A half of Hospital Porter please…

by Steve

Howdy folks. A couple of World Cup-free days to recharge the batteries and reflect that…well, maybe it was time I posted something that is not about football. I mean, the second round games were pretty entertaining, and there is still a lot to look forward to, plus away from the World Cup my beloved Liverpool have a new manager in Roy Hodgson, which is an encouraging appointment (although I’m reserving judgement), and can pre-season training really have started already, but wasn’t this meant to be a blog post about something, anything, other than football? Well, how about beer, then?
Wednesday night I paid a visit to cult brewery Meantime’s newest venture, the Old Brewery, located within the grounds of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. It is on the site of the old historic brewery there, and they are brewing on-site again. Their speciality is Hospital Porter, based on the recipe of the original beer given out to sailors at the Royal Naval Hospital way back when.

Apparently patients got a three-pint daily ration. If it was anywhere near the 8% the modern beer is, then it must have made a fine anesthetic.

Being the responsible drinker that I am, I opted for a half-pint. There were plenty of other great beers on offer, and I didn’t want to flake out before they were sampled too.

The Hospital Porter was a pretty intriguing drink. I’m quite a fan of porter, and it measured up well, but tasted a lot more complex than the usual stuff you might get. The texture was fuller, smoother and denser, a little like a stout. Almost creamy. I’m sure I should be talking about “mouthfeel” or something here, like those beer writers do. However, that seems like a rather unsettling term to me, especially coming out the mouth of a beardy beer writer, and I’m no beer writer. As you might have guessed.

There was also a whiff of something medicinal about it, quite appropriate I guess, and that seemed to carry on into the flavour. Not in a nasty way, though. In fact, it stopped the beer being too sickly, cutting through the texture and density of flavour of the beer.

The intensity and consistency of the beer lent itself to being sipped and savoured, which was no bad thing, as otherwise I might have ended up on the floor. I’d definitely drink it again, although a half-pint is probably enough, and it is probably much better suited to winter drinking.

I’m pretty familiar with the other Meantime beers, so I moved on to Dark Star Hop Head, a lovely light beer, perfect for the warm summer’s evening. It was well-kept and managed to combine flavour with thirst-quench-y-ness. I’m sure that is a word. Plus, it was great to drink a light summer ale that didn’t taste of gone-off grapefruit, like so many poor ones do. At 3.8% it would make a fine session beer. Hah! I’m throwing in beer-y terms now!

Schonram Pils followed. I’d read things raving about this beer, but I think I must have an uncultured palate. Don’t get be wrong, it was fine. But it was just an above-average lager. And I was expecting some sort of lager-y epiphany.

I finished with a pint of Brooklyn Lager. It’s a good beer, but I’d only ever had it from a bottle before. On draft it was better, as you’d expect. There seems to be the right balance between the flavour and depth of a good ale, and the refreshment qualities of a good lager.

Well, that’s me beered out for one day. I saw it as training and preparation for the upcoming blog for Building International Coalitions Through Beer And Pavement – the result of me losing a bet on the England/USA game. And we’re back to the football again…