Viven Smoked Porter fills our English pint glasses, rendering them a deep dark color that allows almost no light to pass, save for a ruby glow at the edges. This wonderfully dark beer is draped with a fluffy, dark tan head that lovingly clings to the glass as it very slowly melts away. The nose provides a multicultural beery experience—offering up notes reminiscent of sweetish English porter, the chalky-meets-chocolaty dryness of many classic domestic microbrewed porters, that oh-so-characteristic Belgian yeastiness, and even some German rauchbier notes. We got notes of plums, anise, wood, smoke and roastiness, espresso, chocolate, black licorice and a bit of citrus (orange). Look for a slight waft of tart stone fruits as well. This beer has a wonderfully lengthy flavor profile—we found it began with gentle, balancing sweetness, giving way to a much drier, roasty middle, then into a woody, lightly smoky, almost chalky character where notes of espresso and dark chocolate linger before fading out. Look also for distinct flavors of raw oats. With some warmth—and this beer can handle it—we experienced some earthy, mineralized flourishes. The 7% ABV is fairly high for your standard porter, but on par for your typical Belgian brew—and it’s wonderfully well-integrated into the flavor profile, showing up less in the flavor and more in the belly as it offers some gentle warming. Rather a rustic brew, yet quite lovely. Lovely and rustic? You bet. Collectively, only about 125 gallons of this beer can be found in bottles elsewhere in the country, outside of what our club members are getting—so enjoy your stash. Viven Smoked Porter will hold up for at least 9-12 months in the bottle, continuing its drive toward full blown dryness, yet the distinctive upfront sweetness is quite nice, so we suggest consuming your samples within 6-9 months. But keep in mind that this is just about the perfect beer to pair with summer grilling—burgers, steaks, smoked salmon, sharp cheddars, thick-cut pork chops, smoked sausages and brisket, or even as an ingredient in marinades—the smokiness and caramelized flavors will complement all manner of grilled foods. Enjoy—summer is upon us—so pick up enough of this fine brew to partner with those grilled foods, and to offset all those paler beers likely to dominate the season.