Trying new things can be scary. This is especially true when you are paying for it and will not be able to return it, if in fact it does not live up to your standards. However, sometimes trying new things can bring great rewards.
Yesterday we went out to dinner with the other Hop Bunny and her husband for her birthday dinner. The beer on the menu was adequate, and actually better than I had hoped for, but much of what was listed were beers that I had sampled in the past. One of the beers though was from a brewery that I had never even heard of. I quickly looked it up on Untappd. Only 300 people had tried the beer, but the average rating was a 4. So, I decided to give it a shot and I’m glad I did. Not only did it have good flavor, but it also has a unique story.
Darwin brewery in England is an interesting little brewery. They have a 12 barrel production facility and a small 18 gallon test plant where they are constantly brewing one-offs or trial beers for festivals and good customers. Flag Porter is one of their larger production beers. This beer is also listed in the book, 300 Beers to Try Before You Die!, which is probably where the restaurant heard of it, although I didn’t ask so that is just my assumption.
Darwin wanted to brew a historical porter. They had been doing research with recipes but weren’t sure where exactly to begin. In the meantime, one of the beer technicians had visited a bar where an ancient bottle was sitting on the shelf. When he inquired about its history, Flag Porter was born. In 1825, a sailing barge called the Bottle Wreck sank in the English Channel. On board were many bottles of beer. The beer had mostly remained intact due to the tight seals of wax that were used. A dive was arranged and 2 bottles were retrieved. One was opened and consumed. The other was opened in the lab under sterile conditions. One yeast was able to be extracted from this bottle. That single yeast was why Flag Porter was able to be recreated close to its natural flavor. Darwin Brewery chose to brew a brown porter that was more closely associated with that era. After completion, they even invited people who had sampled the original beer to try Flag Porter. For more of the Flag Porter story, check out the link below.
As with most porters, this beer poured dark and thin. It tasted of bready malts and bitter chocolate. The flavor got deeper as the beer warmed. As with most porters, the flavor isn’t nearly as intense as a stout, however at the same time, this beer only registers as 5% ABV, which means you can have a few. I really enjoyed the Flag Porter. It was light enough to not fill my stomach prior to eating like a stout might have, and had a flavor that was good but didn’t overpower my meal. I ordered roasted dates for an appetizer, which paired extremely well with this beer. I’m not sure that I would have added it to a list of beers to try before you die, but it was pretty solid. I suggest ordering one if you see it on a menu or picking up a bottle if you see it in a store.