Extracting the final beer from the advent calendar is always an occasion for mixed feelings; sure, it's one more excellent beverage, but it's also the end of nearly a month of exploration and discovery. Will the final beer measure up to what has gone before?
Sweet Baby Jesus! from Du Claw Brewing in Baltimore is not only aptly named but is also a seasonally appropriate style, being the first Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter I've ever tried. Some might argue that it is better poised as an Easter beer, and that's fine; if I can find more, I will totally put a couple aside for then, too.
As a fan of flavoured porters and stouts, this has been a good calendar for me, since these two darkest styles made up over a quarter of the offerings. Trying to find new ways to describe the colour is proving difficult though, and has made up my mind that if I ever get to name one, I am very likely to call it "None More Black" a la Spinal Tap. I dunno what else to to tell you except Sweet Baby Jesus! pours a typical but comforting deep, rich black, with a bit of caramel-coloured foam to top everything off.
The chocolate and peanut butter can both be found easily enough in the aroma, but are balanced out nicely with the dark roasted malts and a general toastiness that pairs well with both peanut butter and chocolate.
This balance carries through immensely well in the taste, as the strong, bitter chocolate and rich peanuts abide equitably with that that same breadiness, giving a similar flavour profile to eating a toasted sandwich with peanut butter on one side and Nutella on the other. The sweetness is there, sure, but never overpowering. SBJ! is tremendously full-bodied porter, with a rich and pleasant mouthfeel and a crisp finish, perfectly rounded out by the hops.
I will have to go through my other posts to make sure, but Sweet Baby Jesus! is definitely one of my favourite beers from this calendar, and may well be the best of the lot.
With any luck, the makers of this most excellent tradition are already sorting out this year's packaging shortcomings, as I am already looking forward to next year's version!