Beer Review: Duclaw Brewing's Sweet Baby Jesus

photo by Kevin Gibson
photo by Kevin Gibson

I recently saw a couple of friends posting on social media about chasing down some Sweet Baby Jesus, a peanut butter chocolate porter by Duclaw Brewing Company in Baltimore. I don’t normally get hooked by beers that could double as a dessert, but when I learned the premise for the name is that upon the first drink, one will exclaim the beer’s name out loud, well, I took it as something of a challenge.

A few weeks later, I ran across some and decided to give it a try. I will report that I did not, in fact, excitedly exclaim the words, “Sweet baby Jesus!” My reaction was more, “Oooh.” But that’s a positive response, right?

Let’s start with the aroma, which is enticing enough to engage whoever comes across it. Peanut butter dominant, it is more creamy Jif with some chocolate and malt notes than Reese’s cup. It’s one of those beers you can, and should feel free to, sit and sniff for a few moments before drinking. Doing so gets the palate ready for what’s coming, and it’s such a pleasant smell that it makes sense to prolong the enjoyment.

The jet black color of the beer pours with a thick, uneven head, The first drink of the beer releases the flavor and the creamy, medium-thick body coats the mouth with peanut butter, hints of chocolate and a bit of coffee from the roasted malts. That first splash on the palate really is a doozy, and one you’ll remember.

In fact, I offered my girlfriend Cynthia the first drink, and her response was, “I think I might want all the drinks.” She ended up sharing, but point taken.

The body is medium to creamy thick, carbonated more than you think it is, and finishes dry, with a mild, coffee-esque bitterness and even a bit of hop character (it’s 33 IBU). Even though neither of us screamed, “Sweet baby Jesus!” aloud, we both enjoyed sipping the beer on a cool, fall afternoon. My recommendation would be to enjoy this with some pound cake or, heck, add a scoop of ice cream and make a float. It’s almost like the ultimate peanut butter cup for adults, in liquid form.

And to drive the latter point home, it’s a manageable 6.5 percent ABV, so you can easily enjoy a couple of these in an evening without worrying about getting too far past your limit. Always a good thing, especially if you’re planning to get behind the wheel.

If I have a complaint, it’s a faint, sharp metallic flavor that sneaks in after a few drinks. It isn’t so prevalent as to be a terrible distraction, but it’s certainly there. Perhaps it’s something about the coffee finish and how it interacts with the hops in the beer. Again, it isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but I continued to notice it as we finished off the beer.

Still, even though I swear by Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, this one is at least in the conversation, and one worth revisiting, especially with winter closing in.