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!
A Beer Named “Sue”
“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
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
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.