As a former Michigander, I’ve enjoyed a lot of Michigan beers, but for some reason my hand seems to want to reach for Bell’s or New Holland beers and seems to usually pass over Arcadia Brewing Company’s beers. I recently sprung for a 6-pack of Arcadia’s London Porter, knowing almost nothing about the beer or the brewery other than it’s a fairly commonly available Michigan offering.

Arcadia is based in Battle Creek, Michigan and got its start in 1996 with a goal of brewing traditional English-style beers in small batches. They use a proprietary yeast in their beers and English malts. Their London Porter seemed like a good choice for a dark beer, reflective of late winter.

London Porter comes in at 7.2%ABV and 42IBU’s and is available year-round. According to Arcadia’s website, the beer is their version of an 18th century smoked porter (I wasn’t aware of the smoke until my first sip). The smoke comes from beechwood smoked malt and London Porter is brewed with seven kinds of European malted barley and UK Goldings hops.

The beer pours fairly dark, close to black, with some amber highlights in the corners of the glass. The head is tan with nice tight bubbles and a shaving cream like consistency. Aroma is fairly standard for a porter or stout, with a good amount of toffee or even burnt sugar character, but no smokiness to my nose (not the greatest by any stretch). There is a little peatiness or earthiness in the aroma, too.

The smoke really comes through in the flavor, though. The beer has a nice amount of carbonation to give it a refreshing body and fizziness, but it’s pretty smooth on the palate, too. There is a coffee undertone followed by a malt sweetness, then a rush of smoke flavor. The smoke is relatively subtle, but there is no doubt that it has smoked malts. The hops is there mainly for balance and like most porters there is a bit of a dry astrigency on the palate in the aftertaste.

I am a little ambivalent about smoked beers as the smoke character can come off a little overbearing for my palate, but I really enjoy this beer and this will be the first of many Arcadias I hope to try this year.