Zywiec Porter | Zywiec Breweries PLC (Heineken)

very good
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Zywiec PorterZywiec Porter

Brewed by:
Zywiec Breweries PLC (Heineken)

Style: Baltic Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-01-2001

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Ratings: 790 |  Reviews: 415
Photo of mfunk9786
4.89/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off, this is my first review on BeerAdvocate after lurking and reading reviews forever. I figured I'd reserve it for what I consider the best 'bang for your buck' beer on the planet (as far as I'm concerned). Let's get it going:

A: Standard one-finger head for a high alcohol porter. Doesn't pour as motor oil-dark as most Baltic porters I've had, but it certainly looks far from offensive sitting there, fitting perfectly in my Piraat glass.

S: Smell is of dark fruits and a little touch of smokiness. There's that little tobacco and chocolate smell that makes a Baltic porter so appealing after a long day, but the smell has a perfect balance that few porters have.

T: Here's where things get interesting. The most prominent flavor is that of overcooked oatmeal and lactose - it's like an oatmeal stout and a milk stout defied all odds and had a Baltic porter baby. As a huge oatmeal stout fan, this little oat touch makes me smile. There's a faint taste of chocolate, but not nearly as much as usual for this style. Dark fruit flavors craft a wonderful aftertaste that lingers long after you finish your glass.

M: The mouthfeel is a bit thin for this style, but is smooth and refreshingly carbonated for the level of alcohol.

D: Shockingly drinkable for the style, if pressed, I could guzzle this like it were spring water.

I resent Heineken for wasting a lot of my beer-drinking time and the beer-drinking time of my friends, but how could I live without their importing this amazing brew?

Oh - and as for 'bang for your buck' - a 500 ml bottle is only just over $2 at [the best beer store in the US] State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD. Why is this notable? Because this beer is a) a European import and b) better than most Baltic porters that come in 22 oz. bombers for $8-10 a pop. Dig out some change from your car's ashtray and pick up a few bottles of this, you won't regret it!

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Zywiec Porter is brewed by Heineken, but it is nothing like a Heineken lager. This is a robust Porter, and one that I have aged in my cellar for a year.

Pours dark brown with a good tan head that thins a to a fine layer of foamy bubbles, leaving some lacing on the glass.

Delicious aromas of raisins/prunes, dark chocolate, brown sugar, overlaid on toasted malt.

This beer is tasting very smooth, and after a year, still has some tartness, giving it a little bite at the start, which resolves into a delicious long aftertaste of dark chocolate ice cream with a little extra hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is rich and creamy, with a nice amount of carbonation.

I am impressed by how it is presenting after a year. At only slightly over $2 for a 500 ml bottle, you can't go wrong with this--it is I think one of the best beer bargains around for the taste it delivers.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.35/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured a very dark brown with tannosh bubbles.
Nose is malt with a burnt caramel, cocoa or burnt molasses overtone. Taste was nice with some coffee, chocolate, mainly dark and a roastiness. Mouthfeel was average, no let down. It did have a bit of an aftertaste that annoyed me.Drinkability was average.

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Photo of jbertsch
4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a small chalice - it's black with a small-ish head light brown in color. Great lacing, though.

The aroma is old and historic - a big and smokey aroma with strong malts. I also smell that extra something that I often sense in eastern European brews - it's almost like I smell the establishment it was brewed in. But I believe what I smell are the Polish hills that grow the hops used in this brew.

The taste is burly and meaty. In addition to the malt and mocha flavors, hops come through even more than they did in the aroma. Don't get me wrong, the thick smokey malts dominate here, but the hops are surprising because they offer a great bitter contrast. They're oily hops, and fairly bitter given that they can still poke their head through the bold malt here.

Mouthfeel is smooth and bold. Slight carbonation gives it just enough life.

Drinkability is quite good for something that's sporting 9.5 abv. The alcohol is barely noticeable.

Nicely done. It's like a grittier version of the Sam Smith's Taddy porter, meant to be enjoyed by someone who likes to work with their hands. This would go well with strong, sharp cheddar and bold meats.

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Photo of mrmanning
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Baltic Porter experience, thanks to MDS. Thanks a bunch Mike. My first impression of this beer was a good one. The pour was like motor oil, opaque, almost black, with just the smallest amount of light visible. The head was mocha, and was thick, with good retention. In the nose, lots was going on. Huge roasty notes filled the room. I could litetrally smell them while standing away from the glass. Upon further examination, coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, toffee and tobacco were all screaming at me. Very appealing. Silky coffee and chocolate filled my mouth, leaving tingling sensation. Burnt tobacco and roasted malt also very enjoyable. Bitter hops chocolate finish, and the alcohol was noticable as it warmed, but it was good. Definitely a sipper, and certainly worth of the average rating it has received. A very good porter, probably the best one I have had to date. This is a style I will definitely keep an eye out for . Thanks for sharing Mike!

