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Suede Imperial Porter 

10 Barrel's new collaboration beer is a rich reminder that sharing is fun

We didn't think the name sounded quite right. Suede Imperial Porter—it just doesn't sound tasty. In fact, it sounds rough and a little hairy. Too close to cat fur for us. As an alternative, we humbly suggest substituting "bomber jacket" for suede. Ostensibly, the "suede" moniker is meant to relay the lush, smooth, rich character that the beer embodies. In that regard, the name is right on—the beer really hits the mark on rich and smooth. But (and yes, we're splitting hairs here), this beer is nearly black, not the taupe color most often associated with suede. Not that brown leather is more appetizing than suede, but it's at least in the right color spectrum. And less like cat fur.

But, the name is incidental. It's 10 Barrel's first-ever collaboration brew, and it is a smashing success.

Tonya Cornett, 10 Barrel's award-winning R&D brewmaster, worked with brewers from Bluejacket Brewery, a promising new joint in Washington, D.C., and Stone Brewing, the much-celebrated San Diego brewery, to create a unique, vaguely chocolate concoction that boasts calendula flowers, jasmine and avocado honey—all of which were sourced from the San Diego area. The beer is now on tap at 10 Barrel and will soon be available in 22-ounce bottles.

Monday was the official release of Suede Imperial Porter, and we scooted over to the Galveston Avenue brewery for a sample. Again, it tasted fantastically complex and was impressively well balanced—a sentiment shared by our peers on nearby barstools. At 9.6% ABV it didn't come off as boozy, but was quite approachable. Even though generous amounts of San Diego-area honey were used, the beer was not overly sweet. And the floral bits proved a touch of brilliance—a nice sparkle on the traditional porter, a drink that tends to be heavy as lead and reserved for the coldest months of the year. Suede Imperial Porter is a beer for all seasons and another reminder that when great minds get together, beautiful beers are made.

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