Sweet As Honey
You see it on tap in the Tasting Room every time you’re here. It’s one of our most dependable offerings: Honey Porter. Yet, if you’re here frequently, you may overlook it in your zeal to try something new.
There’s a better way. Take a moment and take a look at the menu. Really look at it. Because there’s probably one or two brews that you haven’t tried in quite awhile.
In fact, it’s uniformly agreed around the brewery that Honey Porter is our most underrated brew.
It’s time to get reacquainted with an old friend.
“In my 5 years of brewing it we’ve only changed a minor thing here or there,” says Head Brewer Brian Hink, “and that was back over 4 years ago.”
While styles like IPAs are constantly in flux, porters have remained essentially the same for quite awhile.
“Porters largely stay what they are,” Brian says. “We’ve changed the hops slightly over the years, changed the yeast a long time ago, and de-cluttered the grain bill — homebrewers love to over-complicate things, so the recipe we were using when I started brewing had some redundancies in it — but honestly we haven’t made a change to Honey Porter since 2014.”
Both Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm and Brewer Andrew Ewing point to it as being our most underrated beer.
“A lot of people focus so much on the more popular styles,” Jimmy says, “that many miss the myriad of other styles that are available. Honey Porter is a classic and goes down so smoothly — I think it’s the perfect beer for people to try if they think they don’t like darker beers.”
Nonetheless, Honey Porter has remarkable staying power. Andrew attributes that to its dependability.
“It has had amazing staying power in our lineup because it is super consistent from batch to batch,” he says. “You get exactly what you expect, every time.”
But, ultimately, the reason Honey Porter has had such staying power is its smoothness.
“Honey Porter is amazingly easy to drink — find someone who says they don’t like dark beers, pour it into a black-colored glass and let them try it. I guarantee they’ll think they’re drinking a light- to amber-colored beer,” Brian says. “It’s really just a deliciously smooth beer.”
The other brewers definitely agree on Honey Porter’s smoothness:
Mark: “It’s got a smooth, well-rounded flavor and finishes dry.”
Andrew: “It’s a flavorful, refreshing porter with a lighter body but still packs a ton of flavor.”
And if you thought it was smooth before, you have to try it on nitro. Honey Porter is one of our most popular nitrogenated brews, and for good reason.
“The nitro version of Honey Porter is a perennial favorite for many people,” Jimmy informs us. “The nitrogen pouring makes for a very smooth body that really plays well with the smooth roasted and slight chocolate notes of Honey Porter.”
“That smooth-creamy finish is delightful,” he says. “The nitro pour takes that smooth, easy-drinking beer and adds a delectable creaminess to it.”
Much of that smoothness can be attributed to the 180 pounds of locally-sourced honey that goes into each batch. Using local honey was key in Honey Porter being the first beer in New Jersey to carry the Jersey Fresh designation.
“The addition of the local honey adds some nice aromatics,” Mark says, “and it feels good that you’re supporting local agriculture.”
We jumped through some relatively tight hoops back in 2014 to get the designation. The Department of Agriculture runs the program — as well as oversees one of the largest industries in the state — so they don’t mess around. They don’t give the designation to anyone — tossing a teaspoon of Jersey honey into a 30-barrel batch isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Nonetheless, the Department of Agriculture was stoked to have a beer in the program.
And back in 2014, New Jersey’s craft beer scene was in its burgeoning stages. There were only two dozen breweries open at the time, and none of them were considering getting the Jersey Fresh designation.
“The New Jersey Department of Agriculture encourages producers to use Jersey Fresh to market our state’s farm products,” former New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher said at the time. “We are excited with the interest shown by the growing Garden State craft brewery industry in our Made with Jersey Fresh program. NJDA looks forward to working with brewers who are developing new products with New Jersey agricultural outputs.”
And last year, it got a pretty sweet award. (Yep. Pun.)
The National Honey Board — an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that educates consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products — awarded it a Silver Medal in the Stout and Porter category. More than 100 beers were entered in the competition, submitted by craft breweries throughout North America.
And, let’s face it, if there’s anyone you want giving you an award for a honey beer, it’s the National Honey Board. Honey is, like, all they do.
When it comes right down to it, Honey Porter is the powerhouse that it is because of its versatility. It checks all the boxes for a good, tasty brew. Furthermore, like your trusty leather jacket, it goes with just about anything.
Andrew likes it around a “huge bonfire with some Smores,” while Mark likes munching on some steak nachos or an ice cream sundae.
“With the dryness and the subtle roast it can stand up to a lot of different kinds of food,” he says.”
Brian says, “In the fall it’s perfect for watching playoff baseball as the autumn air creeps in, but this time of year it’s great for pairing with food — the complex grain bill really shines and is a great addition to any dish.”
However you intend to enjoy it, Honey Porter isn’t going anywhere. It’s on tap now. It was on tap yesterday. It’ll be on tap tomorrow.