This post is in direct response to Andy Crouch’s article “The Futility of Beer Styles” in this month’s (October 2013) Beer Advocate magazine [Edit: Andy has made me aware that this was only part 1 of 3 and these concerns will be addressed in future parts. A fact not mentioned in the magazine]. If you haven’t read it yet then I won’t fault you for reading it before continuing this post. However, if you don’t get Beer Advocate magazine or don’t want to wait then the quick summary is that he advocates for discontinuing the use of beer styles.
Tag Archives: Porter
Bryan Roth over at This Is Why I’m Drunk has invited me to participate in his Six-Pack Project. The idea here is that 6 beer bloggers in 6 different states choose 6 beers to represent their state. I was busy when round 1 went by but you can head check out the results from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia/DC, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Besides us this round also features:
- Illinois by Grant of Hop Brained (focus on Chicago – rest of state coming in July)
- Maryland by Oliver of Literature and Libation and Douglas of Baltimore Bistros and Beer
- New York by Lacey of Once Upon A Stein
- Kentucky by Tom and Carla of greater Cincinnati’s own Hoperatives
- California by Max from The Beginners Brew
The hope that when you go to one of these states you’ll be able to pull up a quick list of what to get along the way. I know for sure I’ll be checking that North Carolina list when I head for the Outer Banks next month!
Rivertown’s Old Sour Cherry Porter is making the rounds at the stores again. This is, I believe, the third year for this beer and past reviews report it has being under carbonated and a bit flat. I have never personally had this before and am not really super psyched for it but extremely curious. Sours are a large uncharted territory for me as I’ve only had a few. That said I intend to give this beer my best and most unbiased review possible, a goal I apply to every beer I try. First off here’s what Rivertown says:
We combined our Imperial Porter with fresh dark Michigan cherries, and then aged it for over three months in a bourbon barrel inoculated with wild yeast. This is a bottle conditioned ale, and can cellar for over five years. Enjoy!
Cincinnati’s Beer Week officially kicks off this Wednesday with a party on Fountain square and a special taping of this years Cincinnati Beer Week collaboration beer, Embree’s Northern Dark Baltic Porter. Starting last year all the brewers in Cincinnati got together to create a special collaboration beer. This year’s list of contributors includes; Blank Slate, Christian Moerlein, 50 West, Great Crescent, Listermann, Moerlein Lager House, Mt. Carmel, Rivertown, Rock Bottom, Sam Adams, and Tripel Digit. Kind of an odd list if you think about it, Moerlein is on there twice, Great Crescent comes in from Aurora, In but not Quaff Brothers (Bellevue, Ky) or Cellar Dweller(Morrow, Oh)? But I digress, regardless of who got in and out this is an awesome list of Cincinnati’s breweries. They all got together to decide what to make and it was eventually made at Rivertown. In case you’re curious where the name came from, it’s a history lesson in itself. David Embree opened the first brewery in Cincinnati in the long ago of 1812 so this beer is a tribute to him.
Before we get to the review I want to introduce everyone, including myself, to the Baltic Porter style. The Baltic States are in between England and Russia and in turn the Baltic porter is in between an English porter and a Russian imperial stout. The malt profile and flavor is that of a English porter but with a kicked up alcohol content from the Russian Imperial Stout. Having never had one before I’m excited to try this style as it appeases one of the complaints I’ve made regarding other porters, that I wished they were a bit stronger.
I stopped by Rivertown earlier today to grab a pint of the Winter Ale (review here) while I was there I got my growler filled with their Roebling Imperial Porter off of the nitro tap. I did this because I’ve had a few Roeblings over the year and never given them a full review but also as part of the winter of my of dark content. I also scored 2 bottles of Gueuze, but more on that another day.
There are a number of bridges crossing the Ohio river in Cincinnati (or Covington/Newport if you wanna be a Kentuckian about it), one of which is a big yellow arch (the big mac), another purple one for people (cleverly named the purple people bridge), and another old fashioned looking one with 2 big towers and suspension cables. That last one is the John A. Roebling suspension bridge. Most notable for being the precursor to the Brooklyn bridge it’s also the oldest bridge in Cinci, and is a damn fine piece of construction that has been carrying traffic for almost 140 years! Ok.. honestly I never new any of that before having 2 pints of this beer and doing some Googling, it’s a pretty cool story and I suggest everyone check it out knowing being half the battle and all that. But you’re not here for history, so on to the beer!
After announcing that Now is the winter of my dark-content a friend of mine gave me this beer saying it is one of the original Porters and is a great starting point as it’s very typical for the style. Before we get to the review I’ll fill folks in on what a Porter is with a bit of history, but that comes after the break!
The “winter” of my dark-content begins now, for more info on that see this post oh and keep the suggestions rolling in! I’m only starting now and with the Smoked Porter because they sent it to me free… well in exchange for a review, so I suppose it’s not REALLY free. From the book, the review of which will be finished soon, we learn this was their second beer brewed and originally released in December 1996 as Winter Stone. The plan was for it to be seasonal but it sold so well and everyone loved it so much they decided to make it year round. Right, enough of all that junk, time for my first serious review of a Porter (and only the 3rd porter I can ever remember having).
