• WATCH: Chuar brings authentic Chinese food to Salisbury
    WATCH: Chuar brings authentic Chinese food to Salisbury
  • WATCH: 45th Annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival
    WATCH: 45th Annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival
  • Thirst State Craft Crawl - Dogfish Head
    Thirst State Craft Crawl - Dogfish Head
  • WATCH: OC Endless Summer Cruisin' 2017
    WATCH: OC Endless Summer Cruisin' 2017
  • WATCH: Beef jerky Outlet store opening in Rehoboth
    WATCH: Beef jerky Outlet store opening in Rehoboth
  • Delmarva Eastern Surf Association Maryland State Championships
    Delmarva Eastern Surf Association Maryland State Championships
  • WATCH: New Denny's coming to former home of JR's Ribs in Ocean City.
    WATCH: New Denny's coming to former home of JR's Ribs in Ocean City.
  • WATCH: Why dollar stores are sweeping across Delmarva
    WATCH: Why dollar stores are sweeping across Delmarva
  • WATCH: National golden retriever show coming to Delmarva
    WATCH: National golden retriever show coming to Delmarva
  • WATCH: Recalling Wicomico County's 150th Anniversary
    WATCH: Recalling Wicomico County's 150th Anniversary
  • WATCH: Scenes from 58th Annual Skipjack Race
    WATCH: Scenes from 58th Annual Skipjack Race
  • WATCH: Woody's Beach BBQ owner keeps it simple
    WATCH: Woody's Beach BBQ owner keeps it simple
  • WATCH: Big Oyster Brewery to open in Lewes
    WATCH: Big Oyster Brewery to open in Lewes
  • WATCH: Pico Taqueria brings Mexican American fare to Chincoteague
    WATCH: Pico Taqueria brings Mexican American fare to Chincoteague
  • WATCH: Ocean Gallery honored by Maryland Comptroller
    WATCH: Ocean Gallery honored by Maryland Comptroller
  • WATCH: Salisbury Zoo cuts ribbon for new conservation center
    WATCH: Salisbury Zoo cuts ribbon for new conservation center
  • WATCH: Local art studio offers visitors a chance to relax and paint
    WATCH: Local art studio offers visitors a chance to relax and paint
  • WATCH: Ripieno's in Ocean City does big portions
    WATCH: Ripieno's in Ocean City does big portions
  • WATCH: Zap Pro/Am World Championships of Skimboarding semi-finals
    WATCH: Zap Pro/Am World Championships of Skimboarding semi-finals
  • WATCH: Surf on land with Hamboards
    WATCH: Surf on land with Hamboards
  • WATCH: Chef's Corner- Chef Hari Cameron a(muse.)
    WATCH: Chef's Corner- Chef Hari Cameron a(muse.)
  • WATCH: OC BBQ offers Southern eats in a former seafood restaurant
    WATCH: OC BBQ offers Southern eats in a former seafood restaurant
  • WATCH: Scenes from the 41st annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake
    WATCH: Scenes from the 41st annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake
  • WATCH: A new wine experience in Rehoboth
    WATCH: A new wine experience in Rehoboth
  • WATCH: Evolution plans outdoor expansion with green space
    WATCH: Evolution plans outdoor expansion with green space
  • Pony Penning 2017: What to expect
    Pony Penning 2017: What to expect
  • WATCH: Smith Island store draws people from afar
    WATCH: Smith Island store draws people from afar
  • Chincoteague ponies kick up their heels
    Chincoteague ponies kick up their heels
  • WATCH: Barn 34 in Ocean City a family affair
    WATCH: Barn 34 in Ocean City a family affair
  • WATCH: Scenes from the 28th Bathub Races
    WATCH: Scenes from the 28th Bathub Races
  • WATCH: Pemberton Coffeehouse set to reopen
    WATCH: Pemberton Coffeehouse set to reopen
  • WATCH: Chef Chris Parks shining at Lupo in Rehoboth
    WATCH: Chef Chris Parks shining at Lupo in Rehoboth
  • WATCH: 10th Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest at Fish Tales in Ocean City
    WATCH: 10th Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest at Fish Tales in Ocean City
  • WATCH: What is your favorite thing to do on the Fourth?
    WATCH: What is your favorite thing to do on the Fourth?
  • WATCH: Buxy's owner expands business footprint with newly opened Dry Dock 28
    WATCH: Buxy's owner expands business footprint with newly opened Dry Dock 28
  • WATCH: Shorebirds All-Star sets the bar high
    WATCH: Shorebirds All-Star sets the bar high
  • WATCH: Comptroller Franchot rallying craft beer industry
    WATCH: Comptroller Franchot rallying craft beer industry
  • WATCH: Shipwrecked in Berlin
    WATCH: Shipwrecked in Berlin
  • WATCH: Ropewalk Chincoteague brings waterfront dining to both locals and visitors
    WATCH: Ropewalk Chincoteague brings waterfront dining to both locals and visitors
  • WATCH: Air Show draws a big crowd to Ocean City
    WATCH: Air Show draws a big crowd to Ocean City
  • WATCH: Gilligan's in Lewes opens after remodel
    WATCH: Gilligan's in Lewes opens after remodel
  • WATCH: Indigo in Rehoboth serves rare Indian cuisine
    WATCH: Indigo in Rehoboth serves rare Indian cuisine
  • WATCH: Roadie Joe's serves up sophisticated pub fare
    WATCH: Roadie Joe's serves up sophisticated pub fare
  • WATCH: High Stakes renovates in Fenwick
    WATCH: High Stakes renovates in Fenwick
  • WATCH: Rare & Rye isn't the average hotel restaurant
    WATCH: Rare & Rye isn't the average hotel restaurant
  • WATCH: SoDel's Bluecoast Seafood Grill open in Rehoboth
    WATCH: SoDel's Bluecoast Seafood Grill open in Rehoboth
  • WATCH: Salisbury lands National Folk Festival starting in 2018
    WATCH: Salisbury lands National Folk Festival starting in 2018
  • WATCH: HGTV Beachfront Bargin Hunt comes to Ocean City
    WATCH: HGTV Beachfront Bargin Hunt comes to Ocean City
  • WATCH: Sights and sounds of the Ocean City Boardwawlk
    WATCH: Sights and sounds of the Ocean City Boardwawlk
  • WATCH: Burley Oak to open cafe in Berlin
    WATCH: Burley Oak to open cafe in Berlin
  • WATCH: Couple brings 'House Hunters' to Salisbury
    WATCH: Couple brings 'House Hunters' to Salisbury
  • Downtown Salisbury Festival
    Downtown Salisbury Festival
1 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTMORE

