FEW BREWERIES are so steadfast as Samuel Smith and few brews so satisfying as a good English Porter. The two combine in ‘The Famous’ Taddy Porter, which despite its prideful name is about as affable as beer can be. And that even includes Smith’s impeccably smooth Oatmeal Stout and Nut Brown Ale. Taddy pours with a medium light-tan head that sits atop a dark ruby-brown body, somewhat transparent around its edges. Its nose is thoroughly malted with virtually no semblance of hops, instead showing medium dark chocolate, plump raisins, hearty brown bread, and a little cherry. On the palate its carbonation glides unobtrusively and with perfect constancy beneath the medium-full body, providing just enough relief from the malt to be refreshing. Some cane sugar was added in fermentation, though with only 5% ABV it doesn’t seem to be used much for boosting attenuation; instead, it blends with the malts to create a splendidly smooth mouthfeel reminiscent of butterscotch, but without the impression of drinking candy.
Though generous, the body is a little lighter than it could have been (and than this description has made it sound). It’s also hard to articulate a single aftertaste, since the flavors persevere so dependably from front to back and don’t leave any untoward traces behind: yeast, alcohol, hops, and chocolaty malts all bundle up in an unobtrusive fashion, granting distinct satisfaction without a potent signature. If anything, the mild impression of hard water (from a well originally sunk in 1758) comes through for a tasteful carbonate contrast, but nothing so bold as the signatures of Burton-Upon-Trent or the Rhineland, for example.
So well-disposed, Taddy slips almost unnoticed into a hearty beef stew, serving almost like a heel of brown bread with which to sop up the juices and carry its savory flavors to every corner of the mouth. Its subtlety rewards the attentive mind, but just as easily will please a swifter drinker looking more for just a pint to grasp. It is deeply satisfying and yet so natural as to almost be overlooked, “like the fourth leg of a stool,” as a tasting partner put it.
Served: 550 ml bottle