Thursday, July 5, 2012

Quaff Review #25: Polygamy Porter

I wouldn't have figured Utah as a hotbed of brewing--not when you consider that more than half the state's population are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and that the Word of Wisdom prohibits the faithful from consuming all alcoholic beverages. Last time I checked, beer was alcoholic. At least, the beer worth drinking is alcoholic. Have you ever drank de-alcoholized beer? I'll tell you right now, it's a lot like drinking decaffeinated coffee, in that outside of certain circumstances (such as "I just like the taste") there's no real point in drinking either. Coffee is to make you more alert, and beer is to do the opposite.

To be honest, I wouldn't have expected any brewing of significance to be happening in Utah; the craft beer revolution is only a couple of decades old, after all, and as recently as 1986 there were no breweries in Utah. Nevertheless, a teetotaling Mormon majority does leave room for a beer-drinking minority. While its products aren't as likely to make it across the 49th parallel, they can be found here and there in the United States if you know where to look. That's how I was able to come across a bottle of Wasatch Beers' Polygamy Porter--"why have just one!"

I couldn't resist that kind of tagline, even if it's phrased as a question and not an imperative.

Polygamy Porter, aside from its subtle encouragement of multiple marriage, stands somewhat apart from many of the other beers I know. In large part, this is down to its alcohol content; and down is right--it's only 4% alcohol by volume, or the equivalent of eight de-alcoholized bottles, but who the hell would want to drink eight bottles of de-alcoholized beer to find out if that's a valid comparison?

Thinking about it now, this almost seems like it could be a "starter beer" of sorts. Whether I was uncapping it, pouring it, or drinking it, I didn't notice any particular smell, and what little head there was fizzed away in seconds; really, this beer could be used to prank a teetotaler, since it's dark enough that by sight it could easily be mistaken for Coke. It's an impression that would last up until the tongue's entry into the equation.

My tongue had a few things to report, things that I wasn't expecting. This beer starts off with a fairly ordinary, slightly woody taste with hints of dark chocolate in the background, though this recedes rather quickly. What I found much more defining was what the label refers to as a "silky" finish. It kicks in after a few seconds--at first it seemed slightly spicy, in the tradition of Route des épices, but that was because my taste buds were improperly calibrated. On second taste the finish was firmly salty--not nearly so much as Japanese Classic Ale, but enough to focus your attention--which is, honestly, pretty appropriate for a Utahn beer.

In the end, while I found Polygamy Porter cool and smooth with an unexpected twist, it's still rather unremarkable. It's not the sort of brew I would go out of my way to find, personally. Still, according to the label it's won two silver medals in beer competitions, so it must be doing something right.


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