In really broad terms, beer follows the season.

Prevailing temperatures notwithstanding, if you think of spring beers as a little more yellow, summer as a little more golden, fall as a little more amber and winter as black, we’re pushing through the end of the amber and moving toward black.

Porter season nearly is upon us and that is one of the best times of the year for fans of crisp, rich beers. If you think of amber beer as a little sweet and winter stouts as super smoky, porter is right in the middle. 

Porter is one of the newer beer styles. It was brewed using brown malt, which made it darker than beers made from the pale and amber malts popular at the time. Its popularity was tied pretty closely to the improvements in being able to roast different malts in a way that gave different flavors.

Porter also was one of the first beers that only was made by breweries, since taverns at the time didn’t really have the space to make and store it in the amounts needed.

MORE: How to find the perfect craft beer 6-pack for a party

MORE: Pumpkin beers: Love them or not, they're here to stay

There’s some debate among beer people about what separates a porter from a stout. The shorthand distinction is alcohol content, stouts having evolved as porter’s more boozy offspring. Setting aside low alcohol stouts (like Guinness) and high alcohol porters, it still is the best way to distinguish the two. Mostly, though, the distinction is tied to a crispness that is less present in stouts.

Porters look deceptively rich but really have a pretty mild smoky, nutty and (or) chocolate-like bitterness. They also have very little hop flavor, so they are not bitter, not sweet — just bubbly and wet and flavorful, which is what makes them a great fall dinner beer.

They also had fallen off the grid for most of the last 200 years, but are coming back in a big way. That makes this a good season to get into them, because there’s as much variety as there’s been in awhile.

While craft beer has in no way shied from making the high-octane, aggressive beers with which it made its name, there has been a trend toward greater subtlety over the last few years.

“Session IPAs” were so-named because a drinker could have more than a couple without getting too intoxicated. Many of the session IPAs were between 4 and 6 percent alcohol by volume, as opposed to regular IPAs that run between 6 and 8 percent ABV.

Brewers upped the flavor and lowered the alcohol, making the beers more accessible. Think of a porter in a similar light. It’s flavorful but lower in alcohol than a big heavy stout. Where a smoky stout might be a little cloying, a smoky porter will just have a bit of a sweet bite.

It’s a transitional time. We’re not out sweating in the yard and craving something cool and refreshing, but neither are we hunkered down by the fire hoping to stave off the chill with a heavy pint.

Mostly, we’re enjoying the kind of fall leisure that comes with heavier foods and dinners after dark. Also, they’re not as filling as they look so they don’t detract from the big meals they complement.

Chili, soups, stews and barbecue, especially those on the richer side, are seriously improved by a porter, which has a palate-cleansing aspect when paired with thicker foods. It's similar with fried things, particularly (and at the risk of being cliche) fish and chips. If a food has any pungency at all, the porter will equalize it, reducing the peaks and raising the valleys.

The best part for many people who want to like craft beer but haven’t had a lot of luck is that porters aren’t bitter, or at least they aren’t hoppy. There are some hops in them but just enough to limit the malt sweetness. When people try stouts, sometimes they are scared off by the high alcohol content or the beer’s thickness and depth. Even though they are “dark beers,” porters are light tasting.

Oktoberfest is over in Germany and ending here in the next few weeks. Traditionally, that represented the end of the beer laid up over the year and the beginning of brewing for the long winter.

That isn’t the case anymore, but there will be no shortage of porters in the coming weeks as breweries start producing this solid transitional beer. Package stores, restaurants and bars will start placing a greater emphasis on porters and other dark beers, which means they will be easier to get and to try than ever before.

To be clear, there still is no shortage of IPAs and even wheat beers have become available year-round, but brown beer tastes better with fall food and fall life generally.

You’re welcome to test that theory on your own.

1 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.delmarvanow.com/story/entertainment/dining/2017/10/11/brown-beer-porter-fall/750967001/