Ode To A Russian Shipwright | Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company

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Ode To A Russian ShipwrightOde To A Russian Shipwright

Brewed by:
Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Ode to a Russian Shipwright is my tribute to the brewing legacy of Peter the Great. I use rye and spruce, ingredients that were important to the Baltic region and sailors, to create a porter honoring the time and tastes of Peter. And true to legend, I've brewed it strong enough to survive a cold winter voyage (from the brewery to the house).

Added by jera1350 on 11-18-2011

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Reviews: 44 | Ratings: 113
Photo of pat61
4.49/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours bright dark brown under a 2” tan foam collar that grips the side of the glass.
S: Spicy, spruce and malt.
T: Has a Baltic Porter kind of palate with a Belgian yeast character and then there are those amazing spruce tips. Some rye spiciness. Finishes with a trace of tartness.
F: Medium, medium full body, very soft, fine carbonation.
O: Creative and well made porter. More of a Baltic Porter by way of Belgium.

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Photo of Oakenshield53
4/5  rDev +2%

My wife came home with this one, which was good luck, since the spruce tip component might have kept me away for a good while.

There's a lot going on here, man. My descriptive powers are well overmatched by the contents of this bottle, but in three words, it's really good.

In a few more words - the spruce component surprised me - not because I didn't know it was there, but because I liked it so much. This is a beer you have one pint of, and pay attention to.

But the odd thing was, I got what I'd call kind of an olive tapenade flavor from this. Maybe not a good phrase to use in conjunction with a beverage, but it works, and the flavor stayed with me through the rest of the bottle.

This showed up right around dinner time, so I had it with some good crusty bread and a sharp cheddar, and it was a righteous combo.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ode to a stoplight pours a dark and deep brown color with a nice page lacing tan head. There is strong and complex aroma. Lots of booze figs spruce tips and a bit of smoke come through. The taste is much the same a nice meaty smoky flavor with a sweetness from the spruce tips. Good flavors and good feel. Overall its very complex lots of flavors but comes together nicely.

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Photo of KFBR392
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Three fingers of creamy head with a medium brown, tan color form on the pour and settle in to about one finger while drinking. Above average active carbonation in the glass while drinking. The color on the pour was a dark brown color and sits black in the glass.

Smell: Lots of the spruce tips on the front which provide a refreshing pine and straw aroma. Grassy hop tones brighten up the medium bodied malt tones. The malt comes off with a breathable sweetness with some roasted accents. Not really what I expected but unique and enticing.

Taste: Spruce tips dominate the front of this brew with significant hop accents. Flavors of wintergreen, pine, prairie grass, lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange peel. Really complex and challenging to wrap the palate around. A grainy malt body warms up toward the back end of the beer with some strong spiced flavors. Cinnamon, coriander, and some vegetal flavors linger long into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied for a Stout/Porter. Carbonation has a light, soft feeling on the palate which makes for an incredibly drinkable brew.

Overall: Definitely not what I was expecting. The more traditional malt tones take a far backseat to the spruce and hops going on here. Drinking this fresh has got to be the way to go as I could see some of the unique tones significantly fainting after some time. Great stuff from a one man show.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.38/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2012 vintage 1 pint 9.4 fl oz brown glass bottle with appealing Christmasy red/green colour label and a swingtop cap acquired at Four Firkins in Minnesota last year and served into an Odell stem-tulip/snifter glass in me friend's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are fairly high. Reviewed as an imperial porter.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Yields a loud pop upon opening, followed by beer surging outwards. Luckily, I caught it with the glass.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a three finger wide head of khaki colour. Nice creaminess and thickness. Okay consistency. Retention is above average - about four minutes. Spotty inconsistent lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a very dark brown-black. Opaque. No floating yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it's looking pretty standard for an imperial porter. There's nothing unique or special about it, but there are no egregious flaws.

Sm: Plenty of spruce; that note hasn't faded with age. Also some pine (probably from the hops) and sap notes. Cream. Dark malts. Some rye.

It's got a unique aroma profile for an imperial porter. The spruce is a definite highlight. That said, it might be a bit medicinal. The flavour profile will tell.

