Tonight's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Honey Porter, a beer which recently came under the supervision of the Star-K.
Before you all start to jump to e-mail me, yes I know that Samuel Adams has been under the Star-k for some time. However, just because a company produces one product which bears a hashgacha, does not mean that all products that are made by that company are all under supervision. A prime example would be the Miller family of beers. While Miller Genuine Draft (a.k.a MGD), Miller Lite (tastes great/less filling) and Miller Genuine Draft Light are all under the OK laboratories, there is no kosher supervision for Miller Lime Chill which the CRC goes out of its way in its most recent kosher list to indicate is not certified kosher.
The Samuel Adams products have an interesting history of kashrus. For reasons that I have never totally understood, some of the Sam Adams beers have a star-k on the label while others do not. Meanwhile, not all the Sam Adams flavors are under the star-k, so you need to check the Sam Adams LOC (letter of certification) on the Star-k website (click here http://www.star-k.org/loc/kosher_letter_6635_bostonbeercompany.pdf ) to find out which brews are approved by the star-k.
This of course leads me back to the Honey Porter. I first saw this beer in a local beer store in January 2007. I bought it and brought it home and only then checked the Star-K LOC and found out that it was not on it. I contacted the Star-K and after a few emails and messages I was able to speak to Rabbi Rosen (the dean of flavored alcoholic beverages and a great resource for information) who told me that he would look into it and that I could not drink it at the time.
Well, eighteen months later Honey Porter is now on the approved list, so I went out and purchased another sixer (the last one was poured down the toilet when I could not get a yes/no before it passed its prime). Was it worth the wait? It depends on how you like your beer.
Porters as a general rule are heavy dark beers and this is no exception. Beer advocate describes the classic English porter as:
Porter is said to have been popular with transportation workers of Central London, hence the name. Most traditional British brewing documentation from the 1700’s state that Porter was a blend of three different styles: an old ale (stale or soured), a new ale (brown or pale ale) and a weak one (mild ale), with various combinations of blending and staleness. The end result was also commonly known as "Entire Butt" or "Three Threads" and had a pleasing taste of neither new nor old. It was the first truly engineered beer, catering to the publics taste, playing a critical role in quenching the thirst of the UK’s Industrial Revolution and lending an arm in building the mega-breweries of today.
Porter saw a comeback during the homebrewing and micro-brewery revolution of the late 1970’s and early 80’s, in the US. Modern-day Porters are typically brewed using a pale malt base with the addition of black malt, crystal, chocolate or smoked brown malt. The addition of roasted malt is uncommon, but used occasionally. Some brewers will also age their beers after inoculation with live bacteria to create an authentic taste. Hop bitterness is moderate on the whole and colour ranges from brown to black. Overall they remain very complex and interesting beers.
The Samuel Adams Honey Porter pours a rich brown color with quite a bit of stick foam. It is certainly dark, but has an interesting sweetness that may derive from the honey that is used in the brew process, but may also be a result of the hops used as well. If you are not a serious beer aficionado, I would not have this as summer beer as it better balanced for long winter nights. If you are looking for a honey product to ring in the new year as a shana tova u'metukah, stick with the Blue Moon Honey Moon (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2008/05/sunday-night-suds-blue-moon-honey-moon.html) if you can still find it in stores.
Samuel Adams Honey Porter is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about Honey Porter, please follow this link - http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/2684.
As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.
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