When a beer wins as many awards as Ecliptic's Capella Porter did in 2016, has a Brewmaster/Owner deeply involved in Oregon's brewing history, and is tap only; the next logical step is bottling and sending it to the masses. Opening in late 2013, Ecliptic Brewing quickly made an impression on the Portland scene with quality beer, immediate distribution, and an emphasis on food at their brilliantly located brewpub.
But this beer has a bit more of a story than that of a three year old brewery.
Porters have had quite the ride over their relatively short 300+ year existence. What began as a hearty travel-ready version of a bitter brown ale on the streets of London, went across the world transformed into the iconic dark malt brew of refinement that was the beer of the industrial revolution for much of the world. Then, at the height of its popularity, the porter almost disappeared entirely due to world wars and brewery consolidation.
It wasn't until the craft brew movement of the late 70's in America that this dark concoction of goodness began to show life again. What we take for granted today in a variety of flavors was essentially non existent a mere 30 years ago, and that's where the story of Capella really begins.
John Harris has designed and brewed many delicious and well known beers, but he's known most for his work at Deschutes Brewing and specifically Black Butte Porter. There's just something so clean about a stand alone porter; not the vanilla, chocolate, coffee, or peanut butter versions that are also delicious out there on the market. You know, the type of dark beer that can still warm you up in the cold of winter yet also stand next to a sunny bbq in late July, all while being delicious and shockingly refreshing given the style.
Capella is that easy drinking smooth beverage that every good porter should be.
Easily my favorite part of this beer is the finish, so clean with an undercurrent of hops to cut the sweetness.”
Capella smells of pure malt and maybe a hint of roasted chocolate when poured, but I wouldn't call it intensely aromatic either. This is a dark brown, bordering on black beer and the lack of foam is an indicator of just how clean it will ultimately finish.
Cold winter months bring a barrage of flavored dark beers more and more these days, and at first I found myself searching for the "chocolate" or the "roast" in the taste. Once you get a few sips in though, it's all there, lurking in the background, which is what makes it so easy drinking. After finishing the bottle, I had to double check the alcohol content before breaking into another on a weeknight; 5.2% is a relief, considering it finishes like a much bigger stout after a few sips. That is a great contradiction to enjoy.
Easily my favorite part of this beer is the finish, so clean with an undercurrent of hops to cut the sweetness. This is where the analogy to Black Butte splits, and of course a bottle just happened to be close by to compare side by side. Capella finishes so crisp and bright in comparison to a slightly more thick and sweet mouthfeel of the Butte. They are both delicious porters, but for me I would choose Capella 90% of the time and especially in the warmer months. There's a reason this beer won awards locally, nationally, and internationally within the last year.
Capella and Ecliptic stand out to me for a variety of reasons, but like most consumers it always comes down to the intersection of price and quality at some point. From day one, when their "All The Time" beers hit the shelves locally, they have been on the inexpensive side of what's available. Capella fits right into that lineup at $5 a bomber, which is frankly amazing.
Ecliptic beers often find their way into my fridge because they're such a value for the quality, this beer will only increase that frequency, and just might be my favorite of their current lineup.