Perrin Malted Milk Ball Imperial Porter
Perrin Brewing Co.

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Style:
American Imperial Porter
Ranked #30
ABV:
12%
Score:
94
Ranked #1,391
Avg:
4.3 | pDev: 9.53%
Reviews:
20
Ratings:
158
From:
Perrin Brewing Co.
 
Michigan, United States
Avail:
Rotating
Wants
  31
Gots
  25
SCORE
94
Outstanding
Notes: This sophisticated ale was made with cacao nibs, malted milk and French Polynesian vanilla beans and aged for nine months in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels. Malt Ball recently won a silver medal at the second largest barrel-aged beer festival in the country!
Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 158 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Tripel_Threat
4.28/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Very nice porter. Poured from bomber to snifter. Dark, cola liquid with a rim of khaki bubbles. Aromas of cocoa and cream, vanilla and light roast. Some barrel character shows in the flavor, but just an accent; it's mostly rich cocoa and sweet vanilla cream. Quite silky, medium full.

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Photo of kojevergas
3/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Currently #45 in the Top Rated Michigan Beers list and #29 in the Top Rated American Imperial Porters list.

BOTTLE: Courtesy of Katelynn and Vince - thanks! 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with a branded crown cap and an elegant gold & black label.

"Imperial Porter Aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels." "Ale made with cacao, vanilla, and lactose sugar." Aged in oak bourbon barrels for 9 months.

HEAD: ~1cm in height and pale khaki in colour, dying in less than a minute...not robust, but then I suppose that's to be expected in a 12% ABV brew. Leaves no lacing on the sides of the glass as it slowly recedes.

BODY: Opaque brown-black. No yeast/lees are visible.

Appears well (or perhaps slightly under?) carbonated. Generally appealing but not a stand-out appearance for an imperial porter. The gilded tan head found in the best expressions of the style is absent here.

AROMA: The vanillin of the bourbon barrel is evident, but I don't get bourbon's finer notes (e.g. toasted white oak, rich coconut) or barrel sugars/barrel char. Subdued scintillae of dark fruit. I don't know that I'd find lactose sugar if I approached this without knowing it was in there; it blends in seamlessly with the malt sweetness. The vanilla is similarly indistinguishable from the bourbon barrel vanillin; it's not so authentic that it's recognizably vanilla bean-derived. Cacao? It mixes with the chocolate malt.

Where the bourbon barrel should accentuate the additives and vice versa, they don't - one just replaces/eclipses the other, and it's the more rudimentary note in each case. I'd rather have rich cacao nibs evoked than mere chocolate malt,. actual vanilla bean than barrel vanilla, etc. (though judging by the implied sweetness of the aroma, this doesn't seem like it needed the lactose sugar at all).

I'm missing any bitterness contributors (e.g. roasted barley, coffee, hops), and it seems a bit too sweet as a result though it doesn't seem like a dessert beer.

Doesn't seem too warm alcohol-wise. I detect no off-notes.

Aromatic intensity is actually somewhat mild, at least for a 12% ABV bourbon barrel aged imperial porter with a bunch of additives.

Suggests an enjoyable imperial porter but not a top tier one.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Matching the aroma, the vanillin is the first thing I notice but it doesn't quite sing like I'd hope in a bourbon barrel aged vanilla bean brew. Beyond the vanillin and some vaguely dark fruit-evocative barrel sugars, I don't really get much from the bourbon barrel...no rich white oak, no barrel char, no coconut, no whiskey warmth; I expected more from a 9 month barrel aged beer. Doesn't compare to Founders or Dark Horse in terms of bourbon barrel notes, let alone to great executions thereof from outside its state.

A bit coarser than I expected, with the lactose giving it an almost chewy texture when coupled with the barrel sugars and what tastes like a yeasty sludgy sediment (though it's not as unpleasant as that description makes it sound). Wet, unrefreshing. Thick but not syrupy. Has adequate weight on the palate. Adequately carbonated. Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, or otherwise overtly problematic, but it could do without the sedimentary feel and it does seem a bit on the heavy side given its merely moderate depth and intensity of flavour.

I don't taste any cacao/cocoa nibs...just chocolate malt. The lactose sugar sweetness is indeed unnecessary as I feared, injecting added sweetness where the dark malt backbone offered enough. It's too far towards the sweet end of the spectrum for my taste as a result, but that's not to say it's egregiously imbalanced or a saccharine chore to drink.

