Curious Brew, Porter
Kent has long been established as one of the hop growing capitals of Europe and of late has started to gain something of a reputation for its wine. Situated just 90 miles North of the champagne region, Tenterden shares a similar climate and chalky soil to its fizzy French counterpart.
It’s no surprise then that Chapel Down have chosen this place to have their winery. It is equally no shock that the awards have flooded in. Only they aren’t all for the wine. Some of them have been for the beer they make.
In 2010 Chapel Down’s CEO Frazer Thompson, a former brand director for Heineken, decided it was time for them to start making beer. Whilst this was a shrewd business decision for a company that was selling wine as fast as they could make it, there were clearly other reasons. Dissatisfaction with many of the mass-produced beers on offer and a curiosity. What sort of beer could a winery that has changed peoples’ minds about English wine make?
Their first beer was the Curious Brew, an award winning hoppy lager that showed what a mash-up of brewing and wine-making could produce. This was shortly followed by an IPA and this week’s beer. The Curious Porter.
Brewed using chocolate malt and classic English hops, the beer is then allowed to age with the addition of winemaker’s vanilla oak chips. This vintner’s touch is something that we have come to expect of Curious Brew.
As you might expect, this beer pours dark, although not quite black, with just a hint of carbonation lending itself to a confident pour. Contrary to some write ups, this Porter is no longer bottle conditioned so there is no sediment to fret about.
Drinkable and subtle, it would be easy to damn this beer with faint praise. There’s some bitter chocolate and sweet vanilla in there but it’s held in balance and at a reasonable strength that errs towards the delicate. This isn’t a heavy stout in the same way that pinot noir isn’t a heavy red. Step away from the corkscrew and pick up your bottle opener. Yup, this is a beer for red wine drinkers.
Hops: Bramling Cross and Challenger
Original Gravity: U/K
The folks at Chapel Down suggest mixing this beer with fizz for the perfect 'Black Velvet' cocktail, to be enjoyed with oysters. If that sounds a bit ostentatious we think you’d struggle to go better than a steak & ale pie (linky link here) or the mushroom and parsnip rosti pie by Anna Jones. There’s no online recipe for that last one, you are just going to have to buy the book or come to my house for supper because it’s that bloody great. [G]