Bourbon Porter | Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

very good
22 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our award-winning Pig Iron Porter aged in bourbon barrels with whole vanilla beans. Roasty malt and pronounced bourbon flavors with a nice vanilla aroma. Served on nitrogen.

40 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-01-2005

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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 41
Photo of chinchill
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On nitro tap at the brewpub in Media, PA.
Pours with a red-brown body that has good clarity and highlights. Creamy tan head and a full coat of sticky lacing.

Lots of bourbon an BBL flavor, partially masking the underlying porter (consumed immediate before the special version). Very good bitter-sweet balance. No sour or other off notes. Compared to the original, this i slightly more sweet, has some vanilla notes, and there is less smoke in the finish and aftertaste.
Medium body and soft carbonation. Much smoother than the original.

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Photo of garuda
3.84/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Ruby body, clear around the edges. White head has good retention with some lacing.

S/T - Balanced blend of roasted, chocolate malts with vanilla and oak.

M - I know it's nitro-tap, but it's still thin, a little watery. I don't really get that rich nitro feel.

O - Nice balance of flavors and aromas. Mouthfeel kinda takes away from it, but still nice and drinkable.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16oz glass. Served on Nitro-Tap at Iron Hill Wilmington in Summer '12. Served in a pint glass

A: Pours pitch black. Pretty much no light get through aside from some reddish hues around the top of the glass. Finger of light tan head. It's fluffy for the nitro tap. Sticking around a for almost the whole drink.

S: Immediately I get bourbon. Lots of vanilla and oak. Sort of masks the other porter hints. You do get some chocolate. Also, some of that coconut character.

T: Flavor follows the nose. Lots of bourbon character. It's thin. And the porter characteristics are a little masked. I wish I was getting more coffee and/or chocolate from it like the normal PI porter. As i sip on it, i do get some rich milk chocolate flavors. On the close, you are left with soft vanilla.

M: Medium bodied but thinner than I would like for a beer like this. It's very drinkable especially in the summer.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On nitro-tap at Iron Hill Media. Pours nearly jet black with a creamy off white head of great size and retention. Nitro makes for a beautiful beer and this one is no exception. Nose exhibits roastiness, bittersweet chocolate, prominent boost Bourbon and Vanilla. Hints of coconut.

The flavor sports some heavy duty barrel characteristics; boozy heat, Bourbon flavor, and oak are all discerned. Fans of vanilla will enjoy this one as well as the addition od Madagascar beans make it a central flavor note, not a subtle one. All this takes center stage with the usual chocolate and roasted malt aspects of the Pig Iron Porter playing a supporting role.

This has the smooth mouthfeel of a typical nitro beer; medium bodied with modest carbonation. The nitro treatment tamps down the flavor and aroma much less than expected; the heavy Bourbon barrel prescence and aggressive vanilla flavor pretty much see to that. One might argue that the base beer isn't exactly big enough to support such treatment; I still enjoyed this one as a nightcap following a lit of lighter fare.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.02/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

From nitro-tap to tasting glass at Iron Hill Newark, DE on 4/14/12
*From notes

A: Rich brownish, like a 60% dark chocolate bar. A creamy, cascading .25 finger head tops the brew. Solid lacing clings to the side of the glass as I drink it.

S: My Dad put his nose in there and said, "Oh my god...did they put coconut in there?" Rich, creamy cocoa, toasted coconut and a bit of dark bourbon make for a wonderfully pleasing bouquet.

T: Lots of bourbon up front, yet it's not overly hot. The vanilla beans really exude themselves on the mid, where it adds a creaminess to what is otherwise a bit of a chocolate bomb. Coconut rounds out the brew. Tasty stuff to be sure.

M: Needs more oomph. I know it's a nitro-tap. I'm also aware that the beer is only packing 5.3% ABV. But come on - gimme some complexity here.

O: Had it not been on nitro, you can bet your sweet ass I'd have gotten a growler of this tasty little number. One of the best low-ABV porters I've come across. Delicious. The nose seals the deal here, and though the feel is underwhelming, it's not detrimental to the overall presentation. Well done, Iron Hill. Easily recommended.

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Photo of yourefragile
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on nitro, aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla beans. At Maple Shade's Barrels, Bourbon and Bugs event 2012.