I guess I just want more balance and more flavour. Some barrel char and roasted barley would go a long way towards balancing this out with needed bitterness, and I'd like to see them ditch the lactose sugar and consider coffee, chicory, or some other similar additive that would impart bitterness instead of sweetness. Cacao nibs are wasted on this and it isn't as expressive bourbon-wise as you'd expect in a 9 month barrel aged brew. Choose a better bourbon I guess, age it longer, and/or ask Founders how they work their miracles?

OVERALL: They don't really deliver on the premise...this tastes less like malted milk balls/Whoppers than many a stout and porter I've tried that wasn't going for that specific flavour. It can't hold a candle to Founders' bourbon barrel beers, it's too sweet (but still drinkable), and doesn't deliver the goods when it comes to its adjunct/additives. It does hide its ABV well, but I think they threw a bunch of shit at a shoddy base beer hoping it would stick and unfortunately additives, adjuncts, lactose sugar, and barrel aging can't make up for a lackluster foundation.

I'd sooner drink Victory At Sea, which is available in the more approachable and more reasonably priced 12 fl oz format, but this is not a bad beer by any stretch. Still, it's a letdown from Perrin.

High C (3.00) / AVERAGE

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Photo of Wolvmar
4.12/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

April 2019
Bomber, no date that I could find but pretty sure it’s a 2017 vintage as I think I bought two (see earlier 2017 review below). Poured into tulip glass.

Going to make this short as my experience this time is very consistent with the prior review.
Pour isn’t very impressive this time. Very little head, slight lacin.
Definite bourbon presence even after more aging. But not overdone, just right at the limit I like. Still plenty of chocolate and maybe milder vanilla as it’s not bothering me this time.
Maybe a little less of a full mouthfeel; even a bit watery feeling.
This beer is worth trying if you like big, boozy, chocolate BA beer.

=====

Fall 2018
Pour: bomber bought nearly a year ago (Fall 2017, I think). Poured into red solo cup :(. Dark brown, from what I could see. Nice tan head that lingers and left lots of lacing on the beautiful plastic cup.

Nose: vanilla, whisky, chocolate. Fairly pungent. Also wonderful plastic notes from the cup.

Taste: big chocolate; more dark than milk. Big vanilla that mellows and sweetens but is a bit much for me. Whisky next in line and not shy either. Traces of molasses, caramel, oak, and plastic.

Mouthfeel: really rich and viscous. This defines the milkshake feel. Moderate carbonation. Love it.

Overall: the plastic cup makes it tough to review. But, this is really big and good other than a bit to much vanilla for me. Would definitely try it agaIn, but in a proper vessel.

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Photo of stortore
3.97/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Had 10/6/18.

Pours a dark brown, somewhat opaque, with a half inch quickly dissipating head and spotty, soapy cling. It really does smell pretty much like a malted milk ball. Aromas of cocoa, lactose, vanilla, chocolate, malt, marshmallow, some brown sugar. Didn’t notice any bourbon barrel. The taste is similar, but not as candy- like. Flavors of chocolate, vanilla, light bourbon- a bit more as it warms, malt, less lactose than the nose, some cocoa, light caramel. Smooth, a good medium to full body- although a touch thin feeling, well carbonated.

Not bad, but had higher expectations for this. Has a very good aroma, but there’s a lack of depth in the flavor. Barrels were minimal, as well. One of the rare times I liked a stout/porter less as I worked through the bottle.

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.15/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted in a snifter from draft at Consume on December 20, 2018. Brewed with lactose and spiced with vanilla and cacao nibs. Aged for 9 months in oak bourbon barrels.

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Photo of 2beerdogs
3.89/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks superspak. Record in NBS BIF #8
Dark brown, damn near black. Sandy to mocha colored head pushes nearly 2 fingers high, lingers, then slowly retreats to a thin cap. Little lacing.
Smell is lush. Combo of sweet: chocolate, caramel, fudge before it cools. Subtle roasted coffee comes through as well.
Taste follows in a more subdued way. As it warms you get a little more of the sweet flavors from the nose, but most of that is tapered by the roast, hints of wood, and the coffee notes. Hints of char, and maybe a smattering of bitter hops contribute to this drop in sweetness.
Mouthfeel is on the fuller side for a porter. Slight on the carbonation.
Overall, a very solid offering. I'd love it even more if the taste followed the nose more faithfully.

