Tonight it is time to have my very first canned real ale. I have seen so many people trying this method of delivery and so many recommendations have been made of the brewery, Beavertown, that when I saw this back when I visited my father in Hinckley in the micro-pub I realised that I had to buy a couple and then take them home. Tonight, then, I am trying Smog Rocket Smoked Porter and trying very hard not to have snobby thoughts about cans. At the price I paid for it, though, somewhere around £3, I can't be that snobby.
No animated image this time because the last attempt I made was so bad.
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No snick upon opening like I expect from cans and no whisp of carbonation, in fact, nothing. I could see some of the creamy textured head forming inside the can though and rapidly poured into a waiting glass. A good coffee like head formed atop a dark and thick liquid looking for all the world like deep velvet in the dark of the winter's eve, the cold kept at bay by the radiating heat of hot water behind. A coffee aroma wafted slowly upward, confirming that this is proper beer and not what I usually find canned and ale like. Red highlights caught in the staring glare of the light filtering from above, speaking of deep ruby in amongst the smoked and stout-like apparition before me.
Soft and deep on the tongue, like the foam used on an airport fire by the fire service - expanding and cooling the tongue after being stored in the understairs cupboard. Thick and viscous it pours neatly over the tongue into the middle with the sort of glutinous charge that reminds me of cavalry trying to wade through sucking mud with lances down. Sun glints from a cold sky weakly through dead trees on the armour and the sharp tips that never quite meet with their targets, breath clouds in the cold air but the snort of the steeds is the only real noise, warm sweat beneath woollen clothes themselves encased in armour. A burnt edge in the air and thus into the taste like what lingers in the kitchen after crisping bacon or from the butter one has fried the mushrooms in. A chocolate dryness, a coffee tang, a sour end and a smooth transition between them darker than the night sky, for there are no pinpricks of stars in the aftertaste merely the glint of nails in the night.
Burnt and bitter down the sides of the mouth, survivors of a mine disaster pulled by their comrades into the light, but soft and warm down the middle, the make-shift canteen serving tea and coffee to the workers and toilers - their faces slick with black soot grimed sweat channels. Toward the whirlpool of tar and muck that forms the deeply satisfying aftertaste as it slips down the back of the throat like a glacier in the Swiss Alps. Cool and dampening, snow-laden and noise-cancelling, the aftertaste reminds you of the burnt edge but in a subtle and understated way. If you close your eyes and breathe slowly all is still and all is quiet. I can imagine this as the sort of ale one would drink with a fry-up, these porters seem to carry a certain quality not unlike the sort I recall from beans and hash-browns and bacon and mushrooms.
I am impressed that this came from a can because it tastes like it was pulled from draught and is a much moister beast than the porters I enjoy from bottles. Those have a dry burnt taste to them but this has a very nice wet and moist taste, pine forests in the night after a fall of rain as the winter draws in but the warmth is kept close to the ground by continued cloud cover. I expect to spy the flash of eyes as a fox or pine marten darts from its hidey hole to forage at any moment. At 5.4% ABV I can imagine retiring to bed very soon as well. It's a decent strength but barely plays any role in the taste and certainly doesn't feel as heavy as one would assume from a read of the side of the can. Dangerous stuff indeed!
Enjoy best in a Lakeland pine forest as the evening draws in and the sun dips below the actual horizon (rather than just the nearest mountain) to allow the night to come on apace. Find a perch on a fallen trunk or exposed stump, place the food hamper by your legs and forego the raising of the tent for now. Immerse yourself in the silence of the trees and the darkness that only comes from such a setting - open the can and note the silence, pour into the glass you brought for the purpose and feel at one with the danger and the dark.