I originally planned to write about The Porterhouse Brewing Co’s Oyster Stout as a St Patrick’s Day beer review. The brewery kindly sent me four of their beers to try a few weeks before the annual Irish piss- up and an oyster stout seemed most appropriate for the occasion (hey, I could compare it to that better known Irish stout, Guinness).
But before March 17th came around my wife snuck in and pinched the bottle. She’s not known for stout drinking, but something about the oysters appealed to her and she guzzled the lot. It went down well, by all accounts, and as a result of her piscine beer experience has now developed a love of black beers, occasionally plundering more stouts and porters from my beer shelves.
Fortunately I’ve managed to keep my other Porterhouse dark – this Plain Porter – beer safely out of sight and am now ready to appraise their brewing prowess. Before moving to the beer itself, a word about the bottle. I’ve been told that the label in this photo is being changed, but the ring-pull-cap device is staying. Previous encounters with these peelable lids have resulted in an easy removal, and I like the look of them, but this one failed to work. Pliers were my eventual route to beer.
Onto the beer. It’s very dark but not as dense as its stouter relatives and it has quite a punchy aroma for a porter, with some fruity hop notes mixing it with the whiff of roasted malt. The first swig reveals a chalky dryness from the outset, with those roasted flavours crumbling onto the palette. Peeking through the rubble of dehydrated coffee and chocolate is that fruitiness first noticed by the nose. It’s a sharp fruit, perhaps raspberry or orange, but not as vibrant as you would find in a pale ale, instead a bit rustic and scorched around the edges. Before a more committed appraisal of the fruit characteristics is possible the hop’s bitterness begins to bite and, after not too many sips, it’s this bitterness that becomes the dominant flavour alongside the rich malts.
It’s a superb porter. Free from contemporary gimmicks and with all the traditional porter elements allowed to stand out with confidence. I’ve got two more Portehouse bottles to wrestle open with pliers – their Red Ale and Hersbrucker Pilsner – but what I really want to try next is that Oyster Stout.
Brewery: The Porterhouse Brewing Co., Dublin
Beer name: Plain Porter
Hops used: Nugget, Galena, East Kent Goldings