Beer: Smoked Porter
Style: American porter
Alcohol by Volume: 5.9%
Hops: Columbus & Mt. Hood
Yep… that’s dark. It looks pitch black until you hold it directly in front of a bright light when you can see it’s actually a nice dark mahogany shade of brown. The head is a thick light brown that is not going anywhere fast and is lingering on the side of the glass as it does go down. Definitely doesn’t look like my typical kind of beer, but that’s why I’m drinking it… breaking out into new styles!
Smells strongly of roasted malts, some coffee (I’m not a coffee drinker so I can’t nail that smell down to well), a fair amount of smoke and only a slight tinge of hops.
Normally I put the taste before the mouth feel, but this beer is something different so I’m switching it up. This is a heavier-medium bodied mouth feel that is smooth and creamy. There is also a dryness and a slightly unpleasant “coating” of the tongue.
OK, so back to the taste. First off there is almost no hop flavor and just the slightest balance of bitterness, which is a little weird for me. For anyone who doesn’t like smokey beers you can relax, the smoke flavor is present but it’s a small part of a complex palate. The roasted malt and coffee flavors take the lead along with some chocolate as well. It’s certainly an interesting taste, I’m not crazy about it but I have no issues with it.
Overall I’m not blown away or about to run out and buy every porter I see. Am I interested to try more? Certainly, but I was even before having this beer. I’d like it to be stronger but c’est la vie I’ll just have to wait till I hit the Imerpials. I like the Stone Smoked Porter, I’m not gonna pour it out, but I’m not gonna add it to my regular rotation anytime soon.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This beer was sent to me for free by Stone. To our readers, and any breweries interested in sending me stuff, giving me free beer impacts the review in only 1 way. That way is that I WILL review the beer and I WILL write a blog post about it. Giving me free beer does not guarantee you a favorable review or that I will tell everyone to go buy it or anything like that.
OK, it’s not winter hell it’s not even fall. But I have a porter in my fridge which will be drank and reviewed soon and I want this to go up before that review. This was previously titled “Now is the winter of my Stout-content” but I decided that was too limiting as I plan on diving into both stouts and porters. Also “Now is the winter of my dark-content” plays better on Shakespeare’s “now is the winter of my discontent” line. Anyway, time to get to the point.
Serious confession, there is a significant flaw and failing in my beer nerd qualifications. I have only had 3 stouts/porters in my life and have never given them a thorough review or a significant amount of thought. These 3 are Guinness, Rivertown Roebling, and Heavy Seas Peg Leg which I just had only because a friend left one in the fridge after a recent party. I’ve probably taken a taste or two of others a few times but I know that those are the only 3 I’ve actually drank an entire bottle/glass of.
I’ve been planning this post and idea since July and since then I’ve been contemplating why I’ve never gotten into stouts/porters. The best reason I can figure is two fold:
- I entered the craft beer world through Belgian ales which held my attention for quite a year or so. I then progressed around through Irish reds, IPAs, pale ales, and all variety of other “lighter” ales. Eventually I dove into lagers and started mixing those into my ale rotation. The big conclusion here is that these styles represent enough beer to keep one drunk for decades. This is the main reason I’ve never gotten into them.
- Dark beers are somewhat of a “scary” concept in the color department alone. Most other beers range from completely transparent pale yellow to dark brown and reds. Darks on the other hand are black as the night and topped off with this thick brown head. My contemplation has resulted in this being a far second compared to my quest to try different ales.
Neither of these are great reasons for avoiding a major category of beer but alas so it is. I plan to rectify this mistake this fall and winter. Why fall and winter? Because dark beers are generally perceived as being better for this season. Also, why the hell not, it’s a good a time as any right?
So there it is. Through out this fall and winter, beginning this week with Stone’s Smoked Porter, I am going to focus on darker beers specifically stouts and porters. I’ll still throw a couple “lighter” beers in here and there probably and maybe a few winter/Christmas styles as well. You can also expect to see posts about stouts and porters detailing their histories as well as aspects of their style.
I’m open to suggestions on what to try first though I plan on, as always, trying everything I can get my hands on.
“Hey Guys they do but its special request only!! You need to ask for Danny gold or visit the kiosk. It will be available online by next week.”
Per a recent Facebook post on Rivertown’s page, the previously mentioned Old Sour Cherry Porter will be available this Thursday at The Party Source. I’m not aware of where else, if anywhere, it will be sold, but you’ll be able to purchase it in person or online. Some additional info from the Facebook post:
“Old sour.cherry porter! imperial porter aged in buffalo trace bourbon barrel, aged on dark michigan cherries and wild yeast (lactobocilus delbruki). Amazing!! available at party source in bellevue ky this thursday. U can also order online atwww.thepartysource.com“
“Sold in 22oz bottles only, it was aged for almost 7 months!”
“this beer was fermented with wild yeast strains, and the ”bacteria culture”, (which.should.have.been mentioned sorry) lactobacillus delbrueckii”
I’ll be picking up a couple bottles of this, price permitting. If you decide to swing by The Party Source, make sure to pick up a bottle or two of Rivertown’s newest release of their delicious Lambic as well. I’m sitting on a bottle and am just waiting for the perfect time to open it. Last year’s release was very, very good, though.