Febrewary: Alice Porter

09-febrewary-ap

Brewer: Brew Dog
Location: Fraserburgh, Scotland
Type: Renaissance Baltic Porter
ABV: 6.2%

The profoundly puzzling Alice Porter.

Cryptic. Enigmatic. Alchemistic.

Few beers are shrouded in secrecy like the porter; a beer whose roots are said to be punctuated by hurried footsteps along cobbled London streets and swirls of mist from atop the River Thames.

Decloaked and radically reinvisaged, BrewDog’s Alice Porter is a 6.2% sacred union of one 300-year-old recipe and two cross-continental hop varieties.

A delicate mirage of chocolate, red fruit and burnt sugar, let Alice Porter whisk you away to a forgotten time juxtaposed against the backdrop of modernity.

And then, before you know it, she’s gone…tumbling down a rabbit hole into the same obscurity that first caught your attention.

Leaving but the question…who or what is Alice Porter?

I thought you all might enjoy a little story as your first official introduction to the brewer of tonight’s beer. See, once upon a time, in the far-away land of Scotland, a little brewery named BrewDog began. And they liked to make really crazy beers, oftentimes with mind-smashingly high ABVs and flavor profiles like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots crushing tastes directly into your mouth. Sometimes, they were great. Sometimes, they were destructive. Sometimes, they were just left enough of center to drop-kick you right into Nirvana. Nearly always, they brought along a story to tell us a little more about their existence. Or to just confuse us even more regarding what we’re tasting. Either way, it’s always been a fun ride.

Sadly, for the longest time, I couldn’t really find many BrewDog beers on this side of the pond. Now, however, I’m pleased to report that San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company is now responsible for importing BrewDog. I hope, I hope, I hope that this means that we’ll be seeing more of their options over here.

Tonight, however, I come to review a beer that was gifted to me several moons ago by one of my lovely, lovely ImagiFriendsTM. He gave me two bottles of Alice Porter, actually. One, I drank only a few days after I received it. I even snapped a photo:

aliceporter1

(And this would be why tonight’s beer is in that same Wonder Woman glass, by the by. Call back!)

When I drank this porter relatively fresh from the source, I commented that it was “Definitely a full frontal start followed by a startling dropoff. Strange. But delightful. Like tumbling down a rabbit hole…”

I wrote that on July 20, 2012. Tonight’s tasting comes more than a year later, and I have to report that this beer would have made a hops fan ecstatic. As I learned from some reading this evening, this porter uses two different type of hops, an English varietal known as Bramling X and a Japanese varietal called Sorachi Ace. I’m not familiar with the flavor profiles of either of these hops (not like I am with, say, a Willamette hops), but I’m assuming that it’s this combination that gave the fresher beer its precipitous flavor profile, and what consequently turned this aged bottle into a tangy sucker-punch that nearly shorted out the entirety of my palate.

I seriously was not expecting the vicious sharpness of this porter’s taste after aging. However, I knew that something was definitely changed in ways I wasn’t anticipating when I drew a deep breath from the glass and felt the metallic sting of the beer’s bouquet. I pushed the beer aside for a little while, allowing it some settling time. I’ve learned that BrewDog’s beers are never completely “clean,” often requiring a bit of settling time before drinking. That’s not that big a deal, though; my attempts at home brewing have taught me that sometimes, you’re just going to end up with some sediment, but that’s not going to ruin anything.

I remember back in Darktober, I reviewed a bottle of Tröeg’s Java Head Stout that I had been aging. That beer turned into an equally surprising hop-heavy beer. However, that beer had nothing on Alice. She’s suffocated any signs of sweetness under bitter, bitter bravado. She is fierce and unrelenting and won’t stop until she takes you down and obliterates your taste buds with a spinning heel kick right to your palate. Set her loose in Raccoon City and she’ll have the undead cleared away before you can say Umbrella Corporation.

Go ahead, laugh, you horror nerds. It’s okay.

I wish one of two things: That I hadn’t aged this beer, or that I had known from the hops used that I should have aged it and given it to a friend who is far more into hoppier beers that I am. I have a feeling he would have gone totally crazy over Alice. She was a hot, hoppy date. A shame that she just wasn’t my type.

This experience has also reminded me that I have two other BrewDog beers currently aging. One of them has been aging even longer than this Alice Porter. I think it’s time to bring them out of stasis. I only hope that I survive the resurrection…