Borderlands Noche Dulce

nochedulce.jpg
Beer: Noche Dulce
Brewery: Borderlands Brewing Co.
Style: American porter
ABV: 7.1 percent

There's an old joke that says the best thing to ever come out of Tucson is the I-10. But, while hilarious, it's only mostly true. The craft beer revolution is sweeping over Tucson in a big way, and several new breweries have popped up recently. Not only is the 10 coming out of Tucson, but so are brews from the Address Brewing Co. (also known as 1702), Dragoon Brewing Co., and Borderlands Brewing Co.

We're focusing on that third one today. Borderlands is located in the Tucson Warehouse Arts District in a century-old building that once housed the Tooley and Sons Produce Company. The brewery was founded by Michael Mallozzi and Myles Stone, two friends who come from careers far outside the beer industry. Mallozzi has a Ph.D. in microbiology and researches disease-causing bacteria at the University of Arizona; Myles is a U of A med student working toward becoming a family physician. The pair started the brewery in 2010 and soon asked Blake Collins, a respected Tucson homebrewer, to helm the mash tuns as head brewer. The conversation, they say, wasn't a long one.

Noche Dulce is the brewery's "Moonlight Vanilla Porter," made with flaked oats as well as vanilla sourced from Mexico. Poured into a snifter, the brew is dead black and completely opaque but thin and topped with an inch of silky, cocoa-colored foam. The nose delivers, in order of the strength of each: fresh vanilla beans, cola, cocoa, and roasted grains.

Noche Dulce's flavor can be accurately described as Vanilla Dr. Pepper with a splash of milk chocolate. In the front, complex vanilla notes blend with oats and the sweetness of brown sugar, cocoa, and maple. It's a fairly saccharine combination, and the mere 15.5 IBUs contributed by the hops do little to counteract the beer's sugars. Subtle toast rises at the swallow, leaving clean, straightforward toast and cocoa notes lingering after the finish.

Breckenridge Brewery makes a vanilla porter that's all over the place in Phoenix and has become something of a standard for the style. This beats it. As an Arizona State University graduate, I've often been of the mind that we should give Tucson back to Mexico -- but Noche Dulce is a tasty and drinkable porter that just might be enough reason to keep it around.

Food Pairing suggestions:
As the name suggests, Noche Dulce is a beer for the night -- try it alongside vanilla-based desserts such as ice cream or vanilla cheesecake, noting the similar notes of vanilla in the contrasting textures.

Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer.

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8 comments
Timmy
Timmy

Bad homebrew is still bad homebrew even if is now done on a commercial scale, compare this to Breckenridge Vanilla Porter and see the difference.

Gravitas
Gravitas

Uh, the best thing to come out of Tucson is I-10 - have you ever  watched a game called basketball? Or watched a rover land on a outer space planet that was MADE in Tucson? Dude, where does Lance Armstrong come to train?  Jokes are funny when they have some basis in reality. 

LisaG
LisaG

It sounds awesome! Do you know if anyone in the East Valley has it currently?

Jordy
Jordy

Jeez how many jabs at Tucson can you make?  It's nice you are giving some time to review Tucson brewed beers, but you aren't going to keep any of us locals reading your column if you are going to put us down.  You may want to consider that next time.

Tucsonbeerguy
Tucsonbeerguy

Not to be overly combative, but how in the world can Phoenix act smug towards Tucson beer??  I'd take any of the three breweries mentioned in this article over Four Peaks or SanTan ANYDAY.

Smooth Hoperator
Smooth Hoperator

This beer is great. I've had the pleasure of tasting it at Boulders on Broadway, Flanny's, and The Hungry Monk. Surprisingly, great things are coming from Tucson. Dark Rhubarb Saison from 1702/Address Brewing Co.?

Zach Fowle
Zach Fowle

I didn't mean to imply that I think Phoenix makes better beer overall. Nimbus, Barrio, Dragoon, 1702, Borderlands and Thunder Canyon are all putting out great beers and actually seem to be pushing boundaries with their beers in ways Phoenix brewers don't. Just poking a little fun at the city. 

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