I recently bought a bottle of Original Flag Porter from Downeast Beverage here in Portland but just got around to cracking it open tonight; what an interesting beer! It tastes exactly like what I would imagine an old-world, nineteenth century English porter to taste like.
Here’s a little history of the beer. Apparently, Flag Porter is brewed from a traditional 19th century British recipe using yeast salvaged from a vessel which sank in the English Channel in 1825. Say What?
In 1988, several barrels of the beer were raised from the depths of a shipwreck 60 feet deep in the Channel. Amazingly, they were still in their original containers, with bungs and wax seals still intact. When Dr. Keith Thomas — renowned brewer and microbiologist — examined the beer under a microscope, he found a small percentage of the yeast still alive. After re-growing the yeast, Thomas and the Darwin Brewery made a porter using an old 1850 recipe, which they felt would be similar to what the original beer from the sunken ship would have tasted like. The result: Original Flag Porter.
The beer itself looks like a gorgeous porter should but the real beauty of the beer comes through in the nose – this beer smells great! The aroma is strong and intense with brown sugar or molasses, coffee and nuts coming through the strongest. There’s also a good bit of smoke in the nose, especially as the beer warms. This is a beer that would go great with a nice cigar!
The taste is similar – dark, dry and tangy, with lots of rounded fruitiness and maltiness. The chocolate tastes stray more towards dry baker’s chocolate than milk chocolate. The smoke and the nuts that were present in the nose, stick around but don’t over-stay their welcome; resulting in a longggg dry finish.
Original Flag Porter is a fun, old-world porter that begs of yesteryear (earning it a B+ on BeerAdvocate). While I didn’t try it with a cigar, it did acompany a slice of my vegan chocolate cake perfectly! If you can find a bottle of Flag Porter — which isn’t always that simple — you’re in for a great trip down memory lane. Enjoy.