Brew Review

Boulder Beer Company's Shake: Why Not Beer for Dessert?

The Beer: Shake
The Brewer: Boulder Beer Company
Location: Boulder, Colorado

Did someone say “chocolate” and “shake” in the same sentence? About beer? Shake is a chocolate porter created by the Boulder Beer Company of Colorado. This beer starts out with aromas of rich chocolate, or more specifically, pleasantly bitter cacao. Background notes hint of roast coffee. and a subtle, rum-like sweetness complement the chocolate. 

Appearance and Flavor:  Pouring deep brown, yet appearing jet black in the glass with a tan head consisting of small, creamy bubbles, Shake presents flavor from start to finish.  Chocolate leads the way with characteristics of both dark and milk. At 39 IBU (international bitterness units), the beer has a crisp bitterness as well as a subtle, yet complementary hop aroma, pushing the chocolate flavor more toward the dark end of the chocolate spectrum as the beer passes over the palate. A light nuttiness also is present but plays a lesser, supporting role. 

The beer is certainly creamy and neither too thick nor too thin for its style. Despite the big chocolate flavors, the finish is rather dry, leading the consumer to eagerly look forward to the next sip. It’s a nice transition from the big, bold flavors on the front of the tongue to the dry and refreshing finish. Well done, Boulder!

Reviews and Awards: Rate Beer gives this beer an outstanding overall score of 97. Beer Advocate gives it a “very good” 89. In the Chocolate Beer Category, it was a gold medal winner at the 2014 World Beer Cup and a silver medalist in 2015 at the U.S. Open Beer Championship.

Historical Perspective: Typical porters fall in and around the 6 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) range, and Shake checks in at a porter-typical 5.9 percent ABV. The chocolate addition subdues the roasty notes and presents drinkers with a bittersweet chocolate experience. For someone who enjoys this style of beer, other recommendations for chocolate-forward beers would include Rogue’s Chocolate Stout and Southern Tier’s Choklat.  These are both stouts, which are different yet closely related styles to the porter and typically a little stronger and more robust.

Historically, porters were the "working man's" beer in Old World England dating back several centuries. Porters originally could be a blend of both new and old, or "stock," ales. The style evolved as malting processes also evolved, and the beer went from being a smoky brown ale to a darker, more roasty style of beer. Today, several styles of Porter exist, and this beer most closely would resemble the Robust Porter category, known for being flavorful and somewhat bitter but not as aggressive as its cousin, the stout. 

Pairing With Food: Shake drinks like a dessert beer. This chocolate porter would be a natural served with bananas Foster or a raspberry tart. To fully enjoy the coffee, chocolate, and sweet caramel flavors found in Shake, it's best to serve the beer is a tulip-style glass, which helps to retain much of the beer's exceptional aroma. Serving temperature of 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit is appropriate.

The Brewery: Boulder Beer Company makes Shake year-round and it can found in most craft-savvy beer stores and on draft in craft-centric bars in metro Phoenix.

Boulder Beer Company claims to be Colorado's first craft brewery, founded in 1979. According to its website, the brewery originated on a small farm and produced very small quantities at its inception. The beers have won the hearts of many, and like many craft brewers, Boulder has grown to become a major craft contributor in the modern brewing world. As you may expect, they are located in Boulder. Learn more about Boulder Beer Company by visiting the company's website at or more about the beer specifically at  

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Dave is a certified cicerone and former professional brewer. When he's not doing something beer-related, Dave enjoys writing, listening to, and performing music, hiking, skiing, and watching baseball.
Contact: Dave Clark