February's Beer: Porter
Damn, this stuff was made for the month of February.
Today I am drinking a Bell's Porter (pictured below), from Kalamazoo Michigan. Another easy-to-find favorite is Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, imported from England. A more affordable American version is Yuengling Porter (from Pennsylvania) which has limited distribution in PA, the Great Lakes area, and I am guessing the East Coast but I don't know for sure.
I think my favorite all-time porter is St. Bridget’s Porter from the Great Divide Brewing Company in Colorado somewhere. I haven't tasted it in years but I have fond memories of selling it on the lot of Phish shows :)
St. Bridget, a legendary Irish saint, created a sensation by turning her bathwater into beer. What better way to celebrate her worthy miracle than with our zymurgistic tribute to her feat: St. Bridget’s Porter. St. Bridget’s is a smooth and elegant brown porter. Brimming with coffee and chocolate characteristics from dark barley malts, St. Bridget’s is carefully hopped to provide the perfect complement to its malty robustness. This beer is a “must have” beer for all porter lovers.
Prepare yourself for a religious experience.
Mmm mmmm good!
Porter is a style of beer in the ale family which has a dark colour. It was developed in the 18th century, originally from the use of highly dried brown malt, a roast malt aroma and hop bitterness. It is generally brewed with soft rather than hard water. Strong Porter was called "Stout Porter", which was later shortened to just "Stout". Guinness Extra Stout was originally called "Extra Superior Porter" and was only given the name Extra Stout in 1840.
Porter is actually mentioned as early as 1721, but no writer before Feltham says it was made to replicate "three threads". Instead, it seems to be a more-aged development of the brown beers already being made in London. Before 1700, London brewers sent out their beer very young and any aging was either performed by the publican or a dealer. Porter was the first beer to be aged at the brewery and despatched in a condition fit to be drunk immediately. It was the first beer that could be made on any big scale, and the London porter brewers, such as Whitbread, Truman, Parsons and Thrale, became rich and famous.
Early London Porters were strong beers by modern standards. Early trials with the hydrometer in the 1770's recorded Porter as having an OG of 1071° and 6.6% ABV . Increased taxation during the Napoleonic War pushed its gravity down to around 1055°, where it remained for the rest of the 19th century. The huge popularity of the style prompted brewers to produce Porters in a wide variety of strengths. These started with Single Stout Porter at around 1066°, Double Stout Porter (such as Guinness) at 1072°, Triple Stout Porter at 1078° and Imperial Stout Porter at 1095° and more. As the 19th century progressed the Porter suffix was gradually dropped. British brewers, however, continued to use Porter as the generic term for both Porters and Stouts.
The large London Porter breweries pioneered many technological advances, such as the use of the thermometer (about 1760) and the hydrometer (1770). The use of the latter was to transform the nature of Porter. The first Porters were brewed from 100% Brown Malt. Now brewers were able to accurately measure the yield of the malt they used, it was noticed that Brown Malt, though cheaper than Pale Malt, only produced about two thirds as much fermentable material. When the malt tax was increased to help pay for the Napoleonic War, brewers had an incentive to use less malt. Their solution was to use a proportion of Pale Malt and add colouring to obtain the expected hue. When a law was passed in 1816 allowing only malt and hops to be used in the production of beer (a sort of British Reinheitsgebot) they were left in a quandry. Their problem was solved by Wheeler´s invention of the almost black patent malt in 1817. It was now possible to brew Porter from 95% Pale Malt and 5% patent malt, though most London brewers continued to use some Brown Malt for flavour.
And obviously I need at least one more porter, since I can still manage to post a message this coherent about beer ;)
Damn, I've only got Guiness
I was going to bring some, but since you've got the good stuff....
Porter is my favorite beer.
I have a couple of bottles of the local "Black Butte Porter" in the fridge as I type.
That is another great one I drank during my brief stint on the west coast (Humboldt Cty, CA). That's another great beer! Haven't seen it for sale this far east though
I've been east of the rockies
3 times since 1967, to texas, colorado, and Kansas, and was only actually "east" once in 1965. I always wanted to tour the country and see the world, but the older I got the more my world narrowed with responsibility. If I ever get the chance, a beer-tasting tour would be a great excuse to go wandering, lol. I tend to favor dark, rich microbrews.
I generally like strong, hoppy ales
like IPAs. I also like ESBs. I guess I like my beer bitter. Porter is bitter compared to stout, so I prefer smoky porters but once in a while I like a nice thick creamy stout too. Mmm mmmm!
That was a fun bonus about traveling around from one Phish show to the next - I wasn't very crafty so instead of selling pretty homemade clothes in the lot, I sold ice cold beer. And the market (read: college kids on acid) generally preferred the good local brews, so it was like a beer tour, pretty much. With some great music to boot!
I'm glad I did my wandering when I was kinda young and naive - I was really lucky (and naive, did I say that?) because I did some hitchhiking and generally relied on many folks I had no reason to trust. But it all turned out okay, except for a couple of creepy times with cokeheads and one trucker who insisted on us 'showing him some skin' that we had to get away from. Eeewww. With a picture of his lovely family on his dashboard. Jerk.
But I ended up in Humboldt county for awhile, an old shack built around an airstream trailer right on the beach not far from Arcata...What a summer!