I love dark beers, but I’d love them more if I could consistently get them at the right temperature. Most dark beers should be served at cellar or room temperature, maybe 12 to 15 degrees, a rather hard thing to achieve in a New Zealand summer. If served too cold, they lose a lot of their flavour.
Which is why I was slightly surprised when I went to the launch of Epic’s Port Amarillo last year at the Pohutukawa bar. A smoked porter with the slight tang of tamarillos, the Porter Amarillo was a flavoursome brew – once it had warmed up. Pohutukawa was filled with men standing with their hands wrapped around their beers, trying to warm them up. It was a logistical problem – the Porter Amarillo was served on tap and therefore had to be stored in the same chiller as the other beers, which, in New Zealand, is quite cold. (Someone had suggested that they should have used a handpump, until someone else pointed out the only place that probably had a handpump in Auckland was Galbraiths and they would be unlikely to lend it to us).
I have the same logistical problem at home. I can’t quite afford to run an extra fridge at roughly the right temperature (or stock it), so I’m constantly playing with ways of getting the temperature right. In winter it’s fine – my uninsulated flat means that anywhere in my bedroom is about the right temperature. In summer though, it’s best to keep it in the fridge until desired, remove and then wait ’till it warms up to the right temperature. However, this a feat of timing and patience that I’m yet to master.
At Dad’s bach for our porter tasting evening we decided to attempt to chill it to the right temperature by placing the beers in a pot with cold water and a ice pack. It didn’t work. At one point Dad even placed one of the open bottles back in the fridge to cool it down. That didn’t work either.
I think I’ll stick to drinking porters during winter, from the perfectly chilled comfort of my bedroom.