FIRST I would like to thank the people who have donated money and food so far. Your giving means the world to me and to all of the people it will feed. THANK YOU!!! I want to extend a special thanks to Phil Nugent and Mike Monie, my very first supporters who donated when this thing was still an idea in my head. And today to Jerry Sprague, who gave a wonderfully generous donation while in the shop. THANK YOU GUYS!! If you would like to donate, please click on the Paypal Donate button on the right!
Last night began our month long journey into Stout and Porter Beer Tastings at Clever and Cork & Bottle. It was a great success, and everyone enjoyed the various selections. The beers were VERY different in character which made for LOTS of interesting conversation! A special gigantic thank you to Ron Swaboda for bringing these brews to us and Mid-City last night!!!
Samuel Adams Honey Porter: ABV: 5.45% Ah, memories...light the corners of my mind...misty watercolor meeeemmmories.... AHEM. I used to drink this little guy in college. Admittedly, I haven't imbibed on it since. It is not one of Sam Adams' more well known brews, and finding it can be difficult in some markets. The Honey Porter was one of my first dewy-eyed forays into craft beer. Back in the 90's in the mountains of North Carolina, the selection was so slim. (And with our hippie population, we were WAY better than other North Carolina cities!) For dark beer, it was this, Sam Adams Cream Stout, Saranac Black and Tan, Sammy Smiths Oatmeal stout, Abita Turbo Dog, and Highland Oatmeal Porter.
Ok, so right out of the gate, does it smell like honey? Yes indeedy, a dark, intense honey, not the light acacia or floral types you detect on a Saison or Summer Ale. This seems to be a darker wildflower honey but without the floral aromatics. Turns out it is indeed wild, a Scottish heather honey.
There is a good bit of nuttiness on the nose, and my first image was of honey tossed with warm roasted nuts. Yummy. It makes me want to sit by a fire! In fact, it does remind me of the holidays. Then it hits me. Baklava. That rich honey pastry that is so delicious at the end of a Middle Eastern meal. This beer smells like baklava! How fantastic.
There is a slight bitterness on the finish that makes you think of shelling a pecan or walnut and accidentally getting a little shell. To wine drinkers, its akin to the tannin we detect in red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon. But that bitterness is absolutely paramount in a beer like this to cut through that rich honey character. Overall, a lovely beer to try and one I would definitely recommend for the holidays!
Stone Smoked Porter: ABV 5.9% Ok, so I've gotta be honest here, I was NOT thinking I would like this beer. I have not been a big fan of smoked beers I have tried thus far, and I didn't hold out much hope for this one. But I will admit, I was pleasantly surprised. When I gingerly put my nose to the glass, I am shocked by what I smell. It is WITHOUT A DOUBT, my mom's London Broil. EXACTLY.
Go on this little aromatic journey with me...meaty aromas dotted with peppercorns and spices....when the coals have burned down to grey on your grill, and you first put the meat on the hot rack....the juices hit the coals and up arises a nose full of aromas. That is the smell of this beer. Wow.
On the palate is where the smokiness really hits. Tons of dry tobacco and smoke, smoke, smoke with a very dry finish. Again I am reminded of wine, a dry French red, because of that drying aspect on the tongue. The smoke lingers for a good 30 seconds to a minute, but by then you are ready to smell those meat aromas again!
This beer is one of the finest examples of beer being a natural pair for foods. Think ribs and burgers off of the grill, meat from the smoker. Hearty full, flavored dishes are what this beer begs for...
(The smokiness from this brew is obtained by peat-smoking the barley PRIOR to fermentation, versus smoking the beer product with smoked wood chips or in smoked barrels. I thought the peat aspect was interesting, as peat is used extensively in the production of Scotch.)
I found a great recipe from beercook.com for a "Stout BBQ sauce", where chef David Grear substituted Alaskan Smoked Porter for the Guinness it called for. I think the Stone Smoked Porter could work great here, with all of its meaty aromas! Just be sure to omit the liquid smoke. That flavor is WAY already in there. Click here to see the delicious looking recipe!
Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout: ABV: 10.6%
Well, if you are expecting me to say this beer is chocolatey... you would be right. This beer pours out as dark as the black night outside Cork & Bottle's windows. It looks like a thicker version of espresso, with that same dark brown "head" a shot of espresso should ALWAYS have.
I fearlessly plunge my nose into the Riedel, sure of what I am going to get. And it does not disappoint. Tons of dark, dark chocolate fill the nose with hints of a lighter, milkier chocolate. But only a hint. Lots of roasted aromas jump out too, particularly of wood and coffee.
This beer drinks like a dessert all unto itself. While this might pair with a bittersweet or dark chocolate torte with raspberries, it certainly doesn't need to. And it might just be overkill. In fact, I would say this would go well INSIDE the recipe of such a dessert! Pour over vanilla ice cream and top with raspberries for a deeeelicious float.
Note: This beer packs a whallop. And it comes out of nowhere. Kinda like another substance I haven't done in years is known to do...remember I told you I was a hippie? Which is why this post came out today instead of last night. I was good, and then wham. I'm very sleeeeeepy. Goodnight Irene. Also, don't be dumb like me and not eat dinner. We all know that is the death knell of any drinking mission!