One of the brews which has been exceptionally popular for us here at The Duck-Rabbit is our Porter. You can, of course, enjoy this dark rich brew thoroughly by simply ordering one, closing your eyes, and getting lost in a long deep quaff. For those who might like a bit more background information, though, the following may give you food for thought (while you take a dose of porter as “food for thirst!”).
Around the start of the 18th century, it was common for London pub-goers to order a pint of beer mixed from three different casks. The bar-man (or “publican”) would draw a third of a pint from each of three different taps to get a drink which was called “three threads.” There seems to be some controversy in the literature as to exactly which three beers were used, and it is likely that each publican had his own preferred mixture. Still, most people agree that one was a strong dark ale, another was a medium bodied brown ale, and the third was a relatively light “session” beer. In any case, while popular, all this mixing behavior was slow and time consuming for the server. To solve this problem, a brewer named Ralph Harwood from Shoreditch, London introduced a beer in 1722 which he called “Entire.” This beer was touted as having all the best virtues of each of the “three threads.” Harwood’s Entire grew in popularity and was copied by many London brewers. It is said to have been especially popular among porters. Common wisdom has it that this fact accounts for the brew coming to be known simply as “porter.”
In a country dominated by local and regional brewing styles, porter became the first nationally popular beer style in Britain. In fact, by 1800, the relatively young Guinness company had turned all of its production over to porter brewing! As time passed, however, a stronger version of porter known as “stout” grew in popularity. Also, technological advances (both in brewing and in the production of clear glassware) paved the way for the enormous popularity of pale ales (and eventually pale lagers as well). Probably due to these factors, porter brewing declined sharply by the beginning of the 20th century. By the 1970s, porter had virtually disappeared as a commercial product. But not all is lost! In large part due to the American micro-brewing renaissance, porter brewing has been revived, both in the U.S. and in England. There are now many fine examples available commercially, including, of course, Duck-Rabbit Porter! Keep the tradition alive; enjoy a porter today!
Generally, porters are very dark brown to black in color. They are characterized by a full bodied malt flavor, well balanced with hop bitterness. Some writers distinguish two sub-styles of porter: brown porter (getting close to an English brown ale), and robust porter (closer to a sweet stout). Our porter falls neatly on the borderline between these two extremes. Duck-Rabbit Porter is round and especially smooth in flavor. There’s no overwhelming hop bitterness or burnt grain astringency (as is common, for example, in dry stout). We use a portion of oats in the grist (non-traditionally) to get a silky mouthfeel.
On a personal note, I am exceptionally proud of Duck-Rabbit Porter. I’ve probably spent more time re-brewing and fine-tuning the recipe for this beer than for any other brew in my repertoire. Have a pint and let me know what you think!
Now that you have had a taste of the history behind porter, let me offer up a flavorsome recipe you can whip up with a couple of bottles for a grill session!
There’s almost nothing quite like relaxing outside in the summer with the grill fired up, a cold beverage, and friends to enjoy. Since it is prime grilling season and we are soon to release our Duck-Rabbit Porter, I thought I would try my hand at this recipe I recently found online. Here is the substance of it: steak, porter and cheese. Is your mouth watering yet? I know mine sure is.
I have tweaked this recipe just a tiny bit to add my own flair, if you will. I enjoy getting creative when cooking. I am in hopes that this will waken your taste buds and you decide to become a chef for the day.
To begin, you will need the following on hand:
For the marinade:
4 New York Strip or Ribeye steaks
1 ½ cups porter
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dill (it’s good, trust me)
½ tsp salt
For the butter cheese sauce:
1 cup porter
½ cup unsalted butter
½ – 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional in sauce)
½ Onion (optional topping)
4-5 Button Mushrooms (optional topping)
3-4 sprigs of fresh parsley (optional topping)
It’s incredible how you can take many different ingredients, all with their own flavor profile, and be satisfied by the end result. I also like to say, “Be bold!”
For the marinade, take the first set of ingredients and whisk them together in a bowl. Put the steaks in a zip lock back and pour the mixture in. Some people don’t realize, but beer is a great tenderizer for meats. Also, with a full-bodied beer (such as porter), I think that it adds more of a pronounced flavor. Set the steaks in the fridge over-night and turned the bag over a couple of times to get the marinade on every portion.
The recipe that I found gives instructions on how to make a gorgonzola butter to top your steak. What I have decided to do is cook down all of the ingredients together to create a sauce to pour over top. I took some porter and heated it over medium heat in a saucepan until it reduced. Then whisked in the unsalted butter allowing it to melt down. I spooned in a tiny bit over ½ cup of the gorgonzola cheese to get a thicker consistency in the sauce. Now, I will warn you if you haven’t had this cheese before, it is pungent, stinky and oh so good! I reserved the remainder to sprinkle over the finished steak. I also sprinkled in a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes, you can of course leave this part out if your taste buds aren’t too keen to spice. I turned the heat down to low so I can prepare the rest of this dish.
If you opted in for the mushrooms and onions to top your steak, just make a foil bowl to put on the grill. I took about half of a large yellow onion and 4 large mushrooms, sliced them up, placed them into the foil with a dash of salt, pepper, and then a splash of porter! Cook the toppings to a desired doneness and at the same time, throw on the steaks and cook them to the temperature that is preferred. Don’t forget to pat the meat dry and generously add salt to all sides. The salt helps to retain the water in the meat for a super juicy steak.
Once the steaks have reached an ideal temperature, place each one on a plate, top with the mushrooms and onions (if you went all out), drizzle a nice hearty amount of the cheese sauce over top, sprinkle just a bit more of the gorgonzola crumbles on top, garnish with a few sprigs of parsley (fresh from the garden if you can!) and ta da! This dish offers a smokey, sweet, and tangy bite that is perfectly balanced.
Oh, and I almost forgot! Feel free to toss in any other ingredient or substitute something you feel would make this dish more flavorful. Invoke your creative side, take a photo, and most of all, have fun with it!
Thank you to The Beeroness for this wonderful inspiration!