Mark Lindner has announced the topic for The Session #109 will be Porter. Before you say “That’s so 2007” hear him out.
•Contrast and/or compare two or more of the styles
•Contrast and/or compare two or more beers within/across porter styles
•The history and development of the style
•Your love/hate relationship with any porter style
•Baltic porter – ale or Lager or a mixed fermentation?
•Is hopping the only difference between English and American styles?
•Food pairings with your favorite porter or style of porter
•Review the porter(s) you are using as a creative springboard
•Construct a resource along the lines of Jay Brooks’ Typology style pages, see for example American Barley Wine or Bock.
•Recipe and procedures for brewing your version of a great porter
There is probably no way for me to write an interesting look at Porter. Sounds defeatist, I know, but that is the strength and weakness of the style. Much like its brethren in the style that I call “Sturdy” (amber ale, brown ale, ESB for example). This is a style that can be dressed up and fussed with but you still don’t forget who they are. And what they are is, well, boring and solid.
If I were to really bore you, I could review different porters. Boy would you love to read the same descriptors repeated like Marco Rubio in a debate. Or I could pair porters with hearty fare fit for a “sturdy” beer. That would stun a reader. Maybe delve into the weirdest ingredients put into a Porter. Followed by how it mostly still tasted like a Porter basically.
If I could work up enough rancor, I could write a scathing piece about my hatred of the style but even the most troll-y of trolls would be hard pressed to come up with insults against Porter. It is more Teflon than Donald Trump’s hair and poll numbers. You can hate some experimental chili pepper Shandy but a Porter? Nope.
On the flip side, I couldn’t work up much enthusiasm either. Like the inevitable coronation of Clinton come November, it doesn’t have the piss and vinegar of Bernie Sanders who would most certainly be a Single Hop Simcoe Sour IPA.
Others can talk at length about the history and others can compare recipe notes with education and practice backing up their thesis statements. As a craft beer fan, all I can do is say that if I had the top five porters on tap in front of me and an experimental beer from some unknown brewer, I would pick the experiment. The only reason that I bought the one porter in my ‘fridge is because it has former Trailblazer and eponymous namesake Terry Porter on it.
You can argue that American Craft brewers have changed the face of Porter and I would be hard pressed to filibuster that contention. But even the most obscure and near extinction beers have been put into the American brewing blender and come out the other side ready for their close-up. Porter isn’t special in this regard.
America likes its craft beer flashy and its politicians even flashier so let’s wrap up the political tie-in. John Kasich might be the Porter doppleganger. Low poll numbers, probably a good vice-presidential pick but seriously edged off of any stage by the flashier beers.