When I’m thinking about beer styles that I’d drink day in, day out, porter doesn’t automatically rise to the top of the list. Pilsners, pales, some saisons, IPAs (because I’m an addict), amber ales…but porters? Not so much. It’s probably because in my mind, you only drink porters on the reg if you live in a rainy fishing village on a cold island somewhere within the British empire. You should probably have mutton chops and spend most of your free time arm and arm with other people with mutton chops, singing soccer fight songs in the back of the pub. It’s a stereotype, I know, but there you have it. I’ve pigeonholed porters to a specific people living a specific lifestyle in a specific region of the world.
It’s not true, of course. One of the first beer styles I fell in love with when I was just a wee lad was the porter. Plenty of people who don’t know the first verse of any soccer fight song drink porters. But porter as an everyday beer? When it’s sunny out? I don’t know.
So, when Crux Fermentation, a brewery out of Bend, Oregon, sent me their PCT Porter, which is very clearly labeled as a “Day in, Day out” kind of beer, I was skeptical. But then, it is rainy in Oregon. And they do love their soccer…
Crux brewed this beer specifically for the Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers who stumble into the brewery looking for respite from the trail. It pours dark brown (some would call it “black”) and emits strong notes of chocolate and some roasted coffee on the nose. That thick head you see in the picture above disappears in about four seconds.
And the taste? Here’s the truth: I had to drink this beer twice before I was impressed. It happens sometimes. Honestly, I think it was a matter of expectations based on the brewery’s name—Crux Fermentation Project sounds like the kind of brewery that creates precious beers with hand-picked elderberries and proprietary yeast that’s stored in the head brewer’s retainer case. But PCT is not a precious beer. It’s a straightforward porter that nails the style, managing to be both roasted and interesting and very drinkable.
The mouthfeel is thicker than I was expecting, and that’s a good thing. I hate watery porters with a passion. They ruin my day. Roll this beer around in your mouth a little and it becomes downright frothy. The chocolate malt dominates the sip, which gives way to some bitter roasted character on the end. There’s some stone fruit in there as well, maybe cherry? And it just gets better and better as it warms in the glass, with all the malty goodness stepping forward.
PCT hits the high notes of the style without getting too weird. It’s easy to drink in the way that you want an everyday beer to be easy to drink; you don’t have to think about it to enjoy it.
Brewery: Crux Fermentation Project
City: Bend, Oregon
Availability: Year round, 12-ounce cans