A Year of Beer 2009 #3 - Carlsberg Carnegie Stark Porter
Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to eat as much as we love to drink.
This week: Carlsberg Carnegie Stark Porter
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Carlsberg Carnegie Stark Porter
Porter is one of those beer styles that everyone thinks they know, but then when it comes to it, is something of an enigma. I judged the porter category at the National Winter Ales Festival a couple of weeks ago, and frankly, picking the best two was easy (Elland 1872 and Fuller's London). There was a beer that was a very tasty dark ale, with loads of fruity aroma hops, but was it a porter? Hell no.
If you want the straight dope on porter (and may other things besides), you could do worse than to look in on a couple of blogs: Ron Pattinson's and Martyn Cornell's. Between them, there's not a lot that they don't know about beer history (and many other things besides). Martyn's book "Amber, Gold and Black" is the most ruthlessly researched book on beer styles in existence, and it's only a fiver (in any currency, given the state of Sterling at the moment)Should you wish to rely on a precis by me, here it is:
Porter is a style of ale that was born in London. It was brown, fairly well hopped, cloudy, smoky and, due to longer storage in barrel or oak tun, probably slightly infected with some sort of barrel flora; brettanomyces, acetobacter, whatever; it all added complexity. It wasn't a blend of three beers, and it isn't a type of stout. It was favoured by the sort of people who carry stuff around for a living. In short, it was a dark, smoky and proabably slightly sour beer, the sort of thing that men drink to seperate themselves from the boys.
Carnegie Porter is quite different. It emerges from the lager brewing tradition, and so has a smooth grainy backbone, augmented by a lots of roasted grain aroma and flavour. The texture is spectacular, and the low carbonation helps to give a silky quality to it. There are chunky fruits appearing from somewhere (perhaps a slightly warmer fermentation?), and a hint of chocolate-coated liqueur cherries about the finish - a good thing, in my book. It's full-flavoured and persistent without being verly strong or intense. The sheer drinkability of such a flavoursome dark beer is quite stunning. Really worth seeking out.
The oysters and sausages combination is a lift from Rick Stein's restaurant menu (see blogs passim). They are described there as "Oysters Charentaise", although I can't find a single other reference to this anywhere. Whatever, it's a killer combination, the hot, spicy goodness of the sausage setting off the cool, briny tang of the oyster. I thought that it would be excellent with a porter. And you know what? I was right.