Style: English Porter
God bless Pretty Things, and god bless Ron Pattison, a beer historian who has basically made a career pointing out how interesting and varied historic brewing traditions used to be. The two collaborated on this porter, attempting to recreate what the style was like circa 1855, back when it was as highly hopped as today's double IPAs and shipped across the ocean to the rum-guzzling troops in India. The result clocks in at 6% ABV and 93 IBU. According to the bottle, it was packaged in December of 2012, but seems to have just hit store shelves. Did they even age this for a historically-appropriate length of time before distribution? If so, that is awesome. And this beer is awesome.
The modern American pallet may register this initially as a black IPA, and that's probably fine, because the East India Porter was basically black IPA before anyone thought to call something a black IPA. Roasty, creamy, bitter, hoppy — whatever you call the mix, it's super tasty. The beer pours with a nice head, nice lacing, and opens up with typical portery aromas: rich malts pushing coffee and chocolate, spicy / earthy hops, a subtle suggestion of citrus, and a bit of bitter roast. The color is a dark brown mahogany — a shade below your average American porter — with some opacity at the edges.
Comparisons to modern styles aside, 1855 EIP drinks more like a porter than an American IPA, creamy and rich with those perfect roasty notes, but the hoppiness is unmistakable as well, bolstering the bitter qualities of the brown malt while adding welcome depth beneath the smooth, silky body. Coffee is quite dominant, and if you agree with me that bitter coffee malts and bitter earthy hops are a lovely pairing, then you will enjoy this as much as I did. With such balance and complexity, this isn't just good as an historical curio; this is simply fantastic as a beer, period.
Availability: Rotating limited release. 22 ounce bottle.