It was always my plan to review the staples from Leinenkugel before I got into their seasonals, but when I saw Snowdrift Vanilla Porter in the store, that plan was foiled. I never had any of the darker varieties from Leinenkugel before this, so I didn’t know what to expect. To be honest, I went into Snowdrift expecting a winter beer that didn’t deliver on flavor and underachieved, characteristics I often find with beers from this brewery. What I found was a very tasty winter beer that matches up to other top-notch varieties.
Snowdrift meets all the standard characteristics of a porter, and while not the best I’ve ever had, will not disappoint. Dark as you’d expect, this porter delivers smooth, rich and savory flavors. You’re met with creamy vanilla from the beginning, which peaks in the middle and tapers off towards the end, leaving almost no aftertaste. Throughout each sip caramel and coffee notes seem to flow seamlessly from the vanilla, which only enhances. The only flavor that lingers is a soothing and warming vanilla flavor that is nothing but tasty. At no point is the flavor imbalanced, too weighty or out of sync with the mouthfeel, and the only quality it lacks is a smoky component (which is always an added bonus anyways). This beer is as light as you’d expect a good porter to be, of course matched with nice flavor, and because of this it is very drinkable. The warming the beer imparts is not inhibited by the weight. Another reason this porter is easy to drink is due to it’s refreshing nature, in this case a lighter feel due to what some would call watery. Every Leinenkugel beer I’ve ever had has this “watery” component, sometimes appropriate and sometimes not. In this case it’s neutral. Some might say, due to the style, it’s a detriment, but for me it makes this beer that much more refreshing. Most importantly, it doesn’t take away from the flavor.
Because Leinenkugel is now a staple in the Chicago area, I will give more of a background on them the next time I review one of their beers. I’ve had just about each Leinie’s variety, and Snowdrift is my new favorite. Some beer geeks might shy away from buying anything Leinie’s, which I understand, but this one must be tried.