Pours a dark, clear brown with a retentive cream head, nice lace. Rich nose of vanilla and bourbon, mild malt and caramel, dark fruit finish. Sweetness from the treatment overwhelms the Pig Iron Porter. Minimal roast or malt presence in the flavor, bourbon, vanilla bean and chocolate dominate, with a watery finish. Syrupy, medium body with very low carbonation. Lacks the depth of the base porter, but if you like bourbon and vanilla I guess this might work for you.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on nitro-tap at Iron Hill, Media, PA

Pours opaque black with a thick finger of foamy head. Roasty malts in the aroma accompanied by obvious bourbon. Roasted malts and cocoa in the taste, mild vanilla in the background, and definite alcohol presence. Medium mouthfeel, but smooth, thanks to the nitro, and pretty drinkable.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On nitro-tap @ Iron Hill Lancaster on 4/8/11. Served in a footed 10oz glass. It looks like it’s time to un-retire this guy!

Pours black in the glass, topped with a tight finger of mocha colored head. That nitro pour keeps this rich and creamy looking, drenching the sides with a ton of robust lacing. The aroma is rich in the nostrils with notes of vanilla, coconut, bourbon, cocoa, a touch of dark fruit, and an overall general oakiness about the nose. This is nice.

The taste is smooth and mellow on the palate, with a mix of vanilla, bourbon, chocolate, roast, and citric hops. The combo of the vanilla, citrus, and oaky tannins really gives this a bit of a green tanginess on the tongue. That bourbon warmth and wood dries the finish on this out with some strength. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, maybe a touch fuller, with a pleasant smooth crispness to it from the nitro, which really keeps this moving nicely in the mouth.

I missed this the first couple of times it was one at the Lancaster location and man, I really was missing something here! I loved how the nitro mellowed the barrel aging, helping meld the flavors together and keeping this smooth on the palate. I really enjoyed this and hopefully we’ll get to see more of it in the future.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.44/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Transcribed from undated notes.

This was the last of the evening for me and I was anxious after the less-than-satisfying Trippel. It came with a thick cap of light-tan head with decent retention. The color was a deep dark-brown with low light penetration. The bourbon nose was accentuated by the vanilla, really making my mouth water! Mouthfeel was full and creamy with a very pleasant intermingling of the bourbon and vanilla sweetness on the tongue. Finish had a nice mellow flavor, not at all hot or overly sweet like some that evening. Mellow ... mmmm.

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Photo of bonkers
4.32/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on tap last night. It was served in a standard pint glass, pitch black and a big, long lasting white head. The aroma was big bourbon, without being overpowering. The first taste was mild vanilla, then a big hit of bourbon. The finish lingered and was sweet and alcoholic. The beer had a big creamy mouthfeel. The beer had a nitr-tap mouthfeel, but the server said it was not.

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Photo of akorsak
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on nitro at the Lancaster brewpub.

A: The porter is black, dark and enigmatic. The black color stands in stark contrast to the the white nitro-driven head. The foam is densely compacted, frozen in time. As I drank the porter, the foam clinged in strata to the sides.

S: The nose is heavy on the bourbon and not so much so on the porter. The bourbon is tangy, with vanilla and booze notes. The alcohol is well-restrained, making the best IH Lancaster bourbon-barrel offering (see tripel, braveheart and RIS, barrel-aged).

T: The nitro has smoothed out the bourbon, reducing its strength and vastly improving the drinkability. Vanilla and pepper flavors manage to appear through the nitro creaminess. Chocolate and darker malts solidify the taste and remind you that this is a porter. An enjoyable brew.

M: The bourbon is relaxed, present but not in your face like some earlier bourbon offerings. I'd love to sip this on a regular draught.

D: Under 6%, this is a barrel-aged beer that won't knock you out. The best Iron Hill Lancaster barrelled brew.

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Photo of ljbrisson
4.11/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Don't know why this is shown as retired, since I had it on tap over the weekend.

Iron Hill brewery in Wilmington, DE. Wife and I were taking a Sunday joyride, doing some errands out of Philly, when inspiration hit me. I asked my wife, "Hey, want to go to Iron Hill for lunch?" She enthusiastically accepted; we had been to Iron Hill once before and liked it all right, but it was a crowded time of day and we wanted to give it another shot. When we got there, I had a Vienna Red Lager with the nacho appetizer we ordered. Both were decent. The beer is one of the only beers my wife admits that she likes, besides Lindemann's Peche. However, the whole time I was excited for the lunch food pairing I had settled on: Bourbon Porter on nitro, and a BBQ burger. Heavenly. On to the review.

This is my first review of a bourbon-aged beer; I had no idea what to expect, as my knowledge of how bourbon aging works and what the beer tastes like is negligible. Beer was poured a dark brown-red into a pint glass with about a 1/2 finger off-white head that settled to a cap for the entirety of the drink. Aroma was a little smoky, but very sweet, which caught me off-guard. I expected more woodiness from the barrels. Mouthfeel was very smooth due to the nitro, but not overly so, with a medium body. Taste was lots of vanilla sweetness (at this point I did a double-take), with smoke, a bit of wood, toffee, and a nice roastiness, with a very dry finish. I do not recall much hop presence. The smoky, sweet flavors paired perfectly with my sweet BBQ burger.

