate, strong roast, & a jumpy spice that can only be rye. Oh, rye, I do love a good bit of rye in the mix.

Cygnus X-1 is a solid porter that gains a pleasing edge with the rye addition. Prologue is big roasts notes, a smokey shot that doesn't appear in the nose, shadow of chocolate. The rye malt is subtler than the nose suggests, just leaving an after-image on the tongue. Finish is sweet with a side of milkiness, which washes over into a creamy, full mouthfeel. One of those porters that hits the sweet spot of drinkability; you know you're drinking a good dark beer.

Good beer that might be even better on tap, a good choice when one doesn't want a huge dose of alcohol or a phalanx of hops.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on-tap, stub and herbs MSP

cellphone notes

appearance: ordered a half pour - served in a 7oz glass - dark mahogany body, tan cap

smell: light roasted malts, chocolate, cherry and blackberry

taste: i enjoyed this porter a lot - chocolatey, sweet cherry/blackberry, cocoa, light roast coffee, a touch woody with smoke

mouthfeel: creamy, on the lighter side

drinkability: good

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Photo of warnerry
1.95/5  rDev -48.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

No bottle date

A - Pours a deep brown with a finger of quickly dissipating head. Leaves no lacing.

S - Heavy coffee aroma, ,with some unpleasant funkiness. Uh-oh.

T - Initial taste is lemon tartness with some funk. Eventually, some coffee and roasted malt flavors come through, but this has clearly gone bad.

M - Very thin mouthfeel that finishes dry.

O - I've only had this for a week or so, but have no idea how old it is. Anyway, this was undrinkable. Bummer, as I was looking forward to trying this.

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.97/5  rDev +30.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a dark mahogany, almost black color. The head is large, creamy, firm, and recedes very slowly into a thick cap of foam. The aroma is of chocolate, whiskey, oak, and burnt caramel. The taste is of oak, vanilla, whiskey, dark chocolate, and toffee. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy, silky, and has adequately mild carbonation. Overall, this is a great porter. It is complex without being overpowering, and is very drinkable. I can see this becoming a regular in my fridge.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks goes out to MBrausen for sending me this one so I could tick it! Shared this one with the NoDa Brewing crew in celebration of their grand opening weekend. Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured a dark reddish brown with a minimal light tan head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of roasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee, and a subtle spiciness. The flavor was of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, subtle sweet malt, and a subtle pepper spiciness. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. I was quite surprised by the pepper spiciness on the followthrough. This was a pleasant surprise by the way... The rest of the brew was okay, but nothing special. Glad I got the chance to give this one a shot, but doubt I would seek it out in the future.

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Photo of popery
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice if not incredible porter. Cygnus X-1 pours a clear, dark cola brown with a medium beige head. The aroma consists of caramel, nuts, toast, bread, some chocolate and a bit of spicy rye. It's a pleasant, subtle porter, somewhere between English and American in flavor. The taste is a lightly dry. There's also a funny, slightly off flavor to the beer that I also tasted in Flat Earth's Angry Planet. It's not as strong here as it was there, but it's still an odd bit of background noise. Mouthfeel is a tad thin and carbonation is prickly. Good beer but wouldn't look to get another bottle.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Special tap release at Great Waters - A nice surprise to say the least and deemed a Canadina Porter?
Dark brown filled pint with a low glow of amber at the edges. Finger high, soft, lush, spongy foam of a light sandy brown sits atop with good strength. Smal bits of lacing stick to the glass well.

Solid lofty porter aroma of dry breads, cocoa, and caramel. Tenderly sweet and dryish to the air, elluminating with a nose of solidness that screams porter.

Nice taster of a porter, simple, yet fulfillingly rich in a softness of breadishness and slightly biscuity-like elements are encompassed with far reaching elements of cocoa. Nice tidbits of caramel swim around underneath along with some smallish hints to dark fruit sweetness and milk chocolate powder. The dryness is subtle and clean while the sweetness and cocoa/caramel round it out with a fine tuned balance. Very light hints to smoke and tin float into parts of the finish.

Body is a delicately smooth and firm mediumish tone with a great clean profile and slippery creamyness. The dryness that it carries is quite nice here as its just enough to make an impression while letting the smoothness of cocoa and slight sweet tones balance it out. It's no brute of a porter by any means, but a damn fine example of the style. Not sure what the whole Canadian reference is about. Maybe the band Rush? Perhaps that will be revealed at a later point? But it is suppose to be a lighter version of what an American porter would usually be.
The drinkability is a glide of fun, solid, porter taste and has an easy going character and complextion that seems simple but does not approach any such missing elements. A well crafted brew by Flat Earth. Perfect for this crisper, cooler Autumn air.

