Every once in a while I get into beer moods, where I want to try every beer at the store of a certain style. Typically, in the summer it’s German Wheat Beers (He-llo Schneider Weisse!) and often in the winter it is the Stout/Porter family.
My understanding is that the Porter style originated in London, England. It is suspected the London river Porters were the original target audience, but no one really knows for sure where the name came from. Porter’s close relative, Stout, was originally called “Extra-Stout Porter”. Simply a reference to the strongest examples of the Porter style. And, well, a bit of a joke, eh? After a lifetime of drinking Porter, one imagines most River Porters might be on the Stout side. Eventually the Porter was dropped from the name, as that style of beer fell out of favor, and it came to be known simply as “Stout”.
According to the wikipedia article on them, Porters were originally fairly strong beers, at around 6.6% ABV. They were also the first beers to be aged at the brewery before being sent out to pubs. Porter’s day in the sun, as the most popular beer style was probably from the mid-1700s to 1800s. After that, lighter colored, less strong beers became far more popular.
Most modern American micro-breweries brew a stout or porter. These are often “Imperial” in style, meaning they are extra strong. North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is a fine example of this style. One friend described it as the equivalent of having a small shot of brandy dropped into your Guinness. Other breweries have taken this further by aging their Stouts or Porters in barrels which had been used to age Bourbon.
In the Flannestad house, Deschutes has been one of our go-to reliable West Coast breweries for a long time now. Mrs. Flannestad is particularly fond of their Mirror Pond Pale and Bachelor Bitter, while I am very, very fond of their Hop Trip Pale Ale. And, well, it wouldn’t be the holidays without a six pack or three of their Jubelale.
Their Black Butte Porter is relatively mild, at 5.2% ABV, by modern Microbrew standards. It is a well balanced, roasty, Porter, that doesn’t pound you over the head with extremes. A very drinkable Dark Beer, perhaps a good one to introduce less experienced beer drinkers to the style.
Since it was St. Patrick’s day this week, I thought I should do something kind of UK-ish to celebrate, beyond just drinking Porter.
So I cooked up some “British Style Bangers” and made Colcannon.
I’m still a bit unclear on what exactly comprises “Rusk”, but these were nicely tasty sausages.
Colcannon is a kind of bonus mashed potatoes. Works as a starch and a veg, for those nights you don’t feel like doing both.
It is made by cooking some sort of cabbage or green, boiling potatoes, and then combining them.
This time I made them as follows, and feel it was one of my tastier iterations of the dish so far.
1# Red Potatoes, washed
1 bunch Collard Greens, stemmed, washed and chiffonaded roughly
1 Leek, washed and sliced
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme
Half and Half
Salt and Pepper
Chicken Stock (Vegetarians could use water or vegetable stock.)
Put the potatoes on to boil. While they are cooking, saute the sliced leeks in a bit of butter. When it is softened, add the Collard Greens, a splash or two of chicken stock, and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until the collards are tender, adding more chicken stock if necessary. Add fresh Thyme. Peel and mash potatoes. Add butter and Half and Half to potatoes to reach desired consistency. Combine with Cooked Collard Greens and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve as a side with Corned Beef, Lamb Stew, or sausages.