View our Main Site »

Friday, December 7, 2018

New Beer Friday, Know Your Port Edition (December 7)

Preamble by Steve Siciliano

I was intending to write about a recent trip to the Bourbon Trail for this week’s edition of New Beer Friday, but there must be a correlation between tooth pain and writer’s block because I’ve been dealing with both all week.

That upper molar had been bothering me for some time but because I’m a procrastinator and a bit of a wimp when it comes to having teeth ripped from their sockets, I delayed the extraction for as long as I could. As of yesterday I have one less tooth and a partial denture is on the horizon. Hopefully my creative juices will return by next week’s edition of NBF. In the meantime, please enjoy the following piece on port wine that we ran in The Buzz way back in December of 2011.

A bottle of Dow’s 1997 Vintage Port has been aging in our home wine cellar for about twelve years now. Every so often I’ll pick that bottle up and think about opening it but I always place it back on the rack. I know the wine is ready to drink now and if I was to succumb to temptation we would be entranced by its dark purple color, the aromas of licorice, chocolate and roasted coffee, and by flavors of maple syrup, blackberry and plum. But I also know that it has the potential to age gracefully for at least twelve more years and a wine like that is best enjoyed when marking a special occasion. Maybe I’ll open it when my son Chris and his fiancée Gena get married, or when Barb and I celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, or when the Lions win the Super Bowl.

While there are many fine port-style wines made throughout the world, the wines that can legally be called Porto are produced only in Portugal. The grapes are grown in the upper Duoro Valley in the north where the blazing hot summer temperatures allow them to attain high levels of sugar. Winemakers add neutral grape spirits at a certain point during the fermentation. This stops the yeast from working and results in a sweet, fortified wine. Which part of the Duoro the grapes are from and the quality of the harvest determine the style of port that’s produced — a ruby, an aged tawny, a late bottle vintage or, like that bottle aging in our cellar, a vintage porto. Vintage ports are wines of extraordinary depth and complexity that are produced only in exceptional years.

Ruby ports are the least complex and the least expensive. They are blends of young wines that are aged in oak for two to three years and are made from grapes that come from the less prestigious vineyards. While a good ruby port is a simple, straightforward wine that will not benefit from extended aging, it will entice you with it fresh berry aromas and nice red fruit flavors.

Aged tawny ports are blends of wine from several, non-vintage years that are aged in barrels until they develop nutty, brown sugar and vanilla flavors and a soft, silky texture. The extended barrel aging transforms the wine from bright ruby red to the light brown, tawny color from which it gets its name. An aged tawny will usually have a ten, twenty, thirty or forty year designation on the label. This does not necessarily mean that the wine has been barrel-aged for the specified time but rather is an indication of the target age profile. In other words a forty-year-old tawny tastes like it is made from wines that are forty years old.

Late bottle vintage ports (LBVs) are unblended wines from a single vintage that was a good but not great year. They are aged in oak barrels four to six years and then filtered and bottled. Thanks to the barrel-aging the wine matures more quickly, giving it to some extent the nuances of a vintage port. But LBVs lack the depth and complexity of vintage port and because they are filtered they will not benefit from extended aging in the bottle.

On average, about three times a decade the Duoro will experience perfect growing conditions resulting in young wines that are almost perfectly balanced. Samples of these wines are sent to the Port Wine Institute and, if approval is given, the year is declared a “Vintage.” Vintage ports are only made from grapes grown in the best vineyards. They are aged in oak barrels for two years and are then bottled unfiltered. As the wine matures the flavors and aromas become deeper, more refined and more complex.

Vintage ports are extraordinary wines that should be saved for those most special of occasions (providing you have the will power). It doesn’t look like the Lions will win the big one anytime soon, and since our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is a still silver speck on the horizon, I guess the date Barb and I crack the '97 Dows depends on Chris and Gena.

Editor’s note: Chris and Gena are now happily married but that bottle of vintage port is still aging nicely in Steve and Barb’s wine cellar.

