Saturday, February 7, 2009

Laughing Buddha Purple Yam Porter

Rumor has it that Seattle's Laughing Buddha had a hard time rounding up hops for their beers as they started operations right at the height of last year's hop crisis. When life gave them lemons, they made lemonade -- or rather gingerade, mangoade, and yamade. I'm referring to their "Asian-inspired" beers: Ginger Pale Ale, Mango Weizen, and Purple Yam Porter. They also make a lager and a Pandan Leaf Brown.

Last summer Adam brought the Mango Weizen and the Ginger Pale Ale to town for the Portlanders to try. I only had a sip of each, and can't remember much about them. They didn't offend, but didn't excite either. On my recent foray to By the Bottle in Vancouver, I picked up the Porter to give it a try (only to find out Laughing Buddha is now distributed in Oregon also).

The Purple Yam Porter made more of an impression on me than the lighter beers. If porters are your thing, you might be disappointed: if I'd tried this blindfolded I don't think I would have called it a porter. There is a dark malt flavor, but not the kind of round smokiness I associate with porters. It's also pretty big for a porter at 7% ABV. There's a nice bitterness to the beer -- not at all floral, is it the yams? Or maybe the creamy thickness comes from the yams. Other than creaminess or bitterness, I'm not sure what the yams are adding, because nothing else tasted yammy. That's probably a good thing. All in all, PYP is not bad, but not likely to become my favorite beer.

Beer nerds will be either scandalized or underwhelmed by the Laughing Buddha beers, but I don't think that will be a problem for the brewery. They'll do well in the "pair-me-with-Asian-food" niche they are aiming at. As long as they rub the belly of the laughing buddha.


  1. I liked the porter pretty well. I did have a lot of diacetyl in the beer I had, which some porters tend to have. Overall I liked it. The Ginger Pale Ale was kind of sweet for just drinking by itself. I bet it would go well with some asian food.

  2. Charles: I forgot to mention that there is also supposed to be vanilla bean in there, but I didn't detect any vanilla flavor. Did you taste any vanilla (or yam for that matter)?

  3. i have found them all to be pretty bland. I kinda like the Ginger though because the ginger is pronounced and its exactly what you think it will be. The palm sugar in the brown adds a great buttery creaminess but overall it finishes flat because of the lack of hops. I found the porter almost instantly forgettable.
    @ Belmont Station now has beers from The Bruery, I highly reccomend these brews and they all have tons of crazy ingredients like Laughing Buddha. Check out their belgian brown made with maple syrup and yams. Or their Rye saison with brettanmyoces

  4. Samurai: See, you're an underwhelmed beer nerd. Maybe you're scandalized also.