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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coming Up: Porters Step Into the Ring

Sunday, February 28th is the date for the next Battle Royale. This time Porters from across the country will duke it out in a slugfest of malty delight.



First off - what is a Porter? In fact Porter is the father of Stout. Porter originated as the first engineered beer. It was a mixture of old ale, either sour or stale, new Brown or Pale ale, and a mild ale. It's name is supposedly derived from its popularity with transportation workers in Central London. Porter requires a longer aging process. Baltic Porters are somewhat stronger in much the same way as IPA's are and for the same reason - to survive extended sea voyages. In 1820, Sir Arthur Guinness rechristened his XX Porter - calling it Guinness Extra Stout Porter. Soon, however, Stout became a style unto its own (and one we will explore in March). Thanks to Beer Advocate for the above info, by the way.


Porters are dark, hearty beers, with a roasted malty taste, often with notes of chocolate or coffee. The formula varies from brewery to brewery and some have a more pronounced hop presence than others.


Flying Dog Road Dog Porter - From Frederick, MD, Road Dog Porter is a rich, dark, malty beer, with hints of chocolate and licorice, resulting from the use of four prized malts. 6% ABV

Harpoon's Baltic Porter - Located in Boston, MA and Windsor, VT From Harpoon's Leviathan series of strong ales (9.5%!), this is a beer with notes of dark fruit and bittersweet chocolate blending into a spicy finish. 38 IBU's.

Mayflower Porter - From Plymouth, MA - Embracing the tradition of "three threads" (combining of three distinct ales) this brew is smooth and full-bodied, with distinct notes of roasted coffee beans and chocolate. Using Pilgrim and Glacier hops, Mayflower Porter weighs in at 5.5% ABV and a respectable 33 IBU's.
Mayflower beers currently are distributed around the Plymouth and South Shore areas, but are hoping to begin expanding.

Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter - Middlebury, VT Ruby black in color, rich palate and roasted hoppy aroma. Traditional Porter. 5.4% ABV

Rock Art Double Smoked Porter - Morrisville, VT At a solid 8% ABV, this beer is not fooling around. Sweet caramel malts, roasted malts, a big mouth feel and smoked grain.

Rogue's Mocha Porter - From Newport, OR - This beer is ruddy brown in color, with a bittersweet balance of malt and hops. All with a nice cream finish. With an impressive
54 IBU and a 5.3% ABV.

Southern Tier Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Porter - From Lakewood, NY - Richly complex with overtones of chocolate and espresso beans with the subtle flavor of hops. 5.2% ABV

Stone Brewery Smoked Porter - San Diego, CA - Dark, smooth and complex with rich chocolate and coffee flavors balanced by a subtle smokiness.
5.9% ABV

There you have it. May the best beer win!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Harpoon Beer Dinner at Kitty Hoynes

We recently enjoyed a fine evening of food and drink at Kitty Hoynes, a pub and eatery located in the Armory Square area of Syracuse, NY. Periodically, Kitty Hoynes puts on beer pairings dinners which highlight a particular brewery (not to mention the tasty offerings by Chef Damien Brownlow). January 26th saw Ed Valenta of Harpoon Brewery out of Boston come to town with several of their excellent brews in tow.

Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub located at 301 West Fayette Street in Syracuse is a great place to eat or drink whether or not there's a beer dinner. The pub area is dominated by a massive oval bar with the requisite Irish themed decor. While their selection of beers can't rival nearby Clarkes' Ale House or the Blue Tusk, they always have a nice variety on tap. Guinness, Bass, Harp, Boddington's and Smithwick's are always available (as well as the usual yellow fizzy beer if you so choose), but they also have a rotating selection of excellent craft beers. On this particular night they had Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale and the featured brew was Harpoon's Celtic Ale. Their drafts are served in generous 20 oz. "pint" glasses. We arrived early and were able to imbibe in a couple of pints before the main event.
Kitty Hoynes' food is always excellent and on this night the choices were superb.

We started the evening off with Potato Croquettes with honey mustard horseradish sauce. This was paired with Harpoon's wheat beer, UFO White. This beer is a light Belgian wheat beer with a citrusy tang. While I must admit citrusy wheat beers are not my favorite, it was a decent beer to start off with.

Next came the appetizer course: Pan roasted apricot glazed Cornish hen atop a zucchini nest (again, delish). With this we had Celtic Ale. Like most Irish Ales it is a malty brew, medium bodied with a bit of a hop finish. Very good beer - nice nose, rich amber color with a bold yet balanced taste.

The salad course (arugula, radishes, tomatoes, onions, spicy almonds and goat cheese in white balsamic vinaigrette) brought with it Harpoon IPA. We hopheads smiled. At 42 IBU's it is a nicely hopped beer (consider a typical American Lager such as Bud or Miller is around 10-15 IBU's). Wonderful hop aroma jumps right out at you. Real nice bitter finish that lingers nicely on the palate. This is Harpoon's flagship brew and it shows. There's a nice toasty maltiness that works nicely with the hops. An excellent all-round beer.

Next was the soup course, a delicious Irish Seafood Coddle. With this we had Harpoon's UFO Pale Ale. This is an unfiltered pale ale in the style of English Pale Ales. While not as hoppy as the IPA of course (34 IBU) it nonetheless retains a nice bitter finish. Overall a lighter, more balanced beer. Very pleasant nose - floral, hoppy.

The entree for the evening was beer brined pork chop topped with a poblano and tomato chutney served with mapel yams and a vegetable bundle (yum!) For the beer, Ed brought out the big guns. From their Leviathan series of big, strong beers we had Leviathan Baltic Porter. At 9.5% ABV it is a solid take-no-prisoners brew. This is a full-bodied beer with dark chocolate notes. We will visit it further at our next beer club as it goes head to head with selected Porters.

We ended the evening with Sweet n tart Apple Surprise paired with Harpoon's Apple Cider. The cider was nicely dry and made for a pleasant complement to Kitty Hoyne's excellent dessert.