Monthly Archives: February, 2013

Southern Porters

The following review was entirely written by my brother-in-law Matt.  Mat will soon be a regular contributor to this blog, specifically covering the Mississippi Coast.  Be sure to check out these fine porters.  Although technically you can drink them year-round, porter is really more of a winter ale, so there are only a few weeks left in the season.  Enjoy!

SOUTHERN PORTERS

A Beer Named “Sue”

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“Sue” was born into this world with a name some might think “unintimidating”, but it certainly packs all the punch and grit beer lovers crave. This is an imperial smoked porter, and though recognizably intense, this beer is your friend.

Porters are generally dark beers with high alcohol by volume. They emerged in 18th century London and Ireland, taking a traditionally hoppy character. Heavy brown ales, barley wine style ales, and stouts have similar qualities, but the precise balance of porters distinguishes the style as one of the most drinkable dark, hoppy beers. To further enhance the richness of porter, the folks at Yazoo incorporate a style of brew that was common centuries ago, when malted barley was still dried over open flame and beer was consequently smoky. Yazoo fine-tunes this method by using cherry wood for smokiness, and counter-balances this with bitterness from galena and perle. And of course, if “Imperial” is in the name, everything is dialed up!  Even if you don’t typically enjoy a rich style, you’ll want to give “Yazoo Sue” at least one chance.

Two sizes are available—the standard 12, and a 1 pint, 9.4 ounce bottle (I’ve only seen this version, lucky me), but this is far from your basic tall boy. This is a beer that most folks could sit back and enjoy, but also one that will keep beer nerds interested. It packs a punch at 9% volume. In August 2012, it became available in Jackson, Oxford, Hattiesburg and the Coast.

As smoked porters go, this is a medium to medium-high bodied brew. Smoke is there, but it’s subtle. The balance let’s porter be porter, while a nice smoky undertone holds to the end. The build is nice, with no one flavor taking over. It’s creamy, but not heavy. It’s hoppy, but not hostile. The mouth feel is more crisp than clingy.  It is a finely-balanced concoction.  A glass pour is recommended, but, admittedly, straight from the bottle is good stuff too. Pair with spicy food.  The folks at Yazoo Brewing should be proud. And a big thanks to them and their local distributors for introducing lots of Coasties to this beer at the 2013 Top of the Hops Beer Festival.  If you’re looking for more technical info, check out Beer Advocate HERE.

Kudzu” Like It

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The folks at Back Forty Beer Company are putting some really good brews on the shelves of Mississippi stores. Based in Gadsen, Alabama, Back Forty is one in a growing line of southern breweries making a good name for their region in the beer world.

“Kudzu porter” is a medium bodied, non-traditional porter, with some chocolate, smoky and citrus hints. If you’re looking for a crisp porter, with all the traditional hops, you’ll be happy with this one. Straight from the bottle is recommended. Pair with grilled chops or chicken.

(Quick Addition by MS Beer Lover) Gulf Porter

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In November of 2009, the seasonal porter by Lazy Magnolia was widely available throughout the state in half-gallon growlers.  Unfortunately, it has been far less available in the years since.  As far as I know, it is currently only available in a seasonal lazy magnolia sampler pack.  This is the porter that made me love the style in the first place.  If you’re lucky enough to find it, get it.

Guest post from Mississippi Beerlover’s Wife

Full disclosure: I’m a wino. I don’t mind drinking beer and I’ll enjoy a blue moon every now and then,  but give me a glass of pinot noir and I’m purring.

But my husband was very sweet to grab a beer he thought I would enjoy today so I’m going to be nice and write something for his blog. Marriage is all about compromise. Kids are all about drinking. Wait, no. I think it’s the other way around.

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So tonight I’m drinking a Blue Moon Valencia Grove Amber. Now I’ve tasted enough of Beerlover’s beers to know that I’m not a fan of Ambers but he might be on to something here. It’s definitely an Amber in color and at first taste, but it doesn’t have the metallic aftertaste that most ambers do. It’s more like a traditional blue moon wheat beer – it has a Valencia orange peel and a touch of wheat. It says that makes for a caramel aroma but I think it makes for a lighter beer that is much more drinkable. Very Smooth.

