With just six weeks left until we depart for tropical vacation 2012, my wife and I have been dieting hard in preparation for the beaches of Riviera Maya. Operation Beach Body has not been fun. But one day a week, we do partake of a cheat meal. Yesterday’s cheat meal, at the Appalachian Brewing Company pub in Camp Hill, was one of our most rewarding yet. Buffalo bleu cheese balls and Canadian poutine for starters, followed by cheddar ale, burgers, and onion rings. Zeppole for dessert. We had been anticipating this meal for several days, and it did not disappoint. But perhaps the most pleasant surprise for me was my choice in beverage. I’ve been going to ABC for six or seven years, and I’m sure I’ve had the porter before. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized how good it was!
I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of porters. I might not be an authority on IPAs or Belgian dubels, but I know a good porter when I taste one. And while some of the more highly rated porters in the craft beer world are among my personal favorites, I tend to favor a more subtle, “classic” taste. I don’t need a porter to be unusual or daring or extraordinary. I just need it to taste good. ABC’s porter, named after one of our commonwealth’s former governors, gets it totally right. Brewed in the classic English style, this medium bodied black ale has a subtle toasted flavor with a modest hop bitterness at the finish. Compared to stouts, which are generally dryer and more bitter, porters ideally mix a roasty flavor with a touch of sweetness. ABC’s version does exactly that. The malt profile blends sweet notes of caramel with hints of chocolate and coffee, and all in all it’s as drinkable as any dark beer I’ve had in a long time. While not a year-round offering at ABC, it’s a beer I will hereon order every time it’s available. I compare it favorably to Bell’s Porter, which is my #1 favorite porter in the world. If you live in south central Pennsylvania and you haven’t had the Pennypacker Porter on draught, you definitely ought to give it a chance. I might go back and get a whole growler of the stuff. Or maybe two growlers!