On Smoked Porkers and Smoked Porters, Stockport to Alaska
Wednesday night saw a very boozy night at Friends of Ham in Leeds. The occasion? The launch of Smoked Porker, a (deep breath) Toasted Marshmallow Smoked Porter brewed by Quantum and Tyler Kiley, Bar Manager at the aformentioned charcuterie/bar.
I’m a fan of Quantum to begin with; Jay manages to get a level of clarity of flavour in his beers that always give his beers a edge on the bar. I raved about his Bitter in the summer, and his new beer – American Light – was lovely too. Despite my instant proclamations of ‘New Zealand light’, such was the gooseberry and freshly-cut-grass aroma, dry finish and clear-as-a-bell pale gold colour. But, alas, my nose was off and Jay happily confirmed that the beer was indeed hopped entirely with US Hops. At 3.6%abv it’s disgustingly drinkable, and if you’re a fan of Windermere Pale and Rooster’s Wild Mule then give American Light a whirl.
Smoked Porker. Perfectly apt, the name itself is worthy of a round of applause. Pitch-black but not too thick in the mouthfeel stakes (despite a porcine 7.3%abv), there’s certainly smoke and a vinous note on the nose – just edging into phenol territory. I’l be honest, I couldn’t really taste Marshmallow – but the Porker was very sweet (which must be related) and soft – much softer in mouthfeel than I was expecting. The smokiness generally lounges around the finish, just tidying up the sweetness and making you want another sip. As the windows steamed up, the people braving the cold outside fastened up their collars and sipping this beer, in this bar, with these people, made absolute sense. I’d go as far to say it should be a house beer for Friends of Ham.
The night was special for another reason. I’ve spoken before about the hunt for beers that you only read about, beers that seem consigned to history and are discussed in hushed, almost reverential tones. Alaskan Brewing Company’s Smoked Porter is one such beer. But, such is the season, we managed to split a bottle and, Christ, I’m glad we did.
For some reason I was expecting something powerful; a beast of a beer with a sleepy grace – much like the animal its associated with. Instead, Smoked Porter was much more elegant; a nose of red fruit, sharp coffee and subtle woodiness, and a smooth, sweet sip that grows in complexity as it continues, blossoming with layer upon layer of black coffee and more subtle, oaky smoke. It’s a beautiful, beautiful beer; as captivating as the wilderness it hails from and my only regret is that I enjoyed it toward the end of the night, when I’d had, frankly, a lot to drink (I’m surprised my tasting notes as legible as they are, to be honest!). I’ll be picking some more up for to age and really ponder over this weekend.
Perfect beers for perfect Autumnal weather. Well done to all involved; from bars and brewers working together, to beer importers getting such delights to us.