Overall this was a fantastic beer. I would definitely order this again if it were available on my next trip to Iron Hill. I might even spring for my first growler.

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Photo of HopDerek
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brownish black with 2 fingers of creamy tan head. Nice retention and lacing lines. Smells of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and light alcohol warmth. Tastes of roasted malt, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, floral hops, and bourbon. Medium in body, smooth and creamy with a good roasted feel and a slight bitter finish. Not as bourbon-y as I would like, but a very good porter, great on nitro.

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Photo of DIM
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is the Pig Iron Porter aged in a bourbon barrel. I think I tasted vanilla beans, but I could not confirm.

a: This was dark brown bordering on black. It was served to me with a short, long lasting, creamy white head.

s: Smell is a little out of balance. I got bourbon and plenty of vanilla. I couldn't find much porter.

t: Same as the smell. The boozy vanilla was pleasant to drink, but their wasn't much porter. As it warmed, I could taste some oak.

m: It's a small porter, so it is a little watery. The nitro-tap creaminess is wonderful though.

d: I enjoyed this, but only because I like bourbon. Maybe this beer was too small for the barrel.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a dark brown with cola edges and a creamy cocoa film.

Smells of a swift astringent sting of fresh bourbon, O.J. and a dry leaf tang with some marshmallows roasted over a campfire.

Tastes fo a smooth but potent raw bourbon. A little too fresh here, I might add. There's a base of half and half and a distinct creamy coffee. A little toffee too? Not much balancing the bourbon, but it's still good.

Feels present and slick with a welcome dryness.

Not much balance here, and a little too much to drink out of a mug, but still a tasty beer.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.14/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clearish, dark brown body with a teeny, tiny ring of beige-colored bubbles.

Smell: Sweet-smelling, chocolatey aroma full of dark maltiness and all the obligatory bourbon notes of wood, vanilla, brown sugar, and shaved coconut.

Taste: Rich, dark malt taste with a medium sweetness. Milk chocolate malt balls - like a mouth full of Whoppers. Again, all of the expected bourbon aspects, all of them expertly blended; nothing overbearing or obnoxious. Sweetish finish with a fair amount of wood.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Very mild carbonation.

Drinkability: Iron Hill sure does get these bourbon beer

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Photo of tempest
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark brown with a tan head. Tiny bubbles here, and drinks incredibly smooth. The aroma is of smooth bourbon and mellow chocolate grains. The flavor is a balance of the vanilla bourbon, oak, and the dark, cocoa and toffee flavors. While it's very easy to drink, I found the flavor a little too mild for this to be a great beer. The balance of bourbon and malt was there, but there wasn't enough of either flavor. That said, I'd still recommend this tasty treat.

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Photo of tgbljb
2.59/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Served as a very dark brown colored beer with moderate tannish head.
Smell is loaded with whiskey, which overshadows any other sensations.
Taste is also loaded with whiskey, which overshadows any other taste sensations.
Finish is all about whiskey, and nothing else.
For someone who does not enjoy bourbon whiskey, this beer is undrinkable

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Photo of Biscuit033
4.2/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brown that you can see through, creamy head that has great retension and lacing.

S: Slight vanilla upfront, bourbon, then smoke.

T: Bourbon, vanilla, cream, and smoke.

M: Creamy, smooth, medium-full body, with a nice dry finish.

D: This would make a great after dinner beer that would replace a whiskey drink.

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Photo of kernalklink
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice nitro tap head and mouthfeel, brew looks great in the pint glass. Slightly toasted malts and toffee come through in the aroma, the taste is chocolatey malts, a hint of vanilla bean and the very obvious bite of the bourbon, a slight warming effect on the throat. Very satisfying, but heavy; nonetheless its a good example of the style.

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Photo of Sammy
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This has stayed on since the winter. The nitro tap kills the stout/porter taste and all you are left with is corn bourbon from the barrel. A drop of mid-sip vanilla. Corn sweet finish. I could have poured water from that same barrel to get this taste. Or iced tea.

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Photo of weeare138
4.29/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a dark brownish black with a fluffy tan head that is left around the glass.
Smell is of oaky bourbon with cocoa, vanilla, and perhaps a touch of mint and anise.
Taste is of the same. Pretty wonderful...if you're a bourbon fan that is.
Mouthfeel is creamy smooth, with a mild bit of oilyness that resides. Carbonation seems fine, considering it's a nitro draft.
Overall, I think this is a great brew. Captured the whiskey oak barrel aging nicely and it compliments the chocolatey flavors of the porter.

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Bourbon Porter from Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
3.83 out of 5 based on 41 ratings.
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