Porters and stouts walk closely together, though there are some noticeable differences. Did you know that the porter style gave birth to the stout? Arthur Guiness actually brewed porter before stout and exported it all over the world in the early 1800’s. This is partly the reason that Guiness remains so popular today. Porters are generally darker than browns, but not as dark as stouts and not imparting the bitter coffee notes prevalent in stout beers. First glimpse of a porter will seem very dark, almost black, but held to a light, usually deep amber hues become visible. Porters are very well balanced between malt and hops and don’t possess quite the body that a stout may. Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter seems to walk that line, almost tipping towards the stout side. Imperializing a beer usually consists of more, more malt, more hops, more body and so on. In this case, the malt leaves the beer very dark, black even and hops that still balance very nicely with the sweetness. The body though is where the Porter style characteristics come into play, it’s not as heavy on the tongue as one would expect from such a dark beer. Also, even though the beer is very dark, there is not much of an espresso note with this beer, although a subtle smokey note makes and appearance at the start. Gonzo is very smooth and rounds out with a long, heavy finish, making it a perfect companion for desert.
Coming up with a pairing for this beer was quite difficult at first, given the fact it’s an Imperial Porter. Which elevates the beer from it’s current style to a bigger, more robust beer. I quickly moved from trying to match it with an entree, which is where Porters usually stand, and moved straight to desert. On this particular evening my wife and I were preparing to enjoy a chimnea fire in the back yard given the mild temperatures during that day. Who doesn’t enjoy a campfire? They are so relaxing and inviting and with that in mind the pairing came to me. S’mores! It was fantastic, crunchy graham crackers, with a bit of chocolate, rounded out by melted marshmallow. The Porter picked up nicely on those flavors and complimented them very well. The sweetness of the malt stood right along side the sweet graham crackers and chocolate notes, and lets not forget the marshmallow. There was very little hop bitterness to this beer, which subtly contrasted the sweetness very nicely. The best part was a slight smokey flavor at the beginning of the beer which complimented the marshmallow that was prepared over the fire. Finally, there was plenty of carbonation to cut through the heavy flavors and wipe the palate clean. Fantastic pairing, a s’mores of all things, where else but Barleydine would you see that.
S’mores – I think we all know how to prepare one of these, but just in case. You’ll need a chocolate bar, graham crackers and marshmallows. Start by cooking your marshmallow, now this is a matter of preference. Some like them lightly toasted, some well done, cook this to you liking. When finished, place the cooked marshmallow on one half of a graham cracker, place a layer of chocolate, then top with the other half of graham cracker. Voila! Campfire desert. Don’t forget the beer, trust me. Remember though, this porter only works because it’s an imperial porter, otherwise go for a stout.
beer + food = Barleydine


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