Cedar Creek's Spinning Mule Robust Porter Kicks Ass. But Is It Better Than Its Competition?

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it's local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Cedar Creek Brewery's Spinning Mule Robust Porter.

Fast Facts on Cedar Creek Brewery Spinning Mule Robust Porter.
Style: Robust Porter.
ABV: 7.1 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 40.
Color: Dark brown.
Availability: Seasonal release.

Overview.
Cedar Creek's Spinning Mule Robust Porter is a seasonal release from the Seven Points area brewery. It's part of Cedar Creek's “Special Release” series (see also: Cedar Creek's Belgian Dubbel), which means it can be found in boxed, four-packs of 16-ounce cans and on draught at local beer-centric establishments. This beer starts as a Robust Porter, but the brewer also added cacao nibs and coffee from Buna Bean Coffee in Ennis, Texas.

Background on Robust Porters.
For an overview on robust porters, be sure to read this review of Four Corners' Block Party Porter.

Appearance.
Spinning Mule pours dark brown — almost black, actually — with an exceptionally thick, tan colored head. As it fades, it laces nicely against the glass. The beer seems to also be quite clear.

Aroma.
The wonderful aroma of this beer reminds me why the Porter style can be so enjoyable. Here, you'll find light to medium levels of roasted grains, slight chocolate notes, some earthy mulch tones and a few hints of coffee. In the very back, you may also identify faint floral hops.

Flavor.
Pronounced bitterness upfront is followed here by more roasted grain and heavier dark chocolate flavors than what the aroma might indicate. There's a well-rounded malt sweetness, too, which acts as the perfect counterbalance to the elevated bitterness that the hops and roasted malt profile impart on the finished beer. Interestingly, the coffee presence is basically nonexistent, which I'd say it likely due to the fact that the potential flavors imparted by the addition of coffee create flavors are most just complementary to the flavors that are already associated with this style of beer.

Mouthfeel.
Spinning Mule Robust Porter has a medium mouthfeel with adequate levels of carbonation for the style. Most notable is its thirst-quenching, dry finish.

Overall Impression.
I should admit here that Robust Porters are among my favorite styles of beer at the moment. For the most part, they're simple brews that pack quite a bit of flavor, but without knocking you over the head with high ABV or IBU counts.

Cedar Creek's take on the style certainly benefits from the addition of cacao nibs as it adds some nice, rounded, complementary depth to the base style. However, I'm not entirely sure that the beer gains anything from the addition of the coffee beans. Perhaps that's by design — but, if not, that element may need to be dialed up slightly.

It's hard to find much fault in this beer, really. Still, in my opinion, Four Corners' Block Party still rates a little higher. As this beer warms — and as you get towards the end of your glass — an elevated sweetness starts to develop on the finish. Though minor, that's what keeps This brew from surpassing that other, West Dallas-brewed mainstay.

Score.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'll give Cedar Creek's Spinning Mule Robust Porter an 8.


What's happening in the area brew scene? (Powered by Dallas Brew Scene.)
• Friday, October 17. Bearded Eel Craft Brewery Tour..
• Saturday, October 18. Beer Feast 2014 at the Flying Saucer.
• Friday, November 7. Inaugural NTX Beer Week Brewer's Ball at the Renaissance Hotel Dallas.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Peticolas' Royal Scandal: 10.
Community's Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas' Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community's Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood's Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood's Goatman: 9.5.
Community's Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas' Thrillla in Brazilla: 9.5.
Revolver's Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House's Imperial Texan: 9.
Community's Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas' Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners' Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek's Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Deep Ellum's Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood's Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr's Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood's Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Lakewood's Punkel: 8.
Four Corners' El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House's Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum's GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas' The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum's Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver's Bock: 8.
Peticolas' Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works' Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House's Salsa Verde: 8.
Lakewood's Hop Trapp: 8.
Martin House's Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood's Antigoon's Revenge: 7.5.
Community's Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood's Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek's Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek's The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Lakewood's Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers' The Chosen One: 7.
Martin House's Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work's Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver's High Brass: 7.
Community's Pale Ale: 7.
Martin House's River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery's Sir William's Brown Ale: 7.
Community's Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Peticolas' The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum's Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Cedar Creek's Elliott's Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery's Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works' WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood's La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Grapevine's Monarch: 4.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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