I’ve been interested in trying this beer for sometime, especially since deciding that this winter was gonna focus on stouts and porters. After digging into the Mt. Carmel Porch Pack again then seeing this was on the Growler Station at the Whole Foods in Mason I decided it was time to try this beer. This is part of their “limited” series that is only available on draft and is supposedly temporary though this has been around for a long time.
The state of Guinness in America has always surprised me a bit. In a nation of fizzy, yellow, and generally flavorless beer many bars have on tap this black as night, creamy, and semi-flavorful beer. Something I’m quite glad about. I’m no Guinness-fanatic, even though I’m mostly Irish, but I do prefer it over the fizzy yellow stuff. If you’ve never had a Guinness can or bottle, or if you’ve had and pondered what that clinky sound is, allow me to educate you on the widget. Nitrogen is a way of dispensing beer and is what helps make Guinness on tap so nice and creamy. To achieve that in a can/bottle they decided to create a “widget” basically a little nitrogen container that releases it’s nitrogen when you crack open the beer. Next time you open one of these listen closely and you’ll hear it go off. Widget or not I’m ready to drink.
After announcing that Now is the winter of my dark-content a friend of mine gave me this beer saying it is one of the original Porters and is a great starting point as it’s very typical for the style. Before we get to the review I’ll fill folks in on what a Porter is with a bit of history, but that comes after the break!
This year has already seen the guys at Rivertown release two of the four horsemen. Pestilence back in the spring and War in early summer (my review of War) now comes the third horseman representing Famine. First a little biblical background:
When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” – Source Wikipedia
In summary the third horseman rides a black horse and hands out just enough wheat and barley to keep you alive, barely. Now for Rivertown’s take which comes from my interview with Rivertown General Manager Tom Hall:
The story of Famine is that he rides a black horse through town with a scale handing out barley and wheat, but not enough of either to prevent starvation, thus famine. The beer will be a Bavarian Hefeweizen with a low alcohol content. [Don’t worry too much about that “low alcohol” action this is no 3.2 beer or anything like that. According to Tom it’ll come in around 4.2% or 4.5%.] The low alcohol is in order to achieve their goals of representing famine. To make sure this is still a good beer they made it with a fuller body. This was achieved with the right yeast and treating the mash in the right way to control the amount of fermentable sugar [which keeps the alcohol low]. Since Famine’s horse is black they added in a roasted wheat to give it a nice black color.
Ok, enough background on to the beer!