Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter

April is the one month of the year when the weather in both the northern and southern hemispheres is pretty temperate. April is often one of the rainiest months of the year too, which is why April is the perfect time of year to drink porter. Until lager took over after World War 2 porter was the drink of the masses in the British Isles. A lot of people drank stout in Ireland, bitter in England and cider in the South West of England but porter was that thing that could be got anywhere. Flann O'Brien famously said that "a pint of plain (porter) is your only man" and Flann O'Brien was wrong about nothing (except perhaps the fact that The Third Policeman is indeed a work of genius).  
There are lots of great porters out there and the form is making something of a resurgence in the United States. Eric Asimov did a wonderful piece in the New York Times about the new American porters, here.  His favourite (certainly not mine) is the Speakeasy Payback Porter from S.F. but there are other more drinkable brews on his list. Asimov also explains what a porter actually is which I don't have the patience to do here.
A porter which can be got just about anywhere is Taddy Porter from the Samuel Smith brewery in Yorkshire. They've been brewing bitter and porter since 1758 and they know what they are doing. To me this is an exceptional drink and I've never had a bad one. It's velvety with a rich, full satisfying mouth. There are malt notes, chocolate notes and a plummy oaky aftertaste. It pours as dark as night, has a barley, caramelly smell and like all really good porters it is not over carbonated. If Illegal Pete's Big Potato burrito is my comfort food of choice this is my comfort beer at this time of year.