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Photo of mmmbeer
4.4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500 mL bottle, best by 5/31/09; sampled 5/13/09. It pours damn near totally black, topped with two inches of thick brown froth that leaves nice lacing. Gentle and aromatic, with clean roastiness, blue and blackberry, licorice, mild hops, milk chocolate and a light fruitiness. Roasted and chocolate malts on the palate, with licorice, dark berries, coffee, malt sweetness, nuttiness, sturdy bitterness and a gentle warmth. The body is light and smooth, with low carbonation and a nice, dry finish. This is a great brew - so completely balanced all around and quite cheap to boot. Definitely one to revisit.

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Photo of Gehrig
4.53/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had never seen this around before yesterday, when JD the great Neil St. Piccadilly manager informed me that it had been unavailable in central IL for the longest time. It made its return in the last month or so, and a triumphant one as far as I'm concerned.

Three fat fingers of tan froth top a rich ruby body with deep brown trim. The head retention was fabulously durable, and the Duvel tulip needed an extra rinse from the sheet of lacing gracing it; stellar. Big sweet and sour porter nose, with lots of berry with dark chocolate and minty overtones.

The taste confirms this and more. Zywiec is a tremendous example of complexity in balance, with sweet berry and chocolate blending with anise, hazelnut, and a dash of roasted coffee. It astutely moves between sweet and sour, and at its best negotiates both in a mouthful. Smooth texture with a sour hint in the finish leaves me totally impressed.

Zywiec has easily catapulted itself into my top five porters around, just an outstanding example of Baltic Porter--smooth, rich, fruity but with a sour-bitter element that is not just most welcome, but surprisingly accessible and enjoyable. Brilliant beer, neck-and-neck with Okocim for the best Poland has to offer the beer world.


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Photo of blackie
4.18/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: snifter serving, topped with a good inch of mocha foam atop the deep brown porter, retention is good

s: layers of black malt, heavily caramelized sugars, black fig paste and licorice, iced coffee, mild hop presence almost minty, rich and complex aroma

m: carbonation on the low end, smooth with just a touch of spritz, creamy body on the heavier side of medium

t: smooth black malt body with layers of sweet, burnt toffee sugars, licorice in the middle moving into some roast well through the finish, high cacao chocolate, a mild noble hop adds a moderate and persistent bitterness, full of flavor but with that crisp finish characteristic of lager yeast

d: great - abv deceptively hidden

500 ml from Whole Foods, Arlington - a deal at $2.99

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Photo of Vancer
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Holy moly, looked at the label and see this big boy weighs in at 10% ish. Heckava pour of black with brown edges into the Maredsous tulip, big ol' frothy tan head lathers up and leaves a sheet of lace.

The aroma is thick with sweet malt, chocolate, and even a hit of coffee. The quaff bites with the hop backbone and woody resins dipped in fig, balancing out the initial sweet chocolate shake. Finished dry and crisp, surprising for such a big malt brew.

Very tasty brew, and at $3 a 500ml (ie a pint), a good buy for a hammerhead beverage.

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Photo of robobor
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, root-beer brown. It's quite dark, but without the opacity of some stronger stouts I've tried. It smells dry fruit sweet and (skeptical as I was when reading this in other reviews) soy sauce-y. Tastes really nice, there's a perfectly roasted flavor, not too burnt-bitter. The body is smooth and slightly carbonated, and the alcohol content is well hidden. Keep that alcohol content in mind and designate this as a sipper, you'll be just fine.

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Photo of Strawbs
4.16/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark, with a full head. Thick, chewy, but not overly sweet. You would never know this is 9.5% The alcohol is well integrated & the brew slides down easy. Not a favorite of mine, but a very good beer & when taking into account it's modest price- a real bargain.

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Photo of prsguitarsr4me
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow I was not expecting this to be any good! To my surprise this is an awesome porter -- really smooth roasted malty flavors with not-too-dark coffee, sweet bourbon underneath, and the alcohol content is a joke --- you'd never guess it from tasting it. Very thick and creamy but not syrupy. I love being surprised. DeCicco's had this for $1.50 a bottle and I'll be getting more for sure!

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Photo of sunrisesolara
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

.5L emptied into a pint glass.

A: Poured a rich, lusty black with a huge 3 finger head that took quite a while to receed. Lacing was thick.

