In years gone by, before coronavirus put paid to pretty much everything, there was an excellent annual beer gathering called Craft Brewers Conference. The location for the event changes every year and in 2015 it was held in Portland, Oregon.
Never failing to appreciate how lucky he is, Lewis headed over to the event to learn, network, drink some beers, and learn. Perhaps partly to do with being located in Orkney, perhaps not, it does seem that the time to catch up with peers and suppliers is in far away places.
In 2015 a road trip/brewery tour with Jamie of Fyne Ales fame found us at Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. As is not unusual in the states, the brewery was awe-inspiring (can you put a price on the enthusiasm and inspiration experiences can give?) and the beers outstanding.
One of the pervading memories was that Descutes’s flagship and biggest volume beer (at the time, anyway) was a porter. It should go without saying, then, that when Swannay needed another porter in the fleet, that 2015 experience should be called on.
Now to backtrack even further - Rob first brewed our very highly regarded Orkney Porter in circa 2008 - I remember the 5 barrel (small kit) mash tun literally brimming with foamy mash and inevitably overflowing when the sparge was not turned off pretty much straight after it was turned on.
2008 was pre-craft and we still believe that Orkney Porter was ahead of its time and is very deserving to this day of its high online scores.
It’s not a volume beer though - it ticks away through the year with spikes when we receive an irregular order from export partners in Finland and Canada (post coronavirus, who knows).
The idea for a new dark beer was to build on - and borrow some of - the strengths of Orkney Porter but in a lower ABV beer.
Deschutes Black Butte Porter + Swannay Orkney Porter = Swannay Starboard Porter.
The name continues our maritime theme and is of course a bit tongue-in-cheek.
The beer is one for even those who “don’t like dark beers”. A vast and varied malt bill provides layers of depth and complexity and the maltiness is really the dominating attribute. There is lots of body and you should get a tight and persistent creamy head all the way to the bottom of your glass.
We went easy on the hops to let the malty sweetness really standout. We adjusted our water profile to give a clean and dry finish.
We’re really pleased with this beer and think it might be one that we keep brewing for some time to come.
In a nice completing of the circle - while at CBC in Portland - Lewis ended up having some beers with one of the senior brewers at Deschutes who had - when Swannay was just a dream - judged the International Brewing Awards with Rob in Munich. Deschutes and Swannay are both regular winners at the IBAs - testament to both breweries’ world class beers.
Over those beers in Oregon, the Black Butte recipe was not discussed but we do believe Starboard Porter has turned out pretty damn awesome (as the Americans would say).
Buy Starboard Porter online now - https://www.swannaybrewery.com/products/starboard-porter