Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Foamy Furlough: WEDNESDAY

The English word "Wednesday" is rooted in the name of the good old Anglo-Saxon god, Woden, who was apparently a local variant of the good old Norse god, Odin. Thus, I thought it would be nifty to showcase a beer from Seattle's Odin Brewing Company. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a place around here that sells their stuff.

It is also true, as you know, that in the Romance languages, words for this weekday (Spanish miercoles, Italian mercoledi, etc.) are rooted in the name of the good old Roman god, Mercury. But, alas, neither was I able to find any offerings from the Mercury Brewing Company of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

No matter. Emboldened by the success of my rule-bending on Monday (or "Monk Day," as it is now called), I decided to throw away the "nesday" part and keep the "Wed." A great opportunity to celebrate one of my very favorite beer styles, porter, which was originally made by blending (or "wedding" -- get it?) three different types of ale to create a uniquely balanced flavor. The name "porter" supposedly came from the popularity of the style with British railway workers in the 18th century.

Oh, how dearly I wanted to review Salopian Entire Butt English Porter -- mainly for the juvenile gratification I get from the name, but also because it is regarded by many as a world class beer. Unfortunately, snow days and whatnot prevented me from picking up a bottle in time. I may still try to get my hands on this and append my review to a future Foamy Furlough© installment. (Because, you know, these things aren't long enough already...)

I did manage to acquire St. Peter's Old-Style Porter, which is sold in a cool, old-fashioned-looking smoked green bottle with shoulders and an embossed logo. (See photo below.) I poured this beer into a pint tumbler. It is a dark mahogany color in the glass, but looks quite red if you shine a light through it. It foams to about a quarter inch of head and leaves minimal lacing.

The aroma is of dried dark fruits -- raisin and prune, sticky with their own sugars. Behind that is a suggestion of chewing tobacco and peat. It is immediately clear that one holds a beer of distinctive character. The taste... first impression is of a well-constructed body with brown ale characteristics, but that quickly complicates into a strong roasted grain flavor. There is a hint of espresso. After that follows a mineral presence -- something in the ballpark of sulfur, but don't take that negatively. Maybe I should just call it an "earthy" note. Roastiness dominates the main body.

The beer has a nice glassy mouthfeel. Carbonation is fairly low to begin with, and as the beer warms it diminishes to almost none, true to the British pub style. I definitely note a difference between St. Peter's Old-Style Porter and some of my go-to American porters, like those from Yuengling Brewery and Anchor Brewing Company. It is not as sweet, dense, and flinty. It has the genuinely "old-style" character that comes from adding a soured ale to the mix. Personally, I am a fan, though it is easy to predict that many would not be.

St. Peter's has a long-lingering smoky finish. It hangs on the palate with a mellowness conducive to contemplation, like some of life's other great amenities: smoked gouda, the aftertaste of a good cigar or scotch, or a log smoldering in the fireplace. In my own imagination, I am on a train leaving industrial London for the weekend, a crisp broadsheet on my knee, a glass of porter in my hand, and the worries of the day receding in a haze of coal smoke...

Featured beer:

Honorable mentions:

Previously on FOAMY FURLOUGH©:


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