New and Returning Beer

  • Arvon Fort Gratiot, $9.99/22oz - "Arvon Brewing Co.’s Lighthouse Series of New England style IPAs are each distinctly hopped with a single varietal, displaying the unique character of the hops as a shining beacon. The explosive hop flavor and aroma of Falconer's Flight featured in Fort Gratiot is best experienced when this beer is enjoyed fresh – drink now" (source).
  • Arvon White Shoal, $9.99/22oz - "Arvon Brewing Co.’s Lighthouse Series of New England style IPAs are each distinctly hopped with a single varietal, displaying the unique character of the hops as a shining beacon. The explosive hop flavor and aroma of Mosaic featured in White Shoal is best experienced when this beer is enjoyed fresh – drink now" (source).
  • Barrel + Beam Queen City Brut, $8.99/375ml - No commercial description.
  • Big Lake Captians Porter, $3.19/16oz - "A traditional American Porter. Roasted malts blend with just enough noble hops to create an exquisite Porter" (source).
  • Brewdog Choco Libre, $3.19/12oz - "A Mil Máscaras of flavour. This Imperial stout will wrestle your taste buds to the canvas in a Tag Team of insane sensory assault. Coffee, chocolate and a little spice on the nose. Dark chocolate mixes with mocha, vanilla and spice, all layered over a smooth nitro-styling you never saw coming. This set-up finishes with a delicate habanero drop kick as the bell sounds" (source).
  • Brewery Vivant Wizard Burial Ground, $7.19/16oz - "Brewed once a year, this special quadrupel is aged in freshly drained bourbon barrels and disappears into the shadows for a full year of cellaring. This year's brew becomes next year's release. We've been wood-aging beers and experimenting with wild fermentation since we opened in 2010. We encourage those in search of funky flavors to join us at our annual Wood-Aged Beer Festival each Autumn to find out more. *See can for year designation. This beer will age gracefully when cellared appropriately (50°F and below). Enjoy" (source).
  • Central State La Luzerne, $3.79/16oz - "When you find a kindred spirit in the industry, it’s easy to become fast friends - that was the case when we met the folks from Salud a few years ago. Since then they have become some of our best friends. Fresh lemons add brightness, rosemary adds a depth of flavor… and what’s more farmhouse than running your beer through alfalfa hay" (source).
  • Central State Nephilim, $5.99/16oz - "This giant of a stout is as dark as the night. Rich, smooth, and warming, perfect for aging or drinking fresh" (source).
  • Central State New Money, $3.99/16oz - "New Money vs. Old Money. A Rivalry that spans the ages. The Old guard holding onto tradition. The new kids trying to break down walls and redefine norms. This beer is firmly planted in the new. Brewed using the first batch of malted oats ever produced in Indiana and aggressively dry-hopped with Mosaic, Hull Melon, and Simcoe hops this beer ns anything but old school" (source).
  • Central State Raspberry, $3.99/16oz - "Dripping with fruit flavor, this sour ale finishes with a touch of smooth sweetness thanks to a dose of lactose sugar" (source).
  • Central State Sports Television, $3.99/16oz - "This beverage is a real barnburner – sure to fill up the whole stat sheet. It’s a lineup stacked with a Murderer’s Row of Citra & Simcoe hops in the kettle, with a Cascade, Citra, & Simcoe Cryo dry-hop batting cleanup. And we can’t forget about the hometown hero: the Indiana-malted barley, wheat, & oats brought their A-game today, folks. They have unbelievable chemistry! True professionals all the way, these grains always play the game the right way" (source).
  • Central State Swipe Right, $3.99/16oz - "Endlessly scrolling. Swipe. Swipe swipe. But wait… this beer looks pretty cute. It enjoys long walks on the beach, burritos, & loves dogs. Maybe it’s time to swipe right? Loaded up with Mosaic & Hallertau Blanc hops & dry-hopped twice, your taste buds are sure to match with this beer" (source).
  • Deschutes Abyss, $18.69/22oz - "A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate" (source).
  • Detroit Garage Project Methode Man, $4.49/16oz - "Brut IPA brewed with Hallertau Blanc and Nelson Sauvin hops, aged on Pinot Gris grape must" (source).
  • Ellison Big Black Stout, $3.89/16oz - "A chocolate imperial stout that pours like motor oil and tastes so decadent that you won't be able to stop drinking it. Chocolate up front with a balanced roast finish" (source).
  • Ellison Mosaic Evolution, $3.29/16oz - "Lighter in color, this beer will surprise you with a white wine character and have the fruit aromas and flavors of grapes, stone fruit and berries" (source).
  • Ellison Nelson Evolution, $3.89/16oz - "Lighter in color, this beer will surprise you with a white wine character and has the fruit aromas and flavors of grapes, stonefruit, and berries" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Erubescent, $3.59/16oz - "Imperial red ale. Brewed with 100% mosaic hops" (source).
  • Lagunitas Night Pils, $5.19/22oz - "There are two kinds. There is the DayTime kind, which is bright and welcoming, and then there is the NightTime kind, which should never be confused with the DayTime. NightTime is dark and deep and may take you to unexpected places, places that the DayTime can not. But then the NightTime is not suited for ordinary life and ordinary tasks, in fact NightTime may be the answer for that sort of thing, meaning that those sorts of things may never get done. Things take time in the NightTime, things slow down and you can pause (you have to, actually) and investigate carefully to find that level of objective detachment that is only possible under the spell of the NightTime. Seek the Day but fear not the Nighttime" (source).
  • Ludington Bay Tangelo Dream, $1.99/12oz - "A citrus twist on our American Pale Ale. Made with Pomelos are a fruit that produces flavors of tangerine and grapefruit" (source).
  • Motor City Brewing Notorious IPA, $4.49/16oz - No commercial description.
  • Odd Side Chocolade, $2.39/12oz - "Stout brewed with chocolate and coffee. A medium bodied, creamy, everyday stout with aromas of mocha espresso that are followed by earthy roasted malt and lingering flavors of coffee and chocolate" (source).
  • Odd Side Shamone, $2.39/12oz - "Kettle Sour NEIPA" (source).
  • Short's Liberator, $2.59/12oz - "The Liberator was made as a 30th birthday gift to Joe Short. As a double IPA, this beast employs a sizable malt bill, but it is the crazy amount of hops added to the boil every 4 minutes, for 120 minutes, that really make this beer special. Fruity, floral, and piney hop flavors penetrate throughout the caramelized malt profile. The Liberator is a well-balanced, full bodied brew that has a bitter finish due to the post fermentation addition of lemon and orange zest" (source).
  • White Flame Kooky Monster, $2.79/12oz - "Brown Ale made with Steenstras Windmill (cinnamon and ginger) cookies" (source).
  • White Flame Suck My Kiss, $2.99/12oz - "Sweet Hard Cider" (source).
  • White Flame Super G, $2.79/12oz - "Brewed to showcase the bitterness of the high alpha-acid hops. The bitterness is derived from the early hop additions while the citrusy aromas are attributed to the late hop additions during the boil process" (source).

Video of the Week | Open Port Like a Boss


Study this video, then come buy a bottle of Vintage Port at Siciliano's.

Cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment