Friday, February 19, 2016

DuClaw's Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter (6/10)

DuClaw Brewing Co. of Baltimore, Maryland, makes Sweet Baby Jesus.  This is a peanut butter flavored porter, described on the label as "A classic, full-bodied robust porter with a smooth,  dry finish and just enough hops to balance aromas and flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, and peanut butter."  The bottle pictured here is the third time I've had the beer.  Once was at a beer event.  The second time at a restaurant where it was the only craft beer choice that wasn't an IPA.  So I think I have a pretty fair and accurate picture of Sweet Baby Jesus across time, draft vs. bottle and place.

The beer pours a pitch black color with thin medium brown head that doesn't last long or leave behind any lacing.

The aroma is a mix of peanut butter and roasted grain, with hints of coffee and chocolate.  It smells as much like a dessert as anything.  It puts me in mind of a Snickers pie or some kind of mocha peanut butter dessert.  A+ to DuClaw on the aroma.  They nailed that!

The flavor starts very malty, with no hint of hops, chocolate, coffee, or peanut butter.  In that instant, it's almost like DuClaw pulled the rug out from under you because nothing from the aroma appears in the initial taste.  After that surprise wears off, roasted malt, a hint of chocolate, a touch of peanut butter, and a well-balanced hops bitterness swells up.  There's a kind of sourness that I get in most porters that is more subdued here, perhaps hiding behind that swirl of powerful flavors.  The finish is bitter, kind of a mix of coffee and hops, and lingers quite a while.

Bear in mind as you read this that I fell out of love with porters a while ago.  They were probably favorite beer at one point.  I brewed a few before once day realizing I just didn't like them much anymore.  Even today, it's a style that I "don't mind" but can't say that I love.

Given that warning, it's probably no surprise that my rating for this beer is a 6 out of 10.  The aroma's a clear 10 out of 10.  If I ever brewed something that smelled that great, I'd be proud.  While I love the aroma, the base beer is primarily a porter.  A good porter, to be sure.  I like it, and I want to love it, but I just don't.  I don't think it's the beer's fault, or DuClaw's.  I think it's just not the beer for me.

That said, Beer Advocate rates Sweet Baby Jesus a 70 to an 85.  Honestly, I think I'd easily rate this a 7 or 8 out of 10 if I wasn't burnt out on porters.  Rate Beer gives it a 93 overall, which seems pretty high to me.  It's a good beer, but I'm not quite sure it warrants a 93 out of 100.

If you want to try this one for yourself, I found this bottle at the Giant Eagle Market District in Upper Arlington, but I've seen it at other Giant Eagle locations and on draft at a variety of restaurants, such as Pizza House near Morse Road.

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