I'm going to start this review by saying I bought an entire selection pack of Titanic Brewery beers almost purely to get my hands on this one. I've loved their Plum Porter for years so when I discovered there was a grand reserve version I knew I had to try it. Titanic are a multi-award winning brewery based in Stoke On Trent and for what it's worth my order came through much quicker than I expected. I really don't want to write much else here as I just want to get on with drinking this one. The Plum Porter Grand Reserve is very much my Christmas treat to myself and cost substantially more than I really want to pay for a beer, especially one that comes in a 330ml bottle, so it better be good.
Plum Porter Grand Reserve comes in a disappointingly small 330ml bottle and describes itself as 'A connoisseurs version of Plum Porter.' The alcohol content has been upped significantly from 4.9% to 6.5% so it really should have a bit of a kick, I just hope it doesn't distract from the Plum Porter flavour. The beer pours almost completely black, with just a subtle red tinge and relatively thin tan head. This certainly looks like a decent porter, but I'm hoping for an exceptional one, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
The aroma is spectacular. There's no subtlety here, it's just sweet, sweet plums, honestly you could smell this beer from across the room. I'm sure there's some other dark fruits and hops in there too, but lets not quibble over these things as with its little brother Plum Porter Grand Reserve is rightly all about the plums. I guess when you're already on to a winner there's no need to change too much from the original. The closer I get to actually drinking this the more I find myself worrying it wont live up to expectations, how could it after all? I'm really hoping for something exceptional.
The texture is lovely and smooth while the taste is a little stronger than the original plum porter, which isn't really surprising given the extra 1.6% alcohol. The problem is I don't think that really adds anything, and if anything it takes away some of the sweetness of the original. I'm vaguely reminded of King Goblin, the allegedly improved version of Wychwoods Hobgoblin. Don't get me wrong this is a substantially better beer, but like with the Wychwood effort all Titanic have really done is boosted the alcohol content and added a back story to the beer.
Plum Porter Grand Reserve is an exceptional beer, but Plum Porter was already an exceptional, and award winning beer so that's not really a surprise. I guess the crux of the matter is this... if I saw them both on draft at the same price I'd probably have the Grand Reserve just because it's rare, but that's never going to happen. A mini keg of Grand Reserve is nearly 50% more than a mini Keg of Plum Porter and you just can't ignore that. So if I saw a Plum Porter for £4 or a Plum Porter Grand Reserve for £6 which would I go for? It's the original all the way I'm afraid. I really wanted to love this beer, but I just really like it so I'm going to give Titanic Plum Porter Grand Reserve an exceptional, yet still a little disappointing 9 out of 10. You have to try it just to say you've been there and done it.