New  brews

 Halley O'Brien, host of SKI Magazine's The Snow Report, discusses the new Telluride Brewing Company porter on an episode of the podcast Beyond the Après. (Photo courtesy of The Snow Report)

The long-awaited vaccine has arrived in the county, but with limited numbers of doses available and a phased rollout, the wait will continue for most residents. In the meantime, however, there’s a new stout in town ready to satiate the thirst of those looking for a placeholder of sorts: The Vaccinator, an imperial stout by Stronghouse Brew Pub. 

The anxious wait isn’t just for the vaccine, either. With nary a snowflake in the air and warm temperatures steadily melting the slopes, powder hounds are crossing their fingers and toes and praying for snow. For that, Telluride Brewing Company’s new porter, the Snow RePORTER, is ready to make the interim more enjoyable.

Dark beers have been popular for centuries, and were at one time the beer of choice for many blue-collar workers in London. The name “porter” was allegedly bestowed upon the dark, flavorful ale as a nod to the city’s early 17th century dockworkers who favored the beverage. In the modern era, dark beers have come to acquire special popularity during the dark days of winter, with characteristic notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla offering a warm, cozy quality.

“Darker beers lend themselves to wanting to drink them during the winter, though I’m someone who enjoys dark beers year round,” said Stronghouse Brewmaster Sam Enders. “The Vaccinator is an imperial stout, which refers to a higher alcohol content, so that also gives you that nice warming effect.”

And the name? Riffing off of the current events of the day can provide irreverent inspiration for christening a new beer. While brewing the stout, Enders considered calling it “Russian Interference,” due to imperial stout’s early history with the Russian royal court in the 18th century. In the end, though, The Vaccinator was rolled out. The beer is available on tap and in 16-ounce cans at the brewery.

“A fun part of making beer is throwing around beer names,” he said. “We were brewing this right as all the vaccines were getting approved. It felt fitting for the times.”

Meanwhile, the brewers at Telluride Brewing Company have concocted the new Snow RePORTER, the result of a conversation with ski industry personality Halley O’Brien, the host of SKI Magazine’s web show The Snow Report.

“Halley had this idea for a beer, the Snow RePORTER, and I was like, ‘Love it! When do you want to brew it?’” said Brewmaster Chris Fish. “I’ve been itching to make a super traditional American porter. It was the perfect timing for it.”

By design, Fish said, the new porter is a warm, robust porter with a lower alcohol content, making it a good option for a comfortable après ski session. He brewed the porter with ample amounts of imported dark roasted malts to achieve notes of chocolate, roasted nuts, coffee and vanilla. To lend an American style to the beer, he added hops to create a full-bodied porter with a little hop in its step. Available both at the brewery and in liquor stores across the state, the porter’s can also features a QR code that links to the porter’s full story and to a podcast episode about the beer hosted by O’Brien.

For beer drinkers who think they prefer a stout to a porter or vice versa, don’t be so sure. The two terms are nearly interchangeable, according to Fish. Stouts may be typically a bit stronger than porters, as evidenced in the name’s origins: stouts were originally known as stout porters, referring to the beverage’s strength.

“It’s a matter of argument that has not been settled,” said Fish of the porter-stout distinction. “Brewers argue about it all the time.”

Winter, in many ways a natural season of waiting — whether for longer days, a vaccine or fresh snowfall — and it’s also a natural time to indulge in warming comfort food and drink. 

“Drink some Snow RePorter and do a snow dance,” suggested Fish. “Right now we might need to drink it to deal with the lack of snow, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to drink it and celebrate the new snow!”