|Also From This Brewery
Change is always a good thing, and Shipyard has finally
decided to change its special edition “Brewer’s Choice Special Ale” for
2007. The 2005
editions, both especially robust brown ales, were nonetheless pretty much
the same thing: brown ales. Shipyard claims that the Brewer’s Choice recipe
will be different each year; something allows the brewer a bit of artistic
freedom if you will.
I like that idea, and there is precedent for it. Perhaps the most famous
example is Anchor Brewing’s
Our Special Ale, the annual Christmas release from Fritz Maytag’s
pioneering San Francisco brewery. Although batches may be similar from year
to year, they are never quite the same. Here in Georgia, the now-defunct
Dogwood Brewing Company (just saying those words still brings tears to my
eyes) used to offer its fans a stylistically different treat with their
wonderful Winter Ale.
But back to Shipyard. With a large brewing operation in Portland, Maine,
Shipyard did indeed introduce a new beer as its Brewer’s Choice in early
2007: a honey porter, to be exact. Originally, it was announced that 10,000
cases would be produced, but if that was a one-off, then an additional
amount must have been brewed. My samples, bought in September were very
fresh, with glistening dust free glass bottles.
Shipyard cites the use of chocolate, crystal, and black malts for their
porter. A dash of orange blossom honey provides sweetness and a touch of
extra alcoholic strength (6.25% by volume). Tettnang and Warrior hops are
Shipyard Brewer’s Choice 2007 Honey Porter pours to a dark, but not
entirely opaque, black color with a thick and creamy tan head and a buttery
sweet malt nose that hints at banana and a trace of honey. Some of that
sweet malt peaks through when you initially sip, and that sweetness
intensifies before it’s balanced by a grassy hop bitterness in the finish.
Dark chocolaty notes, bittersweet and roasty, come through nicely, along
with buttery Ringwood yeast flavors, rum soaked raisins, some of the banana
the nose promised, and a subtle kiss of honey. The body is thick and
luxuriant with a rich and silky mouthfeel.
A very complex and delicious porter. The obvious comparison would be to the
Adams Honey Porter , but Ringwood yeast makes this a different animal
entirely. The honey imparts a richness and complexity to the brew as well as
a hint of flavor, although most of it does ferment out. Still, the 2007
edition of Brewer’s Choice is worth checking out-but hurry. It’ll be 2008
before you know it.