I want you to remember the first beer that sparked something within you. That gave you that dizzying feeling of excitement. That sent you on the hunt.
For me, that beer was St Stefanus.
St Stefanus, with its handwritten label. St Stefanus with its ever changing taste. St Stefanus with a list of suppliers on its website which was very out of date. St Stefanus that sent me on an adventure across London and inadvertently introduced me to a pub which remains a favourite to this very day.
Of course, this post isn’t actually about St Stefanus at all. But it is about The Porterhouse; the pub that, back then, blew my mind with its extensive selection of international brews and showed me that what I craved in a pub existed: the opportunity to drink amazing, sometimes rare, sometimes experimental, sometimes not, well kept beers in a traditional, cosy, dark wooded pub setting. A bit like the Craft Beer Co do now, but don’t forget that The Porterhouse opened in 1999. You might just say they were pioneers.
But 1999 was just Covent Garden, they’ve been around much longer than that. In fact, they’re celebrating the opening of their first brewpub 21 years ago and, as part of that, Porterhouse have introduced a new range of craft beers to the UK. Having enjoyed their own brews in the pubs for so long, the opportunity to drink them at home was very appealing, so when they offered me the chance to get my hands on some I eagerly accepted.
Headlining the launch is their Porterhouse Oyster Stout, Plain Porter, Red Ale and Pilsner. I do love a line up that doesn’t focus on the pale, and it’s the perfect time of year for those red ales to make an appearance.
Sadly, their Red Ale didn’t survive the tumultuous journey across the zones, but the Pilsner and Oyster Stout arrived unharmed and so I was able to enjoy a little of the light and dark elements of the range.
The Hersbrucker pilsner, so named due to the abundance of Hersbrucker hops used in the brew, is a classic pilsner. I won’t often plump for a pilsner, but found this to be particularly drinkable; crisp and thirst quenching, but with a malty sweetness.
I was looking forward to tasting the Oyster Stout in bottle form, having inhaled a few pints of it in my time. It is apparently rapidly becoming their best selling stout, and I can certainly see why. It’s very well balanced, with a subtle sweetness provided by the oysters. It doesn’t pack a big punch in the flavour stakes, but I’m not necessarily always looking for something to challenge my taste buds. At 4.6% this is a beer you can do a solid session on.
A special shout out goes to the innovative bottle caps which I don’t see often enough and provoke a squeal of delight every time they fly off the bottle and across the room.
I tasted just 2 of the Porterhouse range, but they also have an extended range of core and speciality beers available year round. Find out more about them via their website, and follow them on Twitter and FaceyB. Oh, and pop in to see them if you can – yes, you might have to fight your way through tourists to get in, but once inside it’s a little cocoon of beery happiness.