By HAYDON DEWES
Wild Rose’s iconic Cherry Porter is back, with a bold new look, a new bottle size and a flavour that – to my tastebuds – is as good as it’s ever been.
I’ve loved this winter seasonal since the first time I tasted it seven winters ago. It’s a seductive blend of chocolate, fruit, subtle smoke and roastiness. A perfect drop to beat the winter blues.
The recipe is tweaked ever so slightly from year to year, and the flavours will manifest in different ways. Two years ago, there was a definite smokiness. This year, I’d say the emphasis is more on the fruit. The cherries are strong – I won’t say dominant, because that implies that it is a cherry-flavoured beer, which it most definitely is not.
The cherries are there to play a balancing role at the tail-end of each mouthful, pairing beautifully with the rich chocolate malt character. The aromas and flavours magnify as the beer warms, so be sure to linger over it.
You’ll notice this year that Wild Rose has done away with its traditional flip-top 1L bottle and regal looking purple and gold label. That’s a shame in some ways – there was a feeling of ceremony in the past when you cracked into the bottle. For me, it was a fall tradition. It was perfect for sharing between two people too, giving each a couple of small glasses.
There were downsides to the old format however. Those empty flip-top bottles are not cheap. That, the larger size and the pricing strategy of putting it into the “luxury” beer category hurt the consumer’s pocket. This translated into a beer that was seen as a “special” beer, perhaps a one-off rather than a winter staple. And that was a shame, because the beer is so easy drinking that it deserves a space in your fridge all winter long.
Enter, the new Cherry Porter. It’s a smaller format (650ml bombers) and is much cheaper ($7.99 at most places that I have seen). I do miss the purple and gold label of old, but the new branding is aligned with Wild Rose’s “Stay Wild” mantra. I get it.
Labels aside, this format is more likely to be in my life more often this winter. And that makes me happy.