Weekly beer tasting notes: Narragansett Porter

Weekly beer tasting sessions will help you navigate the world of great beer. Photo: Narragansett Brewing Co.

After Hours spotlights a beer every Sunday. As the world of craft beer continues to explode, the number of breweries and beers seems to grow exponentially making the process of selecting your next beer infinitely more difficult. These tasting notes will aim to make the process a bit less challenging.

This week, a porter from a New England brewery dating back over 120 years is in the spotlight.

Is there a beer that you feel should be spotlighted here in the future? Drop the columnist, Bryan Kolesar, a note to make it happen.

Porter from Narragansett Brewing Company in Rhode Island

Name: Narragansett Porter

Brewer: Narragansett Brewery, established 1890, by contract at High Falls Brewery in Rochester, NY [Website].

Location: Providence, RI

Style: American Porter

Vintage tasted: 2010-2011

Recipe Notes: Malts: black malt, pale malt, chocolate malt, munich malt, crystal malt, and roasted barley, Hops: chinook hops for bitterness and simcoe hops for aroma.

Stats: 7.00% ABV, 28 IBU, 1.069 original gravity, 38 SRM

Price Range: $6.99-$7.99 per six-pack of 16 ounce cans

Availability: Available throughout the winter season across the New England states, Florida, eastern Pennsylvania, and western North Carolina.

Recent Awards: World Beer Championship (Silver, ‘10)


Bitter chocolate aroma, toasted crackers


Burnt crackers upfront followed by bitter chocolate flavor meet expectations set by the aroma. Moderate level of alcohol, 7%, is barely perceptible.

Overall: This nearly black beer with a tan and creamy head is an almost-full bodied beer and a smooth pleasure to drink. It’s not too flavorful, weighty, alcoholic, or otherwise needlessly-complicated to not want another. Packaged in a can scores an extra point for all of the good arguments for canned beer and easily makes this a beer perfect to pick up at the Providence airport (inside of security checkpoint — spoken from experience) and bring on board a flight home.

Suggested Food Pairings: Grilled burger with brie and mushrooms; chocolate brownie dessert

Tidbits: The Porter helped Narragansett survive Prohibition because the brewery was given a patent by the U.S. Government to brew it for medicinal purposes. Apparently, ‘Gansett Porter was believed to be the cure for whatever ailed you, and doctors would write prescriptions for it to help patients throughout New England with anemia and various other maladies. [source: narragansettbeer.com]

This beer is found also under the name “Narragansett Dark” in bars.

The Porter is also brewed in small batches at Trinity Brew House in Providence, RI and Cottrell Brewery in Pawcatuck, CT under supervision of Trinity’s brewmaster Sean Larkin.


“This is easily the most pleasant beer surprise I’ve had in a while. Wow! This is great stuff!” - Lew Bryson, Beer Writer

“A deep brown, nostalgia-soaked ale with a mild, though enjoyable, flavor offering sweetish notes of dark chocolate, toasted pumpernickel bread, dark raisin and a hint of vanilla bean.” - Stephen Beaumont, co-author of World Atlas of Beer, due out in Spring 2012

“Lots of rich, hearty flavors and perfect for anyone who loves the style or dark beers in general. I am impressed by this beer. Another well-done seasonal offering from the folks at Narragansett.” - Russ Phillips, CraftCans.com

Read more of Bryan’s work at After Hours in the Communities at the Washington Times.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Bryan Kolesar

Bryan Kolesar has been tracking down great beer for over twenty years. From the most hard-to-find delicately balanced low alcohol beer to the big monsters weighing in at over 10% ABV, he has yet to find a style that does not have a story to tell and a taste to share. Though, when pushed, Kolesar has historically staked a claim to the Saison style as one of the most versatile and his favorite.

In 2005, Bryan co-founded The Brew Lounge blog/website as a canvas to illustrate the best of the craft brewing industry and to document his own travels within it. Though he has lived in Philadelphia and is currently headquartered in the city's western suburbs, Kolesar shares a wealth of information and images that he collects from his travels around the world and some of the best beers that he has tasted along the way.

In 2010, Kolesar came aboard the Communities section of The Washington Times to contribute stories from across the craft brewing industry as it continues more than ever its explosive growth amongst increasingly more of the mainstream alcohol-consuming public. 

While the beer - its tastes, aromas, and incredible pairing opportunities with food - is often the beginning of a story, he often finds it more interesting to dive into the stories behind the people, places, and events associated with the final product. 

Locally around Philadelphia, he has been named a Beer Writer of the Year finalist multiple times, hosted beer/running events during each annual Philly Beer Week, served as a Philly Beer Geek judge, paneled local beers for submission into the Great American Beer Festival competition, judged beer and food competitions, been featured in local publications chronicling the beer scene, and been named the "Best Beer Guy" of 2008. 

In addition to his beer-y pursuits, Kolesar works a professional career in the business world by day and dabbles in distance running, cooking, homebrewing, gardening, photography, and is a staunch advocate for animal rescue/adoption. He lives with his wife, Patty, of fifteen years and has been a long time, mostly suffering, supporter of local Philadelphia sports.

Contact Bryan Kolesar


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