A fairly pleasant aroma of mild to moderate strength. No yeast character, overt hop character, or alcohol is detectable.

T: Has a dark malt foundation with cream, spruce tones, and pine atop. Floral and piney hop character. Caramel. Herbal notes. Fairly simple for an imperial porter; there isn't a lot going on. But it's balanced enough, and enjoyable.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through. I do like it for what it is.

Average depth and duration of flavour. Below average intensity of flavour for the style. A cohesive build, but not a gestalt one.

Luckily, it's never medicinal, but it does feel a bit herbal.

Mf: Smooth, wet, thick, unrefreshing, and full-bodied. Okay presence on the palate, but it's certainly not ideal or custom-tailored specifically to the flavour profile. Not as soft as it should be. Good carbonation; bottle conditioning was
an excellent choice here.

Not oily, astringent, harsh, rough, gushed, hot, or boozy. Not crisp. Unrefreshing.

Dr: Downable stuff for what it is but not a great imperial porter by any means. I dig the spruce and I always applaud new takes on a style, but the execution here isn't all that impressive. I wouldn't get this again, but I'm glad I tried it. Props to Olvade for making it a swingtop; I always hate it when I'm stuck with a huge bottle of a real heavy beer and prefer smaller format bottles or swingtops. Hides its ABV well. I wouldn't recommend it to friends, but it's worth trying once. One of the better executions of spruce that I've had. The premise is better than the execution, though.


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Photo of MasterSki
3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Two bottles sample side-by-side, one from the most recent release and one from late 2011. Served in small taster glasses. Thanks to Marie Curieosity for providing the recent vintage.

A - Big tan foam settles to a thick cap, thick collar, and plenty of splotchy lacing. Very dark brown body that's significantly lighter at the edges of the glass. The newer bottle has a bit more in the way of bubbles.

S - The spruce is massive in the new bottle, with tons of woodsy, earthy, forest floor and Christmas flavors to it. Meanwhile, the aged bottle has very little spruce character at all, with a hefty dose of caramel and chocolate malt sweetness and some fruity yeast to it. Surprised by the contrast here; either spruce falls off really fast or the initial batch had way less of it to begin with. The new bottle was interesting but polarizing, the older one rather generic.

T - The taste experience mirrors the aroma, with the new bottle being similarly heavy on spruce and earthy rye flavors while the 2011 bottle is shockingly sweet with only a low level of spruce. The new bottle also has a vaguely peppery farmhouse yeast quality; perhaps it was fermented hotter? Again, the newer bottle is a very unique experience, and I can imagine the flavor profile will be off-putting to a good chunk of drinkers. Alcohol is well-concealed, whatever it may be.

M - Medium body that seems a bit thin for an "Imperial" Porter. Zesty carbonation that seems to amplify the spice and herb flavors; the older bottle is more subdued here. No obvious alcohol.

D - A tale of two beers. I preferred the new bottle as it's a better representation of what the brewery intended. It was surprisingly drinkable for a spruce beer, and definitely a unique experience; the older bottle was more of a forgettable malty porter. I think the sweet spot lies somewhere in-between the two extremes though; perhaps in the 9-12 month range? Scores are mainly based on the newer bottle.

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Photo of Tbone
1.52/5  rDev -61.2%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This was an undrinkable drain pour for me and the 3 people I shared it with.

The taste was nothing but bitter astringent pine needles. Really, its like grabbing a handful of pine needles from the forest floor and shoving them into your mouth. I've had many other pine and spruce beers and enjoyed them (the first being a special Anchor Spruce beer they made about 20 years ago). However, this just wasn't pleasant. I often cook with beer and decided that the pine was too intense even to use this as a braising liquid for beef or lamb.

I've enjoyed Olvade's other beers, especially the Rhubarb Saison, so I was dissapointed they would even release this one. Perhaps it was better when first bottled and the 4-5 months it has been since it was bottled allowed the spruce flavors to just overtake the beer.

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Photo of hardy008
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark black, with a large 3 + finger head of tan foam, with good retention and beautiful lacing. This beer has a very interesting aroma. Spruce is very up front and noticeable. There is also rye, chocolate, and dark roasted malt.

