Yesterday I toasted another year of existence, with a quick drink after work with my lovely wife. The beer was sublime, so I thought I try my hand at another quick ‘n’ dirty booze review. I’m going to try to divide it up into suitable categories, in a bid to move away, just a little bit, from the usual stream of consciousness nonsense you see here. Anyway, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Sambrook’s Brewery’s Powerhouse Porter!
Label/pump clip aesthetic
So much of beer is about first impressions. How many great beers have been left undrunk because of a stupid name, as people are too embarrassed to ask for it? How many great beers have been left undrunk because the design of the pump clip or the bottle has been shoddy? This kind of stuff is important. If I’m faced with a whole bunch of unfamiliar beers, I’m going to go for either the prettiest one, or the one with the most information attached.
As you can see, Powerhouse is a manly looking enterprise. This isn’t the greatest design, but it certainly evokes a certain masculine solidity. Whilst the name suggests some sort of horrible train-station-assistant wrestling gimmick (“Coming down the aisle, from the wrong side of the tracks, The Powerhouse Porter!”), the pump clip at least references the inspiration for the name, Battersea Power Station. But this is no hipster beer.
So, how did the beer itself look? Approaching the bar, an off-duty member of staff recommended this particular beer. His pint looked like some serious beer. His glass looked like it was filled with black treacle with a thick white head on top. It looked like the kind of beer that puts hairs on your chest. I like my dark beers, but I must admit I was a little intimidated.
What you’ve been waiting for! The actual beer! Now, as a disclaimer, I love dark beers. But this was truly exceptional. As its appearance suggested, this was a thick, smooth drink. The feel was closer to a strong stout than to a porter, that in my experience can be a little watery.
There was a chocolate-y taste, but a pretty subtle one, with a taste of malt balancing it out so it wasn’t too sickly. It was very moreish, it terms of flavour and mouthfeel, so all-in-all a pleasure to drink.
Some dark beers are fine for one, but then can be a little too much, too overpowering, after thaat. This beer had enough substance, yet wasn’t overbearing. I could have happily drunk it all night, and would happily drink it again. Some beers are great for novelty value, while some beers have the potential to become an old friend. This falls very much in the latter category. It was a big lovely hug of a beer, making me feel all warm and fuzzy. Great stuff.
A mighty big thumbs-up. I will definitely seek this beer out again. A great winter beer, perfect by a log fire, I reckon.
So jealous. I’m not drinking these days, but it’s getting to be perfect beer weather.
There needs to be better non-alcoholic drinks. I love root beer, when I can get hold of it, but most non-alcoholic stuff (especially fake wine/beer-type efforts) is horrible. I do quite like a Virgin Mary, though.
I’m kind of hooked on root beer. There’s a burgeoning root beer culture here, probably spawned by the non-drinker culture.
I’ve heard that the Bloody Mary was invented by Ernest Hemingway as a hangover cure.
Wonderful – I shall have to check out the root beer culture. There seem to be more fancy bottles turning up, so shall see what I can get hold of.
I’m sure Hemingway invented all manner of cocktails. He certainly crops up more frequently than any other writer in such discussions.
I love your beer reviews, S.O.C or otherwise. Keep ’em coming.
At one point you write:
“How many great beers have been left undrunk because of a stupid name, as people are too embarrassed to ask for it?”
This strikes a chord with me. In 1999, just before I made my first extended trip to to the UK I was lucky enough to pass a week or two in Wyoming and Montana with my father and sister. At the time there was a local beer (these days it would be a craft brew or micro brew) on offer at a number of shops. Because it was called ‘Moose Drool’ my father and I waited a day or two to sample it; once we did, we loved it and sucked down as much of the deep brown fluid as was slightly less than prudent.
Ever since then I’ve kept my eyes open for another opportunity to down some of the dark and bitter stuff. I haven’t seen it, but I also haven’t been back to that part of the world. Given how the beer tasted I have to think you’re on to something. Had it been called ‘fantastic conversationalist’ or ‘huge endowment’ perhaps it would have sold better. Even at the time it wasn’t on sale at the bars.
Maybe the real lesson is that, if you craft a fantastic beer, you should wait until a very sober morning before choosing what to call it . . . that must be hard work indeed.
Thanks for the kind words, and a great illustrative story!
“Maybe the real lesson is that, if you craft a fantastic beer, you should wait until a very sober morning before choosing what to call it . . . that must be hard work indeed.”
Hard work, but I wouldn’t mind giving it a go!
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