S: Raptuous, strong hints of roasted nuts and coffee loaded with the unmistakable twang of booze.

M: Nicely balanced, full bodied with no real carbonation.

T: The alcohol doesn't overwhelm. Dark molasses comes to mind here. Very rich with intense flavors.

D: This is a very drinkable Baltic Porter, even more so because of its conventional price and availability.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Thick black brew with an almost gelatinous viscosity. The tan head is massively mountainous, but quickly recedes to a very manageable level. Maybe I poured this one a bit to aggressively.

S - Ah, bourbon-esque booziness and that mildly soy-sauce tinted smokiness that I always detect in Baltic porters. Wet firewood the morning after a night of camping (doused for safety's sake).

T - Solid smoke and savory meaty notes with a very noticeable coffee liquor note... not milky sweet coffee flavors like Kaluha.... this is more like bitter black chicory. Soy sauce also shows up... not in a bad way, I happen to like soy sauce.

M - THICK. This is full bodied like half-n-half with a big time booze kick. The heat doesn't distract from the flavors at all, but is actually a very integral part of the character of this beer.

D - Despite the noticeably high alcohol level, this is not necessarily relegated to sipping status. I drank this more quickly than I intended to (and got a bit light headed in the process) but I didn't regret the 30-40 minutes that I spent with this one, although I did find my self shaking my head and thinking "holy crap! That one really kicked my ass!" Good beer! And for the $1.95 that I picked the bottle up for, I'll be coming back for more!

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Photo of Augustiner719
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into an english pint glass

Appearance: Deep dark viscous black brown color. Huge 3 finger head that takes forever to recede. Still lingers on through the session. Incredible lacing, absolutley amazing.

Smell: Smell is muted a bit. roasted coffee beans and warm cream. toasted hazlenuts and butter come to mind. Dark malty aroma but not overpowering.

Taste: Coffee, toffee and bitter chocolate explosion. The alcohol comes through quite a bit despite the huge malt profile. Somewhat balanced, but the alcohol comes through too much despite the huge amounts of malt. Aging this would be tremendous.

Mouthfeel: Overcarbonated. If this was poured and left out for say an hour at a controlled temp it would be amazing. This might be one of those "decant" beers that would highly benifit. Medium weight on the palate, but dry lingering alcohol leaves the mouth needing something creamier.

Drinkability: This is your go to baltic porter. As i find myself getting into the porters, this seems to make the mold for what baltic porters should be like. Big bottle and high abv means 2 of these per session max. Still great and definately worth the $1.69 for the 500ml bottle!! See out now!

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Photo of zeff80
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet black color with a two-finger, caramel-colored head of thick, firm foam. It left sticky rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of coffee, malt and boozy alcohol.

T - It tasted of roasted malt with bitter, spicy, sharp hops. It almost had a soy sauce-like taste.

M - It was soft, smooth and had a slightly sticky mouthfeel. A full-bodied beer that is almost too heavy.

D - This is a great example of a Baltic Porter. It tastes great and looks good, too.

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Photo of mostpoetsdo
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark opaque brown. Very small tan head. Not much lacing.

S: A smokey coffee scent.

T: Dark and smokey malt flavor mostly. Backed up by a burnt coffee and chocolate aftertaste. Not at all boozy tasting.

M: Pretty light, considering it being 9.5%. But it does have a creamy quality to it, in addition to a heavier than expected carbonation.

D: There is not a strong alcohol taste, and it is incredibly tasty. Can put down several of these.

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Photo of keithmurray
4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - beer pours a murky ruby brown colour, half inch of tan head

Aroma is of burnt coffee grinds, chocolate and malts.

Taste - flavour of coffee, chocolate, toffee and malts, aftertaste is a pleasant coffee flavor

this beer is quite smooth, very drinkable and enjoyable. I paid $1.79 for a 500ML bottle of this and it turned out to be a good investment. This is a porter I would gladly drink again

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Photo of darklordlager
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown/black, with a good 1" light brown head that sits royally on top.

Smell is clean--Dark malt, and some roasted in there. Hop backing (or at least a noticeable bitterness--hops or dark malt?) is evident as well. Smells quenching, for how dark it is.

Taste is immediately fruity! Darker malts work their way in later, but the mildly bitter fruitness is the dominating aspect, with some roasty/bitter character coming in again near the end.

Mouthfeel is MUCH lighter/drier than the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti enjoyed earlier. If you took an Irish Dry Stout and made it quite a bit more syrupy, with a clean finish--this would be it. Kind of creamy, but with a slick element. Much cleaner than most Russian Imperials/American Doubles.

