American Beer Festival at Porterhouse showcases ales from across the pondCurrent affairs
The Porterhouse in Covent Garden is an Irish pub with a global outlook, stocking a gamut of ales, stouts, lagers and craft beers from around the world. For the months of June and July the Porterhouse has played host to our transatlantic cousins’ finest brews with an American beer festival. We might think of ale as quintessentially British, but with the explosion of microbreweries in the States in 80s, American craft beer is increasingly making waves on this side of the pond. Up for review are five beers from two of America’s finest independent breweries, Old Dominion and Fordham.
Hop Mountain (Old Dominion)
Old Dominion’s Hop Mountain is a typical American Pale Ale, however, there’s not very much pale about it as it sports a rich red hue, a pungent aroma and a full-bodied flavour. It has a very floral nose preceding its intense and rich flavour, which has a slight bitterness and is always underscored by a hoppy tang. It’s definitely a grower, with a medium-dry finish that lingers on the palate and a slight sharpness that keeps you coming back for more. After a few mouthfuls it gradually reveals its multiple layers leaving a subtle earthy metallic hint at the back of the mouth. As a former United States Beer Tasting Championship Grand Champion, Hop Mountain is a heavy hitter, and at 6.6% a few pints of this will leave you punch-drunk.
Beach House Pilsner (Old Dominion)
Beach House Pilsner is a Bohemian Pilsner with very little perceptible aroma but a very clean taste; it is brewed with Perle, Tettanger & Saaz Hops, giving it a Germanic accent. The lively, golden notes are underscored with a little hint of citrus. It’s definitely a brew made for the summer, as it is quite refreshing and highly carbonated. Beach House Pilsner is crisp but light on flavour, dancing delicately across the palate without leaving much of a footprint at the back end. It’s pleasant but uncomplicated.
Oak Barrel Stout (Old Dominion)
The third offering from Old Dominion is their Oak Barrel Stout. It has a toasty aroma, with notes of coffee, vanilla and aniseed. It’s thick and viscous, bordering on cough syrup with its mouth feel. The flavour is punchy and pungent with liquorice overtones with the subtle notes of vanilla and coffee running underneath. A smoky taste of oak develops after a few sips – a nod to single malt whiskey. There is an almost chocolaty finish, but it tastes a little artificial. Very distinctive.
Wisteria Wheat (Fordham)
Fordham’s fist at a German hefeweissbier (wheat bear) is a decent one. It pours cloudy with a minimal white head that fades quickly. It has a very fruity nose and a flavour that has the distinctive wheaty twang that’s wistful and deserving of the name. It’s a laidback summery taste that goes down easy as it feels velvety despite a moderate carbonation. Wisteria Wheat has a flavour of banana to start before finishing with the slightest citrus hint; medium-bodied despite a relatively low alcohol content. Really good for its type.
Copperhead is Fordham’s flagship beer with a deep, coppery colour, as the name would suggest. The aroma is barely perceptible, which is a little disappointing, and it’s seriously mild on flavour with a slight coppery blush. It’s also a very light bodied beer. A subtle caramel taste develops but not enough to really make the taste buds sing. Considering this is Fordham’s ”flagship”, it’s all a bit flat. It’s not unpleasant, but definitely unremarkable.
Photos: Sarah Tsang