Friends of Ham really looks to be going from strength to strength. It's busier every time I go in and appeals to a really diverse crowd of people, which makes it the perfect place to switch people on to good beer - which can only be a good thing. Oh, and now they've even turned their hand to brewing.
Or should I say, they've collaborated with Jay from Quantum Brewery to brew a beer which sounds a bit of a mess on paper but which actually tastes great (if a little mental).
The beer is Smoked Porker, a 7.3% abv porter brewed with smoked malt and peat malt amongst others, plus ground almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg and marshmallows in the mash. The idea being to brew a campfire in a glass which will compliment the savoury smokiness of the various meats served at Friends of Ham. As of last night it was still available on cask and keg at the sensible price of £3 a 2/3, no matter which dispense you opt for - my advice is get in there and try both, I think you'll be surprised how different they taste.
Smoked Porker Cask
The cask version of Smoked Porker has an aroma and flavour which is intensely fruity with loads of sweet, slightly funky red berry. There's also a big savoury smokiness and a fruity, slightly floral finish with hints of fruity espresso, very faint spice and very, very dark chocolate along with a touch of what the Americans call 'band-aid' but Brits call 'medicinal', courtesy of the peat malt.
Smoked Porker Keg
The keg is much smoother and a bit more easy going. No funky fruity esters, a much more refined roasted coffee aroma, and a flavour that is smooth, sweet and classic porter-like with just a whiff of smoke in the finish. It's a class act but I must admit I did quite enjoy the rough edges of the cask version.
The whisky-medicinal character of the peat malt comes through a little as it warms but isn't anywhere near as upfront as the cask version.
Overall it's safe to say I could have drank a lot more of the keg version. One interpretation would be that it was more refined, another would be that it was a little subdued compared to the cask. My advice is to get to Friends of Ham while they've got both (there's only one lot of the cask so be quick) and try them side by side.
To read about the Smoked Porker brew day visit Tyler's blog (the beardy American who works behind the bar). Or click here for Leigh Good Stuff's take on the Smoked Porker launch.
Quantum Brewery / Friends of Ham - Smoked Porker (7.3% abv)
Quantum Brewery / Friends of Ham - Smoked Porker (7.3% abv) Reviewed by Neil, Eating isn't Cheating on Friday, November 30, 2012 Rating: 5