Black Marlin Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Very Good
69 Ratings

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by NickMunford on 03-13-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 69 |  Reviews: 41
Photo of MrVonzipper
4.6/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at 38degrees(BA Week)
Dark Brown to rootbeer/red edges. Bubbly tan head with low retention. 

Bourbon right off the bat. Strong. Almost like a dark rubbing alcohol

Bourbon up front to deep rich malt then to dark fruit and creamy bourbon. Great balance

Very smooth and creamy, good foamy/creamy carbonation. 

Very good beer overall. Amazing flavor that's very well balanced and a very pleasant mouth that makes it easy to drink. Just a great BA Porter. 

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Photo of CaptainNomihodai
3.41/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark, but by no means black; nothing special here.
Smells of apples, seriously. I smell again to make sure. Yep, apples.
Doesn't taste very porter-like, which is fine by me because I don't usually like porters. Not much in the way of roastiness, or really any flavor you would expect of a beer this dark. Just... wait for it... apples. And bourbon. Strange, but I rather like it.
The mouthfeel is rather thin. If I was drinking this blindfolded I wouldn't guess that it's as dark as it is... then I would probably accidentaly knock it over, spilling it and making myself smell like apples for the rest of the night, but I suppose that's not important.
Overall: apples; perhaps this keg is infected, or something. I like it, I think.

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Photo of Trilogy31
4.06/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on draft at Stone gardens. Came to the table with no head and light lacing and a dark black coloring. Nose with sweet bourbon caramel, roasty dark malts with a touch of smoke and a hint of cotton candy and bacon fat - the nose was very interesting and complex. The taste was a very smooth bourbon as well as feel without the heat, very smooth. Also i picked up cocoa as well as french press coffee. The mouthfeel was somewhat chalky but in a pleasant creamy way if possible. I was very pleased with the beer and the low abv somehow worked with the ba aging. Very happy i had the chance to try this.

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Photo of socon67
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours black, very little head, no real lacing in my pint glass.

S - Very complex smells of roasted coffee bean, malt, and whiskey. This smells like a pretty well blended cognac.

T - The burn in the finish is incredible, but it does tend to dominate the rest of the flavors. Early on there is an innate sweetness and some smoke. It is a very good porter, but after drinking this for a bit the bourbon is dominate. Very good, but just a bit much.

M - Extremely drinkable given the complexity. I'd call this medium bodied and based on the ABV it is quite smooth despite the bite it packs.

O - Definitely glad to have tried. I'm now curious of the general Black Marlin. An interesting barrel aged beer that I'd enjoy after a nice meal.

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Photo of Halcyondays
2.85/5  rDev -26%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black with a big tan head, dies down fairly quickly, some lace.

S: Some nice whiskey and oak notes, but one dimensional.

T: Frankly, it tastes like watered down whiskey. Some minor notes of dark chocolate and roast, but nothing too substantial.

M: Thin, watery, light-bodied, not something you'd expect with the smell.

D: A beer that really does nothing for me. I know -bal aging is big right now, but that does not mean everything. Black Marlin Porter is fine as is.

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Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.62/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Blind Lady Alehouse.

Poured a black with slightly brown head.

The smell on this was amazing. I picked up loads of chocolatte and it added an alcoholy smell from the bourbon barrel but it was amazing.

The taste was very similar to the smell. In the barrel aged versioun compared to the regular offering I didnt pick up the slight roast coffee like normal and the mouthfeel felt a little more chalky.

This was an amazing beer.

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Photo of laxboy3496
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This may be the most sessionable BBA beer I've ever had. A strong smell and taste of bourbon but not overpowering. Goes down incredibly smooth. A bit dark for a porter, looking almost stout like. The true porter flavors were still able to come through and it was incredibly satisfying.

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

Had on tap @ Armsby Abbey.

A: Fluffy fuzzy 1finger head fades semi quickly over very dark almost black beer.

N: Starts with a nice bourbon nose which overpowers almost everything else. Some dark malts and a slight creamy malt, lots of oak, little porter like roast.

