In its five-plus years of being in business, Knee Deep Brewing Co. has gone from a contract brewing operation selling beer exclusively to the northern Nevada market to a full-scale production operation serving over a dozen states and parts of Canada.
Currently based in Auburn, Calif., the company’s website indicates that it offers a year-round lineup of nine brews, complemented by a quartet of seasonals, the bulk of which represent variations on the pale ale or IPA theme.
One of those that doesn’t is a year-round offering called Tanilla. Stylistically designed to be a porter, it’s brewed with grade-A Tahitian vanilla beans, which I’ll assume is why it’s called Ta-nilla, and other natural flavors. A stronger version of the beer, appropriately entitled Imperial Tanilla, is brewed with twice the amount of vanilla beans and offered as one of Knee Deep’s seasonal brews.
Tanilla’s commercial description, though rather simple and to the point, tells you essentially everything you need to know about the beer. It promises things like “smooth chocolate,” complimentary vanilla and “a rich aroma of coffee.” And well, that’s more or less exactly what you get.
Indeed, Tanilla’s flavor profile is a mix of roasted malt, coffee, cocoa powder and lightly sweet vanilla. The latter is perhaps a bit stronger in the taste than in the aroma, but overall the beer is fairly well-balanced. As far as drinkability goes, Tanilla is medium-bodied with just about the right amount of carbonation and a light-to-moderate lingering bitterness. It might come across as being a little sweet at first, but that impression seems to fade with time and a bump in temperature, as the malt flavors become a bit more prominent and help to round out the drinking experience.