It’s clear that I’m a beer lover, but I have to say stouts and porters are not my favorite style of beer . . . but I can surely appreciate them for their richness and complexities and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed one or the other on occasion.
The big question is what's the difference between a stout and a porter? This can be debated until the sun goes down and the keg is drained of its heavenly, intoxicating nectar.
There are many styles of beers but there are no hard-and-fast rules for what passes for particular variety. The truth is that there really is no meaningful difference between a stout and a porter . . . although, arguably, a stout was at one time considered a strong . . . stouter . . . version of porter. Today? Different brewers have different interpretations. And, if you ask me, it’s those interpretations that make beer so friggin’ awesome!
And now . . . onto the beer. St. Patrick's Day was approaching as I was making my selections and what's St. Patty's Day without a good hardy beer?
In the cooler I spied Berkshire Brewing Company Russian Imperial Stout. Stamped on the label? Local! That sealed the deal. I'm a huge fan of local beers and micro-breweries.
Berkshire Brewing Company is a young-ish company, formed in 1992 by two friends with a love for beer who wanted to produce a finely crafted ale. The brewery is located in an old cigar factory in Deerfield, Massachusetts. 20 years later their nine year-round flavors and seven seasonal ales and lagers are distributed in five states and they continue to grow.
BBC Russian Imperial Stout pours a velvety black and forms a creamy head that dissolves into a lovely lingering lace on the glass. It smells of chocolate and coffee with the flavors of each to back up the aroma. This imperial stout is full flavored and complex. The high alcohol content . . . 8.5% alcohol by volume . . . warms you like a fine brandy. This is an excellent sipping beer, to be savored and enjoyed after a good meal. Dessert in a glass! Cheers!
The porter I selected was not so local. It haled all the way from Poland. I chose Browar Amber's Grand Imperial Porter based on the label alone . . . classy, elegant. And the name . . . it was so high falutin' . . . GRAND Imperial . . . it demanded to be consumed. So, consume it I did!
The Browar Amber is a small brewery that was established in 1994. It primarily distributes its beer regionally and has only recently started exporting to the United States and Canada.
The Grand Imperial Porter is a good beer but not quite what I expected. To the best of my knowledge, I've never had a Polish beer and certainly never a Polish dark beer. It is a Baltic style of porter which is black like an English stout but lighter in flavor; more like a strong, dark lager.
I would classify the Grand Imperial Porter as a dessert beer. It is strong and sweet . . . very much a sipping beer. It pours dark as night. A huge head is formed when it it is poured that dissolves into a light froth that clings to the side of the glass. It has a clearly defined dark chocolate flavor with only a hint of coffee. I liked this porter but it was definitely not grand. 8.0% alcohol by volume.