Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sierra Nevada Porter

Welcome back to this month's spook-tacular edition of Beer Hates Me (see what I did there...cause it's almost Halloween. Spook. I'm a fuckin' literary genius!). As I write this, we are in the middle of some lovely Santa Ana winds in Los Angeles that are providing us with seasonal gusts blowing the leaves to and fro along with un-seasonal warmth that makes those winds feel like a dragon's fart after a burrito. But the current climate is drastically different from the what it was when I drank this month's beer, the simply titled, Sierra Nevada Porter.
The Beer:
A few weeks back, I was trying to determine what I should drink for another round of scientific intoxication, and I had the hankerin' for a smooth yet bold porter. Looking back on my previous experiments, I had not drank one for this purpose since the very first installment. So with a specific type of brew in mind, I headed out to the local BevMo in search of a worthy subject. After several minutes and many trips up and down the isles, I settled upon Sierra Nevada Porter. Now, I have a dubious history with Sierra Nevada. Many of their offerings in the past have not agreed with me nor my physiology. It's often been a brewery that I've strayed from knowing that I'd pay dearly in the morning for an evening of microbrew indulgence. But I had never tried their Porter and figured what better time to revisit an old foe then under the guise of social and scientific experimentation.
So how did the beer taste? In a word, awesome! It was a smooth, pleasant drink with wonderful vanilla and coffee aromas. The dark deep color with a perfect tan head made me remember that porters are probably my favorite of all beers. Some people out here love their hops. Lots of friends back east are lager people. But me, I'm a porter guy. Give me something dark and thick but not cloyingly sweet or syrupy like many stouts bring to the forefront. I want a smokey beer, and I can't think of many that deliver those qualities in such distinct and deliberate fashion as Sierra Nevada Porter does.
The Buzz:
Unlike most of my past beers dedicated to this project, this one came in a six-pack. Not a four-pack, not a pair of 22oz bottles, but an old-school, easy-to-carry sixer! While this was nice for a change, it did present the problem of over-indulging. Being the smooth, smokey goodness that this Porter was, the chance of going back for numbers 5 or 6 was a definite concern of mine. While this isn't a "chugging" beer (then again, what respectable beer is? We, gentlemen sip our beer with distinction and respect!), the drinkability was extremely high for me. Beers 1-3 went down relatively quickly.  Whatever I was watching was barely halfway through when I realized that I was basically done with my third beer. So, after a short break and a little snack, I popped open beer #4 and poured it into a glass to savor as I took my time enjoying all the notes and fragrances and aromas it presented itself with. Oh, I was also wasted! While not overtly high in alcoholic content (a modest 5.6% abv), the speed at which I finished 3 warranted the heavy and happy buzz I harbored. But the fourth bottle purposely went down slower. And as the fourth was going-going-gone, the desire for a fifth slowly faded away. Although I certainly could have finished another one (or even two for that matter), the brain and the body found perfect harmony and I was content to wrap up the drinking for the night.
The Hangover:
Ahh, the hangover. Perhaps my most anticipated yet. My history of bad reactions to other Sierra Nevada beers led me to suspect that I'd have a similar experience the morning after their Porter. I woke up early to feed the dogs with only a modest sense of fuzziness and discomfort. The headache had yet to manifest itself in the form of a migraine, and the stomach held strong without any sense of nausea. Still, to be safe, I popped my hangover cocktail, had a drink of water and returned to bed for a few hours. When my wife came to wake me later, I popped up out of bed and was ready for the day, nary a hangover in sight.  Could it be true? Did I find a beer that I loved AND gave my no ill side affects? And was it possible that this all came from a brewer that has shown me no mercy in the past? At the moment, it appears as though the answers to all those questions is a resounding yes! But despite my glee in finding a beer that agrees with me on so many levels, my first thought was to repeat the procedure. Do it again to confirm the results. In essence, go back to the lab!
But that's not gonna happen just yet. I have neither the time nor patience to repeat a test at this juncture in the process. Not when there are so many other beers to experiment with out there. I will, however, go take another look at Sierra Nevada's other offerings to see if perhaps my past horrors stem only from their signature Pale Ale and not their many other offerings.

The Verdict:
The verdict this month is that I am awesome! My autumn instincts told me that it was time for a Porter and I knocked it out the park with my choice of Sierra Nevada. Furthermore, I also conquered what I once considered to be a brewery that crafted their beers in such a way that I could never truly enjoy them without the fear of death the next day. Similar to the way Lagunitas beers have all provided me with painful hangovers, this month's test has reinvigorated that confidence to go back out and try a batch or two from them that I hadn't previously tried. All in all, this month may just have been the most successful experiment yet!
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