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Friday, February 1, 2013

Slumbrew 's Porter Square Porter

  •  Style: American Porter
  • ABV: 6.5%
  • Season: Year Round
  • Ease to locate: Well distributed around the country.  Plug your zip code into their beer finder to find a location near you
  • Color: As dark as brown can get without being black
  • Head: Respectable two finger tan foam with minimal sticky lacing
  • Aroma: Chocolate, roasted coffee, and a bit of sweet toffee notes
  • Mouthfeel: Medium but with a light amount of creaminess
  • Finish: Medium to long with the taste of alcohol on the end
  • Food friendly:  Try it with grilled beef or sticky barbeque.  Serve it with buttery cheeses like Gouda or Brie

 I like to travel.  After paying off all my student loans (before turning 30, thank you very much) my first priority was to book a trip to Italy.  I don't need to buy designer shoes or expensive bags or the latest tech toy out there (although I do accept donations if anyone is so inclined.)  I do need to hike up Haleakala to see the sun rise or have midnight beignets with my youngest brother at Cafe Du Monde or to stand on the southernmost tip of Portugal, wind whipping so hard that tears form, staring out into the Sea of Gibraltar.  I need moments, not things.

However, I do enjoy buying little reminders of my trips.  I'm not a big snow globe, shot glass, t-shirt sort of girl.  A bottle of wine or beer and I'm more than happy.  On a recent trip to Boston, I may have accidentally taken my mother to a (very respectable) gay bar one night for dinner.  Mitigating circumstances were present.  It was the last night of our trip.  It was cold.  And raining.   And my seventy-something year old mother was beginning to suffer from a head cold.  I needed a place to eat that was close and looked decent.  I had noticed a cute, little, neighborhood joint just behind our hotel during one of my wanderings.  So we ducked in there that evening instead of the jazz club that I had originally intended.  It wasn't until after we had ordered that I took a quick look around the room and noticed that not only were we the only two women in the whole joint, we were apparently also the only ones there not on a date.  Memories are made of this.  Our waiter recommended that I order his favorite local brew with my dinner.   Not only was a porter exactly what I needed, it also worked perfectly with my roasted vegetable flat bread.  And like that once in a lifetime Portuguese view from the edge of the Old World , my experience of explaining to my seventy eight year old, very old school, Catholic mother just why those nice looking young men two tables over were making out,  was done and over.  Until, that is, I unpacked my bag back in Chicago and discover that my souvenir beer from Boston was the same exact bottle of local porter. 

On a dark and stormy night....

Slumbrew is a brewery located in Somerville , MA (it also goes by the corporate name of Somerville Brewing Co.)  They brew a variety of year round and seasonal beers.  The Porter Square Porter that I tasted is probably one of their most popular.  It sports a flavor profile that is high on chocolate and coco notes and lower in pale malts.  I love they use the mild hops of Columbus mixed in with a bit of Fuggles.  I know, it sound like they're a distant cousin of the populace of Fraggle Rock, but in reality Fuggle Hops are a common hop used in brewing porters.  Fuggles give the beer a mild, woodsy flavor profile (British Fuggles are a bit more assertive than the American variety, but as you can tell from watching any episode of Downton Abbey, the English are made from rather solid stock.)  

My Porter Square Porter poured a dark, dark brown color.  It was about as dark as brown could get without becoming black.  A lovely two finger head formed, creating a creamy looking tan foam.  The lacing wasn't amazing, but decent enough for a porter.  Solitary bits of tan suck to the side of my pint glass for a good part of the drink.  The first whiff reveled a chocolatey powerhouse of scents.  A bit of roasted coffee and sweet nuttiness was mixed in as well.   The taste followed the scent note for note.  Dark chocolate, lightly bitter coffee and chewy toffee flavors emerged.  As the beer warmed, I could find the soft hop profile come out to play.  The woodsy, earthiness of the Fuggle hops helped keep the sweetness of the chocolate and coco flavors in check.   The mouthfeel was a solid medium.  There was just enough creaminess to remind you that you are drinking a porter, but not so much that you felt like you were eating one as well.  The finish was medium to long with a hot note of alcohol on the back that I wasn't overly fond of.

You can feel the creaminess, can't you?

I would serve Porter Square Porter with grilled or roasted beef.  A sticky barbeque sauced shredded beef sandwich would be pretty amazing with this beer as well.  I ate it with an assortment of roasted vegetables (eggplant, squash, kale, onions, you get the picture) on flat bread.  I thought that the creaminess and chocolate profile of the brew worked well with the sweetly chard bits of veggies and saltiness of the bread.  I can pretty much guarantee that the stormy evening spent in a certain bar in the Back Bay section of Boston will be a memory that my mom and I laugh about for years to come.  I also know that the next time I need to duck in from the rain, I will probably check the front window of said establishment for a huge sign reminding every one that Karaoke Drag night has been moved to the next Saturday night.  I, for one, do not want to miss something like that again.