(Beerlover says I need a few more lines . . . possible pairings etc.)

Hmm. . .well I think it would be delicious with penne and vodka sauce – and this is where I would link to my cooking blog (if I had one).

All said and done, I recommend Valencia Grove Amber by Blue Moon . . . as a perfect gift to get for me on any special occasion!

Beers from the British Isles

I apologize for the length of time since my last post.  Unfortunately, life just won’t let me drink different beers frequently enough for my tastes.

Today, while choosing a six-pack sampler from Joe’s Craft Beer, I decided to keep up with the theme of beers by region.  After some serious thought, I chose the beers of the British Isles.  I’d like to note that I said “British Isles”, and not “Britain”, as two of these beers are Irish, and I would not want to offend any of the many Irish-Mississippians.  The English, Irish, and Scottish know their beers, and I hope that you all get to soon as well.


Bass

100_0768Note: the dog in this picture is also from the British Isles.

Touted as the World’s First Pale Ale, Bass is a go-to when you’re in the mood for a crisp, well-known English Beer.  It is an English pale ale, which is not quite as bitter as it’s cousin from across the pond, American pale ale, and no where near as hoppy as an India pale ale, a style of beer which, coincidentally, was created by the British, but I digress.  To the pale ale virgin, the English style, particularly Bass, is a good place to start.  The hint of bitter flavour is not overpowering, with a smooth finish.  The lack of hoppiness makes for a much more drinkable brew than most other pale ales.

So grab some fish and chips(that’s the full extent of my knowledge of British pub food) and enjoy this amber-coloured ale.  In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I need to tell you that Bass is now an American product, owned by Budweiser, which makes it no less delicious, but just a little less authentic in my view.

Trivia: Bass’s signature red triangle was the first registered trademark in England.

Newcastle Brown Ale

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The classic, most popular, English Ale.  It is literally my favorite beer, period.  It has a delicious nutty maltiness that always satisfies.  It is better when served at a warmer temperature than lager, say 55 degrees, but honestly, this is the only beer that I would drink  at slightly lower than room temperature.  This is very helpful if you live in a city like Oxford, where it is illegal to sell cold beer.

Old Specked Hen

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This English ale only recently became available in Mississippi with last year’s law, but it is already a favourite of mine. It was introduced to my by brother-in-law Matt, and I am therefor in his debt.   As I stated above, I am a huge fan of Newcastle, and Old Speckled Hen shares a lot of the same characteristics.  They both are best served at a slightly higher temperature (Around 55 degrees), they both have a sweet, malty character, and they’re both smooth and oh so chuggable.  However, there are some key differences.  First, OSH does have it’s share of hoppiness, which is really only noticed in the lingering finish.  While Newkies have a nutty flavor, this beer brings more of a toffee flavor.   Not to mention, a six-pack of Old Speckled Hen costs roughly 2-4 dollars more than Newcastle, depending on where you go.

Smithwick’s Irish Ale

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Although I’m a fan of Irish Red Ales, I honestly hadn’t yet tried this widely available brand.   According to the brewery, Smithwick’s is the oldest Irish ale, inspired by the original circa 1710 recipe. The very light carbonation of this beer give it a smooth mouthfeel.  The flavor is dry with a pronounced hoppy bitterness balanced against grainy malt sweetness, with an almost citrus finish.  If you’re not really a fan of stouts, but want still would like to drink an Irish beer this March 17th, this Irish red ale would be a great substitute.

Murphy’s Stout

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Although Guinness is the gold standard of Irish stouts, I thought I would try the lesser known, but no less venerable, Murphy’s Stout.  In fact, Murphy’s was established in 1856, which means that it predates Guinness by 3 years.

The smooth, creamy texture, pitch-black colour, and nitrogen carbonation instead of carbon dioxide, make this beer very similar to Guinness, but for a  stout, there is an  extremely hoppy flavour.  It’s a delicious beer.  So this St. Patrick’s day, instead of going with the standard, impress your friends by choosing a more obscure, yet older, Irish stout.