I have had my doubts about beer cocktails ever since I heard the term. I don't trust that the attempt to create a new niche - and then, of course, the jostling to become guru of that niche - bodes well for actual experience being foisted upon us all. Plus, I am of an age that does not find me in bars watching however much I like them. I have to rely on my own wits. Any that usually keeps me from experimenting too much.
Yet, there is something about port and stout that I like. The "ye olde" nature of it perhaps? I have certainly had a love of ports as well as Spanish sherries, Hungarian tokays and other "sticky" wines that actually predates my love of good beer. These are the drinks of childhood holidays, ex-pats comforting themselves with rich tastes of trade and empire. I came across the concept five years ago and have been tinkering with blends since at least 2008 and, while I approve, I have not found myself converted.
Until today. I realized my problem might be the requirement of blending in the glass. Sure, you might say, that is what a "cocktail" is but, if we are honest, is not the shot and chaser a cocktail, too? And, frankly, is it not even more guru-tastic to use more than one piece of glassware to create the effect? Hands up everyone who agrees. There. It is settled.
Today, I poured a glass of Feist Colheita 1998 port and a pint of Grand River's Russian Gun Imperial Stout. Both share a rich dryness when tasted in succession that I think would blend well in the same glass. But they also have so many complimentary tastes when tasted separately which are drowned when put together. The lingering dry cocoa licorice of the strong stout is washed by the heady tannin berry of the port. Both have a hint of chalkiness, too. Each are fine drinks in their own right. Together, a partnership.
So, first big news of 2012? It's OK to use two glasses. Good old double fisting is now surely guru approved. Second big news? If you have a stash it's now time to get the cabinet, too. Your own little gin palace tucked in a corner of the dining room.