From the Beer Writer: Like many San Diegans, when I began drinking craft beer, much of it was of the gold-to-amber-hued, hop-heavy ilk. That’s how I acclimated myself to the world of artisanal ales, but the first individual style I anointed my “favorite” was porter. I was so enamored that the first beer I homebrewed was a traditional porter. There’s just something wonderfully simple about that dark, chocolaty, easy-drinking English-style ale, which makes it all the sadder that so few San Diego breweries produce one. Fortunately, Vista’s Helia Brewing harbors similar affection for them. Their Helia Porter is a year-round staple and it’s also exceptional. A medal-winning entry at this year’s San Diego International Beer Festival, it is bold in its chocolatiness, bolstered by sharp flavors that prickle taste buds, like chicory mixed with dark-roast coffee. Subtle notes of juniper and blueberry come out as the beer warms. It’s the perfect beer for this time of year, the type of delight your palate’s been in search of, even if the rest of you had no idea.
From the Brewer: “Ten-something years ago, I was spending some time in the Oregon back country and found myself in Bend at the Deschutes Brewery. Naturally, I took the tour. I was already drinking my share of Black Butte Porter by then, but putting a place with it reinforced my liking. Thus, I was compelled to brew a porter by then. We wanted to brew a porter that was complex and full-flavored, relying on the malt backbone to deliver. We started with a traditional U.K. winter barley as the base, along with two different U.K. crystal malts to bring a balanced, sweet, malty flavor. Multiple pale chocolate malts add layers of coffee, cocoa and chocolate, while a little white wheat softens the mouthfeel. And at 7.4% (alcohol-by-volume), it’s rich yet smooth and approachable. Porter versus stout? Part personal preference, part lack of roasted barley keep this brew in the porter category for me. I’d also highly recommend either grabbing a crowler and your favorite pint of ice cream, or reducing it as a glaze for steaks or over dessert.”—Kelby Pendry-Edwards, Owner & Brewer, Helia Brewing