I first tasted Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company’s prototype porter back in May, when the brewery was still in its planning stages and brothers Tim and Mark Woodcock were still homebrewers — rather than owners of Niagara County’s first modern-day brewery, as they are now. I loved it. The dry, smoky finish was delectable, the chocolate and walnut notes and hearty body balanced just right for the warm spring weather. I remember thinking, “If this is their sample porter, I can’t wait to try the rest of their beers.”
The weekend before Thanksgiving I visited the brewery once again, and barely recognized the place. Where there was construction equipment and the remnants of an old apple storage facility on my first visit, there were well-dressed servers and cooks hard at work prepping ingredients for the restaurant’s opening. There were hip tables and chairs and shiny beer taps. There were tanks and wood-fire pizza ovens and chandeliers. But then Mark handed me a fresh pint of porter and I found it just as delicious as I’d remembered.
The brothers have been working tirelessly this year to get the brewery open in the fall according to plan. Mark says they’ve been working every day for the past six months, building, planning and brewing. They opened this month to a robust welcome from a very thirsty lakeshore town of Wilson, as well as a wine trail eagerly awaiting a beer component.
Now they’re open, and my first task after congratulating them must be to give their beer its due. The porter pours midnight-black in the glass with a one-and-a-half-finger head and delicate lacing. The nose is charcoaly, with hints of baker’s chocolate, walnuts, and maybe just a touch of dark-roasted coffee. On the mid palate, the beer flexes its biceps just for a second before finishing crisp, dry, and clean. Delicate hops and good carbonation round it out; it’s a session porter, with hardly any sweetness and alcohol (more than I guessed at over 7 percent) well in check. I’ll be stopping in for a few of these any day I’m in Niagara from now on, and I look forward to pairing it with a spent-grain pretzel. PS: their wine listfeatures some interesting local stuff. Bonus!
Producer: Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company
Stemware: Wide goblet or v-pint glass (Pint glass pictured, but I brought home a growler and had my way with it)
Price: $6/pint at the brewery
(3 out of 5, Very good/Recommended)