Sunday, July 19, 2009


it is sunday morning here in austin. the house is quiet. my dad and debi and aunt doris just left for a pool party. latonya is upstairs laughing on the phone with her cousin. butch, the still family chihuahua, pecks his little toenails on the tile around my feet. it's quiet here, and the sun has remained mostly shy this morning. as for me, i'm drowning in classwork, overwhelmed with another week of planning and delivering a decently coherent lesson plan that covers transition phrases and organizational patterns of expository texts. i've had four small cups of coffee this morning. it Is time for a porter. 

otter creek brewing company, straight from the green mountains of vermont, is new to the texas beer market. i'm usually a bit reluctant to jump both feet into a new england brewery because, go figure, so many new england beers are british in nature. i don't like the english beers. never have. and i'm shocked anytime i do find an english style ale that i actually enjoy. however, vermont is a filthy with the french, and i know nothing about how the french drink their biere. so, with all this ethno-cautious baggage stifling my beer shopping, i was relieved to find a single 12 ounce bottle of otter creek's stovepipe porter on a local liquor shelf. one itty-bitty bottle is so much less daunting - and expensive - than six.

my only other exposure to otter creek was their imperial stout. too big. too bold. too much hop and heat to waddle down smoothly. probably a fantastic stout after a year or two in the cellar, but who has that kind of discipline and patience anymore? it's 2009. i'm pissed that my computer doesn't type my thoughts for me automatically. this whole thing needs to move way faster to meet my busy lifestyle.

with that said, i am pleasantly surprised by the accessibility of this porter. weighing in at 30 IBUs with a 5.4% ABV, this is good medium range porter: perfect for baby bear and goldilocks all at the same time. the bright hop background does not blaze out the deeper coffee and cocoa notes, although i would prefer for more of the latter two. the overly carbonated mouthfeel distracts from the weight of the porter. porters should be thicker, creamier, anchored in minor keys and flavor notes. but this is nice. this is good early morning porter. this is good pre-lunch on a lazy sunday sipping. when the palate wants something bigger and gnarlier and nastier, there is always the flying dog gonzo imperial porter; however, when we just need a hint of desperation on our tongues, otter creek's stovepipe porter ranks right up there alongside great divide's saint bridget's porter and boulder's planet porter. heck, i think clint newlan and i even agree that boulevard's bully porter ain't all that bad, even if it ain't all that good. in the grand scheme, it seems that otter creek saddles up right nicely beside other american porters: washing down more like a soft-drink than the revolutionary pint of damnation it was designed to become. 

perhaps in the world of pale ales and IPAs, america carries the trumping flags of permanent settlement, but in the parishes of fine porters, there's a good chance that england holds ultimate nobility. it's a theory worth testing and a survey worth conducting. any takers are welcome to join me in the venture. i like a good porter, but a good porter is hard to find. i'll be revisiting this otter creek stovepipe a single bottle at a time. a six pack is a huge commitment for something that's barely stretching the tent pegs of world domination.


  1. hamster, you and me. porters. i'm game-

  2. A good porter, to me, is like a good shot of espresso. They are often hard to come by, but you get a beaut, it was worth the searching. I will join this conquest worthy of the finest conquistadors; yesteryears search for spices has led to todays thirst for the worlds finest ales, heck, even lagers.