I can't wait to write a fun-filled and informational column in these pages about the perfect New Year's beer. It's not that I'm a fan of the holiday (I'm not — it's amateur night), but that foolishness will signal the end of this damn year. Now I understand that Halloween is being downgraded to "Well, we'd better not. You know, for the kids." Meanwhile, we all wait for the alert-level for Thanksgiving to rise to: "It will make you sicker than the candied yams." All of which raises the question: What the hell season are we even in?
It's not like you can tell by the weather around here. And, by the way, your fall wardrobe may very well be hiding some nasty surprises about exactly how much you've fleshed out during the late unpleasantness. It's the middle of October and we're all still walking around like beach bums. Or I am, at any rate. May I suggest that we all get in the proper fall spirit with a proper fall beer? And for a proper fall beer, you don't have to go much further than High Cotton's Chocolate Rye Porter.
- Richard Murff
- High Cotton Chocolate Rye Porter
On the front end, I should say that while I like rye in bread, and love it in whiskey, I've never been very impressed with it in beer; it always tastes like someone put pepper in my drink. Not enough to ruin it, just enough to verily annoy me. It just doesn't work for me in an IPA. In a porter, however, rye has a cozy home. High Cotton's take on a chocolate porter has just enough of that rye to create a neat spice finish to an otherwise classic porter, with hints of chocolate and coffee going on.
With an ABV of 5 percent, this porter will make you warm where you need it, but won't try to pole-axe you while you aren't looking. If nothing else, this is a beer that feels like fall, even if you haven't covered your knees since April. And yet, since we're certainly going to hit 80 degrees again, you haven't made too much of a commitment.
For some historical color on the porter style, you should know it's a traditional beer for the working class in England, where it's fall 10 months out of the year. But not even the English can live on porter alone, so what do you eat with it? I'd steer clear of anything light and summery, as it would just be overwhelmed. What I'd like to have a glass with is some wild game, even some fowl if you're throwing everything on the grill these days. A glass will also play well with sausages, good stews of roasted root vegetables, and braised meat. You hear about a lot of people pairing porters with barbecue, but I'm not so sure. With this chocolate rye porter, it seems like that would be an awful lot going on, but you do you.
In sum, it's a roasty, hearty brew that is still medium-bodied, not heavy. For those of you looking for what we used to call a breakfast beer, you're looking for a bigger "stout" — which for the modern drinker has come to mean a beer with roughly the same color and a wee bit more heft. Historically speaking, the styles are very intertwined. Even the name "stout" is a shortened version of "stout porter."
If you are looking for a solid local version of the latter, crack open one of Wiseacre's You Gotta Get Up to Get Down. Which is made with local coffee, so you can actually drink for breakfast if you are still Zooming your way through what you're still calling a career. Of course, if you're still carrying on like that seven months into this hellscape, then knowing the seasons isn't your problem. You likely don't even know what time it is.