This might be the most unique tasting American Porter I have tried. There is spruce, rye, chocolate, herbs, spices, dark roasted malt, and dark fruit. This is such an odd combination of flavors for a porter, especially the spruce, that I have nothing to compare this beer to, but I definitely like it.

Medium bodied with soft carbonation. Smooth and easy to drink. I think this beer would also age very nicely. Well done.

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Photo of RingnesExtra
3.87/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This imperial porter pours rich and dark with an overly carbonated head. The high carbonation is indicative of a product that was put in the market a few months too soon. The large bubbles and appearance remind me of a dark colored soft drink. The appearance aside, I appreciate the concept of this product as it is unique with the spruce tips blending seamlessly into a robust tasting porter. I purchased two 25.4 oz. bottles and will place the second one in my cellar to age for at least six months as I expect the carbonation to subside and produce a smoother tasting product.

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Photo of King_KongDCO93
3.08/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 3.75

Beer is about 7.5% ABV. 2012 bottle.

A: Large and more than expected head about 1inch of off white head. It is dark brown and you can't see through it.

S: Malty and has a large hope presence.

T: It has lots of Rye, hopes, and the spruce tips is over powering

M: tangy and citrusy. medium body

O: different and interesting but not my type of beer. I guess I really don't like Spruce.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour for New Brew Thursday's 3rd Anniversary event held at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Pours a murky dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a small cap on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and some herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with an herbal flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is drinkable and fairly tasty.

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Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.31/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Pint Glass; Bottled in 2011 and got it for $9. Sweet!

Appearance - Pitch black with a fluffy 4 finger head that has very good retention.

Smell - Piney Hops, Chocolate, Spruce, Burnt Malts & Spruce. It's very different in terms of smell, but it's nicely balanced and therefore quite nice.

Taste - Piney Hops, Spruce, Oak, Chocolate and Burnt Malts. This is unlike anything I have ever tasted before. For some reason, the flavor reminds me of my family's cabin in the Northwoods and makes me miss it quite a bit. The flavor is Part Northwoods/Part Christmas.

Mouthfeel - Body is rather heavy and the carbonation is a couple notches above mild, but just enough to add to the flavor.

Overall - This is a very interesting tasting Porter/Stout that manages to be both unique and tasty at the same time, which make it worth checking out. This beer is definitely a sipper, but I won't mind sitting down to have this again because it is different and very good.

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Photo of NickBus
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma - The spruce comes out right away in the aroma, but after the beer opens a little the malt character takes over. Medium malt aroma — nutty, roasty and with hints of dark fruits — with medium-light earthy English hop aroma and, of course, spruce.

Appearance - Dark brown, almost black with ruby highlights and a thick, foamy brown head and good retention.

Flavor - Medium-light roastiness with lots of caramel and some nuttiness. Also some kind of dark fruit or maybe even black licorice flavor mixed in somewhere. Tasty overall, but a little too sweet in my opinion. There's also a mint-like flavor that I'm guessing is coming from the spruce tips... Can't say I'm not enjoying it.

Mouthfeel - Smooth and lightly creamy, with just a bit of pop from the medium-high carbonation. Finishes smooth with a light sweetness that lingers on the palate. Surprisingly little alcohol warming for an imperial.

Overall - Very drinkable. Rich and complex, with new flavors coming out the deeper you get into the bottle. Perfect Christmas beer. Good overall, but a little more roast character and a little less sweetness would make this a great beer.

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Photo of chanokokoro
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml swingtop bottle into an unbranded snifter/short-stemmed tulip

Pours a dark cola brown with a two finger foamy beige head. Excellent retention and ample splotchy lacing on the glass. The lightest hint of dark fruit, anise, a touch of bakers chocolate, and piney, spruce accents. Dark chocolate, molasses, roasted malt, and black licorice combine for a fairly complex brew. Finishes with smooth, pleasant fresh spruce and a hint of mint. Definitely more porter than stout-- medium body, slick with vibrant carbonation. A really interesting take on an imperial porter. Extremely inventive and a brew that is thoroughly enjoyable.

