If there’s one thing I’ve always said, it’s that there’s nothing wrong with a simple and straightforward beer. You know, the kind of beer that doesn’t go to far in trying to establish some elaborate flavor profile, but that does more than enough to keep you interested. And that, in a nutshell, is what I would say if only allowed one sentence to describe Thunderstruck from Highland Brewing Company of Asheville, N.C.
Occupying the brewery’s winter seasonal slot, Thunderstruck is named for Thunderstruck Ridge, a land feature located in the Southern Appalachian Highlands. It’s a robust porter brewed with four types of malt, three different hop varieties and fair-trade, organic coffee from the nearby Dynamite Roasting Co.
According to the brewery’s website, Chocolate malt, Caramel 60 and Midnight wheat are among the grains used, with their combination giving the beer a sort of dark cola-like appearance. Flavor-wise, you may pick up notes of roasted malt, chocolate and some sweetness from these ingredients, but the coffee adder provides Thunderstruck with its primary flavor component.
Based on that, the beer can easily be pegged as being coffee-forward, but calling it that is more a function of how the flavor presents itself, rather than any sort of commentary on Thunderstruck’s balance. The coffee’s own roasty nature, along with an earthy element, seems to be a near perfect compliment to the makeup of the beer’s grain bill.
As for how it drinks, Thunderstruck is medium-bodied, though I’d say it goes down even easier than that might suggest. While the beer’s sweetness does linger here and there, it eventually gets offset by a touch of spice from the coffee and a faint bitterness that comes in on the back side of things. In the end, the sweet aspects more or less fades away, as Thunderstruck finishes fairly dry with a smooth character and pleasing roast-driven aftertaste.