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Monday, April 22, 2013

Bell's Brewery, Inc.'s Porter

  • Style: Porter (D'oh!)
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • Season: Year Round
  • Ease to locate: Very easy in the following states-AZ, ND, MN, IA, MO, IL, WI, IN, MI, OH, KY,  (hang on, I need a breather...) PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, AL, FL and Washington DC.  Here's a link to their beer finder
  • Color: Solid dark brown with no hints of other tints
  • Head: Two finger head with lovely small patches of lacing
  • Aroma: Scents of dark chocolate, coffee and some roasted grains.  Hint of dark fruit layered into the scent.
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate  with a good amount of carbonation
  • Finish: Medium with some welcome roasted bitterness that linger
  • Food friendly: Yes.  This would be delicious with any sort of barbeque or grilled beef.  Think hearty but not too heavy.  Serve it with buttery cheeses like Swiss or Brie

Porter and Stouts are often unfairly delegated to winter season imbibing.  Come Spring (and Spring will come, even if the weatherperson is calling for a rouge snow shower in Chicago.   But what does she know?  She spends her days pointing at an imaginary map while trying to come up with a new way to describe news that a normal person can figure out for themselves just by sticking their heads out a window. )  Anyway, come Spring most people gravitate towards lighter beer.  And I mean lighter in in body, not LITE beer.  Please never, never, never confuse the two.  Because if you do, the terrorist win.  As soon as the temperature warms up and the patio grill gets a decent Spring scrub down, many beer fans break out seasonal styles such as Bocks, Wits and, the rightfully increasingly popular, Saisons.   I'm guilty of this too.  I've got a DuPoint Saison bomber sitting in the  pantry in my basement elite and luxurious (if you live in a trailer) beer/wine cellar just waiting to be enjoyed on the first really warm day.  But are we missing out by overlooking our wintertime friends?  Should porters and stouts be stored in the attic with the giant plastic Santa and "smells just like the real thing as long as you think evergreens are supposed to smell like Lysol" artificial Christmas tree?  (Word to the wise.  DO NOT store your beer in your attic regardless.  It's hot up there.  Beer is like people who live in Minnesota.  They aren't fond of temperatures that don't turn your nose red.)   

                                                                                                          Poor Jerry really needs a drink

I think that we may be doing a disservice to our friends of the dark in hue variety.  Porters are especially tasty with barbecue foods.  The sweetness of the molasses and the tanginess of the tomatoes in a Kansas City style mop sauce work brilliantly with a lighter Porter, such as Bell's Brewery's Porter.  I think that the key to finding the right sort of food friendly, summer welcoming sort of porter is to locate a beer that is simple in flavor and lighter in body.  You'd think that this would be an easy task.  But the funny thing about creating something that is straight forward  in design, it takes a fair amount of work to achieve delectable simplicity.  When you have very few details to brood over, the notes that are there must be relatively perfect.  And there lies the rub. 

Don't just dismiss a Porter like this because it's 90 degrees in the shade. A simple Porter can be your best friend while you are sweating over a grill.  Mainly because your real best friends are inside the house enjoying the air conditioning
My Bell's Brewery Porter poured a dark, solid brown.  There was no hint of any other color present, even around the edgings or when held up to a light.  A two finger, deeply off white head formed.  The foam exhibited great retention, lingering around in a springy layer for a good majority of the drink.  Lovely, tall lacing crept up the sides of the pint glass.  I could smell moderate notes of dark chocolate and fresh brewed coffee.    Behind the chocolate and coffee was the scent of grains and a lighter hint of dark, chewy fruit.  The beer tasted very much as it smelled.  The first character I noticed was the chocolate and coffee, although neither was exciting or exceptional in flavor.  Toasty grains followed as well as the ever so slight taste of prunes.  Pretty much as one would expect from your all around, general sort of porter.  It struck me as being a solid beer without any pretension or airs. The moderate mouthfeel was just about perfect for food.  It wasn't so heavy that I couldn't taste the meal I was enjoying but not so slight in heft that I wondered why I was even bothering to drink a Porter with the meal in the first place.  The brew had a good amount of carbonation present to help give the shorter than expected finish a desirable effect when eating.

Heat stroke is no joke.  Better make sure that you have a back up Porter to keep hydrated. 
On, second thought, make sure that you have a back up for your back up.  Barbeque safe out there, people

 Sometimes a beer is just made to be eaten with a meal.  What may just be an OK brew when sipped all by it's lonesome self, becomes something pitch perfect when drunk with the right combination of flavors on the plate.  Bell's Brewery's Porter is such a beer.  I drank my pint with a barbeque chicken pizza crisped up on a pizza stone on my trusty grill.  The molasses and brown sugar in the sauce melded with the bitterness of the porter's chocolate and coffee notes.  Yet the beer wasn't so enchanted with it's own flavor profile that it worked against the red onion or cilantro on the crust.  I could also see this porter being delicious with just about anything smothered in a Kansas City sort of sauce (here's a great recipe, try it with a whole cut up chicken or some grilled, pulled pork.)  Bell's Porter is exactly  as simple as it's name.  It doesn't pretend to be anything that it's not.  And, if you ask me, that's exactly what makes it such a beautiful and simple summer option.