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Porters versus Stouts

Porters versus Stouts

Well the clouds are starting to appear and Fall is in the air which means one thing…dark beers are coming back! We’ll wait patiently while you run to grab your growler and a pumpkin spice latte…

Welcome back!

So now that dark beers are starting to pop up at all of your favorite grocery stores and breweries, have you ever wondered what exactly the difference is between porters and stouts? Don’t worry, your confusion over the semantics is totally justified considering that for a long time all dark, malty beers were simply called “stout porters”. In fact, for a long time after the discovery of porters, the difference between the two types was pretty much non-existent. The closest anybody could get to a definition of the difference was that stouts were simply a “stouter” porter. For trade purposes it was eventually decided that, “Porter[s] may be divided into two classes, namely brown-stout and porter properly so called … Brown-stout is only a fuller-bodied kind of porter than that which serves for ordinary drinking. A great deal of this is exported to America and the West Indies,” (A General Dictionary of Commerce, Trade and Manufactures, published 1810) however, you would never call anything just a “stout” as stouts could be anything from light to dark as long as it was strong.


image courtesy of Guinness

Some of you beer lovers may have noticed a problem with this description, though…mainly that nowadays in the craft beer world there are porters with a higher ABV than stouts, which means that an already blurred line has pretty much been completely erased. One has only to look at Guinness’ famous stout which clocks in at an average 4.2% ABV while our Pancake Porter has been known to come with a 7% ABV. (And yes, I know comparing craft beer with non-craft beer seems like cheating, but it is a definite trend that stouts no longer need to have a higher ABV to earn their name.)

So what’s the difference then? If you ask a brewer or beer connoisseur you may hear something about one using roasted barley or patent malt while the other doesn’t, or that one comes from England and the other from Ireland, but honestly? There is no significant difference anymore. As a very general guideline porters are often still lighter than stouts, but with the presence of imperial porters or the different styles of stouts now emerging this is no longer guarantee.

I know, this isn’t a very satisfying answer. Our advise for coping? Just ignore the name and go for the flavor profile you prefer. Don’t forget, most breweries are happy to give you samples and your bartender can usually give you a better description of the flavor than a name alone anyway.

Now take a minute to savor the rest of that pumpkin spice latte and keep an eye out for the return of our Momma Otter’s Pancake Porter in the upcoming months!

Cheers!

 

The Great Growler Debate

The Great Growler Debate

To clean or not to clean, that is the question…

 

Or at least it seems to be the question everybody’s been asking now that this summer weather is turning their growlers into mini swamps. The problem is all this warmth means that any growlers left out too long, or sealed without being properly dried, cause bacteria and yeast to grow unchecked. The result can be anything from slime to funky smells to black mold, and usually means that it is unusable until you give it a good scrub.

 

(Don’t let this be your growler!)

 

Where the debate starts, is whether or not a quick hot water rinse is good enough. While many people believe that using any kind of soap or bleach on your growler will leave a residue that’ll ruin your beer, you need to take into account how long your growler has been sitting out. If you can, after pouring out the last of the beer inside your growler immediately rinse multiple times with hot water. However, if you’re out camping or at a party and can’t (or forget to) rinse it out then make sure you at least place your growler in a cold place like a refrigerator to help slow the growth of bacteria until you can give it a proper clean.

You should also make sure to give the growler a quick sniff after you rinse it. If it’s been sitting out or if it has any kind of funky smell, you should make sure to give it a quick dip in Oxyclean or a light bleach solution to make sure there’s no weird stuff growing inside. Any kind of weird smells or residues that you notice can be a sign that your growler isn’t clean enough and at best can make your beer taste off, while at worst get you sick. A good rule of thumb is that unless it smells like air, it needs to be cleaned.

Another common debate is whether or not to put the cap on the growler immediately after the rinse to keep dust/bugs out, or whether you should leave it off so everything can dry. In this case, fully drying your growler is the key to preventing your growler from becoming an accidental petri dish. By putting the cap on without giving everything time to dry, you only trap water inside that will become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Instead, after rinsing out your growler make sure to drain it upside down until it is completely dry and then feel free to loosely put the cap back on. Most breweries will rinse your growler out before we fill it up anyways which will take care of any dust it may have accumulated.

 

So, to recap!

1. Upon emptying the growler, immediately rinse multiple times with hot water

2. Every once in a while, give your growler a sniff and inspect for any funkiness/mold/weird stuff

3. If anything is funky, give it a good wash in a light cleaning solution and rinse like crazy

4. Make sure you let your growler fully dry upside down before loosely putting on the cap for safekeeping

 

Hopefully this helps settle the Great Debate once and for all, so grab those growlers and go enjoy that PNW sunshine (while it lasts)…

Cheers!

The More You Know: IPAs

The More You Know: IPAs

IPAs are easily one of the most popular beers, with a 199% growth in sales of Sessions IPAs alone in 2015, but do you know how the famed Indian Pale Ales got their name?

Long, long ago, in a kingdom far across the pond, the British Empire was faced with a crisis: their people stationed in the east were desperate for beer, but it was too hot in India to brew proper ales on their own. Attempts at shipping beer over also proved futile as British made beer couldn’t survive the six-month journey without spoiling.

The issue of transportation persisted until a hero by the name of George Hodgson (of Bow Brewery in Middlesex-Essex) began exporting his October beer to India. Since October beer required being cellared for two years after brewing, it thrived under the voyage and became a favorite in the Eastern colonies.

This inspired other English breweries to develop their own strongly hopped pale ales to transport through the East India Company, one of the most famous being Allsopp Brewery. This new “India Ale” (sometimes called “Export Pales”) proved so successful that regular trade was quickly established to spread this beer all over the world.

Today IPAs have evolved to include 10 Sub-Styles, practically guaranteeing that somewhere out there is an IPA for everybody. So, let’s all raise a pint to the ingenuity of George Hodgson and the Allsopp brewers! Cheers!

Tacomites Take The Gold!

Hello, fellow beer nerds!

So, the Washington Beer Awards were this weekend (thank you again, to everybody who came out to show some Otter Love!) and we just wanted to take a moment to geek out about some of the amazing breweries we were lucky enough to celebrate with.

For those new to the Washington beer scene, the Washington Beer Awards are a craft beer competition meant to celebrate professional brewing excellence. This competition is the largest beer competition in the Northwest, meaning beer lovers from miles around get a chance to gather en masse and geek out together.

This year we are proud to announce that OOBC took home the gold for our Ottzel Quatzel Pale Ale (in the American Style Pale Ale category) all thanks to the wizarding genius of our head brewer, Greer Hubbard.

We’d also like to give out a shout out to Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. for their bronze winning 1897 Pale Lager, Dystopian State for their silver winning O.G. Farmhouse, and Harmon Brewing Company for their silver winning Flander Red. Downtown Tacoma Pride!

We met some really amazing people this year, and we’re so excited about getting the chance to geek out with so many fellow beer nerds.

So, here’s to you, our fellow craft beer aficionados and loyal Tacomites!

Cheers!