Owwwww. My head hurts. Take 2 parts beer, 2-3 parts wine, 4 parts champagne, and 4 parts sake. Mix it all up in one evening and what do you get? A big fat headache is what. Jeez. I stumbled around my apartment this morning desperately looking for ibuprofen, knocking over pill bottles, holding my forehead, and shielding my eyes from the retina-searing rays of light piercing my windows. Where are those damn pills? I wondered. I never did find them. And multi-vitamins just don’t do the trick.
So how did I land in this oh so common precarious position of consuming that much alcohol? Picture 4 glasses of wine in front of me, a big Meantime London Porter to my right, and a bottle of high-octane Australian Shiraz to my left. This goes WAY beyond double-fisting. This was ridiculous. Tack on the knowledge that a big, incredible sushi dinner awaited with bottles of Champagne and sake flowing. Holy cow, I needed to start pacing myself NOW.
So before my palate took a nosedive, I drank the London Porter. What follows is that experience. The rest….well suffice it to say, I ended up at d.b.a. at the end of the night drinking tequila and sparkling wine out of a can. How’s that for imagery? Cheers.
Meantime London Porter: ABV: 6.5% This British brew comes in a big boy bottle. Like champagne, it was corked with a cage. It was just that kind of night. It poured out fairly mid-brown, a pretty color, with golden highlights. I wasn’t sure what to expect on the nose, but was not surprised to find lots of yeasty, bread dough aromas, much like a blanc de blanc Champagne (all Chardonnay). This is a bottle-conditioned beer, with fast and slow-acting yeasts, making a beer able to age. In fact, it would be interesting to taste this guy a year or two from now. I wonder if it ages like a Champagne, more and more wonderfully complex as time passes?
There was definitely some funkiness there too. And for those of you who know my wine loves….funky, earthy, forest floor, barnyard, brett laced smells are all in there. I guess growing up in North Cackalacky around farms did me in. Those aromas to me, instead of being offensive, bring back tidal waves of memories with lots of smiles and laughter. So whenever I get that in a wine or beer, I am all for it.
But of course, when you smell this, you make a particular face, and Jon saw it and said, “Well now I definitely don’t wanna try it!” I am an easily misunderstood lady. So I stopped him, and said “No, wait, wait, it’s a good thing. Smell it.” By this time, the beer was starting to change, and had taken on nuttier, sweeter and baking aromas. He said “This smells like those Keebler graham crackers with the marshmallow and chocolate coating.” Well, I have no clue what the name of that cookie is, but he nailed the graham cracker for sure.
And that’s pretty much all on that one folks. All of those aromas followed cleanly through on the palate. Everything I smelled was in the flavor, and the finish was round and smooth with bit of sweetness. This is a nice Porter for those who want something with a little more funk and personality than the easily quaffable Fuller’s London Porter. Andrew Jefford of the Financial Times called this a beer “of Dickensian diversion and intricacy”. I don’t even know what that means, let alone how to respond. At any rate, share this with friends, one because its a big boy, and two that yeasty thing is a pretty cool aspect to talk about.
Indian Wells Brewing Company Blackout Stout: ABV: ? Ummmm. I don’t even think I can muster up a compliment sandwich on this one. Indian Wells, you have GOT to be kidding me. First of all, its a brew ONLY made for Whole Foods. Well, that’s pretentious. Don’t get me wrong, I shop at Whole Foods. I also hate shopping there because you spend $100 and leave with one bag of groceries. HOW is that possible?! Damn you, healthy, organic, free-range, cruelty-free, delicious food!
But is flavorless, aroma-absent beer part of the shtik? I cannot imagine so. I’m being harsh I realize, but somebody’s got to, because there are a whole slew of people not doing their jobs if THIS is what they put out, approve, and sell. It’s supposed to be an Irish dry stout. Whatever.
I can’t even give you an aromatic profile, because there isn’t one. Nothing on the nose. And I mean NOTHING. (So maybe I got Coke, but who wants that on a beer?) I put it in the Riedel, like every other beer, and jerked my head back in surprise and disappointment. Is this right? I taste the beer. Nothing. No flavor profile to speak of either. Uhhh, what??
Maybe I’ve gotten a bad bottle. All I kept thinking and continue to ponder is that this CAN’T be the product they are putting out. It so clearly reminds me of a white wine that is over the hill. Flat and lifeless. I recently came across a favorite Italian white from a past vintage that was as dead as fried chicken. All the aromas and flavors had leeched out (into the cosmos I guess), and what remained was an insipid version of a formerly lovely and complex wine. What a drag. THIS is how I felt about this beer. If I am wrong people speak up. Because as it stands on the list of 100, this one is barely making the cut for last place.
Anchor Porter: ABV: 5.6%
I actually drank this beer two nights ago, with those lovable little Russian beers, but I figured they should just stand alone in a post. No sense in violence.
Just as a how-do-you-do, I found out this beer had 290 calories. Holy hell, I thought, I can’t eat today! Well, you know that didn’t stop me. My love affair with cheese will not allow me to drink dark beer without a nibble on some dairy delights. And this beer was no different.
Its amazing how your sensibility about what is dark evolves over time, and when pitted against other dark brews. This is another beer I first started drinking on Grateful Dead tour in college. Along with the Sammy Smith’s Nut Brown Ale. What a life. Touring around the country, eating veggie burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches, beans and spaghetti O’s from a can, but drinking great, high-quality and complex beers. I loved my hippie days. But someday, we all have to brush our hair, shave our legs, and stop wearing that god-awful patchouli oil. I always hated that smell even in my heyday. I was the Egyptian Musk girl. Turned many a boy’s head with that one. It was like Kryptonite to virile young hippie guys. Ahh, memories. And I have digressed…..
Anyway, ironically enough, this beer has a pretty clean nose, with gentle aromas. In the bottle, the smell and bitterness on the finish are more focused, but still delicate. This is one of the few beers I have tasted so far where maple syrup has been the fragrance, rather than a darker, molasses-driven nose. There are notes of brown sugar as well, and I am instantly transported to sitting in bed with the covers pulled up and a bowl of Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal in my lap. There are touches, of dried fruit, fig particularly, but NOTHING like that syrupy, extracted nose of the Baltika 6, drunk with difficulty just before this one.
Like the Sierra Nevada Stout and Porter, this is an easy-drinking beer. Downing more than one of these would NOT be a problem. In fact, after that Baltic Porter, I said to my co-worker, “Oh yeah, I can drink this GLADLY.” This beer is a great starter for those interested in the world of porter, but not ready to take on the monster Pumpernickel Porter just quite yet….
DOUBLE CHEERS EVERYONE! Just drink lots of water….