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Photo of yamar68
4.09/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

2012 vintage:

Dark and swampy brown body with a massive, creamy pale khaki set of carb that leaves drastic lacing... nice.

Nutty, conifer, caramel candy, licorice, molasses, pine sap, sweet vanilla... the base aromas are reminiscent of Anchor Christmas. No detectable alcohol presence.

Unique. Exquisite mouthfeel... medicinal evergreen qualities, sesame oil, nutty malt notes, not quite as spot-on as I remember last year's batch being, but still quite interesting and tasty. Cola and root beer flavors... ginger.

Probably the best imperial stout porter brewed with spruce tips that I've had. ;)

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Photo of mwilbur
3.86/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage. Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a beautiful pitch black/brown with wondrous 3 inch dark mocha head. Excellent retention and lacing. Quite a beauty.
S: Spice, dark chocolate, roasted caramel malt, grains/rye, and spruce. Very nice.
T: Spice and spruce (just a hint of the spruce) up front. Gives way to spicy rye, roasted caramel malt, and some sharp hops. Honestly, gets a bit jumbled here...lacks definition of the flavor profile. A note of honey emerges with warming...spice and spruce also become more prominent.
M: Light-medium body. Not sure of the ABV since it isn't on the bottle or their website, but I would guess around 9%. Moderately sticky sweet (esp. with warming). Finish is moderately sharp and mildly bitter. Spice lingers decently on the palate.
D: Certainly a solid and interesting brew from a promising new-ish brewery. Worth a go. Serves as a nice winter warmer.

1/30/14: 2013 Vintage. Poured from 750 mL bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a deep, dark black/brown with 1-2 inch dark mocha head. Excellent retention. (5)
S: Spice and spruce, dark chocolate, roasted caramel malt, and grain/rye. Love the aroma. (4.5)
T: Spice and spruce up front (like the aroma in this edition). Spicy rye, dark chocolate, roasted caramel malt, and some background hop notes. Honey emerges with warming. Better definition with this edition. (4)
M: Medium body. Sticky sweet. Fairly thick, hefty feel. Finish is more sharp and bitter (hop notes). Spice lingers wonderfully on the palate. (4)
D: Excellent drinkability, especially for style. Solid brew. I find the 2013 even better than the 2012. Olvalde has consistently shown good improvement in most of its beers over the past few years. (4.5)

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml swingtop bottle, 2012 vintage. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with a couple inch frothy tan head that stays around for a while. There's also a good amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like molasses, spruce, dark fruit, roasted malt, and a bit of smoke. It tastes like dark fruit, molasses, spruce, roasted malt, and some spice and chocolate. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's coating and creamy with high but soft carbonation. I think it's a good brew, I know I'd like to have this again. Definitely worth trying.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

consumed on 7/8, while I was "on Hiatus." big thanks to mnbearsfan for this excellent extra!!! enjoyed from my blue point snifter globe.

2011 vintage

a - first off, LOVE the bottle…this is one that I will save and try to get my local growler spots to fill. a 750 swingtop...gotta love it. that being said, the brew poured a deep chocolate black with a generous three fingers plus of foamy creamy tan head that slowly dissolved away leaving large chunks of lacing on the glass. looks alive.

s - smell has a really nice vanilla char. spruce trees on top of a great roasted malt.

t - taste is a bright burst of fresh pine followed by some cold chocolate milk. the spruce tips give it a really crisp over charring. hints of vanilla and sappy pine needles over roasted malts and cocoa powder. caramel was huge at first, but has since subsided.

m - has a bit of that porter charriness. the spruce tips keep it light and fresh feeling instead of falling into dark stout territory.

o - this one seems to walk the line between stout and porter with the spruce nudging it to the porter side. rather unique. rather tasty. excellent treat. very glad i got to try (and love having a swing top 750 as a souvenir!


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Photo of DenverLogan
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark...small amber head. Dark roasted malt and slight spruce aroma. I'll admit...I love good spruce brews but the spruce doesn't usually last long. Here we have a Imperial Stout Porter..uh..what's that...well ... OK...this is damn tasty. I'd say more of a rich dark beer than porter or stout, but with the spruce it's very tasty. Rich and fulfilling and easy to drink but there's some strangeness...but I like it...!!!

