Posts Tagged ‘samuel smith’

Beer of the Week: Battle of the Porters

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

My all time favorite style is the sour ale, but I often find that I cycle through the “other style” I second-most enjoy, much like the turning of the seasons, although often out of sync with them. These days, I’ve been all about porters. A category of beer associated with bold flavors, complex notes of fruits and chocolates, and a certain smoothness and richness to the character under the right circumstances, the porter is a very versatile beer and, if you’re drinking the right one, can be an absolute treat to the discerning taster. To mark my reverence of the style, I decided to look at not one but two porters this week.

Firestone Walker Reserve Porter: Officially called Walker’s Reserve, this porter is unreal from the first sip. There’s a lavish, velvety texture to it that inundates you with a complex variety of flavors. Notes of caramel and bitter chocolate are the easiest to find, but a deeper look reveals a hint of spice that leaves you with a fantastically dry finish. Despite its hearty character and intricate flavor, it is still in every respect a porter. Unlike extreme breweries that rely upon style hopping to make something unique, Firestone Walker manage to stay true to the style while still creating something genuinely fantastic .

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter: I’ve had to convince many a friend to try the Taddy Porter. My elevator pitch is, “It tastes like beer chocolate milk.” If someone isn’t excited by that premise, I don’t want to know them. The Taddy Porter is a classic example of an English porter. Brewed with well water, the Taddy Porter is sweet and satisfying. It doesn’t reveal flavors as layered and convoluted as the Reserve Porter, but it doesn’t need to. It’s a simple beer, for people who simply want one thing; an incredible brew.

In a Nutshell: Each fantastic in its own right, the SS Taddy Porter beats out the FW Reserve Porter for reasons far too complex to explain.

Verdict: I don’t know how to summarize this outcome. I love the Reserve Porter. I drink it with an ear to ear grin on my face. It’s wild, and different, while still being the exact beer I need it to be. However, I must choose the Taddy Porter, because unlike the Reserve, the Taddy Porter feels more like a drink for the soul, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters to me.

Beervana Beer Festival

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Beervana

Recently the Beeriety crew went down to Providence, RI to attend the first Beervana Beer Festival in the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. There was a lot of beer to try, and a lot of fun was had by all.

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The most striking thing about this beer festival was its location. The botanical gardens were a far cry from the usual convention halls in which most beer festivals take place. The high glass and metal ceilings and the plethora of large and exotic plant life made it feel like a beer festival in the bio-dome. The environment was fun, even if the winding layout made it tough at times to find your favorite brewer. All of the glass and metal didn’t absorb much of the noise of 500 chatty beer lovers either, which made talking to the various brewers a bit of challenge at times.

Of course, the beer and not the location was the reason we went down to Providence, and on that front, Beervana was a rousing success. Over 20 different brewers and importers offered a huge variety of different brews, including many that weren’t available anywhere else. There were many different beers to try, but the ones which stood out most in our minds were the scotch ales and other liquor-inspired offerings.

Here’s a breakdown of some of our favorites:

Newport Storm Rum-Chipped Marzen- This was a traditional German marzen brewed with chips from an oak barrel which had been used to age rum.  (The chips were strained out before bottling.)  The sweet, warm flavors of the rum imparted a subtle vanilla taste to this beer.

Brooklyn Brewery Manhattan Project- This  beer was a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery and David Wondrich, drinks editor of Esquire magazine. It was aged in rye whiskey barrels for a wonderfully smoky aroma and taste.

Berkshire Brewing Company Wood-aged Scotch Ale- Another great, barrel-aged scotch ale with a powerful aroma matched only by its alcoholic strength.

Samuel Smith Stingo- This classic Yorkshire brewery unveiled their latest creation, which was aged in oak barrels for over a year before bottling.  The oak blended nicely with the buttery flavors from Sam Smith’s house yeast.

Smuttynose Brewing Oaked Tripel Penetration- A great twist on a traditional Belgian style tripel. The heavy oak notes blended well with the light flavors of a tripel.

Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione

Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione speaks

In addition to all of the great beer, there were special guest speakers. Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing Co., spoke about barrel aged beer. Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, spoke about his special ancient ales project. Both speakers attracted large crowds, but it was no surprise to see that Calagione drew the biggest audience, as he’s known throughout the craft brew world for his blunt nature.

All and all, it was a great time and a well organized event, especially for a festival in its first year. If you’re in the area next year, be sure to check out Beervana.


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