Friday, August 19, 2011

Ridgeway Brewing Querkus Smoked Oaked Porter

From 1779 to 2002, the Brakspear brewery made what many consider to be the best English bitter ale.  The brewery closed in 2002, leaving all of its employees -- including the master brewer, Peter Scholey -- on the street.  The master brewer decided that it was time to step out on their own, buying some of Brakspear's equipment and opening Ridgeway Brewing.  

The name "Ridgeway" comes from the name of the oldest road in England.  Built thousands of years before the Romans set foot on the island, the stone road runs about one hundred miles past such sites as Stonehenge and, coincidentally, the master brewer's home.

The Querkus is a smoked, oaked porter.  The brewers at Ridgeway brew the Querkus using Scottish peated whiskey malt, along with English and pale malts.  During the brewing process, the brewers add whole leaf golding hops.  Once the process is completed, the Querkus is cold matured over pieces of old French oak barrels, allowing the toasty flavors of the barrels to slowly infuse the beer. 

The Querkus pours nearly pitch black, with a thick, off-white foam.   The aromatic elements of the beer feature the malts, as well as a good dose of the smoke from the peated whiskey malts.  The body of the beer is rather light, which is a little unexpected given that most porters that I have tried usually have a fuller body.  The smoke of the beer is not only prominent in the aroma, but the taste.  The smoke somewhat over powers the toasty flavors from the oak.  However, the beer is a great example of how a smoked porter should taste. 

The distributor, Shelton Brothers, suggests that this beer can be paired best with smoked meats and cheeses.  I think that this pairing could work, because the smoked flavors of the beer are not so overwhelming that they would be too much when paired with the smoked flavors of the meats or cheese.  This beer could also be paired well with non-smoked meats and cheeses, imparting a little smoked flavor that will complement those foods. 

The beer is available from stores that obtain their beers from Shelton Brothers.  And a special thank you from both Clare and myself to the good friend who was kind enough to buy us a bottle of this beer.

ENJOY!

For more information about Ridgeway brewing, check out the website of Shelton Brothers.


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