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Photo of REVZEB
4.18/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured a thick black with receding brown bubbles. Smell had that sweet malt aroma, really nailed that aspect, with some slight vanilla, bourbon, wood and chocolate. Taste had this sweet chocolate cereal complexion, good but not as candy like as expected. Feel though had wonderful malt work, smooth viscous booze, and a dark finish that was lasting. The wife loved this one

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Photo of darktronica
4.06/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When fresh out of the fridge, this really nails the concept of a malted milk ball candy, with the classic mix of chocolate, malt, vanilla, milk, and nougat notes. Minimal barrel character when chilled, considering the alleged 9 months of ageing. More starts to emerge as the beer warms, but this is also where some of the candy elements start to break down, in favor of sharper alcohol notes. On the whole, I prefer it cold, but this is still a bit of a novelty. Moderately thin body.

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Photo of RaulMondesi
4.2/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Man... here I am thinkin’, here I am drinkin’, and I almost don’t know! Raul gonna call this the Johnny Depp of beers cuz it’s kind of all over the place. Ed Wood, yeah, you know what? This thang tastes pretty damn good! The Lone Ranger - wtf is up with this insipid mouthfeel? And it makes Raul think: can you like and not like something at the same time? Nah, I ain’t gonna play malted milk like that, the mouth feel ain’t that bad, but like a Behati Prinsloo centerfold, I expect a lil more. Still a great beer.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
3.9/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Released 9/8/18; drank 10/24/18 @ the Yarchives. Black/brown appearance. A violent pour yielded a nice khaki head; frothy lace. Caramel, autumn leaves & milk chocolate notes in the nose. Medium thick mouthfeel. Caramel, autumn leaves & cream flavors up front; milk chocolate & faint fresh earth notes on the finish. No booze heat. Too sweet, but that's understandable considering the intentions; overall, drinkable but not revelatory.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.15/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a deep dark brown with a thin off white head. Light sticky lacing.

S - Aroma is vanilla, milk chocolate and bourbon.

T - The taste vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, milk chocolate and bourbon.

M - Medium bodied with low carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with soft dry finish.

O - This is a pretty nice BBA porter. The vanilla adds a nice sweetness without making the beer overly sweet.

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Photo of jvgoor3786
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep tan with a quick, fizzy head that left no lacing.

The smell is sweet like a milk stout with vanilla and bourbon.

The taste is also very sweet with lots of chocolate and vanilla. The barrel is subtle but present.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin and slightly effervescent.

Overall a nice beer, very sweet, but it does taste like a malted milk ball.

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Photo of Red5StandingBy
3.74/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 22oz into Benchmark brewing Seidel Mug. No date.

L: Deep dark brown, some light does indeed make it through. Little to no head so retention is already poor. A decent ring sticks around.

S: You can definitely smells a malted milk ball note here, a lot of the aroma is backed by the bourbony vanilla, The malted milk ball really comes I think from the cacao nibs. The Bourbon and Vanilla bean really hold it in check which is nice.

T: Definitely a massively chocolatey beer. Tons upon tons of Cacao Nib presence. The Bourbon really cuts through with a touch of vanilla along with the vanilla bean. Not super complex but decently tasty.

F: Full bodied, crisp, lingering bourbon and chocolate presence.

O: Pretty solid beer, definitely for Bourbon/Chocolate lovers. I am a huge Perrin fan so knowing my review is the lowest yet makes me feel like I am decently unbiased.

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Photo of maximum12
4.03/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to rkitchen for this 22 oz. bottle, which I wanted to try based on the description alone. Barrel aged Kit Kat beer next? Please? Split with my wife.

The pour is dark. Like a porter. The nose is much milder than expected: mild vanilla, gentle chocolate, generic sweetness. Let’s kick this up when I put it in my mouth, OK?

Malted Milk Ball – if the candy tasted this good, I’d set up a malted milk ball line in my basement. Ribald cocoa bursts forth at high speed, coating the palate & suffusing everything it touches. Rich vanilla wraps long legs around the cocoa before the barrel arrives, providing a jab of booziness, stolid bourbon, & lip-drying wood. Caramel & big brown sugar sweetness wrap up the package. Rich. Oh so drinkable. Sweet enough to make my lovely dental hygienist cringe in horror.

