In 1985 Chris Van Allsburg wrote and illustrated the book The Polar Express. The book tells of a train that brought children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to visit Santa and possibly receive the first gift of Christmas. In honor of the train conductor, famously played by Tom Hanks, today’s Christmas beer is Helios Brewery’s Conductor Porter. Helios started as a distillery on the island of Okinawa, Japan in 1961. After years of making distilled spirits they began to produce beer in 1996 after the country of Japan relaxed the Craft Beer entry rules. The character on the front of the can is the conductor character from the Japanese manga series Galaxy Express 999.
English Porter 45º – 50º F (7º – 10º C) 5% ABV
As soon as the can cracks open the malt sweetness immediately flows out during the pour. The toasted light toffee character mixes with the lightly earthy hops for the aroma from the glass. The dark red color forms a good sized tan head that dissipates to a persistent thin film. The flavor gives a roasted start that ends with a sweet finish, but then persists with a smoky aftertaste. Light mouthfeel that ends with a distinct finish. The aftertaste leaves a tingling in the mouth that persists for a while. There is a very slight earthy hop flavor to the beer. This comes more at the end of the tasting. True to English Porter style it has a much lighter/subtle flavors than American Porters. The conductor character in Galaxy Express 999 is known to be a strictly “by the book” character. This beer follows this character trait. A pleasant English Porter that is extremely enjoyable and I am happy to finish this glass and others if they were offered to me.
The roasted smoked flavors found in porters will pair well with food that is smoked or roasted. For this beer I would pair a smoked chicken. The neutral flavors of the chicken will absorb the smoky flavors and compliment this beer. If chicken is not your pleasure I could also recommend a sausage either smoked or grilled. The porter will cut through the grease of the sausage. Because of the light aromas and flavors of this beer the smoked meats will add to the flavor profile of this beer.