Harry Chapin (1942 -1981) was a fine American singer-songwriter who is probably best known for his song ‘WOLD’ which is about a radio station DJ. He wrote many poignant songs which were semi-autobiographical. He also wrote a great sing-a-long number called ‘Dance Band of the Titanic’ which I have paired with this fruit flavoured porter from Stoke’s Titanic brewery. There are not too many songs about the Titanic and you certainly would not want to hear the execrable wailing of Celine Dion singing ‘My Heart Will Go On (love theme from Titanic)’.
Back in February 2016, I reviewed a very pleasant Damson Porter brewed by Tap East who are based in Stratford, London. This beer was flavoured with damson, which is a type of small plum and was supplied by a market trader at Borough Market. I was therefore interested in trying Titanic’s Plum Porter. Titanic pours a dark ruby colour and has a fruity, plum-like aroma. The taste is a bit disappointing. The label states that it is made with Goldings hops and plum favour but the plum porter is slightly spicy with a rather artificial taste, almost too plummy. Plums have a very intense flavour when they are cooked down or made into a jam but it’s not a flavour that can be effectively synthesised. For this beer to work, the brewery would need to take an awful lot of fresh plums and add them to the brew in order to get that authentic flavour.
Fruit beers are very difficult to make as beer comprises of just four natural ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. Once you start adding to this mix you are courting failure. Usually, the only people who get fruit beers right are the Belgians who add huge amounts of fresh cherries or raspberries to some of their sour beers. These Belgian fruit beers are expensive but do actually work with the intense flavours of the fruit moderating the sourness of the beer.
Titanic Brewery was founded in 1985 in Burslem, Stoke. It was named in honour of Capt. Smith, a local man who became captain of the ill-fated Titanic. Titanic was one of the first wave of micro-breweries in the UK and now brew a wide range of mainly nautically themed beers. Grab a bottle or two from Titanic brewery and you will soon be singing along with Harry Chapin.