Kelburn Brewery from Barrhead near Paisley doesn’t get much attention. Perhaps this is because they don’t bottle and their beer is rarely seen outside Scotland’s central belt. It is, though, very easy to find in Glasgow. They tend to make very balanced, commercial beer to a high standard. I turned up at Blackfriars in Glasgow’s trendy Merchant City last night for the launch of their new beer, a 4.8% porter.
They already have a beer called Cart Blanche, which is a pun on the name of the nearby River Cart, so the natural choice for the new dark beer was to call it Cart Noir.
I love porter and I find it a great shame that more breweries don’t have one in their line-up. I’ve been told that the reason for this is because it’s harder to sell to pubs than pale beer. Nonetheless the crowd in Blackfriars only take a little over an hour to empty the first firkin.
It’s a nice beer that’s easy to drink. The head is pleasantly beige, reminiscent of much stronger stouts, but it lacks density so its light frothiness is a little disappointing. Bitterness comes from hops and roast malts in equal measure. A little sweetness is countered by slight acidity. Roastiness does not predominate — the most distinctive feature is a strong, very pleasant bitter chocolate character.
Five grains are used: pale, chocolate, brown and colour malt and some roasted wheat, while the hops include Northdown and Bramling Cross. Interestingly, Franconian Carafa malt is used to ensure a deep black colour, rather than the usual black malt or roast barley.