I’ve used the word twice & now three times: supremely rich. Lovely integration of the chocolate & the barrel, & one more success from Perrin. Excellent brew.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter; no bottle dating, but is a recent release. Pours nearly opaque dark brown/black color with a 1 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, toffee, cream, fudge, marshmallow, coconut, bourbon, and toasted oak; with light notes of molasses, smoke, char, coffee, mint, herbal, and roast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great complexity and balance of dark/roast malts, lactose, vanilla, cocoa, and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Touch of booze in the aromas as it warms, but not overwhelming. Taste of big milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, toffee, cream, fudge, marshmallow, coconut, bourbon, and toasted oak; with light notes of molasses, smoke, char, coffee, mint, herbal, and roast/toasted earthiness. Light herbal hop/roast bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish. Lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, toffee, cream, fudge, marshmallow, coconut, bourbon, toasted oak, light molasses/smoke, and roast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast malts, lactose, vanilla, cocoa, and bourbon barrel flavors; with a nice roasted bitter/sweet and bourbon/oak spiciness balance; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Slightly drying from roast bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness. Mild carbonation and medium-full body; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/silky/velvety, and slightly chalky/tannic mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden; a mildly increasing warmth, with minimal booziness lingering after the finish. Overall this is an awesome barrel aged imperial porter. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast malts, lactose, vanilla, cocoa, and bourbon barrel flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to sip on for the huge ABV. For 9 months in the barrel it's not huge on bourbon, but definitely adequate. Never overly sweet or heavy, but definitely rich on flavors as expected for a dessert style beer. A really enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.07/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

32 oz. howler poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Almost black. A little transparent at the edges. Medium collar.

Smell - Lots of whiskey. Tons of vanilla. Nutty malts. Milk chocolate. Definitely has a malt ball aroma.

Taste - Woody as hell. Whiskey permeates. Vanilla is very strong. Malt flavor has a chocolate flavor. Nutty caramel malt in the finish. Less of the malt ball flavor, though.

Mouthfeel - Sharp whiskey. Medium body. Could be chewier.

Overall - Surprisingly good. Good beer, barrel, and adjuncts.

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Photo of strohme2
3.95/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Re-reviewing from a more recent (and presumably a different recipe). Word on the street is the brewer that created the original left Perrin and took his recipe with him.
22 ounce bottle poured into tulip. Pours a deep chestnut brown with tan 1 finger head. Leaves very minimal lacing on the glass. Dusty chocolate, vanilla, oak and sweet bourbon on the nose. The smell is incredible. Rich chocolate, smooth vanilla, nutty, caramel and oak and great bourbon barrel notes. Unfortunately, does not taste like a malted milk ball. Big, boozy alcohol heat at the finish, especially as it warms. The mouthfeel lacks here, especially from the original beer. For an "imperial porter" I expect a big, chewy body. Feel is disappointingly thin. Overall, this beer had all the potential to be just as awesome as the original but it just falls comparatively flat.

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Photo of Badger6
4.59/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on draft 22 Mar 2014.

A: Dark black body, tan head with decent retention. Nice lacing.

S: Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Malty sweetness. Bourbon and oak are hinted.

T: Bourbon and oak lead, and carry through to the finish. These are undertones, and not overbearing. Milk chocolate comes in quickly, and goes to the finish, with the roasted malts coming out neat the end. Not quite a malted milk ball, but pretty damn close.

M: Thick, with soft carbonation. The malts leave a lot of sticky sweetness on the palate, to complement a slight bitterness in the finish. Well balanced.

O: WOW! If you visit the Perrin tap room, try this...it's not perfect, but it's really, really good.

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Photo of lurpy1
4.66/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Hopes were low for this one after suffering through a Perrin Grapefruit IPA. Figured thiw was another upstart with no business barrel aging. Wrong! Artful use of the barrel on this one. Does it taste like Whoppers? Nah. More like Milk Duds though, and that works for me.

Growlers of this are worth trading for at a modest premium. Wonderful beer. Go get.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.63/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours thick dark black with a good one finger tan head that has good retention. There is some nice lacing also around the glass

Smell is awesome there is a rich chocolate note forward before a nice candy like presence of Malted milk comes in giving the brew a super creamy milk chocolate aroma. Some good amounts if bourbon along with hints of oak finish in the nose.

Taste is also great. Bourbon and hints of oak are more on the front end relative to the smell but persist nicely throughout the whole brew. More rich milk chocolate comes in midway through the swallow and persists thought the brew with notes of roasted slightly charred malt.

Mouthfeel is great moderately thick with mild carbonation keeps this soft and drinkable. Lots of stickiness from the malt and slight roasted bitterness. Nicely balanced.

Overall this was a great imperial porter tons of rich creamy chocolate notes and a mild bourbon presence. I would love to have some bottles of this to put away and see what happens.

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Perrin Malted Milk Ball Imperial Porter from Perrin Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 158 ratings