Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Day 124, Beer 124 - St. Peter's "Honey Porter"

Today's Beer

Name – Honey Porter

Brewer – St. Peter's

Classification – Porter (Or 'honey porter', if you want to get all fussy about it)

Strength – 4.5% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye – The devil's red. Dark, ominous, and a bit sexy.

On the nose – Rich caramel, abundant honey and rampant cocoa. Quite something.

On the tongue – Fudge, licorice, dark berries, cinnamon. Huge levels of cocoa bitterness, huge levels of honey sweetness, and even greater amounts of puzzled head scratching. (Read on...)

On the subject – I'm finally coming towards the end of my St. Peter's batch, and it's been a fascinating journey. They pretty much brew everything, often doing so twice what with the many organic alternatives. The range really is enormous, and with the brewery's emphasis being very much on their bottled output, that sense of 'specialism' really does find it's way into the glass.

On the market – St. Peter's beers are ubiquitous these days, this particular one may be a little more tricky to find, but worry not, as the brewery has it's own online store.

On the
whole?/10 (Look, I honestly don't know... You'd better read on...)

Full Review

My poor head.

I was shaking it, scratching it, very nearly bashing it against walls – and all of this from the very first sip of today's beer.

Even now (and quite uniquely for this project) I simply do not know what I think about it.

As hard as it may be to believe, and as much as it may sound like a lazy cop-out, I am literally unable to decide whether I even like this beer or not.

It's a strange and rather alarming situation to be in.

One thing is for sure, though. Drinking this beer is not a dull experience.

Not one little bit.

This ale is so mind-bendingly extraordinary that I'd say it needs it's very own website, with entire sections dedicated to each of its abundant features, facets, and characteristics. One review could never hope to dig close enough to the core of this beer.

But long before I could work out what was going on within the beer, I failed to work out what I felt about it.

I kept asking myself the same question – whether the experience of drinking it was an enjoyable one or not – but my opinion was forever lurching for one extreme reaction to another.



It's so endlessly complex!”

“It's too much.”

This is leaping straight into the top ten without a shadow of a doubt!”

“I can't drink it.”





At the halfway stage, I knew I had a real dilemma on my hands. I had a beer that I liked and disliked equally and simultaneously – which I had to sit down and write a coherent review about.

However, for this dilemma alone, the beer deserves some serious credit. Because to be so abundantly packed with so many thought-provoking features makes for an enjoyable event in itself – even if you do eventually wind up never answering even the most fundamental questions, like whether you actually enjoyed the stuff or not.

To properly describe this drink is a real challenge. And, believe me, it's a challenge that I'm not about to overcome in any great style, so don't go getting yourself all excited.

I'm going to try to describe it – but I'm also going to fail in that attempt. So, you have been warned, and here goes.

It's an Irish coffee. It's an ancient, multi-purpose herbal remedy. It's a rich, creamy, but also rather austere chocolate gateaux. It's a warm oven filled with dark berries and winter spices. It's an abandoned beehive in sack of fresh coffee beans. It's perfumed charcoal fruitcake. It's a cauldron of molten candy and tarmacadam.

It's conjoined twins, each with split personalities. It's a tortured genius. A role model and a rogue. 

It's an unending, unnerving, unsolvable mystery to me.

I think what I really should be saying - is that this is one of those beers which you just need to try for yourself.

You might fall in love with it, and that love might last forever. Or you could argue like hell with it and never see it again. But either way, this beer will make an impact on you, and you will not forget it in a hurry.

Few beers have ever left me so bewildered about my own reaction to them. Few beers have forced me think about them so intensely, and for so long.

It's been an odd pleasure, drinking this one. It will be interesting to visit it again some time, and go through this peculiar process all over again.

Maybe not for a while though.

I mean, it's going to be several weeks before I can even think straight after this ride.

As for a score out ten?




Something in between?

They all sound just about right.

In the interests of continuity, let's call it a 'tentative 7/10' and be done with it.


Anonymous said...

An excellent review and I say that because I have exactly the same feelings about this beer.

It's an experience to drink and despite the fact that I've tried it four or five times now, I still can't decide whether I actually like it.

It's challenging, complex, interesting and original (in the sense that you very rarely seen honey porters anywhere), but do I like it?

Well, I've got two bottles in the cupboard, so I'll let you know in due course ...

Oh, and St Peter's brewery is about 25 minutes down the road from my house, so there's a good chance I'll be purchasing some more of this to finally make my mind up about it :)

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

Anon - The funny thing is that as soon as I read that you had 'two bottles in the cupboard' - I instantly had a craving for at least one of them.

It seems we're both destined to carry on drinking this beer - and forever scratch our heads whilst doing so!

(Is one of them spare?)

Anonymous said...

Whilst I'd love to send you a bottle, I think I'm going to need at least both of them just to carry on trying to figure this beer out.

I can heartily recommend a trip to St Peter's brewery. It's tucked away in a very pretty part of Suffolk and the hall (which has a restaurant/bar is a grand old 13th century building.

You can also pop into the Grain brewery which is fairly close by. Tiny brewery based in a farm building on a narrow B-road. Pretty much what you think of when you picture a rural micro-brewery and they also produce some top notch beers (especially their IPA, Blackwood Stout, Porter and Harvest Moon).

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

Thanks for that. (Not for the beer, of course, which you've elected to keep! Typical!)

I'm intrigued about 'Grain', I'll be sure to check them out.