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Monday, February 9, 2015

Transient Artisan Ales' Henry Porter

  • Style: American Porter
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Ease to locate: Transient is brewed in small batches and not overly easy to locate.  Right now this beer is easier to find on tap than bottled.  Here's a link to their Beer Menu page
  • Color: Dark, dank brown with black tar highlights.  Imagine a Kardashian's soul and there you go.
  • Head: True tan 1 & 1/2 fingers comprised of large bubbles that leave soft lacing.  Pretty
  • Aroma: In one word?  RICH.  Lots of bitter dark chocolate, some roasted coffee and a fruity layer of raisin & date.  Not a huge nose, but solid
  • Mouthfeel:Full body.  Not particularly dry.
  • Finish: Medium to long.  Ending on a reprise of the chocolate note.
  • Food friendly?: Yes, but choose carefully.  Pair it with simple winter meals such as beef stew or roasted meat with a coffee rub

Apple User's Link: Because Weird Al is usually as fancy as I get

There was a time when preparing a fancy dinner for two was many beer geeks nightmare.  It often meant a trip to that small wine boutique staffed by people who can actually properly pronounce words like "Beaujolais" and "Gewurztraminer".  Once there, staring at a shelf of tall, indecipherable labeled bottles, it would slowly dawn on most ale enthusiasts the horrible truth.  Not even one of those bottle was filled with beer.  Luckily for us, the nightmare is now over.  We are living in the Golden Age of Beer and finding the right bottle to pair with your "white table cloth/ use the non paper kind of plates" worthy meal is as easy as hanging out at your local bottle shop.  I mean, I know that you're there weekly anyway.  One of my favorite new American Porters is Transient Artisan Ale's Henry just happens to be encased in one of my favorite labels.  Matthew LaFleur is a local illustrator who has penned quite a few local releases here in Chicago (you can check his artwork out on Middlebrow's A Life Pursuit and Arcade Brewery's William Wallace among others.)  What I love about LaFleur's rendition for Transient's label is the cleanliness of the graphic.  Black on white with a interesting interpretation of just what the word transient actually means. No nearly naked women riding horses through rainbows.  No weird zombie trolls waging war.  No cute baby animals doing horrendously uncute not baby things.  It's simply refreshing in it's class and sophistication.  And it won't bring up any awkward relationship conversations that really should be best left until at least the second bottle of alcohol of the night.

My Henry American Porter poured a dark, rich, dank liquid into the snifter.  It sported black tar like highlights towards the edges of the glass which gave it a thickly luxurious appearance.  A one and a half finger true tan head consisted of mostly large tight carbonation formed.  It slowly settled to a shallow film and a thick ring on the porter's surface, leaving behind tails of soapy lacing clinging to the glass.  So pretty.     The nose was not huge by any means, but it was solid and well constructed.  I found an abundance of rich dark chocolate bittersweetness immediately, tempered by a distinct, if not giant, note of perfectly roasted coffee.  The presence of a bit of dark fruit sneaked it's way on the back of the nose (especially as the porter warmed.)  Just as uncompex but solid in it's presentation was the taste.  Lots of dark bitter chocolate, a hint of dark roasted coffee and a shallow layer of dark fruit (mainly raisins and prunes.)    As the beer warmed, I could taste a very light berry note towards the back of the mouthful that I thought rounded out this porter wonderfully.  A full and creamy body coated the tongue nicely and created a gorgeous mouthfeel.  It's no secret that I like my beers on the drier side, but when I find a porter or stout that knows how to do a luxurious mouthfeel properly, its a real treat.  The almost long finish began with the sumptuous dark chocolate note which gained depth when the dark fruit element was added and finished with a reprise of the bitter chocolate once again on the tail.  

I wasn't always a beer geek.   At one time, and this may be hard for some of you to hear, I was a dedicated oenophile.  I'm not ashamed of it.  I still enjoy a glass or two of wine with my meal.  But what I absolutely love is that I now have the option of  pairing my dinner with a bottle of beer that I'm not ashamed to leave sitting on the table as we eat.  Valentine's Day is quickly approaching (and in case this fact has slipped some of your hop soaked minds, here's your friendly reminder to keep you from sleeping on the coach this weekend.)   Serve a bottle of Transient Artisan Ale's Henry American Porter with a fancy sounding, yet relatively easy to prepare meal, such as a Spice Coated Rack of Lamb For Two on Saturday night for your significant other.  Break out the good plates and silverware (you know, the ones that can go in the dishwasher at night).  Maybe even set the mood with some well chosen music (I'll leave that up to you.  One couple's romantic music is another couple's death march.  Choose accordingly.)   What ever you do, try your best to to be like Transient and keep it classy folks.  You have 364 other days for Zombie Dust and that kinky stuff.