Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Paradise by the Dash Board Lights

Tyranena Brewing Company
Lake Mills, WI

Style: Porter

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

I must admit, Nigel doesn’t fully appreciate the artistry of Meat Loaf.

Anyone who is confused out there, perhaps thinking “What the Hell is there to appreciate about meatloaf? It’s just hamburger and other crap loafed together and baked …” was likely born after 1985, and thus should probably skip ahead a few paragraphs. I’m of course referring to the late ’70s rock icon Meat Loaf, who had a brief career resurgence in the early 1990s as a wuss rocker, not the lump of crushed beef known as meatloaf. The younger crowd may best remember Mr. Loaf as Bob with man-boobs from the movie Fight Club (“his name was Robert Paulson … his name was Robert Paulson …”) or from various other movie/TV appearances in the past decade. But those of us over the age of 25 know Meat Loaf was a singer first, and his album Bat out of Hell was a prime example of ’70s glam-rock, when albums were extravaganzas and tracks often ran well over seven minutes.

And that brings us to Paradise by the Dash Board Lights, Tyranena’s latest Brewers Gone Wild release, which they call a “doubly blessed cherry porter.” Again, those of us up on pop culture know that the song Paradise by the Dashboard Light was the most infamous track from the album Bat out of Hell, a three-part epic tune that runs over eight minutes. For Nigel, who was born shortly after Paradise’s initial run of success, it’s a song that I don’t really appreciate (it kind of drags on, much like one of my reviews). But for many, it’s an iconic tune that will forever be ingrained in the eternal playlist, reminding them of the summer of ’77 and the laid-back lifestyle that encompassed most of the decade, until disco came along and ruined everything.

Tyranena, perhaps due to copyright laws, alters the title a bit on their doubly blessed cherry porter. Paradise by the Dash Board Lights is the beer equivalent of Paradise by the Dashboard Light, which, as you can probably guess, was a song about hooking up in a parked car. Tyranena’s write-up is as follows:

“Black as the back seat of a car parked in the deep, dark night. A soft roasted and fruity perfume entices. The firm, full-body seduces. The tartness of freshly plucked cherries finishes it off. Tingling with anticipation? Open up your eyes, I got a big surprise!”

Great. Now I’m confused … do I want to have sex with this beer, or do I want to run away as fast as I can, quivering in the shower until I get clean? I first saw Paradise in February at the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Food & Froth event, but by the time we got to the booth, it was tapped out. I picked some up at the store not long after that, but have avoided reviewing it, perhaps realizing that I would spend half of my writing time just retyping the frickin’ title.

What we have here is an imperial porter, what Tyranena describes as their “base” imperial porter (honestly … who has a “base imperial porter” just lying around?) with the addition of 840 pounds of tart cherry puree. Inspired by a cherry stout that Tyranena’s brewmaster had at the Autumn Brew Review in St. Paul last year, Paradise has the makings of an interesting concept brew, and with the past success of the BGW series, I’m very optimistic.

Paradise by the Dash Board Lights (herein referred to as “the beer”) pours with a mild foamy head of just over a quarter inch, which quickly dissipates into a tan lace with some lingering fizziness. It’s dark for sure, but not “black as the … deep, dark night” as Tyranena hinted at in their description. Instead, it’s a deep mahogany hue, with reddish hints that seem appropriate given the fact that tart, red cherries are a central theme. I didn’t detect much sedimentation, but overall it’s a great looking brew.

The aroma is where I was hoping to first pick up on some unique characteristics, but I was left disappointed. To be honest, if Tyranena didn’t tell you this was loaded with cherries, you wouldn’t be able to tell by the aroma. The dominant aroma is the smoked peat typical of a powerful porter, followed by roasted malt and a backdrop of generic sweetness that could be any type of sugar or fruit, not necessarily tart cherry. It’s a weak aroma that lacks many of the characteristics I was expecting, which suddenly has sent up a red flag.

The flavor is good, but far from great and far short of other Brewers Gone Wild releases, including the imperial porters The Devil Made Me Do It and Devil Over a Barrel (perhaps they need more Devil and less Paradise). Initial flavors are of a smoky porter, with a thick, peaty flavor that coats the tongue. Roasted malt comes through with a vengeance next, with hints of roasted nuts, coffee, and cocoa beans. Sugary hints of molasses and toffee are present, but not to the extreme. Dark fruit is also present in the form of plum and raisin, but the cherry takes some patience to get to. While all these other flavors inundate the taste buds at the outset, it’s not until the beer warms that FINALLY the hint of tart cherry is noticeable. Even then, it isn’t the type of tartness that I was expecting. In my opinion, the best way to sell the cherry would be to market it as an imperial porter smoked with cherry wood. That’s a flavor I’m more prone to agree with, as I’m left wondering what the heck happened to those 840 pounds of tart cherry puree. Medium to full bodied and smooth on the palate, Paradise leaves an aftertaste that is part smoky, part stale Cherry Coke.

Overall, it’s a good beer and a decent, but not great, attempt at an imperial porter. However, there are a number of areas that left me feeling unfulfilled, particularly given the impressive (and frightening) description on the bottle. Don’t be fooled by the catchy title, or the promise of boatloads of tart cherries … ultimately, it’s just another porter, and one of the more disappointing Brewers Gone Wild releases.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on May 6, 2009.
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