In the grips of a Minnesota winter, many of us crave a nice big beer to warm our bones and dazzle our palates. Tin Whiskers has put forth a tremendous and unique offering in their Barrel Shifter Porter, an oak-aged porter with plenty of flavor and warmth to get you through these chilly nights.
The Barrel Shifter is a bigger beer at 8% ABV and is very balanced at 48 IBUs. I tried this beer at the taproom and it is served in a 10 oz. glass. The beer has a little bit of a head on it and the its obsidian color is incredibly appealing to the eye. The aroma consists of roasted malt and a slight barrel-aged aroma that is not too overpowering. My one fear with this beer was that the barrel aging would muddle out some of the other flavors and aromas, but the brewer made sure that all of the flavors and aromas were able to be present in this beer.
As I continued to drink, the head dissipated and clung to the sides of the glass. This beer drinks very easy and smooth. The bite from the roasted malt are balanced out by the nice chocolate notes and slight hint of cherry from the wood. The vanilla, another flavor that can sometimes overshadow other things going on in the beer, is also just the right amount and not too over-the-top. There is also a slight dark chocolate aftertaste that left me feeling very satisfied with this beer. All the flavors intensify as the porter warms up. Beers like this are best enjoyed when you have ample time to do so. With each delicious sip of the Barrel Shifter, the dread of Monday seemed to dissipate. I was enjoying a great beer and watching the NFL playoff game along with the rest of the patrons. What a great way end a weekend!
The beertender said that this beer has been popular with the Tin Whiskers patrons and I totally agree. This beer is an ideal winter seasonal. It has a great combination of sweetness from the chocolate malt and vanilla. When you factor in the balancing component of roasted malt and the slight cherry flavor from the cherry wood that was used in the aging, the beer comes together in a harmonious way. If you are lucky enough to see it on tap around town, I urge you to try a pint. However, it will be on at the taproom for a limited time, so head down to Tin Whiskers and try some. Not only will you be able to stick it to Old Man Winter, but you will be able to enjoy doing so in what is becoming a great place to hang out in Saint Paul and chat with other like-minded craft beer drinkers. Prost!