The obvious temptation when you come across a beer called Aporkcalypse Now is to throw in as many Vietnam era film references as you possibly can into the review.
Ideally, you’d start off with something like “I wanted a bacon flavoured beer, and for my sins they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service… When it was over, I never wanted another.”
This becomes even more tempting when the label that Hogsback Brewing Company has created to go along with the beer has the porcine equivalent of Robert Duvall on it and a promotional quote about loving the smell of bacon in the morning.
While it may look more than a little jokey, there’s nothing funny about the amount of effort or the methods that have gone into making this beer.
It’s a collaboration between two Ottawa based breweries, Hogsback Brewing Company and Broadhead Brewing Company. Rather than just use any old bacon, they’ve sourced the high quality stuff from Pork of Yore near Douglas Valley, Ontario. They raise heritage breeds like Tamworth and Berkshire, which are famous for producing very flavourful meat.
How do you get bacon into beer, I hear you ask? Well, first you fry the bacon.
This creates an interesting problem.
There are really only two factors that give bacon its flavour. The first is the fat content, which holds most of the flavour in any kind of meat that you might care to mention. The second is whichever preservation method you might care to use, whether that is a rub or a lengthy smoking process.
When you render much of the fat out of the bacon by frying it, you remove a significant amount of the bacon flavour, and I think that this is what has happened here.
The end result is a very decent Oatmeal Stout that pours with a fulsome mocha colored head. It is tinged dark brown around the edges with a heart as dark as Conrad could have possibly intended. The aroma is caramel with a hint of vanilla and smoke and an almost imperceptible fattiness.
If you didn’t know it contained bacon, you might never guess. There is a luxuriant mouthfeel which is probably due to the oats used in brewing the beer. The end result is of far higher quality than you might imagine, given the gimmick.
A beer of this kind really needs to be evaluated on its own merits. On a scale from “The horror” to “imbibe with extreme prejudice,” I’m giving this beer a rating of “crawling along the edge of a straight razor and surviving,” which is to say that it probably would have succeeded even without the gimmick.
Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca. He don’t surf.