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Photo of cpolking
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a beer brewed true to the time of Peter the Great, using rye and spruce tips. The swing top pops with amazing force. The beer pours deeply black, as dark as used motor oil. There is a massive foamy head, medium brown in color.

The aroma is dark roasted malt, piney merging into smokey, the whiff of a campfire of pine wood in a cold, deep, ancient pine forest.

The taste is smokey, piney, sweet and tart, all at the same time.

This is a very unique and intriguing beer, but well crafted. It is easy to envision that you are drinking this a couple hundred years ago.

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Photo of deebo
4.52/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A-Black with an absolute ton of dense pillowy tan head thanks to a fairly aggressive pour.

S-Fruity yeasts are surprisingly strong and not what I expected. Sweet and toasted malt is also definitely there.

T-Sweet malt and hints of toasted barley malt are the stars here. A hint of yeast as well as that promised evergreen addition is detected in the end.

M-Really creamy. A lightly carbonated zing. Extremely smooth with perfect balance.

D-Amazing. I love the flavor and ease of drink of this beer.

O-Not an overpowering beer. Much different than I expected from an "imperial stout porter" but I really liked this beer and would like to see Joe keep brewing it. Great taste, smooth and drinkable, the keys of any great beer.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.03/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From 03/16/12 notes. Thanks to nmann08 for sharing this one. 750ml bottle into a tulip.

a - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color, with one inch of medium tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sour fruits, spruce, roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruits, and some toasted notes. Lightly sour which was nice, not a whole lot of spruce, though it is there.

t - Tastes of a ton of spruce, roasted malts, chocolate, pine, mint, dark fruits, raisins, bready malts, and toasted malts. Spruce overload in the taste; too much for me.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

o - Overall I wasn't the biggest fan of this beer. It's not poorly made or anything, but the taste just had too much spruce for me, which made ot hard to drink a lot. Wouldn't seek it out again but if you love spruce this might be up your alley.

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Photo of Tilley4
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to thecoder for sending this one south from the Land O' Lakes...

Unusually Belgian aromas coming off of this jet-black brew... Earthy yeast aromas and some roasted dark maltiness blending together... strange but I sorta like it... Maybe a hint of the spruce as I get a little Christmas tree every now and then?

Dark roasted maltiness right up front followed by a little of that Christmas tree... As it warms up some, I'm getting enough of the earthiness that it reminds me of a dark Duvel.. A good thing for sure...I'm digging this a lot..

An unusual beer for sure... Very different in a good way...

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Photo of SpdKilz
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A big thanks to laymansbeerfan for this great beer. Cheers!

Appearance – Pours into a tulip with a dark black color. Just a hint of light can be seen around the edges of the glass. About a finger of tan head that dissipates slowly.

Smell – Chocolate, caramel, slight dark fruits, slight roast and spruce mixed with vanilla.

Taste – Begins with a nice roasty malt and chocolate flavor. Bits of hops, spruce, coffee, and hints of dark fruits.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, nice and creamy mouthfeel.

Overall – A pretty good beer. Wish there was a bit more spruce in it.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First, this isn't much of a porter or stout, but that's not to say it isn't good. It is. It's quite good. But unique.
Second, I'm glad I sat on it for a bit, and getting some next time and sitting on that would probably be even better.
Aroma is mostly like a farmhouse ale. Kinda' funky and a little fruity, but mostly yeast character.
Looks like a stout. Black body, tan creamy head.
Doesn't taste like a stout though. The dark malts offer a great platform for the yeasty character, but any roast and dark malt flavors are in the background. Taste retains some of the farmhouse qualities, but that too is in the background. Really tasty fruity complexity up front. I don't know if its from the spruce or yeast or combination but there is a yummy kinda' vanilla (but not really) taste that blends into a creaminess and smoothness. This is also part of a herbal/spiciness that is delicious.
Smooth for a slightly lighter body.
This was good and worth another, easily.

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Ode To A Russian Shipwright from Olvalde Farm and Brewing Company
3.92 out of 5 based on 113 ratings.
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