The beer community, like any other, loves a good scandal. The best ones can make heroes of craft brewers, get beer into mainstream headlines – even cause boycotts of certain brands if someone’s really been naughty.
This particular beer is at the centre of the latest saga. To quickly summarise – DB has named a new Monteith’s beer “Porter Noir” – the same name Hallertau coined and gave to this pinot noir barrel-aged porter.
I can see a non-beer geek reading this and going “Whoop-de-fuck, why do we care?”, and fair enough – the thing is Porter Noir is not a style, it’s a name like Hop Zombie or Rex Attitude or Santa’s Butt Porter (real). What’s more, it’s a bit arrogant for DB to be stealing names from craft breweries after the ‘Radler Fiasco’, in which they pissed everyone off royally by trademarking a name that actually was a style.
Anyway – that’s all fairly old news now and I didn’t drink this so that I could talk politics (although if that’s your bag go read Phil’s excellent post on the matter), I drank this because the whole thing reminded me that I’d never actually tried this beer! (Another upshot of beer scandals – they can be great for business.)
I’d heard Porter Noir was good, but when I sniffed it got the best surprise a gal could ask for – brettanomyces! I did not know Brett was going to be at this party, and I had the silly thought for a moment that he’d come uninvited, possibly on the coat tails of Funkonnay. I did quick Google and found that no, the pinot noir barrels this is aged in are (deliberately) infected with brett, which contributed to this wonderful complex aroma of musty oak, sherbert, berries, and definite pinot noir.
In the mouth it was dry, light and slightly sour, with red wine-like tannins, chocolate , and funky fruit from the brett. I really liked it, and only wish it came in smaller (cheaper) bottles so that I could drink it a bit more regularly.
Today’s thank you goes to someone I’ve never actually met – regular reader Matthew Searle. Matt’s a Kiwi beer lover living in Canada, and has spurred me on from afar by leaving loads of enthusiastic and encouraging comments over the year. He also sent some awesome beers back from Canada with his parents to try, and has promised to join our celebrations on Tuesday night by drinking a bottle of Big Smoke at the time the party starts (thankfully 11pm in Canada, so not too ungodly). Go Matt!
PS - I think the outcome of the “Porter Noir Saga” was that Monteith’s agreed to change the name once the first batch runs out, and Hallertau are now trademarking all their names quick sharp. And that reminds me – I better make an application for “Old Cock Ale” before Monteith’s try to swipe that.