Sunday, 15 November 2015

First of the Season

I managed to track down some Larkin’s Porter yesterday; the first of the season. Dark and full-bodied and brewed from a grist that includes plenty of chocolate and crystal malts, Larkin’s Porter has a rich, full mouth feel, with plenty of bitterness to match the lush sweetness of the malts. At a strength of 5.2%, it is a beer for savouring, rather than swilling. The beer’s appearance each November is eagerly awaited by its devotees, and it is no secret that Larkin’s Porter is one of my all time favourite, seasonal “winter” beers.

Larkins produces just two brews of this superb beer each year; one in mid-September, and the other towards the end of November, (round about now). Following brewing and primary fermentation, each brew is allowed to mature, in cask, for a minimum period of six weeks before it is released to trade. Traditionally the first batch is not released until Bonfire Night, so just over a week later is was good to give the beer a try.

I came across the porter at lunchtime on Saturday, at the Old Fire Station in Tonbridge. This historic old building was being run again by Beer Café proprietors, Fuggles of Tunbridge Wells, as part of their November “pop-up” take-over. I don’t think many people knew they were open as, apart from myself there was just a small group of elderly gentlemen occupying one of the tables.

The lack of customers enabled me to have a chat with Fuggles owner, Alex who was working behind the bar, along with a member of his staff. Alex told me that the Thursday and Friday evening sessions had been very popular and they were expecting the same for that evening. Amongst other things we discussed Thursday’s session back at their main site in Tunbridge Wells, where the Troubadour tasting event had taken place - see previous post.

Later, whilst sitting at one of the tables nurturing my excellent pint of Larkin’s Porter, I began to contemplate the appalling events which had taken place in Paris the previous evening. Sitting there in the calm and tranquil surroundings of this lovely old building I was struggling to contemplate how can people be so wicked. These thoughts remained with me after I had left the Old Fire Station and walked back to the town via the imposing Gatehouse of Tonbridge’s historic 12th century castle.

There are no answers, of course, but before I left, I thanked Alex and reminded him that, along with some of my CAMRA colleagues, I would be back on Thursday evening for our pre-arranged social.

ps. Larkins have finally moved into the 21st Century with their own website.As you might expect, there are no fancy gimmicks, just an attractive and informative site. Check it out above.


Stonch Beer said...

"it is a beer for savouring, rather than swilling"

Probably won't find many pubs stocking it if it's that bad for business, then! ;-)

Seriously though, I'd say dark beers aren't drunk slower - they're just drunk by fewer people, less often.

Paul Bailey said...

Jeff, whilst I would agree that dark beers are drunk by fewer people, they are always amongst the first beers to sell out at beer festivals. A different type of customer, I know, but I would wager that if landlords took a chance and offered a dark beer from time to time, then people would drink it.

Depends on the pub of course; porter or stout wouldn’t go down well in a pub full of Fosters drinkers.