Posts Tagged With: English Porter

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil

 

Beer:  Old Engine Oil
Brewery: Harviestoun Brewery
Style: English Porter
ABV: 6.0%

Serving Style: Cask
Glassware: Mug
Drinking Establishment: The Blind Tiger, NYC
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Pitch black, with a thin tan head.

Scent: Like that of creme brulee–sweet, vanilla, and caramelized sugar.  There is a note of alcohol in the aroma as well.

Flavor: A fascinating combination of hops in the form of pine, hiding beneath roasted malts and a sweet caramel coating.  We also tasted notes of citrus pith and chocolate.

Feel:  Thin but creamy, with no carbonation due to it being a cask beer.

Concluding remarks: Soulful.  Balanced.  Delicious.  Drinking the Old Engine Oil Porter is like walking through the forests of Scotland (Harviestoun’s homeland) while eating a caramel-dipped dark chocolate-covered orange and finishing the night with a bottle of red wine.  In other words, the best day (and night) ever.

CASK CAVEAT: The only reason we didn’t give this Porter a full 5 Pint Glasses is that we tried it from a cask; we eagerly await an opportunity to try the Old Engine Oil in another form, with perhaps a bit more carbonation.

PORTER CAVEAT: Have you picked up on the fact that you just read a Porter review during Stout month?  No, we didn’t get confused, but the Blind Tiger did: they had the Old Engine Oil listed on their menu board as a Stout.  We won’t hold it against them, though, because we are ever-so-glad we got to experience this beer, so much so that it was still worthy of a write-up (despite it being two months late).

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St. Peter’s Old-Style Porter

GET BLITZED REVIEW 7!

Beer:  Old-Style Porter
Brewery: St. Peter’s Brewery Co.
Style: English Porter
ABV: 5.1%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer(s): Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Dark ruby body with a very thin off-white head filled with tiny carbonation bubbles.

ScentSlight isopropyl smell with musky, roasted malts. Very deep undertones of figs and plums.

Flavor: This is hands-down the yeastiest (wow, that’s actually a word–no red underlines!) Porter I’ve tasted. After I got passed the yeast, all I taste is toasted malts, which leaves a very slight bitterness in my mouth. Okay, at the end there’s just a hint of coffee.

Feel: Thin-to-medium body with lovely carbonation. This is a pretty spot-on example of what an English Porter should feel like.

Going back-to-back on English Porters, I’ll just say that Sam Smith’s Taddy is far superior. However, this guy has a solid roasted sweetness that keeps me going back for more sips. If you’re in dire need of an English Porter, this is widely distributed–so, lucky you, because it’s not bad. Caveat: I know the next thing I’m going to say is obnoxious, but, too bad. I appreciate the English Porters for their history, for their authenticity and adherence to the original recipes that came out of the 18th century. It’s like time traveling, a bit. HOWEVER, the adaptations of their innovative brew, in my heart and on my palate, reign supreme. From the North Sea to the Great Lakes, the interpretations of this historic English style are goddamn delicious. Okay, before I start writing poetry about my love for beer, I will conclude this sentence now.

Concluding remarks: I’m officially blitzed. Auf Wiedersehen, Porters. Thanks for the good times. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Samuel Smith Taddy Porter

GET BLITZED REVIEW 6!

Beer:  Taddy Porter
Brewery: Samuel Smith
Style: English Porter
ABV: 5.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: The Old Bay Restaurant, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Very dark brown body with a thin, pale tan head. Large carbonation bubbles gathered in the center.

Scent: Strong caramel and toffee aroma, with crisp coffee undertones.

Flavor: Initially, the intense toffee and caramel come through, but the aftertaste is like drinking roasted seltzer, if that was a thing.

Feel: Medium creamy body, moderate carbonation.

This Sam Smith “Famous” Porter has a fascinating background: the brewing water is drawn from a well sunk over 200 years ago, and it’s fermented using the Yorkshire Square system (Samuel Smith being the last independent brewery in England to utilize this classic system of fermentation in stone squares).  However, the result isn’t as remarkable: the Taddy is your classic Porter with flavors of roasted coffee and toffee/caramel.  Not too heavy, and just a tad(dy) bit sweet.

Fun fact: All Samuel Smith beers are vegan and registered with the Vegan Society.  Woot!

Concluding remarks: Better Porters have been had, but we can see it being the Yuengling or Sam Adams go-to equivalent when having a pint in England.

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Mr. George’s Ruby Porter

GET BLITZED REVIEW 2!

Beer: Mr. George’s Ruby Porter
Brewery: Batemans Brewery
Style: English Porter/Ruby Porter
ABV: 5.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Acquired from: City Swiggers 
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark brown, slightly transparent with ruby red hues. Very little, almost non-existent head. Proliferation of carbonation bubbles.

Smell: I have never smelled a Porter quite like this; it’s incredibly sweet and citrusy.

Flavor: This tastes like sweet milk, with a complex spice profile and just a bit of earthiness. There are notes of nutmeg and just a bit of citrus as well.

Feel: Very light body with excellent carbonation.

Why, Mr. George, so nice to meet you. This English Porter was surprisingly light and refreshing, all the while packing an incredible amount of sweet spice flavor. I kid you not, this tastes and feels like a sweet milk-based drink. Perhaps this is not an excellent portrayal of a traditional English Porter, but I sure as hell was excited and challenged by the flavor of this beer. Perhaps this stylistic divergence has to do with it being a Ruby Porter (though, after some research, I’m not convinced that this is an actual style).

Concluding remarks: It’s a pretty obscure one to find, but if you ever see it on a beer run, definitely give Mr. George a try. He will not disappoint. If you don’t believe me, just look at his stoic yet warm and trustworthy face.

Also, for the vegans out there, this beer is approved by the Vegan Society. So have your way with this one.

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Fuller’s London Porter

Beer: London Porter
Brewery: Fuller Smith & Turner
Style: English Porter
ABV: 5.4%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Consumption Companion: A tall Polish gal

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OVERALL RATING: 

Sight: Dark brown, opaque body with a garnet tint. Frothy, beige head upon first pour.

Scent: Now, this smells like everything I want in a Porter:  robust roasted malt and coffee smell at the front, with a hint of caramel at the end.

Flavor: This Porter has a very pronounced hop flavor. It kind of punches you in the mouth with delicious hoppy bitterness, but then consoles you at the end with a warm, sweet toffee flavor. How every act of physical violence should end. With toffee. And now that it’s lingered in my mouth for a while, I even get a bit of raspberry at the end.

Feel: Medium-to-thin mouthfeel, and slightly over-carbonated.

The flavor profile of Fuller’s London Porter is impressively complex. Although not as creamy or rich as one might wish of a Porter, it’s combination of bitter and sweet leaves one licking their lips for more (literally, I keep licking my lips).

Concluding remarks: While my first go at an English Porter, I’m already sold. The flavor is what anyone would hope to find at a bar on a dull Thursday night: dark, mysterious, deep, European (I guess? Is that what people want?) My Polska called it the “sorbet of Porters,” and I can’t help but agree.

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The Porter

And we are starting the year off with the elusive Porter! We have a number of friends, and Kerensa includes herself in this group, who once assumed all dark beers were Stouts. (Ally was just happy living in ignorant bliss.)  Legend even has it that Kerensa came up with some completely inaccurate but intellectual-sounding phrase like, “All Porters are Stouts, but not all Stouts are Porters.” We really had no idea. And on an early quest to learn more about the style and what to look for when tasting one, we were baffled by the number of different forms a Porter could take: Smoked Porter, Mocha Porter, Vanilla Porter. Then, we began noticing that some Porters were even classified by geographic region: Baltic Porter, London Porter, Irish Porter. We knew that there must be some fascinating story behind this…

And so, to sort it all out, we’ve compiled a brief history of the Porter from a number of trustworthy and informative sources.

But first!

Some Technical Jargon

While we do not fancy ourselves chemists, we recognize that brewing is ultimately chemistry. Thus, we will do our best to provide relevant information without inundating you (and ourselves) with too many discussions on molecular formulas and the like.

You may or may not know, but there are, predominantly, two types of beer: the ALE and the LAGER. What is the difference, really? Well, an ale is produced by using a “top-fermenting” brewing yeast in what is known as the warm fermentation method, while a lager is produced by using a “bottom-fermenting” brewing yeast in the cold fermentation method. Top-fermenting yeasts produce sweeter, higher alcohol content beer (making ales your go-to beer if you’re planning on getting a little wild on a Friday, or, um, Tuesday night).

The Porter is a warm-fermented beer using the ale yeasts. Thus, it contains a hint of sweetness and is often characterized by flavors of coffee, caramel, and chocolate.

A Fabled Beginning

The origin of the Porter is to be found in 18th Century England, but the origin story is a slightly mythical and unsubstantiated one.  It has been said that in order to be frugal, workers in London would mix a more expensive beer with a lighter one (e.g. the Black and Tan). In 1802, a writer named John Feltham claimed that this was the case with the Porter. It developed from a particular combination of three beers (known as the “three threads”) that were popular with transportation workers in London: a bad ale that was no longer drinkable on its own; a brown or pale ale; and a mild ale. According to this legend, the combination became so popular that a man by the name of Ralph Harwood began brewing “three threads” as a single beer, and it became popular with–lo and behold!–London porters.

London Porters

The term “Porter,” as used in relation to the beer, is actually mentioned as early as 1721, but no writer before Feltham says it was made to replicate “three threads.”  Given this lack of evidence, many believe the Harwood origin story to be a fable. Instead, it is more likely that Porter evolved from the already-existing brown beers being made in London at the time. Before 1700, London brewers shipped out their beer very young and any aging was performed by either the tavern owner or a dealer. Porter, however, was aged at the brewery–a first in the history of beer–and was sent to bars ready to be consumed immediately.

The Pioneer of Beer

Not only was Porter the first beer to be aged at the brewery, it was also the first beer that could be made on any large scale–and lead to breweries such as Whitbread & Co. and the Old Truman Brewery making a pretty penny from it.  Furthermore, Porters benefited from the first applications of technological advances in brewing, such as the use of the thermometer and the hydrometer (an instrument that measures the relative density of a liquid).  Early London versions were strong by modern standards (at about 6.6%) and were brewed with 100% malt. However, as taxes increased during the Napoleonic Wars (you know, the conflagrations in the early 1800s that led to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire), the percentages as well as the types of malt used fluctuated.

Whitbread & Co. (credit: http://zythophile.wordpress.com)

As the Porter developed and changed through the years, it varied in levels of strength, the stronger Porters being referred to as “Extra Porters” or “Double Porters” or even–oh hey–“Stout Porters.”  The term “Stout Porter” would later be shortened to, simply, “Stout.”  And so, as it turns out, Kerensa and friends weren’t so far off in considering this month’s beer to be a Stout in Porter’s Clothing.  But in answer to the chicken-or-egg question of what came first, it is the mighty Porter that wins.

Not Just an English Thing

The Porter recipe was exported to other countries, the most famous journey of which evolved into what we know now as the Baltic Porter, popular in the Baltic region–from Estonia to Denmark (and most countries around and in between). The major difference between the English and Baltic Porters is that, though the style was introduced to the area using top-fermenting yeasts typically used for ales, many breweries started to use bottom-fermenting yeast that are typically used for lagers (lager yeasts were more common in the region). However, some Baltic Porters do use ale yeasts. [If you are super interested in teasing out the variations of this style, here is a link to message board thread discussing the finer details of the Baltic Porter: http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/3826379.]

A Typical Baltic Voyage (credit: http://history.skyforger.lv)

And what about us Americans?  In the United States, Porters can be traced back to colonial times.  (Makes sense, right?)  American Porters were originally made using top-fermenting yeasts and were rumored to be most tasty. In fact, Porters were the favorite brew of George Washington himself (also Jefferson, but whatever). Yards Brewing Company of Philadelphia even produces a “George Washington Porter” using his original recipe!

George Washington's Porter recipe (credit: NYPL)

However, as the country welcomed German immigrants who brought with them the Lager, brewers began using lager yeasts in the production of the Porter. Two of the oldest surviving Porter recipes in the United States are the Yuengling Porter and the Lion Brewery Porter, both of out of Pennsylvania (the home of many a German immigrant).

The Fall and Rise

Around the 1940s, Porter production stopped in England as the Stout increased in popularity. However, there was a renewed interest in the style at the end of the 1970s, and now, many brewers around the Western world have  brewed up their interpretation of the English classic. Many, in fact, have even put their own spin on things, with the introduction of a variety of flavored Porters (the aforementioned mocha, vanilla, and smoked–even the jolly pumpkin Porter!)

Well then!  Now that we’ve filled out brains with a little bit of knowledge on this month’s spotlight beer, it’s time to fill our mouths with some examples of the delicious brown stuff.  Check back soon for posts highlighting the taste, texture, and titillating aromas ascribed to the Porter, as well as hard-hitting reports and reviews on the bars and breweries that do this fine beer justice.

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