T: Again lots of bourbon overpowers all. Lots of oak as well, some malts, slightly creamy, little porter like roast again, more darker malts. A touh of coffee and other dark malts I can't really get throuh the bourbon and oak.

M: medium body with decent carbonation.

F: Finishes mostly dry with hints of malty and syrupy sweetness, some dark malts, roast, but mostly the bourbon and oak also dominate the finish. Ive done a very similar beer where the bourbon is too strong for the beer. I love it as im a huge bourbon fan.

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Photo of BigIrishman
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours jet black with a slight off white fizzy head, leaves no lace and a slight coating on the glass.

Smell: Sweet malt battling bourbon (nice caramelish-vanilla) with a burnt quality towards the back.

Taste: Very different than the average barrel aged porter...Sweet vanilla and caramel are very intertwined with a smokey roasted malt and a bit of a chocolate back. A bit bitter on the finish with a hint of earthiness.

Mouthfeel: Slick and heavy with a palate wetting finish.

Drinkability: For a 6% down to earth american style porter, this brew is really super complex. If you're looking for a bourbon bomb I'd suggest something else, cause this one is pretty evenly balanced. Overall a nice complex porter that should cater to the smaller abv crowd...

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Photo of argock
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a clear pint glass at The Lodge (Hilton Head, SC).

A: Burnished brown-black with bronze, big-bubbled 1-finger head with good retention and that laces down the glass.

S: Dark malts dominate with bourbon aromas serving a strong but supplementary role and works well with the citrus and tobacco hops twist.

T: I like this beer both ways (regular and BA) but I think the bourbon barrel aging works very well to provide another aspect of esters to the mix and provides a super accent to the dark but nonacrid and somewhat sweet malting and light citrus and tobacco hops touch at the end. The bourbon adds complexity rather than covering over imperfections -- just as it should.

M: A tad light in body but the firm carbonation provides a creamy feel. Aftertaste is reminiscent of German chocolate cake with pecan-bourbon kissed frosting.

D: A very drinkable brew that I am glad I was able to get my hands on. An excellent variation on an already-very good porter.

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Photo of metter98
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: It poured very dark brown (near black) with a thin, white head.
S: The smell isn't very strong, but there are distinct aromas of bourbon from the barrel aging and hints of alcohol.
T: Bourbon flavors really dominate the overall taste and seem to be a bit overpowering, masking most of the taste of the porter and notes of roasted malts, oak and vanilla.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate, a bit boozy from the bourbon flavors and very smooth. There are definitely some warming sensations from the alcohol.
D: The beer is very easy to drink if you like bourbon flavors.

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Photo of Bung
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Grapevine in Fort Mill SC.
Darkish brown pour, small amount of off white head. Laced the glass just a bit.

Aroma is subdued malt and chocolate, caramel. A little roast/charcoal.

Taste is fairly standard. A nice blend of malt and caramel and chocolate. Certainly not sweet though. The barrel seems to have added a bit of puckering red fruit or almost apple to it. Finishes with a little oakiness, a little bitter and some of that faint sourness.

Being just a regular porter, adequate body on the light side of medium. Drinks fairly well, but the slight souring made me not want another.

The regular is probably better, but this is not bad by any means. Normally I'd like for barrel aging to improve on a beer that's all.

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Photo of jminsc76
3.91/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Don't recall where I had this. I think it was at the Surley Goat, but not too sure.

Anyways, don't recall the looks either (it was dark) but a large head forms upon agitation and the body is dark, dark, dark.

Smells of bourbon. Yeah, definitely bourbon, but also some coffee roasts that blends pleasantly into the bouquet.

Flavors include the aforementioned bourbon as well as coffee, oak, and cocoa nibs. A decent balance but not transcendental.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin; alexd3891 informs me this is atypical of the bourbon-aged porter.

Everything else, however, is exceptional. Overall I like the bourbon-aged aspect to an already solid porter from Ballast Point. Is it Victory at Sea? No. Nothing is Victory at Sea. But this is good.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.1/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: A nice looking black beer with almost no head and no retention.