D- So good. Great depth of flavours, yet so clean! The price point won't hurt the wallet either--great.

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Photo of jkdrummer
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours more like a stout than a porter. Wonderful thick creamy head. Very very creamy mouth feel, something I usually don't pay attention to, but this one is good. Roasty flavor and chocolate bitterness and balanced with sweetness. Alcohol bite and not a session beer what so ever. Recommended if you can find it. Very affordable, I paid $2.19 a bottle.

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.48/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a 500ml bottle from Healthy Spirits a few months back. Bottle has an older looking more classic label which normally would not draw much attention. I was asking the store's buyer what he'd recommend for a porter and this is what he pointed me to. I believe the beer was only $2.19 and he mentioned it being probably the best value beer he had in the store. I pour into a large snifter to review.

An aggressive pour yields a half inch tan head that is consistent of very small bubbles. Opaque black in color. Decent retention, good lacing.

Nose is a blend of sweet roasted malts and heavy creme. Earthy hops and cocoa balance this one out nicely.

Coffee and cocoa come more to the foreground in taste. The malts are over-roasted taking on a taste bordering burnt. Alcohol very well hidden.

Full bodied and nicely carbonated, this one goes down thick and creamy. Overall a nice mouthfeel that leads to a relatively long malty finish.

The mediocre coffee hints and over-roasted malts could be improved upon, but it is amazing to me how a 9.5% ABV import of this caliber can be at this price point.

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Photo of BevMoAndrew
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a standard pint glass at about 40 degrees.

Pours a deep mahogany (almost black in color, but when held to the light, there is a clear ruby tint) with a creamy tan froth. Characteristics of Molasses, Dark berries, Chocolate, Coffee, Raisins, Roasted Malts, Caramel, & a bit of Alcohol show on the nose. The beer definitely has a weigh to it, but dry crispness (classic baltic porter). Great flavors with a bit of alcohol sweetness and tingle. A great beer (especially for only $2) and one that every dark beer fan should try!

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Photo of firkinhophead
3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle poured into an ordinary pint glass.

Thick pour kicks up a decent 1-finger head of cocoa brown head. Beer is cloudy and more brown than black.

Deep, earthy malt aroma. A bit lacking here. Some fusels start to dominate.

Taste is big and robust, with lots of roasty toastiness. Molasses like sweetness gets slapped down before it can even raise its head. Burnt bread, coffee beans, bittersweet chocolate, and licorice. Prune, fig preserves contribute a deep, dark fruitiness. Dark bread bordering on chocolate cookie keeps the strong flavors from overwhelming. Rum-soaked raisins and a bit too much licorice as it warms.

Smooth going in, with a firm bitterness in the finish that seems to come mostly from the roasted malts. Alcohol warmth rises up late and leaves a bit of burn in the throat, but not overly hot. Full-bodied and viscous, it clings to the palate like a big bear hug.

Drinkability is great at first, inviting big sips, not dainty ones. Starts kickin' like a Polish draft horse as it warms, though. I can imagine a bar full of Eastern European dockworkers getting pretty rowdy on this stuff on a winter night. Great stuff. Really like an imperial brown ale with its big body and earthy malts.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.6/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I swear to god, I am not getting senile. My reviews are disappearing. At any rate, this beauty pours out to a clear dark brown, forming a tall light tan head with excellent retention and lacing. 9.5% ABV. $2.19 for a 500ml bottle. Medium carbonation. The aroma is heavenly with sorghum molasses, raisins, and prunes. The taste is wonderful. Full bodied, creamy, with a big molasses kick, followed by dark fruits, mild bitterness in the aftertaste, and a clean ferment.

Everything that a baltic porter should be,this is up near Okocim and Synebrychoff. Excellent buy, consistently excellent quality. Very highly recommended.

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Photo of bum732
4.28/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black with some ruby tints, nice creamy head with great retention leaving amazing lacing. Smells of mostly dark fruits, prunes and raisins, molasses, some chocolate. Tastes of dark fruity malt with a nice wave of chocolate. Fairly sweet with a nice backbone of chocolate and plums, hops almost non-existent. Roastiness comes through in the finish ending slightly sweet with some roastiness on a mostly clean palate. Alcohol very well hidden, nice creamy mouthfeel, fairly low carbonation.

A really nice baltic porter, not usually a fan, but this was a winner. Dark fruits weren't too overwhelming up front with the chocolate and roastiness taking the foreground near the finish. Very complex with every component working, fantastic!

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Zywiec Porter from Zywiec Breweries PLC (Heineken)
3.94 out of 5 based on 790 ratings.
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