A guest blog post by Bill Fishburn. You can follow Bill on Twitter @rwfishbu1.
On a trip to my hometown of Spokane for Christmas, my wife and I made an effort to check out a couple of the local breweries. We were pleasantly surprised to learn about the Steam Plant Brewing Company and Pub in the heart of Spokane’s downtown. As a native Spokanite, I don’t know how it is that I hadn’t heard of this place until December, 2011, but I was apparently about 15 years late to the game. I couldn’t have had a nicer Christmas present from my hometown, though, than sitting at the dimly lit bar (my excuse for the blurry intro photo) in the bowels of a former steam plant-turned-brewery enjoying their Pipefitter Porter.
Appearance: The beer poured a deep brown color with a thin tan head. Shining my only light source (my phone’s LED flash) through the glass, distinct ruby hints became apparent in a very clear beer.
Aroma: The first scent to come through after some warming and cupping (you gotta treat your beer nice, you know!), was a more-than-subtle toffee note. The toffee was followed by dark roasted malts, a hint of chocolate and a low earthy hop aroma. As the beer warmed from my oh-so-delicate caresses, distinct coffee aromas presented themselves concurrently with increasingly noticeable dark chocolate scents. I detected no alcohol, fruity esters, or diacetyl in the aroma.
Flavor: The most prominent flavor was dark roasted malt. A dry, highly roasted, malty flavor that I found extremely pleasing. There was a slight mineral flavor component to the beer, like I’ve had in other dark beers (this can sometimes be the result of water chemistry–the salts and minerals present in the brewing water–or can sometimes be contributed by the specific malt used). Most of the bitterness in the beer was provided by the dark grains–no astringency, just good, solid, dark grain bitterness. The toffee was evident near the end of the swallow, and was followed by a low, earthy/spicy hop flavor with just a touch of hop bitterness. No alcohol or diacetyl were present, nor were any fruity esters, in the flavors of the beer.
Mouthfeel: Pipefitter has a medium body with low carbonation. There was no astringency in the mouthfeel nor any alcohol warming. This is not a sweet porter. It is quite dry, yet very drinkable.
Overall: The showcase of this beer is definitely the dark grains. As one could expect from a porter, the hops play a supporting role, as the roast flavors take center stage, basking the palate in a complex combination of coffee, chocolate, and mild toffee. If you’re in Spokane, it’s worth the time to stop at the Steam Plant and get your dark beer valves blown by Pipefitter. (I don’t know what that means. Just go order a pint and enjoy!)