S: The nose is roasty with a bit of vanilla and quite a bit of alcohol. There is a noticeable acidity to the beer (likely from the roasted malts), that almost presents as sourness.

T: The flavors never really come together and even if they did, I'm not sure this would be any better. A bit of a tartness, roasted malt, and bourbon. I don't really get any chocolate or sweetness.

M: The body is quite thin and lifeless, and the carbonation is similarly lacking. Not what I look for in a barrel aged beer.

D: It would seem to be within conventional wisdom -bal aging a sub-6% stout is not such a good idea, and that is proven true here.

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Photo of jmscott
4.17/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one's a winner. Had this the other night at Hamilton's in San Diego. Poured into a tulip/snifter. The aroma is good, the taste is even better. Smoke, oak and bourbon flavors, with a clean finish. Goes down really smooth, maybe a little too easily... glass was empty in about 7 minutes. Definitely an excellent choice, this is right up my alley! Do they bottle this?

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Photo of emmasdad
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black, with a light ecru head that disapates rapidly, leaving a light collar clinging to the sides of the glass. Nice bourbon nose, with a bit of oak and vanilla. Nicely balanced flavors, as the bourbon does not dominate the nice roasted malt porter flavors. The body on this one is a bit thin, but it remains quite drinkable.

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Photo of mactrail
3.26/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Intense, booze-flavored dark malt bomb.

Sourish at first taste, like an overdose of black patent malt. Just plain intense flavors, hard to sort out. But the bourbon is very strong. HInt of oak and vanilla. Feels syrupy in the mouth. Tastes so strong that it's easy to assume it is alcoholic, but apparently not.

If you like a huge imperial stout style, but have to drive home, this might do it for you. I didn't finish the small goblet, but it is definitely interesting. Tasted at Blind Lady Ale House, San Diego.

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Photo of tpd975
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes sampled on tap during my trip to San Diego.

A: Pours a dark shade of brown almost black with a tall foamy tan head. Nice retention and some thick lace.

S: Aromas of Bold roasted malt, chocolate, light smoke, and barrel goodness.

T: Very similar flavors here. Wonderful roasted malt that gives off hints of chocolate and coffee. Mild char and smoke can be picked up along with the barrel. There is mild booze, light vanilla, and a big blast of oak. Lots of flavor packed into the low ABV of this one.

M: Fairly slick in the mouthfeel. Nice carbonation.

D: Well crafted and tasty as hell. A bourbon brew that you could session with.

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Photo of NickMunford
3.65/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Description from the release announcement:

"...Our classic porter was aged in three different types of bourbon barrels (Heaven Hill, Old Fitzgerald and Jim Beam) for varying periods of time (14 to 18 months) and then blended together with some younger Black Marlin to create an extremely drinkable offering. The emphasis is on vanilla and oak characteristics but there remains a subtle booziness..."

A - Pours almost pitch black with little head and less retention. Seems typical for a lot of aged porters and stouts. Zero lacing. There's a vary dark magenta color on the edges when held up to the light.

S - Smell is very subtle. You definitely pick up the bourbon, but it's very light. But it still covers up the other aromas, which says that they're even lighter.

T - I'm not picking up the vanilla mentioned in the description, but the bourbon is there. Like in the smell, it's a more subtle taste here than in many other bourbon barrel aged beers. There's also some maltiness and a light hint of oak.

M - I think this has a very good mouthfeel. No booziness to mention, other than the bourbon flavor. Just a little hint of dryness at the end.

D - This is very drinkable. The 5.9% ABV means it would be very easy to have a few more. That also means there's no strong alcohol taste to push it into the category of "sipper" beers.

On a final note, I think the low ABV makes this a less than ideal candidate for aging. It was a good experiment with the Black Marlin Porter, and I'm glad to have tried it, but I think they should stick to aging their robust series of brews. Like Sea Monster, Victory at Sea & Three Sheets (hope to try this in bottles someday!)

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Black Marlin Porter - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Ballast Point Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.85 out of 5 with 69 ratings
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