One of the misconceptions about brewers is that one doesn't have to be all that professional in order to start slaying beer like Honest Abe does vampires. And that they don't have any bosses to annoy with Friday afternoon slagging-off on Know Your Meme and BlackPlanet. And having anything beyond a cursory grammar school education would just simply be frivolous.
The obvious joke here would be that, if this was the case, 80% of our co-workers could replicate a Pliny the Elder on the fucking onset. Maybe 90%.
But in a rather brilliant piece of irony -- the REAL kind, not the 90%-ers kind -- brewers tend to be like the oracles of the culinary arts, often demonstrating incredible prophesy into consumer palates, being that it was an entirely overlooked industry for so many years before its resurgence only a few years ago. Small, craft breweries had to tap into a test market that didn't even exist, risking and exhausting their financial comfort (and most likely sanity), and convince a populous that they were completely missing out on a cumbrous, indulgent, niche product that would replace every bit familiarity they've ever had with lagers.
And then they had to start from the beginning explaining ales.
Sometimes -- often times -- living in these fortunate times provides for some very special opportunities.
In the theatre of brewing, this is the story of a two-year-old, small, craft brewery that took on the massive reputation of the world's greatest outdoor kitchen and won.
If you are familiar with the story of Franklin BBQ, then you can pretty much skip to the next paragraph, as this one will continue to pile onto the lore that Mr. Aaron Franklin and his wife Stacy have manifested from a small trailer in just-East Austin. What began as a couple of punters (hi!) waiting in a small line (srsly, 15 mins) for a secret they selfishly hoped would maintain, the smells of brisket and fresh roast from the neighbors wafting towards, became a merciless algorithm of scene kids, tourists, fat lawyers, and students in a brick-and-mortar in real-East Austin. There is no reason to pile on the blame for excessive popularity. It really is the best brisket in America, and by extension, the universe. The pork ribs alone would build long-standing, acclaimed careers for every other pitmaster who wasn't also making the world's best beef in the same smokers.
When a brewery approaches the Franklin empire with an idea for a collaborative beer between brewmasters and pitmasters, there is a volume of responsibility to make the product, not only outstanding and remarkable, but also worthy of the brand that bears a third of its name.
How confident would you be petting the lion that is Franklin BBQ, and giving it your best shot to breed a pride of beer cubs from their massive smokers? This was the first shot any brewer would get to make something legendary with the Franklin name attached -- and possibly the last if the by-product was cold garbage.
USA! USA! USA!
This is exactly the brilliance of Franklin Smoked Porter. It is all four seasons in one glass: It has a density as casual as Spring; the refreshing quality of Summer vacation; the smoky nose and flavor of Autumn tailgates; and the pitched color of a Christmas roast. It can be enjoyed both indoors and out -- a special feature of a beer that is not talked about and praised nearly enough in the world of nerd-dom.
While the roastiness of its malts (smoked at Franklin BBQ) are the most discernible feature, perhaps my three favorite characteristics of this beer are 1) its easy-drinking body, 2) the layers of texture, and 3) the fact that this beer tastes as fucking glorious cold as it does approaching room temperature -- a feature that is dismissed by many brewmasters' visions of their final product. Sometimes they forget that we still like cold beer.
As a crude comparison, this is as much a porter as Shiner is a bock -- which is to say, you need to drink this with your mouth first, instead of your eyes and intuition. Its is a spectacular beer that will only be available in a limited release, unfortunately -- because I would REALLY like to have a go at this one as Summer fades into Fall, and Fall into Winter ... etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Oh, and I'd also like to be that punter, bringing a growler of this to wait in the Franklin line, because fuck you all in front of me, that's why.
Acquired: Thirsty Planet's 2nd Anniversary (Congrats!)