If stinking hot July is the month for wheat beers and the end of summer is the time for sour fruit beers, then the end of September has to herald the slowing down of my sour beer studies and the beginning of the season of porters. Why? First, they go with stew and they go in stew and no one eats stew before the fall comes. Maybe crazy people do but that could be, in part, why they are crazy. Second, they are the sweater of the beer world. Not the parka and not the it's-too-damn-cold-to-go-out of the beer calendar, just the sweater. And look at that selection: Maine, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Russia, Poland, Norway and a bunch more. It is a style that travels well.
But, really, doesn't it all boils down to bigger than a brown ale and less than a stout? Sure there is more to know but that will do, right? That and the sweater image. Hey - I know there's more - we've discussed porter a lot and even delved into the particular history of the style. But now that the beer blog universe has exploded, do I really need to tell you more about something of which Greg has neatly summarized, which Martyn can draw in fine detail or which Ron can maniacally drill into the farthest corners or a hundred others might add to? I don't know. I am sure of the four of us and most of the others I am most likely to be somewhat off. Yet porter makes its demands and I shall sip and type. It's time.
First up is Black Hole, from Weyerbacher of Easton, Pennsylvania. This beer pours a deep mahogany with a fine cream mocha head. There is some aroma of dark chocolate and coffee but it is not strong. In the mouth, while there is plenty of chocolate, espresso and dry cocoa with a bit of molasses, it's also a tiny sour, a bit tangy and a little sharp from a pretty confident hand at the hops. If this beer reminds you of anything about porter, it's the role that the hops play to provide the bitter rather than the roasted toastiness in a stout. And that role of the tang. At 7%, it's only midway to heavy. Plenty of BAer respect.
Porter season is upon you. Govern yourselves accordingly.