The middle of the road is a crowded place
A Review of Carolina Oatmeal Porter by Carolina Brewery
Posted on 10/16/2011 by Brew's Your Daddy
While on a recent visit to my co-founders neck of the woods, we decided to try and hit a few local Carolina brewing establishments. One of those stops included the Carolina Brewery. Carolina Brewery is located in Chapel Hill, NC, and has been producing beers since around 1995. Upon arrival we hovered near the bar like two hungry hyena, just waiting to pick the carcass of the over crowded bar and secure ourselves two spots. After a short wait we were able to grab two stools, and it didn't take me too long to spot their Oatmeal Porter. Now anyone who has read any of my reviews in the past should know that I am a huge fan of stouts and porters. If you remember that fact, can you put two and two together and figure out what my first order was? Good job.

In the glass, their Oatmeal Porter carries the look that any standard porter would. Almost black coloration, only giving way to some ruby red hues around the edges if presented in front of a good light source. The head was a mocha color, but was gone really before you could do much examining of it. Getting your nose in the glass immediately gives off an undeniable feel. Weakness. What I mean by that is, the beer has all of the standard aromas that you expect in a porter, but they came across as watered down or weak. The smell of chocolate and some roasted oat qualities were detectable, but I still couldn't get away from the feeling that they were lacking a good porter punch. After letting it warm for a few minutes I was able to find a bit of faint coffee, but after that I really couldn't find much more in my glass.

When I took the first sip, it did nothing but reassure me that my nose had done its due diligence. The mouthfeel was thin, and lacked any kind of noticeable body that I have grown to expect from my countless journeys down the porter trail. The flavors that are supposed to be there were indeed there, but again I couldn't help but get the feeling that I was drinking a watered down version of a otherwise respectable porter. Once I was able to put that thought out of my head, I was able to pick out a bit of a creamy chocolate taste, and some of that coffee that my nose found earlier. Other than that, at the very end there was a slight hops bite that came across as pretty average, but much needed.

I know that not all beers out there are gonna wow every person every time. In our better beer world, we need some of those middle of the road beers, if for nothing other than to provide that bridge or opening to allow new comers to the better beer movement a place to start. Maybe that's what this beer is good for. The Carolina Brewery itself is located right at the University of North Carolina, and that provides it with countless young palates to mold. And while I couldn't advise for everyone to seek out their Oatmeal Porter, I can say that it is still better than the standard college bar swill water. So if you are trying to get your feet wet and step up to some better beer, go ahead and try it. It's not gonna blow you away, but maybe it will get you some experience under your belt. For me personally though, I've had plenty that were better, plenty that were worse, and plenty that were just like it. This one landed in the middle of the road for me, and in the better beer world, that can be a very crowded and easily forgettable place.

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Carolina Oatmeal Porter by Carolina Brewery
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