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The Session #109: Porter

So, I dropped the ball.

Last week while I was recapping our book club via Tweet I should have been participating in March’s Session. The topic, from By the Barrel: Porter.


I would like you to sit down with one or more porters of your choosing. Pay a few minutes attention to your beer and then use that as a springboard to further thoughts on the style.

I dropped the ball yet again when I neglected to have any porter on hand tonight. I had the idea to partner the post with it being International Women’s Day and get a porter brewed by a woman if possible, but Julia’s suggestion of the wares of Boston Beer’s R&D head Megan Parisi aren’t available around here. And anyway my choices became even more limited when I tried to make a quick run to the Hertel Village Beer Merchant only to find out they’re closed on Tuesdays (despite this not being the first time I have had this happen to me). Luckily the Dash’s up the street has a decent enough selection, and so I walked out with a sixer of Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald.

Time for a confession: I don’t know what the hell a porter is. I mean, I’ve had them before, and like them, but “what’s the difference between a porter and a stout” is one of those questions, like “have you seen The Godfather“, that I hope I’m never asked because I’m embarrassed by the response I’d have to give. For me, stouts, porters and brown ales are sort of like a pie graph mixed with a venn diagram that then gets beer spilled on it in that there are certain beers that are obviously one or the other: The Whale, for instance, is clearly a brown ale for me and couldn’t be anything else. But then near the edges everything gets a bit blurry and indistinct.

I’m fine with that, though, because like language I like my beer styles to be descriptivist and not prescriptivist. The style should fit the beer; the beer should not be made to fit the style.

And yet, this glass of Eddie Fitz I’ve poured myself is undeniably a porter. The dark roast mingling with chocolate, the latter smoothing the edges of the former somewhat. So maybe porters are pornographic, or like pornography at least, in that I can’t define it but I know one when I see it. Or taste it. This metaphor is making me uncomfortable so I’m going to stop now.

And since it is International Women’s Day, and I had some leftover taco mac and cheese for dinner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the Taco or Beer Challenge, where you eat a taco and/or drink a beer (and. it should always be and.) and then donate to a local abortion access fund. It’s after 8 as I write this, so probably a tad too late for you to fit it in for Taco Tuesday, but the confluence of factors made it hard to ignore.

Back to my porter. Have an enjoyable Tuesday, y’all.

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