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Chicagoist's Beer Of The Week: Temperance Beer Co's Root Down Porter

By Jason Baldacci in Food on Feb 28, 2014 8:30PM

While we're certainly not happy about the pending snow forecast for this weekend or the fact that temperatures dipped back down into the single digits this past week, we're going to seek out some silver lining today in the form of dark beer.

Root Down is a porter from Evanston's own Temperance Beer Co. Brewed with chicory, licorice and a little smoked malt, this beer is subtly complex to say the least. I caught the soft prick of licorice on the nose right away along with a hint of richly caramelized malt. On the palate I was hit with a nice roasted quality from the malt up front as well as a touch of subdued, earthy hops. While this beer is quite dry, I did pick up a little malty sweetness on the mid-palate, right before a pop of smoky char on the finish, which I expect is from the smoked malt as well as the chicory. As much as I appreciate the flavor profile of Root Down, I might love the texture a little more. The mouthfeel of this beer is almost chewy and while I was tasting it I wrote down the words "coffee grounds, in a good way" in my notes. Seeing as chicory root is ground and used as a coffee substitute on occasion I suppose it makes sense. At 5.2 percent alcohol content, Root Down is a full-bodied, yet easy drinking porter that uses additional ingredients incredibly well.

American brewers are making beer with all kinds of different things these days: some traditional; some very experimental. Whether it's coffee, chocolate, various spices, or just about any fruit that might be in season when a brewer is mashing in a fresh batch, this is one facet of the industry that sets us apart from the rest of the world. While Belgian brewers have been using spices for centuries (not to mention adding fruit to a lot of different lambics) and Scottish brewers have been including spruce, pine and other plants in their beers for just as long, American brewers have really taken these practices to a whole new level. The guys at Off Color have a beer out right now that's supposed to taste like a S'more, and Saugatuck Brewing Co. makes a beer that's reminiscent of Neopolitan Ice Cream. Let's not forget about every craft brewery that makes some version of a pumpkin beer in autumn. Sometimes these things can be over the top and sometimes they can surprise you (the s'mores beer certainly did). What I always look for in these scenarios is for the additional ingredients to be present, but not overpowering, and for the beer to still actually taste like beer. With Root Down, the brewers at Temperance nailed our personal criteria.

Root Down is only available on draft, and only a few places have it. Check to see where you can grab a pint before it's gone for the season.