Friday Beer Blogging – Dark Beer At Noon

Question: What kind of beer would a beer blog blog if a beer blog could blog beer?

Answer: Porter.

Why porter? Unless you’re reading this from Argentina the weather has just reached t-shirt territory, the pubs have unfolded their patio umbrellas and sweaty people start thinking about ordering a cold weissbier with a slice of lemon. Maybe I haven’t gotten around enough, but Hoegaarten does not interest me that much and I’m still trying to erase that awful Coors product from my memory. A good porter, on the other hand, makes me a happy blogger indeed.

The hallmark of a porter is the deep black color that comes from roasting the barley malt, and/or using a dark-brown strain of barley (depending on where you’re brewing). The upside of toasted malt is a slightly-burnt flavor that lets a brewer can get away with quite a number of goofs without anything showing too much in the final product, making porters a popular first recipe for new homebrewers. See wikipedia for much more on the whys, whens and wherefores of the porter beer.

A few of the porters which have stood out in my memory:

Baltica Porter – I honestly have no idea whether the eastern Europeans at the Baltica brewing company spent years as a communist government monopoly, ‘disappearing’ the competition and reeducating masses who had the temerity to complain, but it sure tastes like it. In the linked article Wikipedia claims that many eastern European porters made an effort to match the intimidating strength of the Russian Imperial Stout. Super, great, make it so dark that astrophysicists have to guess whether it really exists at all, but you don’t do that by just dumping a bunch of sugar into the tank and hoping that toasted barley covers up the cloying sweetness. Ech.

Yuengling Porter – One of the best buys in beer, the Yuengling brewery doesn’t try to load you with expensive, complex barley/hops combos like Samuel Smith’s but instead presents a simple, workingman’s porter that goes with anything. Two kielbasas up.

Samuel Smith’s Tadcaster Porter – No offense to English brewing in general and to a very good porter in particular, but for that price I’ll buy a Chimay blue label. To be fair Smith’s Oatmeal Stout remains one of the definitive examples of the genre.

Weyerbacher Heresy – Now we’re talking real beer. Midnight-black, Weyerbacher makes a great first impression with a pleasant dark-brown head and an array of bold spices that assault your palate with the first sip. Unfortunately the head quickly dissipates to a thin rim and the aftertaste comes across surprisingly hollow, or at least too mild compared with the intense aromas up front. Still worth what I paid for it.

Great Lakes Brewing Co’s Edmund Fitzgerald – Homina. The guys at Great Lakes consistently put out quality brew that their hometown of Cleveland simply doesn’t deserve (Pittsburghers get Iron City, which we don’t deserve). Edmund Fitzgerald comes on strong thanks to the malted aroma and just keeps on going, its stout head leaves lacing and the not-overpowering strength allows you to consume all you want, unlike most stouts. Hints of chocolate, caramel and a hoppy finish come across in ways better described by the experts at Beer Advocate. This would definitely be in my fridge more often if Yuengling did not have a strong product of its own.






16 replies
  1. 1
    Dave Straub says:

    I love Baltika (#6) Porter and I commend you for listing it first.

    I live in Yuengling country (Lancaster, PA) and I must admit I only think their porter is acceptable. Can’t really stomach the Y’s other offerings.

  2. 2
    slickdpdx says:

    Seems like its much more difficult to get a good porter in the bottle.

  3. 3
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    For those West Coast types, I recommend the porters from Sierra Nevada and Anchor.
    As for the Edmund Fitzgerald porter, the great thing about it is when you leave the bar you can shout, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya!”

  4. 4
    wickedpinto says:

    “Dark Beer?” I’m outraged, next you will call McKinney “BLACK!”

  5. 5
    Sal says:

    T-shirt weather? It’s 21F outside and we got 4 inches of snow last Monday. This isn’t Argentina, it’s northern lower Michigan. Heard they still have a couple feet up in Marquette.

  6. 6

    Drink Georgian and Maldovan wine!

  7. 7
    fwiffo says:

    The best porter I can recall is Woody’s Perfect Porter from Dragonmead brewpub in Warren, MI. Deliciously fluffy.

    But now I live in Florida where it isn’t possible to buy a good beer anywhere.

  8. 8
    RobR says:

    Berkshire Brewing Company’s Coffeehouse Porter. It’s the Goddamned crack of beer.

    It’s the first beer I’ve been excited about since my first Guinness at 22 (The first beer on a Friday night doesn’t count. That’s addiction, not excitement).

  9. 9
    Krista says:

    Unless you’re reading this from Argentina the weather has just reached t-shirt territory, the pubs have unfolded their patio umbrellas and sweaty people start thinking about ordering a cold weissbier with a slice of lemon.

    I wore my winter jacket tonight. 2 weeks ago, I was wearing sandals and skirts. But the thought of patio umbrellas at pubs just warmed up a little corner of my heart.

  10. 10

    Krista – You live in Canada. It get’s cold outside! :-)

  11. 11
    Krista says:

    I know. But by the time April arrives, I’m more than ready for warm weather.

  12. 12
    BIRDZILLA says:

    THE WRECK OF THE EDMUND FITGERALD that was a big hit song by GORDON LIGHTFOOT a few years ago

  13. 13
    Ben says:

    If you can see through a beer it isn’t worth drinking. :-)

    We used to have Neuwiller Porter around here. Which was an attempt to revive an old local Eastern PA brewery name. It went out of business…. but it was hands down absolutely the best porter I’ve ever had… ever… I want to cry when I think that I can never have it again.

  14. 14
    Ben says:

    Whoops mispelled… that’s “Neuweiler”

  15. 15

    […] The second brew, Erie Railbender, I found after I moved back to the Pittsburgh area some years back. Following the tradition of act globally, drink locally (remember my first beer blog?) I tried everything I could find from the area. My wife and I kept coming back to two brews: the porter from Great Lakes in Cleveland (reviewed here) and a strong scottish ale from Erie Brewing Company in Erie, PA. […]

  16. 16

    […] Let’s start off with a corrective note and an apology. A while back I wrongly slandered Baltica Porter by calling it drinkable, but saccharine with a suspicion that they added sugar to bring on a bit of the Russian “Imperial” character, when in fact I had in mind Okocim Porter from Poland. From what I remember Baltica comes across quite well if a bit burnt. As a gesture of making amends, I recommend that my fans (both of them) go out and enjoy a draught/case/six-pack of Baltica’s fine product immediately. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Let’s start off with a corrective note and an apology. A while back I wrongly slandered Baltica Porter by calling it drinkable, but saccharine with a suspicion that they added sugar to bring on a bit of the Russian “Imperial” character, when in fact I had in mind Okocim Porter from Poland. From what I remember Baltica comes across quite well if a bit burnt. As a gesture of making amends, I recommend that my fans (both of them) go out and enjoy a draught/case/six-pack of Baltica’s fine product immediately. […]

  2. […] The second brew, Erie Railbender, I found after I moved back to the Pittsburgh area some years back. Following the tradition of act globally, drink locally (remember my first beer blog?) I tried everything I could find from the area. My wife and I kept coming back to two brews: the porter from Great Lakes in Cleveland (reviewed here) and a strong scottish ale from Erie Brewing Company in Erie, PA. […]

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