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Photo of morimech
4.04/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Review of the "new" bottle.

Has some carbonation this time. A good one inch of off-white head forms but falls away quickly. Minimal lacing is left on the glass. I notice a touch of hops this time. It lends a slightly earthy aroma. I also notice the rye malt as well. A little spice is tasted. Still feels a little thin but it is much more drinkable with some carbonation. I sincerely hope that Flat Earth finally got their QC issues settled.

Pours a very dark brown but unfortunately almost no head forms. Looks completely lifeless but that doesn't automatically kill the beer in this style. No lacing left on the glass surface. This is the third bottle of Flat Earth beer that I bought that is completely void of carbonation of any kind.

This beer does have a wonderful aroma of roasted malts, coffee, nuts, and chocolate.

The roasted malt really comes out in the taste. Hints of chocolate with a little bitterness on finish compliment the beer. Carbonation is non-existant and it makes the beer feel thin and the alcohol comes through even though it is only 6.50%.

This is a wonderful smelling and tasting porter but again it is ruined by poor bottling.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance: Very dark cola like amber brown. Lots of rising bubbles. Big three finger lightly tan head with great retention and very good lacing.

Smell: Strong aroma of dark roasted malts with a good amount of chocolate and coffee. Hints of dark fruit, rye, and floral hops. Has a very toasty smell.

Taste: A sweet taste from the roasted malts, grains, chocolate, coffee, and dark fruits. Has a hint of rye in the middle and a light hint of hops in the finish. Strong with the fruity sweetness but it is well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a medium carbonation. Very creamy, toasty, and smooth.

Overall: A very good porter from Flat Earth. One of the better ones I have tasted.

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Photo of illidurit
4.52/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into a pint glass. Sort of light in color. Closer to the red end of the porter spectrum than black. Settles somewhere around auburn in color with a fluffy beige head. Aroma of See's Candies, mocha coffee, roasted grains. Nice, robust smell carries over into the flavor, which is similar but not as sweet. Black malts meld with a creamy iced coffee character. A porter through and through, not even remotely stout-like (this is an attribute I quite like, providing much needed separation between the styles). Very little roastiness or bitterness. Finishes dry. Mouthfeel is full and almost milky in consistency. Really a sublime porter in every way.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes in November 09

Dark mahogany brown with a tannish head which lasted an impressive amount of time. A wonderful nose that revealed fresh bread, a hint of rye, coffee, and cream. Upon tasting, I actually thought it was a sort of sweet stout with lactose! Robust and rich, although somewhat thinner body. Carbonation helps bring it up a bit. Velvety smooth and definitely quaffable. I approve.

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Photo of prototypic
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow! This cap cracked with some force. The sound of that surely suggests overcarbonation. Let's see. Pours a dark, nut brown color. There's quite a bit of light getting through revealing nice burgundy highlights. Carbonation is too high. A light, mocha tan head easily reaches four fingers and takes a long, long time to dissipate. It's somewhat annoying. Lacing was nice and thick though. It'd easily be a little better if carbonation were more reasonable.

The nose is nice, but isn't a huge standout. Maybe a little weak. Roasted and chocolate malts are at the forefront and start things off nicely. They're quickly cut off by a strong rye aroma. I'm intrigued. A spicy flavor could...well..really spice things up for the style. Chocolate is resilient and re-emerges. Light coffee is noted toward the end. This is an interesting smelling beer. It's good. I'd like a little more muscle. That might bump it to the next level.

Indeed, this is an interesting English Porter. Chocolate malts and roasted malts (to a lesser degree) give it a nice base. Chocolate malts are more bitter than sweet. The spicy rye flavor is pretty aggressive and really sets this beer apart. Frankly, it wouldn't be very impressive without it. There's a slightly acidic or sour taste to it. It's a little misplaced, but isn't too offensive. Light coffee and a grain flavors emerge at the secondary level. No alcohol is noted. All in all, it's got a nice flavor. The rye is the driving force. Nicely done there.

It features a medium body that feels nice and robust. I'd love to say it's smooth, but the carbonation is extremely high, buzzy, and distracting. They really missed the mark in a big way there. Drinkability is above average, but the excessive carbonation hurts it. It's less pleasant going down as a result. Still not bad though.

My first experience with Flat Earth is a bag of mixed results. The big positive is that it has a nice, interesting, novel flavor due to the rye infusion. The big negative is overcarbonation. Way off the mark. Remedying that problem would do much to improve it. Nonetheless, I like the flavor and approach. Worth checking out.

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Cygnus X-1 from Flat Earth Brewing Company
3.8 out of 5 based on 208 ratings.
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