Breckenridge Brewery NVP (Nitro Vanilla Porter)

Breckenridge Brewery's NVP (Nitro Vanilla Porter)
Nitro Vanilla Porter in a Pint Nonic Pint

Breckenridge’s NVP pours dark brown to almost black with about a finger of off white head that’s creamy like you’d expect from a nitrogenated beer. A thin layer of this head sticks around all the way down to the end of the glass.

The aroma is what you’d expect from a vanilla porter. I’m mostly getting roasted coffee, hints of chocolate milky-goodness, and bits of vanilla. As a dark beer guy, this is what I crave.

The taste is all malt – coco, roasted coffee – plus hints of vanilla. It’s sweet and it’s smooth and it’s everything I want out of a porter. No hint of hops – just silky smooth goodness.

Nitro style beers are silky and smooth and the NVP is no exception. It’s the right kind of creamy with a little bit lingering between sips.

This is another one of those beers that I treat as a dessert. Skip the ice cream, skip the brownies, have a couple of these and relax.  Actually, a scoop of vanilla or coffee ice-cream would be a great companion!

Other Notes

  • ABV: 5.4%
  • IBU: 16
  • A date of some sort appears on the bottom of the can as Month B Day (backwards-“B”) Year. (more on this below)

Why that Glass?

For stouts and porters I usually reach for one of three glasses, a pint (nonic or tulip), a seidel, or a snifter. With an ABV of only 5.4% the NVP falls into “sessionable” territory which narrows that down to seidel or pint.

Nitro beers look and taste better in pint glasses, so this was an easy choice.

More About This Nitro Vanilla Porter

Breckenridge’s regular Vanilla Porter is a beer I stop for often.  It’s a go-to sessionable porter that’s great for winter months or pairing with cold desserts. Having a chance to try it as a Nitro beer was definitely worth it!

I picked up this four-pack at O’Hara’s liquors in Worcester for about $12.  As of early March 2017 it was also on one of the Nitro lines at The Fix in Worcester.

The Beer Snifter or Large Cognac Glass

Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout in a Beer Snifter
Pumpkin Stout in a Beer Snifter

The beer snifter is short, stemmed, glass featuring a wide round bottom and tapered top.  You can find snifters in sizes ranging from six ounces up to 22 ounces.  Beer snifters are typically in the 12- 16 ounce range.  These glasses are often made of thinner, more delicate glass but some glassware sets will have thick-walled sturdy versions as well.

This glass is also often referred to as a “balloon glass,” or over-sized brandy / cognac glass.

Benefits of the Beer Snifter

The beer snifter excels at holding some of a beer’s more ephemeral aromas and flavors in a tight space.  Its wide round base and tapered top trap everything in a space where it can be delivered directly to your nose while sipping.  This is especially true for beers with little to no carbonation.

The glass’ shape also helps with heat transfer.  As you hold the glass, warming your beer slightly, more delicate scents and flavors become unlocked.  Cold, dark beers might initially taste “like a stout” from the glass but as the beer warms and you inevitably swirl it around you’ll start to get those hints of cocoa, mocha, peet, or fruit that were hidden away.

How to Drink from a Snifter

The iconic image of a snifter typically involves a Bond villain swirling the glass between sips, maybe holding it up to the light to look inside and admire the color of what is almost certainly an evil cognac.

This is exactly how you want to drink from your snifter.  As you work your way through the beer swirl the glass slowly aerating your beer.  Take a sip, enjoy, swirl, sip, repeat.  For a good beer you’ll notice that the flavor starts to shift the more you drink and the more you swirl.

It’s very much like drinking good scotch or brandy … which brings up another point.

When pouring into a snifter keep the liquid portion of your pour (not counting the head) to just around the part of the glass where it begins to curve back in.  Yes, you may end up pouring a 12 ounce beer into three or four glasses but over-pouring kind of works against this glass’ benefits.

What Beer Goes with a Beer Snifter

You can use a beer snifter for any beer which has been aged, especially when aged in barrels. Similarly, some beers that you chose to “cellar” might be worth pouring into a snifter.

I’m also partial to using the beer snifter for dark beers that mention chocolate or coffee in their billing.  Stouts and Porters that are higher ABV (Imperial Stouts for example) will also find typically end up in a snifter.

If you’re a big hop-head you might also look to a snifter for some lower carbonation IPAs.

Where Can I buy a Beer Snifter

I’d recommend looking for snifters or cognac glasses in the 12- 20 ounce range.

A four piece set of 12 ounce cognac glasses sells for around $15.  While a four piece set of 16 ounce glasses is more like $30.

You may also find a few tulip glasses, like the one included in the Libbey set we’ve reviewed previously, are close enough to snifters to fit the bill.  Just under-pour the beer as mentioned above for best results.

The Beer Seidel or Dimpled Mug

Beer Seidel filled with Stout
A Beer Seidel or Dimpled Mug

A seidel is a wide-mouthed glass mug with thick walls and a sturdy handle.  They’re often dimpled and can be short and rounded or large and barrel shaped.

These beer mugs are made with thick, sturdy glass walls and a strong handle which makes them easy to hold and carry.  They commonly hold about 20 ounces but larger versions certainly exist.  Bigger, barrel shaped beer seidels can hold up to 44 ounces.

Seidels (especially the over-sized ones) are sometimes referred to as “steins” but steins are earthenware (vs glassware) and are much more ornate and decorative.

Benefits of a Seidel

The most immediate benefit of the seidel is it’s wide mouth.  It provides you with plenty of space for taking deep sips while getting a good sense of the beer’s aroma.  The glass’ thick walls, handle (should you use it) and short stature also provide a degree of insulation that help keep your beer at quaffable temperatures.

In practical terms the seidel is probably one of the most sturdy of all the beer glasses.  With it’s thick glass walls and handle it’s not something that’s going to be easy to break.  Due to its proportions this mug is also pretty difficult to tip over.  The glass’ dimpling also makes it easier to hold.  These glasses are pretty decent utility glasses for serving soda, floats or milkshakes to kids.

When it comes to the drinking experience there’s also something visceral about holding a beer seidel.  They feel good to hold and to drink out of.

Other Notes

Frosted mugs are great for soda, frappes, and floats.  Not for beer.

Avoid freezing or chilling seidels.  As cool beer hits colder glass condensation can form leading to unintended moisture watering down your good beer.  So skip chilling whenever possible!

What Beer Goes with a Seidel or Dimpled Mug?

Normally you’d pair porters, stouts, and german style lagers with a seidel.   Beers with strong malty flavors and lower hop profiles are also great choices.

A seidel can also be used for serving cream ales, scotch ales and even rauchbiers. Basically anything with a medium to thick body.

Where Can I Buy a Seidel?

You can find 20 oz dimpled beer mugs like the one pictured above for about $11 a pair on Amazon.  44 oz steins and can be found for around $13 a piece.